Tip #1: Get married. People buy you things and give you money that you can use to buy more things.
My mom bought me this vintage table as a wedding present from an antique mall. It was $60 (still a pretty good deal if I did buy it myself). I would eventually like to update the 50s diner style chairs to something more modern, but the table will definitely work with me for a long time.
If your apartment doesn't allow you to paint (Aubrey and I painted our college apartment anyway, but our deposit was only $60 each. Not the case for me now!), try Sherwin Williams Easychange wallpaper. It's really easy to apply and only took me a couple hours to put up. Supposedly the wallpaper just peels off, but I'm not convinced it will be that easy. We'll see in a few months. The wallpaper cost me $80, which is a little pricey. I had to buy more than I needed, but I think it was worth it!
Tip #2: Goodwill is your friend, even if that crazy lady barging through the aisle with her cart while blocking you from your quest for greatness is not. Like I really want the same clothes you do! Ugh. Anyway...antique malls and auctions are your friends too.
(My bathroom) All of these items are from thrift stores. There's my treasured bronze apple from Aubrey! The glass piece is a 1950s juice carafe that I filled with cotton balls.
Many of these items are from thrift stores or auctions. I got the couch from an auction for $50 about 8 years ago. My mom got the two chairs for me at Goodwill for about $5 each. They were originally covered in a really ugly green vinyl fabric. I took the chairs apart and stapled on new upholstery fabric from Joann. I could have repainted the legs, but I liked how they looked old (and I'm lazy). The Herman Miller coffee table is also from Goodwill. It cost about $8. These tables in good condition sell for about $300 online...good deal! This one is a little worn, but a bargain either way. I got the rug from Ikea for $20. I was happy about the price because rugs are so ridiculously expensive. The vintage poster came from Goodwill as well and with its pair, cost $20.
Tip #3: Splurge on classic items you can use to decorate throughout your life.
I love this mirror! I found it at a funky, vintage thrift store for $75 dollars. When I saw it, I had to have it, but the price threw me for a loop. While rummaging through my brain for an excuse to get the mirror, I remembered my mother-in-law had just given me $50 as a gift, so I was only spending $25, right? Needless to say, I convinced myself and here it is! As I move from home to home, this mirror will always fit in with whatever location or style I've developed.
The dresser came with a chest and can you believe the pair was only $1 from an auction? They were that ugly grayish 50s color, so I repainted them black. Instead of in the bedroom, I placed the dresser in the living room. In a small apartment, you need as much storage as possible (although I'm sure I could easily fill it with clothes). We keep dvds, game consoles, and other living room related items in the drawers. It also turned into a good dropping post for anything we have in our hands when we walk in...
Tip #4: Cheap accessories make cute walls!
I got these plates from Target to fill an empty wall in my kitchen. They were about $2 each. I just put some double sided tape on the backs and made a collage. Too cute to eat on!
This cardboard 'R' came from Joanne's for $2. I used paint I already had to match my shower curtain and then used sandpaper to rough up the edges and make it look more like wood. A cheap idea for personalization.
Tip #5: Don't let the ugly kitchen win!
If you have as much money as I do (none), then you probably can't afford one of those nice apartments with an upgraded kitchen. I'm pretty sure my cabinets are one step up from plywood. I got the tree decal as a wedding gift (probably about $15) and added some clear placemats from Target that were $1 each. Sorry, the mixer is from Tip #1.
We can't afford a washer or dryer either, so I filled up that void with an office area. The desk and chair are both from Goodwill (as usual). The desk was in pretty good shape. I just gave it it fresh coat of paint and added some scrapbook paper to the drawer fronts. I repainted and recovered the chair as well. The corkboard originally had some french architecture drawings in the little squares, but I was over that, so I cut out some paper squares and glued them in. The files are from Ikea for super cheap.
Tip #5: If something looks too hard, cut corners (well, not on rock climbing or something). Oh, and measure your car before you have wood cut.
All other items were thrift finds, besides the awesome owl lamp. It's from Target. I'm asking for another one for Christmas for my husband's side. I get the owl first!
Tip #6: Get a cat.