Apartment decorating can be tough. You're often bound by your rental agreement to the color of the paint already on the wall, and the carpet on the floor. I've had many apartments, and many different wall colors and rug colors. I think though, neutrals tend to be most common. I've read a lot of advice about decorating a rental space, and brining in color though furniture. While I do agree that can make for a beautiful space, sometimes I think working with neutrals can yield a calming and peaceful result. My previous apartments lacked windows, so I really wanted to play up the awesome light in this space. Additionally I wanted to try and use things I already own, and make sure that any new purchases could move to a new place easily if they needed to. Finally, I didn't want this space to look like an "apartment." I wanted it to feel like a home. I had a $500 budget and am very pleased with the result:
I have an open concept apartment, so I needed this space to flow into the living room and kitchen, which it does nicely. Additionally the door to the right opens up to the balcony. Essentially it all needed to coordinate, yet be an individual space. Each element of the room was inspired by a higher cost item, but found at stores such as The Christmas Tree Shop, Target, Kmart, and Tuesday Morning. I'll break down the elements below:
The table actually took some creativity to find within my budget. I knew I wanted a glass top to keep the space light and airy. When space is at a premium (you know what I'm talking about apartment dwellers) glass and mirrors go a long way to keeping things looking big and open. I looked at a few different sizes and found that a 48" Round would be the best size. Not too overwhelming, but able to comfortably fit people for a dinner party. The problem? All the tables that size were priced around $600.00, since the budget for the whole room was $500.00- that was a no go.
I did some Craigslist searching and came across a listing for a 48" round top and a base for $80.00, it just needed some TLC. I took it home, cleaned up the glass and set it up, but the base wasn't quite right for the space. It all seemed very hopeless until my mother came across this table set at KMart. The original top for this set was 36" which would have been way too small. I swapped it out with the 48" top that I had purchased and sold the base from Craigslist with the new unopened 36" top from Kmart. It all worked out! On top of that, Kmart was running a special and I ended up getting 20% off! After factoring the cost of the Craigslist glass top, less the sale of the other top and base, my total cost for this whole dining set was $152.00! I'm so happy to have found the exact type of table I wanted, within my budget. The color is a nice neutral metal with splattered brown which gives it some interest. I love the chair backs as well, I think the pattern works nicely against the curtains.
Kmart 36" Table and Chairs- $215.00 (20% off) = $172.00
Craigslist 48" Top and Base = $80.00
This brings the total to $252.00, but since I was able to re-sell the Craigslist base and the 36" glass top for $100.00 my total cost = $152.00
I knew I wanted some kind of bar in the dining room. I love wine and needed some place to store it all! Beyond that, the dining room opens into the living room, and I wanted guests to be able to grab a drink easily.
I initially wanted a bar cart (Okay, I still do). When I was doing this space, bar carts had just started to become popular. They were at the point where they were covering Pinterest, but hadn't quite found their way to Homegoods or The Christmas Tree Shopps. Now of course they are everywhere! At any rate, I looked and looked, and was about to use an old bakers rack when I stumbled across this in The Christmas Tree Shopps. It cost $80.00 and was already put together (which if you shop there you realize is a big deal)! The colors perfectly complimented the chairs, having the same paint spattering style. I love that it is neutral, but also that it is paintable. If I move (okay, okay, when I move) I can repaint it to match whatever scheme my next dining room is. I think as an apartment decorator, you need to always be thinking of future uses for your pieces, and this one definitely will travel well! It holds 10 wine bottles which is great and has a huge drawer for corkscrews, jiggers and bar utensils. I usually have some flowers in a wine bottle vase on top of it, but New England has been really yucky lately, and I haven't found any blooms I like.
So, these curtains were quite the "mission." I'm not sure how you are when decorating or shopping, but I get an idea in my head even before I know that it exists. That's what happened with these curtains. I wanted some kind of sheer trellis pattern. I wanted them a certain length, and I wanted them for $20 a panel. Which was honestly an impossibly tall order for something that I might have just made up. I shopped around a lot, I found a few things close, but they were either too expensive, too short or just not quite right. I almost settled for a solid beige panel, which would have killed the whole "light and airy" thing I was trying to achieve. My mom kept telling me to go and check out a store called, Tuesday Morning. I ignored her for a while because, well that's what daughters sometimes do, and finally out of desperation I went in. Well, wouldn't you know, they had exactly what I was looking for? Furthermore, they only had three sets, and I have three windows (one more in the living room)! So basically it was meant to be. The best part? They were $20 a set, or $10 a panel, so half of what I had budgeted for them. Um, score? I love them, they billow, they let light in, and they add interest to the room. They are actually the first thing I see when I walk in my front door. If you live in an apartment and cannot paint your walls, I cannot stress how important your curtains are. They can do so much to make you feel like you are in a house, not sharing a wall with three other people! Also, listen to your mother, she probably has some good suggestions!
This lamp was $5.00. I got it at Target in the clearance section. Its from their R.E. (Room Essentials) collection. I realize that its plastic, and meant for college students. However, it has been through three apartments with me, and added a nice "pop" of color to the room. Its very bright, easy to move, and again- $5.00. They have them in all different colors ranging from $8.00-$15.00. Its definitely worth checking out, I have another that I spray painted with gold shellac- more on that later! My tip- at the end of the summer check out the clearance section from all the "back to college" stuff. Sometimes you can score great deals, simply because they need the space. I swear, no one will think you're still in college!
Behind the lamp you can see my fork wall art. There is a matching spoon on the other side of the window. I hemmed and hawed for a long time about what to hang on the walls. I wanted something with wine, or coffee, and color. Then I saw the fork and spoon. They were fun, a little whimsical, and $14.00 each. Sold. I love them now, and I'm happy they are neutral, they are fun without being over the top. They keep the space fresh, but don't take away from the sophistication. I got them at The Christmas Tree Shopps, its something they regularly stock.
This little baker's rack has been with me for a long, long, time. I honestly don't know how much I paid for it since i got it in high school. It was part of a terribly misguided attempt to turn my bedroom into an Italian Oasis (whatever that is, I was such a weird kid). Its been a towel rack, a CD holder, an actual baker's rack, and now a lovely place for my wine glasses. I believe in using actual useful items to decorate whenever possible. This is especially important in an apartment where you don't have space to store a lot of dishes and glasses. These glasses are $2 each at The Christmas Tree Shopps. They come in all different colors and I rotate them depending on my mood or season. What's nice too is that if they break, you can easily replace them. I also like that they are accessible for guests at a party so they don't have to ask where the cabinet is. Right now I have a candle on the bottom of the rack, but I'm in search of a great ice bucket. A room is never really "done", right? The clock above it was an old clock from my office that I paid $14.00 for at Target a few years ago.
So here is the final cost breakdown:
Table and Chairs = $152.00
Bar = $80.00
Curtains (2 @ $20 each) = $40
Curtain Rods (2 @ $7.00 each) = $14
Lamp = $5
Wall Art (2 @ $14) = $28
Bakers Rack = Free! (Already owned it)
Glasses (8 @ $2) = $16 (I had the Martini Shaker)
Flower Center Piece (already owned) = $25
Clock (already owned) = $14
Grant Total = $374, well under budget!
How do you decorate when you can't paint the walls? Where are your best budget finds?