woman painting 14048743_s Girl's Guide To Life

Affordable Ways To Revamp Your Living Space

From DIY Project ideas to places to find great budget deals, we’ve got the affordable ways to turn your house into a home.

By: Courtenay Patterson

Picture it…you’ve finished school, just started your first “real” job, and signed a lease on your very own place. You’ve probably had images of your first apartment swirling around in your head for years – what furniture you were going to put in it, what pictures you would hang on the walls, the perfect throw pillows and rugs. But let’s face it, furnishing and decorating an apartment can get really expensive, really quickly, and with bills to pay and school loans hanging over your head, spending your first (or first few) paychecks, or racking up credit card debt, on creating the ideal living space is anything but ideal. Not only that, but if you’re renting your place, you will likely be limited in your ability to repaint, put in new carpeting, or take out existing appliances, flooring, or other fixed components. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to turn your plain, drab apartment into a place you love, are proud of, and want to show off to your friends and coworkers. Here are some tips and tricks for quickly and easily transforming your house into a home:

1. FreeCycle

FreeCycle is a network made up of over 5,000 groups with over 9 million members throughout the world, and they are all about giving and getting stuff for free. Yes, I just said FREE!! Sign up for a particular group in your area and receive emails daily with items that people are giving away. It’s a fabulous, easy and cheap way to get some really great bargains and deals on some truly unique finds.

2. Craigslist

Craigslist is an ideal resource for finding all kinds of furniture, electronics, art, rugs, and other decorator items at reasonable prices. You can easily search for items in your city or other cities in your area. Craigslist even has a “Free” section where people post ads for a variety of items they are willing to give away for free. As can be expected, those items tend to get snatched up quickly, but you’d be surprised some of the nice, high-quality things people simply give away.

Please remember, when using Craigslist, as with anything related to the Internet, use common sense and be careful when heading over to someone’s house to make a purchase. Try to bring someone with you and, if possible, try to make the transaction during the day and in a public location.

3. Garage Sales

Going to garage sales are not only a fun way to spend a Saturday or Sunday morning, but they can also be a jackpot for home decorating. As the old adage goes, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to garage sales. Just think about the things that you may have given away in the past to charitable organizations. A lot of the items (if not all of them) were probably in nice condition, but you just didn’t need or want them anymore. Well, the same is true with people having garage sales. Maybe the person is moving and doesn’t want to haul so much stuff with them on the move. Or, perhaps the person is buying new furniture or appliances or electronics and no longer has a need for their perfectly good, still-fully-functional old appliances, electronics, or furniture.

Here’s the best part of garage sales…there is usually a tremendous amount of negotiating room when it comes to prices. People having a garage sale are interested in one thing – getting rid of all the stuff they’ve dragged out of their house and set up in their driveway. Those people do not want to have to bring all of that stuff back inside at the end of the day and find a place for it because it didn’t sell. If you see something that you like, but don’t want to spend as much as the person is asking, negotiate hard. Chances are, the person will back off their price. If it’s first thing in the morning, they may be disinclined to let something go for too big a bargain, but it’s worth a shot to see if they’ll come off their price. Otherwise, leave without it and go back a little later in the morning. If it’s still there, they’ll probably be more inclined to part with it at a lower price as the sale starts winding down.

4. Ikea

If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for furniture, decorations, rugs, lighting, appliances, and literally anything else you could possibly need to affordably furnish every room in your home, look no further than Ikea. Their products are all good quality, sturdy and reliable, and they range from traditional to modern to contemporary in style. The one catch is that you have to assemble the pieces yourself; however, they come with all the hardware you need and are not overly complicated to put together. Also, if you are willing to spend a bit more money, you can have Ikea employees deliver your purchases to you and even assemble them right there at your house for you. Beyond the assembly-required products throughout the store, there is an entire floor of decorative accessories, including lamps, fake plants, throw pillows, rugs, art, candles, baskets, and much more.

In addition to everything this enormous warehouse sells, Ikea is full of amazing ideas for setting up, furnishing, and putting the finishing touches on your place. For example, they have sample living spaces of varying sizes (ie. 500 square feet, 1000 square feet) and they show you how to fully furnish and decorate those spaces, including kitchen appliances, couches, bedroom area, and all the accent pieces.

If you’ve never been to Ikea, plan to spend several hours just walking through it and familiarizing yourself with all of their products and ideas. It can be a bit overwhelming, but once you’ve adjusted to the sensory-overload, you can find some amazing deals and interesting ideas to completely revamp your home.

5. Do-It-Yourself Projects

Often times, you already have things in your house that could be transformed into a great new decorative piece. A simple Google search for “do-it-yourself-home decorating” yields more than 9,000,000 results! When you’re browsing garage sales, thrift stores, or places like Ikea, look beyond the item itself and think about whether you could take the item and turn it into a cost-effect, space-saving decoration or accessory for your new place. Here are some creative, inexpensive, do-it-yourself projects for decorating your home.

Simply click on the link for a picture and description of how to make these unique decorating items:

Transform an Ikea CD rack into budget-friendly, space-saving planters.

Use a pre-fab counter top to turn an end table or nightstand into a kitchen island.

Frame pieces of fabric to decorate your walls.

Decorate your home with original artwork from eBay.

DIY abstract art on a budget.

Frame scraps of wallpaper or scrapbooking paper to create a decorative wall collage.

(Source: www.Lifehacker.com)

And, let’s not forget Pinterest as the ultimate source for DIY inspiration. Simply search for ideas, boards and pins for the particular room you are working on, and you’ll be AMAZED at the great DIY projects that pull up.

Moving into your first place is exciting, but can also be daunting, expensive, and, at times, a bit overwhelming. Remember that there are plenty of resources out there to help you transform your house into a place that shows off your taste and style without forcing you into debt. With a little patience and creativity, you can easily turn a plain, standard apartment into a warm and inviting home.

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