Quick & Dirty Ways To Refresh Your Apartment On The Cheap

Photo courtesy of Homepolish.
Maybe you're sick of the cast-off coffee table your ex-roommate left behind. Maybe you have a ton of family coming to visit for the holidays and want to prove that you're 100% adult-ing, thank you very much. Maybe you want your pad to look a little more elevated (and a lot more Snappable), but don't have the cash to splash out for an interior decorator, because who does?
Bottom line: Your place is ready for a new look — at a price that won't break the bank. We spoke with some of our favorite designers to get their on-a-budget tips, tricks, and secrets that will work just as well with a brand-new purchase as they will a bookshelf found down the block. Click through for some genius ideas and clear your calendar for some DIY-ing.

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Photo: Homepolish/Kelsey Ann Rose.
Incorporate "Designer" Storage
Orlando Soria, West Coast Creative Director of Homepolish, recommends finding high-end cardboard boxes, like these gorgeous Hermes ones, and using them to store important papers or keepsakes — especially if closet or storage space is at a premium. You can buy empty boxes of pricey designers on Etsy, Poshmark, and eBay.
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Photographed by Richard Kaplan/Courtesy of Taylor Spellman.
DIY Your Headboard
Not crafty? No worries. Even designers say that the DIY trend can be overdone — but a little goes a long way. "My favorite quick fix ever is to buy inexpensive fabric and use it to cover your headboard and make an accent pillow," says Taylor Spellman, a professional stager and star of Bravo's Yours, Mine, or Ours.

"All you need is 15 minutes, a staple gun, and a cocktail," says Spellman. Easy!


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Photo: Courtesy of Michelle Harrison.
New Motto: Wood Is Good
Another DIY headboard option? Wood, says Michelle Harrison, an interior designer in San Diego. Wood slabs are relatively inexpensive — you can buy them on Etsy — and easy to install.

Another alternative: Peel and stick wood like Stikwood, which you can literally stick on the wall.
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Photo: Courtesy of Homepolish/Claire Esparros.
Make A Gallery Wall
Soria recommends scouring vintage boutiques to find prints that speak to you — and don't be afraid to pile on the art. Adding a gallery wall can help differentiate space in a small home, turning one corner of your pad into an office.
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Photo: Courtesy of Homepolish/Amy Bartlam.
Showcase Your Schedule
Instead of putting Post-Its all over your desk or haphazardly sticking stuff up on the fridge, Soria recommends putting your schedule on display. Frame a calendar with glass and use glass-safe pens as a way to instantly make notes.
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Photo: Courtesy of Mikel Welch.
Go For Thrift-Store Finds
That cabinet? A former record player, says Mikel Welch, founder of Mikel Welch Designs and set designer for The Steve Harvey Show.

He gutted the record player part and kept the piece as a storage buffet. The point: Realize that the stuff you find while thrifting has many potential uses.
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Photo: Courtesy of Homepolish.
Lighten Up
Designers agree: Lights are one of the easiest ways to upgrade your space. Have a small bedroom? Ditch the oversize lamp in favor of a pair of teeny-tiny lamps that can become part of the decor, says Soria.
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Photo: Courtesy of Interior Designer Wendy Haworth
Add An Entry Table
Choose one with hidden storage, suggests Andrea Stanford, design expert and brand marketing advisor of online estate-sale site Everything But The House. The one shown here holds a printer and office supplies, although you'd never know it. An overhanging mirror brightens up the space and also gives you a place to check that everything's in place right before you head out. Want to add a grown-up vibe to your apartment? Add some mid-century pottery which is beautiful, reasonable, and looks way better than a pile of mail, right?
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Photo: Courtesy of Andrea Stanford.
Show Off Your Stuff
Have a collection of shells from last year's beach vacation? Show off what you've got in glass or acrylic boxes — you can arrange stuff by the seasons to keep things fresh.
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Photo: Courtesy of Julie Richard.
Make The Ceiling Matter
"Adding a larger or longer prominent light fixture will make the space feel larger and draw the eye upward," says Julie Richard, design expert for Ace Hardware.

Also think double duty when it comes to entryway furniture: A chair can and should be used for seating when you need it and for displaying some of your favorite books when you don;t.
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Photo: Courtesy of Whitney Leigh Morris
Bring In The Green
We're in love with this genius way to add more green to your life — use a coatrack for hanging plant baskets. Obviously, the outdoor space is also great, but even indoors, having a coat rack that holds hanging baskets of plants is an easy way to add an outdoor element to your life.
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Photo: Courtesy of Melissa Morgan.
Invest In High-Gloss Paint
High-gloss paint is more expensive, but it makes a major impact — especially if you're creating a statement wall, says Melissa Morgan, founder of M Interiors in San Antonio, TX.

Morgan's paint of choice is Farrow & Ball, and while the initial cost may seem pricy, it makes a high-impact statement for years.



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Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Spellman.
Play Picasso
Instead of buying art, make your own. Spellman recommends buying a large canvas — or a few, as shown — and painting a few brushstrokes or going all Jackson Pollack on the canvas.

