Photo by Followtheflow

Apartment Refresh Tips

Spring brings with it an opportunity for refresh, even if your home is temporary. You may be renting an apartment, like me, and hesitant to put your interior design chops to the test. While renting can block you from major redesigns, you can still have a beautiful home. Here are some cheap and easy tips for refreshing your rental this spring.

Spring Cleaning

The most cost-effective way to refresh your home is to clean! Deep clean your space like you’re preparing to move out — scrub those baseboards, dust that ceiling fan, clear out your junk drawer — and tidy, tidy, tidy! Clutter seems to be a natural byproduct of American life, but good home design is all about intentionality. Having too much in your space — especially if it’s a small apartment — can distract from your more beautiful design elements, like the couch you love, your heirloom lamp, or your carefully curated gallery wall. Reasons for making your space more intentional are twofold: you want your items to be either necessary or to spark joy, Marie Kondo style, and you want everything to have a home. Whether it’s a basket in the corner, a specific drawer, or a spot on the counter, giving most or all of your items a designated home makes maintaining tidiness much easier. It’s also a great trick to limit impulse buying: if you can’t think of something’s forever home before you buy it, it probably doesn’t belong in your space.

If you’re looking for organizational vessels that aren’t just clear plastic containers that will end up in a landfill, head to the thrift store and look for baskets, trays, bowls, catchalls, jewelry boxes, and vases.

Plants Galore!

There’s no better way to inject new life into your space than by literally bringing in living things. If you don’t have a green thumb, even just one houseplant can transform the space. If you want more green, supplement with fake plants if you don’t mind the look. I personally like fake plants for tighter, more tucked away areas like shelves or small tabletops to fill space, but it’s all about personal preference. Having fresh flowers is always amazing, but not exactly cost-effective; dried flowers can make for a longer-lasting and just as beautiful replacement. You can buy pre-dried flower bouquets, but I personally love dried baby’s breath. It’s cheap and easy to get at any grocery store and will dry out on its own. Put it in a pretty thrifted vase and it adds a nice vintage flair to any room.

Let the Light In

Apartment lighting is usually harsh and stale, and bad lighting can make even the most decadent home look like crap. If your home suffers from a bad case of fluorescent overheads, invest in some better lighting. Having a diverse array of light sources around the room, like small table lamps, tall standing lamps, or string lights, creates a warm and welcoming ambiance that envelops the room. If you have a lamp that you find ugly, don’t trash it. Drape a silk scarf over the lampshade (as long as the bulb isn’t exposed, or else you’ll have a fire hazard on your hands) for an eclectic, bohemian look. If you want to add some color to the room, you can get a color-changing smart bulb from Home Depot or Amazon for $15–$30.

If you’re feeling particularly handy, you can even replace the ugly light fixtures — all you need is a screwdriver, a YouTube how-to video, and a dream. You can find some interesting light fixtures for around $30 on Amazon — just make sure you save the original fixture to put back when you move out!

Those Walls, Y’all!

If you’re in an apartment, chances are you have limited space. Use every inch to your advantage, and that includes your walls! If you have a longer-term lease, you can use paint or removable wallpaper to make a small accent wall (you can also do it with a shorter lease, but it may not be very cost-effective to paint it over or rip it off only a year after doing it). If you want something less intense, hanging up art can totally transform a space. You can buy framed prints and paintings easily from Target, HomeGoods, or TJ Maxx if that’s your vibe, but I personally like a more personal, eclectic approach. Make collages. Paint your own paintings. Go to an art market — some good ones in Atlanta are the Dogwood Festival, the Piedmont Park Arts Festival, the Indie Craft Experience, and Market Hugs. Buy vintage magazines for cheap at an antique store and frame your favorite photo spreads or ads. Hang up photo strips, records, postcards, garlands, bows, antique jewelry, or your favorite purses. Get creative — if something you love doesn’t yet have a forever home and can be hung on the wall, maybe that’s where it belongs!

Follow Your Gut

Don’t be afraid to get creative, break the rules and make new ones, and trust your own design taste. At the end of the day, it’s your home, and your opinion is the only one that matters!