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How I Decorated My Maximalist Apartment on a Minimal Budget

Living by myself during my last year of college was a sudden but exciting turn of events. I love my old roommates, but our styles were very different and being able to decorate the bright, colorful and fun apartment of my dreams (on a college girl budget, of course) was incredibly exciting! Let’s talk about ways to find and spruce up cheap furniture and DIY decorations.

After rent, furniture is by far the most expensive component to an apartment, and I wanted to furnish my home for as little as possible. Over the summer, I scoured furniture thrift shops, Facebook marketplace, my parent’s garage and neighborhood yard sales. My top priority was finding these pieces at a cheaper price and then decorating or ‘flipping’ them to fit my style. I added bright pink pillows to the barstools that I found for $5 and used colorful placemats from Amazon for my dining room table. I repainted and replaced the knobs of a dresser I found on the side of the road. 

The decorations are the most exciting part of an apartment, and I was able to use decor I had accumulated throughout the years from my childhood bedroom, dorm room and previous apartment. I bought more than 20 picture frames from Dollar Tree to scatter around the apartment, and I printed off aesthetic pictures I took myself or found on Pinterest. I layered a new colorful rug over my old dorm room rug (that had seen better days) and this made it feel cozy and fresh. I love making my own home decor through painting canvases and flower pots. I have tons of fake and real plants that I bought at Five Below, Target, HomeGoods and TJ Maxx. 

I also used practical items for decorations. I used blanket scarves to put on my desk chair, purses to put on shelves and hats on the wall to add bright colors and patterns to my space. My friends and I decorated cowboy hats for a birthday party, so I have three hanging on my wall. Pillows and blankets make a huge difference in designing your perfect space, and I recovered several old pillows with pretty fabric and bought others on sale. Since my apartment is very colorful, I used blankets and decorations that I have had for five or six years and I loved how the different patterns and colors look when they are layered together.

I painted canvases of all sizes to fill up my wall space, and I used Command strips to hang up almost everything. Tiny knick knacks are extremely important for creating a maximalist space, and I recommend looking at the Target dollar section or the Dollar Tree. You can even make your own trinkets and decorations to fill up your space with meaningful items. I wanted my space to represent me and what makes me happy, so I added a disco ball, pink decorations, tons of candles, pretty flowers, bright colors and fun prints. 

Current DIY projects that I am working on include painting a $2 STOP sign I bought at a garage sale to pink and changing “STOP” to “SHOP.” I’m also painting and recovering a tall lamp and lampshade that I bought for $3 at a garage sale! If you need inspiration for your own home or don’t know what style suits you, I recommend searching “apartment tour” on TikTok or searching “types of home decor” or “interior design ideas” on Pinterest. 

I love how my apartment turned out, and I enjoy adding new pieces that I find when shopping, gifts from friends and new art projects every now and then! At the end of the day, your opinion on your home and how you decorate it matters the most and should make you feel happy and at home. Decorating a new home can be stressful, especially if your budget is as small as mine. Just remember that all the time, effort and money you put into it is an investment that can last you a long time.

Leah is currently an Honors student at UMKC studying Criminal Justice and Psychology. In her free time she enjoys reading books about court cases and painting commission pieces. She is passionate about advocacy, self care, and human rights.
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