Furnishing an Apartment on a Shoestring Budget

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If you’re moving into your first apartment, or maybe your first apartment that’s not furnished courtesy of Mom and Dad’s checkbook, this guest post is for you!

Furnishing and decorating an apartment on a budget can always be a challenge, especially when you’re making the transition from college student to that first “real” job. With a little ingenuity and some handiwork, you can stretch that shoestring budget to make yourself a comfortable apartment. Check out some ideas below!

Budget bookshelves – You can create sturdy, floating bookcases anywhere you’ve got a wall (hopefully anywhere around you) using a simple L-frame shelving bracket. Screw one of these into the wall and your books will look like they’re just hanging out, floating against your wall. These are cheap, look great and are easy to install.

Loft everything – Finding good, cheap storage options can always be a challenge. Yard sales can provide a wealth of bookcases and dressers, but even if you can find a nice dresser that doesn’t smell of the previous owner, it may not fit in your budget. Lofting your bed and couches can give you some innovative storage options and open up a lot of space in your room. Even if you just raise them up on blocks, you’ll be able to fit a slender set of shelves or storage bins underneath, which can take the place of a small dresser or DVD rack.

If you’re feeling adventurous, pick up some lumber at your local hardware store to build a stable lofted bed to open up a ton of space in your room. You can use the underside of your bed frame as a closet, to house your computer desk or to put a comfortable couch in your room. With a large piece of furniture out of the way, you’ll have plenty of room for activities. Be sure to seek the advise of a professional to be sure the bed is supported well.

Don’t be afraid to repurpose used furniture – Goodwill, yard sales and your neighbor’s curbs can all be valuable sources of great furniture. Even if a chair or table looks a little…unsavory, it’s usually only a coat of paint and some strategic gluing away from a second life. You can cheaply purchase or make throw pillows to make different chairs a matched set. Small bookcases can easily be made into end tables or nightstands.

Storage seats: One of the tough things about bookcases or display shelves is that other than holding books, they don’t do much else except take up space, right? Wrong! With the right bookcase, you can keep its terrific capacity for holding your stuff and add a window seat to your living room. Turn a thick framed (you might need something sturdy) 18-24” wide bookcase on its side under your window. To soften it up, buy an outdoor lounge chair cushion to spread over top of it. You’ll have a comfortable seat, and your favorite books within easy reach.

Fun with wrapping paper – Wrapping paper and fun wallpaper can turn a ton of disposable items into attractive organizational tools.

  • Mail boxes – Don’t throw out all those cereal boxes. If you have two roommates, cut three boxes to heights of 2, 3 and 4 inches. Wrap each box in its own paper, then bind or glue them together – it’s an easy way to sort and track all of your mail without an important bill getting “lost.”
  • Desktop organizers – Aluminum cans are just one thorough cleaning and a tight wrapping away from being decorative organizers for everything from kitchen utensils, pens and office supplies, to nuts and bolts for any other DIY projects you’ve got going. They’re simple to hang, stack or bind, so you can definitely find something to stick in those extra cans. Just be sure to smooth out any metals spurs!

Umbrellas indoors aren’t always bad luck – An umbrella with the fabric removed can have a variety of fun, decorative uses around your apartment. Freshen up your balcony by making a wall trellis for vines and flowers. Remove the handle and wrap some leftover white Christmas lights around the frame for a unique light fixture to hang in your living room. With a lightweight plastic chain and a hook, you can even make a (very) cheap chandelier.

With a little bit of creativity you can create a great look for your new apartment without breaking the bank.

Mike Cushing is a freelance writer for 407apartments.com, which lets you search for Orlando apartments according to floor plan, rent size, amenities, location, pet policy, and more.

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