Make Your Apartment Feel Like Home (On a Budget)

I follow Apartment Therapy on Twitter and they recently tweeted a blog post about falling in love with the home you live in now. As I’ve mentioned before, my husband and I recently moved into our own place, which is a little two bedroom apartment. I loved the place before we moved in, but once it was ours, it didn’t feel like home. This made me constantly grumpy, and I ended up spending most of my time at my mom’s place.

When I finally told my husband this, he wanted to find every possible thing we could do to fix it and make sure our little apartment started feeling like home to me. The biggest issue was actually our couch… I rushed into getting one and once it was in our living room, I hated it. I didn’t want to spend any time in the living room, dining room, or kitchen because I could see this couch that I hated so much. Instead, I’d head to my mom’s place and lounge on her couch that I love so dearly.

The solution was obviously to get a new couch, which was easier said than done. I wanted the couch my mom has, but it’s more than we could afford and when I did more research, I found out the company stopped selling it. This led to me spending 8+ hours searching every “resell” site I could find and putting in every search term I could come up with, just to find this couch. The time commitment paid off, and I did find one in good condition for much cheaper than a new one. After reselling the couch I hated and picking up the couch I loved, our apartment already felt SO MUCH more like a home to me!

Since then, I started finding myself saying “Once we buy a house…” way too often. Buying a house will be a big step for us, and we’re still a couple of year away from taking that step. I decided that I don’t want to wait a couple of years before I make this place truly feel like home, which is the whole point of Apartment Therapy’s post and is why I related to it so much.

Aside from the major change of getting a new couch, here are the little things I’ve done to make our apartment feel like home:

1. Frames & Wall Art

Frames make a place feel so much more like home! We were lucky to be gifted two framed photos from our wedding day from my mother-in-law, but that still left plenty of empty walls. My favorite place to buy frames and wall art is at TJ Maxx (or Marshall’s and HomeGoods) because I always get such great deals. We’re on a tight budget so getting a good deal is my favorite! When we first moved into our apartment, we bought a three canvas set from TJ Maxx for $20 for above our bed.

On my most recent trip, I ended up getting two frames for under $10, and a piece of wall art for above my vanity for $6. One of the frames I got was a 4×4 for our recent family picture at the pumpkin patch. Did you know that if you download the Shutterfly app, you get unlimited free 4×4 and 4×6 prints?? This has been my favorite discovery! It’s so easy to use the pictures I’ve taken on my phone, order the prints from the app, and then wait a few days for them to arrive in the mail.

The other frame I got was a rustic 4×6 frame that goes with our decor so perfectly! I signed up for Chicfetti (completely free, you just need an email) so I’d have access to all of the free prints. Free prints are one of the easiest ways to decorate a house. They are so cute (and my favorite kind of affordable). I used a customizable WiFi printable so that it’s easy for our guests to get access to our WiFi when they come over. It turned out so cute, and it was well worth the $4 for the frame!

2. Organize

The other way I’ve made our apartment feel more like a home is by organizing… like, REALLY organizing. Once I started getting our things well-organized, it finally felt like we had moved in and actually started living here, rather than renting a place that just holds our stuff (I guarantee I could find a storage unit to do that for much cheaper than our current rent).

I bought a little wood filing cabinet ($30 on OfferUp!) for all of our school supplies and files, and it’s the perfect place for our printer to live also. I got organizers for my large amount of makeup, so that it wasn’t just tossed in drawers or in bags.

I also found the cutest jar to store doggo treats in, which allowed us to combine multiple treat bags/boxes into one container. The list goes on and on, but the more things have a place that they belong, the more our apartment feels like home.

3. Buy Your Favorite Cleaning Supplies

This sounds silly but this one of the first things I did when we moved in. My husband had a bunch of cleaning supplies from his previous place, so this was not the most money savvy thing I did, but it makes cleaning so much more enjoyable for me! I buy the Mrs. Meyer’s Honeysuckle cleaners because the smell makes me so happy. I love that our apartment smells so incredible after we’ve put in the work to clean it. I always feel much more motivated to clean when I get to use the cleaner that I like most.

4. Decorate for the Season

Seasonal decorating feels so personal and cozy to me. It also allows for enough change that I don’t ever feel bored with our decor. Fall is such a great season to decorate for because you can easily switch from Halloween to Thanksgiving when the time comes. We went to the pumpkin patch early in the season and bought a bunch of pumpkins and squash as the basis of our fall decorations (and our family fun!). I arranged them on the credenza and added two fall colored/scented candles ($1 each from Target) and a cute sign that says “Happy Halloween” ($3 from Target). I also bought some dish towels with carved pumpkins on them ($4 from Kohl’s). So for less than $10 we were set up for Halloween!

Then I got a cute Thanksgiving sign ($8 from Kohl’s) to swap with the Halloween sign, and a turkey dish towels ($4 from Kohl’s) to swap with the pumpkin dish towels on November 1st. It was such an easy swap and it means that our house is decorated from October 1st to November 23rd!

We go a bit crazy with Christmas decorating, but I keep our decorations within this realm of a budget for the rest of the year!

5. Add a Rug

I’m going to share an unpopular opinion here… I can’t stand hardwood floors. The biggest downfall of our apartment is that it has hardwoods. I don’t like that they accumulate dirt within seconds, my doggo slips all the time, and they feel cold and unwelcoming to me. I love the look and feel of a cozy, warm carpet. Here’s the problem though… I don’t know if I’m the only one who miss the memo, but rugs are SUPER expensive??? When we were moving in, this was the highest financial priority for us. After a couple of weeks I started to really dread our floor, but there’s no way I was going to spend money on a new rug. Even on apps like OfferUp and LetGo, the rugs were way too pricey for me. My solution? I went to Value Village and got a HUGE rug for our living room for $40! It’s not a pattern or color scheme I would have chosen, but it was in perfect condition and it covers enough of the hardwoods that our place doesn’t feel so cold anymore. Whether you have hardwoods or carpet, rugs can add a lot of life to a room! You can use them as a pop of color, or to add a cozy feel.

We’ve also added a lot of lamps, lovely smelling candles, and bedding that I love! Let me know what things you do to make a rental (or your house!) feel like a home… I’d love some more ideas!

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