Decorating on a budget can seem tough, especially when you’re just starting out. Sometimes we think that great style has to be expensive. We are here to show you that it doesn’t have to be! When you know where to shop and how to put it together you can decorate any space on a tiny budget. It’s really so exciting (and empowering!!) In this post we show you how to turn a bare-bones space into a chic & modern apartment that looks like a designer created it! We love to shop the Better Homes & Gardens collection at Walmart because they consistently deliver style, function and affordability. Keep reading to learn how we gave a college living space an impressive face-lift all on a tight budget!
We are honored to be part of The Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart Influencer Network. We love representing a brand that provides quality style at affordable prices. Jodie & I receive compensation for our time and efforts in creating this post. All our opinions are authentically our own, and we hope you enjoy.
Bringing Community Together with Decor
This summer Jodie and I are blessed to have my college-age daughter, Bianca, interning with us. It’s a perfect fit because she is a creative writing and journalism major. Not ony is she a talented writer and photographer but like her mom and aunt she loves design. Guess it really does run in the family. We were brainstorming ways to use our design skills to benefit someone or a group that might need our help.
Bianca remembered that up at her college, Western Washington University, there is a university housing lounge that was supposed to be for socializing and gathering. But she said it was so sad. No one ever used it. I asked her why not. She said that it was so bare and uninviting. We both thought, wouldn’t it be awesome to dress it up and create a space that really encouraged socializing. So….we did! EEK!
With the help of our sponsors…
With the help of our sponsors, Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart, we started shopping. We knew we could find chic, stylish decor on a budget to achieve exactly what we envisioned. We would turn a space people wouldn’t use into a place where they didn’t want to leave. Instead of hiding away in their rooms like they normally did, we would create something they would be drawn to, a place to socialize with one another and create new bonds of friendship!
While you can always find Better Homes & Gardens products in Walmart stores, there is an extended and vast assortment of products online at Walmart.com/bhg. More styles, colors, and sizes are only a click away!
Budget Friendly Decor: DIY Art Feature Wall
Just because you don’t have a large budget to indulge in beautiful artwork doesn’t mean you can’t have beautiful walls! This is all you need to create a gorgeous feature wall:
- 6 Better Homes & Gardens 11 x 14 Black Picture Frames
- 6 pieces of colored cardstock
- Metallic Caligraphy pens, gold & silver
- Stencils of your choice
Depending on your color scheme and style choose your paper background colors, stencils and pens. Our total cost for this wall art project was $80. The best part is that it can be changed up as often as you change your mood and decor. The endless versatility of this wall art makes it a very practical solution for wall decor.
You can have a lot of fun swapping out the colors and what you choose to display. You can arrange the frames in different ways and over the years move them from room to room. Express yourself creatively. Keep it simple or change it up, it’s all up to you!
It literally took Bianca a total of 30 minutes to fill in all the stencils and put the cardstock in the frames. So simple and easy and the result is fabulous! Your very own artwork is now a focal point in your space. Have fun showing off your creative/artistic side (even if you didn’t think you had one)!
Make Your Modern Apartment Cozy
Before this space was empty and uninviting. By making a few key changes we were able to transform it on a small budget. Curtains, small decor items, wall art, a rug, pillows, faux plants, and throws were all added. These are not expensive, but they make a space feel and look complete. Not only do they add the necessary details to finish the look they also make a space more enjoyable.
We find all the latest decor trends in the Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart collection, like macrame pillows and pom-pom throws, all for a fraction of what other companies charge.
This rug is one of our absolute favorites. It is such great quality and value that you’ll be tempted to buy more than one. It literally feels like you’re walking on clouds…for real! The pattern is one of the hottest trends and blends beautifully with almost every decor style.
Another great way to instantly make a space cozier is by lighting a scented candle. It shifts the mood with both aromatherapy as well as adding instant ambiance. We are literally addicted 🙂
Layering to Create Coziness in Your Modern Apartment
Modern and sleek doesn’t have to be harsh. Soften the look to make it warm and livable. We achieved this by adding layers. Here we added a faux fur throw over the coffee table. This does several things:
- it adds softness to the modern, somewhat harsh lines of the furniture
- creates texture
- adds coziness
- it breaks up the expanse of dark color of the table
- it adds a layer of interest
- grounds the basket so it’s not “floating”
Next we used a basket on top of the faux fur throw. This does several things:
- adds interest to the table
- creates a focal point to the room
- repeats the natural basket color and theme
- adds texture
- creates a frame for the decor inside
- grounds the decor items
When decorating think in terms of layers. The more layers the more interesting the look. For example, instead of just setting a candle on a table think about placing the candle on a book on top of a tray on a throw….You get the idea!
The Power of Color in Decor
This room was really sterile, as you saw in the before pictures. All white walls and all black furniture. It was completely uninviting. It was screaming for color. When you have a totally neutral backdrop, like many modern apartments, you can really have fun by incorporating a accent color. Color adds instant life and drama to a room.
We chose turquoise. It’s on trend and somewhat gender neutral. So it’s a win, win! When adding color the general decorating rule of thumb is to add it in at least 3 places. Usually I like to add a big pop and several smaller accents. Our big color pop is of course the blue curtains on either side of the large, picture window. We were so excited to see the transformation the curtains made. They instantly perfectly framed the breathtaking view of the Bellingham Bay!
Next we added a plush turquoise blanket to the side chair to make it a little more inviting. Blue throw pillows on the couch added comfort and style. The lamp finishes the last soft pop of blue.
Budget Friendly Decor: It’s All in The Details!
The lamp also from Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart was the perfect choice for this restyle. We love the soft blue of the glass and the textured glass pattern is a beautiful detail. It’s a great size as a versatile table lamp. I also love the wood base that adds natural warmth that the room needs.
Another easy way to add warmth to a space is with the use of baskets. I like to put plants in baskets, use them instead of trays, use them to store occasionally used items such as extra blankets or pillows. Sometimes I just add them for an easy finishing detail.
A space is never complete without some fresh/faux greenery and foliage. We used a fabulous fiddle leaf fig tree in the corner, which brought so much life to the room. Then we sprinkled smaller faux plants on the coffee table, TV console and side table.
College Community Brought Together
We had grand plans and somehow the finished room turned out even better than any of us even expected!
Kaylen, one of the residents, couldn’t stop raving about the restyled space. “We are so beyond ecstatic about the new living space. It’s stylish and functional and we can’t wait to start using it when everyone comes back from summer break. Before no one ever wanted to hang out there because it was so bland, but now I know we won’t be able to stay away!”
Bianca says they are already talking about organizing game or movie nights when school starts in September. Who knew a few simple changes could bring a community of college students together again? In today’s technology-crazed society it really is more important than ever. This is early evidence that a refreshed space has the power to not only transform the environment but maybe even the attitudes & habits of the people inhabiting it.
We hope you enjoyed some of our tips and tricks to transform a modern apartment or any space on a budget. Good luck decorating your own spaces. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!
XO ~ Julie, Jodie (& Bianca)
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