"Two brush strokes and I can assure you, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with both the wow factor and how it adds to the space. Don’t be shy," says Spellman.
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Photo: Courtesy of Homepolish/Dustin Halleck
Get Graphic
Make your entryway appear larger by using wallpaper or brightly colored paint — but just in the entryway — as a way to separate it from the rest of the space and make it feel more like it's own room or area, suggests Soria.

And it's counterintuitive, but making your entryway a little busy — like by adding a chair — can anchor the space and make it feel a bit like its own room.
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Photographed by Richard Kaplan/courtesy of Taylor Spellman.
Paint It Black
"I'm a VERY firm believer in the power of black paint," says Spellman. "I can confidently say that anything can benefit from this magical treatment. Chairs, a tag-sale dresser, a shelving unit. Go nuts!"

Case in point: This industrial shelving unit, which Spellman painted black as a catchall storage space. "Don’t hate on the Goodwill. Its my mecca, and will be yours too after you find the gems that are there, waiting for you. Trust me," says Spellman.
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Photo: Courtesy of Homepolish.
Make Your Walls Inspiring
Scoria designed this mood/inspiration board for the L.A. office of HelloGiggles. Inspired by architect Frank Stella, the board is a handprinted cork board applied with adhesive foam tape to the wall. Create your own in your kitchen or hallway as a place to display postcards, photo-strips, wedding invites, or whatever else you want.
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Photographed by Nicole LaMotte; courtesy of interior designer Mark Egerstrom.
Make Your Bed
If you live in a small space or a studio, your bed becomes the central focus point of the room, whether you like it or not. Stanford recommends piling on pillows and considering a coverlet.

And add contrasting patterns. It makes your bed look way more visually interesting than just sterile white sheets.
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Photographed by Richard Kaplan/courtesy of Taylor Spellman.
Think Big
Have a seriously tiny living room? Spellman says you can't go wrong by adding even more furniture.

"The natural way to think is that in a small space you should use small furniture. Wrong. When you have a small space its all the more reason to use larger pieces and the space will actually feel bigger. Fill her up. A couch, a couple chairs, a coffee table, have at it. By pushing the couch just a liiiiittle to the left, you can make it work. I assure you," says Spellman.
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Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Spellman.
Embrace The Gray
The color is simple, chic, and guaranteed to turn even the shoddiest Craigslist share into a sophisticated space of your own.

"Gray is one of the few colors where you can use various shades and it will go well together. Throw in a metal table or wooden chair and you’re money. You literally can't go wrong," Spellman says.
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Photo: Courtesy of Michelle Harrison.
Get Graphic
A pop graphic print — even if it's just on a throw pillow is a super simple way to make a style statement, especially when you want to maintain a relatively neutral palette in the rest of your house, says Harrison.
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Photo: Courtesy of Mikel Welch.
Play With Prints
If you have to splurge on one thing, make it an area rug, suggests Welch. But don't be shy about mixing and matching. This room may be a little too ornate for your tastes, but as you can see, everything goes together — even the contrasting animal prints.
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Photo: Courtesy of Mikel Welch.
What About Wallpaper?
Does wallpaper remind you of your grandma's house? Time to take another look. Adding wallpaper — especially a geometric print — can create the illusion of depth in an otherwise small space, says Welch.
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Photographed by Paula Luna.
Use Your Corners
"Create cozy nooks. Put a fun occasional chair — or modern rocking — to fill up a corner of the room. Mix in a small side table, pillow, and throw blanket for extra layering and dose of color and pattern," suggests Vanessa Van Wieren of home decor site Alchemy Fine Home.
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Photographed by Paula Luna.
Add Statement Pieces
A few oddball pieces can make your home you, says Van Wieran. Not only that, but they also make great stories and great souvenirs — and don't be afraid to go weird.

"Conversational pieces are always great when they come with a good story and don't need to cost a ton! Look for something unique that speaks to you," says Van Wieren.
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Photographed by Paula Luna.
Do Up The Details
You're never too young or broke to be ready to entertain at a moment's notice, says Van Wieren.

Have at least one serving tray, platter, and wine decanter — not only do you have them when you need them, but they're also easy style points that can tie the room together.
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Photo: Courtesy of Michelle Harrison.
Incorporate Angles
Instead of painting one monochromatic color, divide whatever you're painting geometrically — into triangles, rectangles, whatever — and play around with two or more colors, says Harrison.
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Photo courtesy of Julie Richard.
Keep The Dishes Simple
Instead of going for patterns, Richard recommends choosing all white china — especially if you have it on display in a small space. "A neutral shade helps create a clean, concise look," says Richard.
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Photo Courtesy Of Julie Richard.
Show Off Your Shelves
If you have a small space, cabinets can be bulky. Focus on shelves and add boxes and bowls to enhance storage space. You can find interesting storage items at flea markets, says Richards. Baskets are also key for being able to deal with clutter in a hurry.
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Photo: Courtesy of Melissa Morgan.
Pick One Pop Of Color
Morgan recommends choosing one bright pop of accent color in your home, then building around it with neutrals. Not only will the color not overwhelm your space, it's easy to seasonally swap out or get a whole new look when you pick a different color.
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