So you've just moved into your new apartment, and you're looking around at a boring, empty space with off-white carpet and off-white walls. You'd love to make it look fabulous, but you don't have a ton of money. What to do? Never fear, as your credit union is here for you and going to help you decorate that new apartment on the cheap!
1. Start with the walls
If your landlord will let you paint, you're in luck -- painting the walls is about the easiest and cheapest way to give an apartment some personality. Many landlords won't let you do this, however, but that doesn't mean you're stuck: Consider hanging fabric from the walls using corkboard and thumbtacks.
2. Next, the windows
Those basic mini-blinds may be cheap, but let's face it, they're not pretty. Curtains can make any room look more interesting, and they don't cost much. If you sew, the fabric store is your friend here, too -- just find a fabric you like and go to town. If you're not much of a seamstress (or seamster), you can find cheap curtains at Target, Wal-Mart and IKEA. Twin-sized sheets can be easily made into curtains, too.
3. Now, the art
Inexpensive plastic frames will give your posters a touch of class, and a mirror is a cheap way to make a room look brighter, bigger and more interesting. (Check out garage sales and estate sales to find cheap mirrors; for an even more creative effect, you can paint designs around the edges of the glass.) Other ideas: Frame old album covers; combine several postcards to make a collage you can hang; print some of your favorite photos and display them on a shelf.
4. On to the floors
Rugs are a great way to give a room some personality, and they don't have to cost a lot. IKEA and Target are great sources, and you can sometimes find a good deal on Craigslist. Also, consider asking carpet stores for their extra sample squares -- you can make your own rug this way for free.
5. Modify your lighting
Chinese lanterns can be found for less than $10, and they're an easy, attractive way to diffuse the light in a room. For bookshelves, consider spotlights that can be clamped on the edges of the shelves, or smaller lights that can be mounted on the bottom of the shelves, above the books.
6. Add some green
Houseplants can really brighten up a room. Cacti are about the easiest plants in the world to care for, and most of them are inexpensive. If you're not a cactus fan, consider a spider plant or "lucky bamboo" (which can be grown in water and isn't really bamboo at all).