Just snapped up a great first apartment on the Upper East Side with your best friend but can’t afford to fill it up? Interior designers often work on a budget and have some great ideas for young professionals who are just starting out. Paying the rent and decorating your apartment are not mutually exclusive.
Sean Juneja is one of New York City’s most venerable interior designers and has a wealth of experience. Here are his top five tips for decorating your pad on a budget.
Of course, if you’re looking for useful, inexpensive furniture, the first place you’re likely to stop is IKEA. Juneja recommends using IKEA, especially for stackable storage units, to prevent items from building up on the floor. If you’re looking for more unique finds, Gray recommends searching H + M Home, Zara Home, and Muji. She also notes that kids’ shops often have fun (and wallet-friendly) things like lamps, mirrors, and furniture that can work just as well in the adult area – try Land of Nod or PB Teen.
“Hang mirrors near a window to open up a room and bring more natural light into a room,” comments Juneja. If you’re looking for an easy way to make your dark apartment brighter and happier, let the sun in. Plants are also a great way to do this, notes Gray: “Plants bring sparse life, color, and texture to spaces. Accentuate your high ceilings with trees. When space is tight, try vertical or hanging planters. “Visit the Home Depot for cheap mirrors and plants.
If you want to indulge yourself, Gray insists it should be your couch. You want your living space to be comfortable and a couch to last for at least a few years. When you live with something for a long period of time, you want to know that you are happy with it. Be sure to try it out before you buy. There are a few inexpensive furniture stores in town that sell high quality items for less.
Sometimes a pop of color is enough to spice up your little studio. Juneja suggests, “If you’re lucky enough to have a pre-war apartment, try painting the traditional decorations and shapes with rich colors (dark gray or royal blue). It will enhance the architecture and add an upscale feel without breaking the bank. “This is of course only possible with the express permission of your landlord. Remember that if you decide to leave, you may have to return your home in its original color.
Both designers agree: Art on the walls makes a room cozier and happier. Comments Juneja, “A wall of framed photos and art can instantly make a room look more pulled together.” Whether you make it yourself or buy it from a place like Etsy, make sure you frame it well and curate your wall area accordingly. The more art you hang – and the more you feel connected to this art – the more effective your use of space will be.