You see the posts all over Instagram. The gorgeous, perfectly put together apartments that are somehow always spotless and might as well be on Apartment Therapy. Moody, home-y, minimalist……and expensive.
Yeah, buying all your furniture from West Elm might not be in the budget at the moment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t put together a space that feels grown-up and high-quality. You just have to find the right pieces to enhance that IKEA furniture you’ve grown to love.
1. Mood lighting
I see those Anthropologie candles every time I walk through the mall, and have resisted from purchasing one every time I turn it over and see the $30+ price tag. It’s just wax! I have a wax warmer for that, which honestly looks even cuter.
Instead of repeatedly buying real candles, invest in a few flameless candles that last forever. Just throw a battery in, place throughout your apartment, and you have some simple moody lighting. The ones I have come with a little remote you can use to turn them on/off, so you don’t even have to go around flipping a switch.
I adopted a cat about a year ago and have been really cautious about the plants I bring into my apartment ever since. Cats like eating things, despite how toxic they are, so I’ll take plastic plants over real ones at this point. Turns out, it’s a really affordable alternative to buying fresh ones!
My go-to spot for buying fake plants is Afloral.com. They have a really nice variety of flowers and other greenery, and so far these sunflowers are my favorite. Pick up a few vases and scatter your faux plants throughout your space for a splash of color throughout an otherwise neutral apartment (at least, if you’re like me and refuse to buy anything colorful).
3. Tabletop accents
I moved in to an ADA accessible apartment because it was the only studio left at my complex, which means extra wide hallways, railings in my shower, and a microwave that takes up a good third of my counter space since it can’t be raised up to the cabinet level. It’s a bit of an eyesore.
To make up for that, I bought a wooden serving tray to place on top of it and added a candle and mini flower bouquets to dress that corner of my kitchen up. I also grabbed a serving tray from IKEA to place on my otherwise empty coffee table and added some similar decor to that, along with my beloved Joanna Gaines Homebody book.
Basically, if you have a good chunk of flat space in need of an upgrade, throw a tray on it.
4. Throw pillows
DO NOT spend $70 on a cream throw pillow at Urban Outfitters. You will find the exact same thing at Ross or on Amazon for a quarter of the price. My favorite way to buy throw pillows is just grabbing some new covers and throwing them over pillows I already have. That way you can change your color scheme up when you get tired of them and wash them easily if they get stained.
Throw pillows are just an easy way to dress up your existing apartment. They make a bare couch look home-y and a barely used desk chair look like it’s meant to be there.
5. Neutral wall art
I like to invest in my furniture and let them speak for themselves, so on the walls, I prefer to go for a neutral and minimalist look. I’ve been buying my prints from Desenio for a couple years now and really trust their quality, but prefer to buy my frames from IKEA because they’re way cheaper.
6. Stalking FB Marketplace
I REALLY wanted to get that modern-boho rattan look for my current apartment, but everything I found in-store was hundreds of dollars. I spent a few weeks looking through Facebook Marketplace and one day stumbled upon my dream coffee table: a gorgeous rattan piece with a glass top straight from Hawaii. And for $60!!!
It takes a lot of patience, but when you find that gem it feels SO good. Check in every day and give it some time. You should also check if your neighborhood has a Buy Nothing page (just search “Buy Nothing” and see what groups come up near you), because I’ve found a few really nice pieces that people just had a hard time selling because no one was able to physically pick them up.