How to Decorate Your Apartment on a Tight Budget

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Making your rental property feel like a warm and inviting space can be a challenge if you are on a tight budget, as many students are. We also know that decorating can be a tough when your options are limited by rental rules.

The good news is there are many “tricks”professional decorators use that are inexpensive and effective. Whether your taste is traditional, eclectic, minimalist or kitschy it is possible to create a desirable living space without spending a fortune when you use a little bit of creativity.

Here are 9 tried and true ideas on how to decorate your rental property on a budget.

1. Re-purpose furniture from a thrift store or resale sites like CraigsList. Not only is this a budget friendly way of finding furniture, you are recycling and that is good for your wallet and the planet. If you get a thrift store sofa, consider covering it with an inexpensive slip cover in a soft or muted color that blends with your accent colors.  You can also give used dressers, coffee tables, dining room tables and other pieces a new life with a fresh coat of paint.

2. If you must buy new furniture, find some that you can assemble yourself (IKEA is a great place to find this).  Remember- what you move in, you will eventually need to move out. So go light and stick with the essential pieces- a few living room pieces for seating and storage, a dining room table, a bed and a dresser is really all you need to get started.

3. Decide on a color scheme and stick with it…Blending colors that contrast with white walls will make the space feel more open. Cool colors like green, turquoise, blue, and purple can make a room feel more spacious and elegant. Warm colors like orange, yellow, and red can make the space appear cozy and intimate.

4. Go to the local discount store or dollar store for more basic items like kitchen utensils, trash cans and more.

5. Bring in area rugs to add more color. If you are decorating on a budget, an area rug is a big purchase. Look for bargains online and at discount stores like IKEA, thrift stores or resale sites like Ebay or CraigsList. Once you find the right rug that fits in with your color scheme, place the rug in the middle of the room to frame your space.

6. Add soft lighting throughout the apartment with inexpensive lamps. Tack a scarf or square of neat fabric to the ceiling over a drab boring light fixture. The fabric hangs far enough down that it won’t heat up or scorch, and the pretty colored light shines through below.

7. Staple fabric over a bulletin board. Hang on the wall and pin your favorite pictures on it.

8.  Make your windows a work of art. There are numerous ways to creatively dress up your windows without it costing a fortune. To make your ceilings seem taller, hang the curtains 6-10 inches above the window. Consult with a DYI website to get easy sewing tips on simple curtains. If you don’t sew, you can always use an adhesive fabric tape. Hang your homemade curtains with inexpensive clip rings which can be purchased at most hardware stores or any Target or Walmart. If you want an even easier window treatment, you can of course purchase inexpensive pre-made curtains at most stores. Fabric shower-curtains are another option, and are easy to install. You can even make a window valance using a scarf or a tablecloth.

9. Make your own throw pillows in the same color scheme as your curtains to pull together the look in your living room and bedroom.

All you need is a little imagination and even the thriftiest decorator can create a lovely and desirable living space in your apartment.  Let us know what ideas you come up with!

Dos and Don’ts of Being a Good Neighbor in Your Apartment Community

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It doesn’t matter if you are a first-time renter or an experienced one, one of best pieces of advice we can give to our tenants is to be considerate of your neighbors (you know- the people who live upstairs, downstairs, next door, 3 doors down, etc).

Living with multiple neighbors is a big adjustment for those new to apartment living, but it is a good policy to be on good terms with all or most residents in your apartment community. Think of it like an insurance policy. The peace of mind that comes with knowing you are surrounded by people who are there for you is priceless.

A strong network of neighbors will help make your property more secure if they are actively watching out for each other while away. Neighbors are great for watering the plants, checking the mail, removing flyers or packages left at the door that could otherwise alert potential burglars that you are away.

Good neighbors can come to the rescue when you are in a bind whether it’s something small like lending you an iron, or cup of milk for a recipe; or something major like providing assistance in the the unfortunate case of an emergency.

The stress and tension that results from bad neighbors can create a miserable apartment living experience. Nobody enjoys receiving dirty looks, snide comments, or enduring other passive aggressive and immature behavior (like blasting loud music intentionally).

To avoid this, here are some tips to help you build positive relationships with other tenants.

DO

  • Make a good first impression by introducing yourself…i.e. “Hi, I’m Becky I live just down the hall from you”.

  • Ask some basic questions, learn a little about them and share a little about yourself.

  • Acknowledge your neighbor with a smile and a quick “hello” when passing by.

  • Let your neighbor(s) know you are there should they every need help with something

  • Exchange contact information (if you are comfortable doing so).

  • Make an effort to be polite and respectful.

  • Show common courtesy.

  • Repay a neighbor who does you a favor with a small thank-you gift or note. Let them know you appreciate their favor.

  • Be willing to return the favor to a neighbor who helps you.

  • Be tolerant. Try not to take your neighbor’s actions or comments personally. Chances are they were not directed to you.

  • Watch your noise levels. You are probably being too loud if neighbors can hear your conversation or music inside their homes.

  • Clean up after a party, including debris left around property.

  • Ask for assistance when you need it; many neighbors are willing to lend a hammer or an ear.

  • Calmly and politely discuss concerns with your neighbors as soon as they arise and before they escalate into larger issues.

  • Return all borrowed items quickly and with gratitude (include a thank you note or a small gift is a nice touch).

 

DON’T

  • Feel like you have to be a social butterfly (in fact, being too friendly can come across as being a busybody, which will turn some people off).

  • Blow them off when when they say “hello” or wish you a good day.

  • Host a large party without inviting or at least talking to your neighbors.

  • Drop by every day unannounced. Having a good neighbor in your building can be great, but it doesn’t mean you have to be best friends. Unless they really are your best friend, use good judgment and respect their space and privacy.

  • Park in your neighbor’s parking space.

  • Allow your friends or visitors to park in your neighbor’s parking space.

  • Park on the sidewalk or on grass or other landscaping.

  • Assume they won’t have a problem with your loud music or conversations.

If you are having a difficulty resolving a conflict with a neighbor, Conflict Resolution Services can help open a discussion between you and your neighbors with the hope of furthering understanding and finding resolution. Conflict Resolution Services Go to studentlife.uoregon.edu and click on “Conflict Resolution Services.” 541-346-6105 or -0617