10 Cheap Ways to Make Your Apartment Awesome (Without Losing Your Deposit)


The white walls and boring fixtures of apartments are a thing of the past. You don't need to own your abode to make it totally your own. (See also: 12 Ways to Make a Tiny Apartment Awesome)

Check out these thrifty — but impactful — DIY ideas that will transform your space to home, all while ensuring you'll get that security deposit back.

1. Wow! Wallpaper

You can find temporary wallpaper rolls in a variety of shades and prints these days. Most brands are self adhesive for easy installation. To keep the cost low, consider papering a single accent wall versus an entire room. Think focal point by choosing the wall at the head of your bed, for example. A little will go a long way.

2. Brazen Backsplash

You can also use temporary wallpaper as a backsplash in your apartment's kitchen, but there's an even cheaper way to get a faux-tile look. Use contact paper! This frugal project cost only $13 and resulted in a stainless steel look that really brightened up the space. Simply cut contact paper into "tiles" and arrange in a pattern above your countertop. When it's time to move, just gently peel away from the wall.

3. Curtain Call

If you'd rather not stick something to the wall, consider adding some pizzaz with curtains on a tension rod. I used this technique in my first home's kitchen to hide an otherwise ugly closet door; you could use it wherever you want a little color or flair. Tension rods of all sizes cost under $10. If you don't have curtains, follow this no-sew tutorial to create some from fabric using hemming tape and an iron. (See also: 20 Unexpected Uses for Tension Rods)

4. Bookworm Bounty

I recently browsed my decor inspiration board on Pinterest and discovered that many of my living room ideas incorporated the same element — bookshelves! You don't need built-ins to get this studious look, plus it's functional and perfect if you love reading. I love the idea of scouting out tall, mismatched shelves at thrift stores for a unique look.

5. Beautiful Boxes

You can also use boxy fruit crates to create custom temporary shelving! I envision countless possibilities for this easy DIY project. My favorite of the bunch is a makeshift entry area with a couple hooks and fruit crates to wrangle shoes, boots, and anything else you have around. And since they're not bolted down, you can change your configuration as often as you change your mind.

6. Great Divide

If you live in a free-form space, you might want to create some separation using room dividers that simulate walls. This basement redo utilizes an old pair of shutters painted in glossy green to create space. You can also use a pair of curtains to do the same trick by hanging them on steel wire cables in the area you want to section off. This trick is great for studio apartments, creating the illusion of a 1-bedroom at a fraction of the price it costs to rent one.

7. Big Impact

If you'd rather hang some artwork, check out engineer prints for black and white poster-sized art on the cheap. This step-by-step tutorial shows you how to take one of your own photos, add text, and get it printed for under $5. From there, you can purchase poster frames for $10 or less at stores like WalMart and Target. Consider grouping several large prints for bigger impact or browsing online for free designs to print.

8. Warm and Cozy

My favorite apartment trick for an instant homey feeling? A faux fireplace. I found one on Craigslist way back when, and it moved with me to five different apartments! A fake fireplace adds an amazing architectural focal point to your room, as well as a great place to focus your decorating efforts — especially for the holidays. And it's like any other piece of furniture that can be easily picked up and moved.

9. Clever Lights

Purchase a light kit from your home improvement store and a drum shade for a simple, DIY hanging light fixture. It requires very little installation and can be removed in a flash. You can get quite creative with the basic idea. For example, this blogger used a wicker trash can as a basic, ingenious pendant. This trick is particularly great if you need light over, say, your dining room table and don't want to go with more floor lamps.

10. Green Thumb

Plants can totally transform the feel of a space and even improve air quality. My mother-in-law has a beautiful collection of plants in her dining room, including a Rubber Tree, Jade plant, and some assorted ferns. Head to your local garden center and consult with the folks there to find a few plants that will bring the outdoors in and cozy up your apartment fast. Plus, many house plants can live for years and years with proper care.

How do you dress up a drab apartment? Please share in comments!

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