The Ultimate Budget Home: Rugs & Lighting Under $200, Art Under $100 and Decor Under $50
Moving into my first adult lady apartment all on my own was one of the most exciting times of my life. I remember daydreaming in the weeks leading up to the handing off of keys about how it would look and what life would be like there. And in my dreams, let me tell ya, it was good. Very Domino magazine 2006 with its ghost chairs and painted walls and fresh peonies. It was the kinda space where you made things other than grilled cheese sandwiches and offered friends glasses of wine without worrying whether they’d spill them on your white couch. My reality, however, was that I lived in a shoebox-sized apartment that could be viewed in its entirety from my bed, and my wallet was not there to support my vision, lol. (I also shared a wall with a falafel shop so there were smells, YAY!). So, like many 20-somethings at the mercy of hand-me-downs, the offhand IKEA purchase (which I totally thought was fancy because I bought it with, you know, actual money) and a strict “no paint” rental policy, the look I ended up with could be described, at best, as “cobbled together.” What I’m getting at here is that furnishing an apartment from scratch—whether it’s your first or you’re moving to a new city— is, well, hard. I wish I’d had a resource to know where to find the things I liked at a price I could afford because I spent a lot of time sitting on the floor. To hopefully save you from that same fate, Arlyn and Ryann have covered how to outfit your living room and dining area on a budget and today I’m here to talk rugs/art/lighting, etc.
Once you’ve got your basic furniture pieces into place and you’re ready to start peppering in some personality, rugs are the ideal place to start. Visually, they just take up a lot of space, so the color, pattern, and/or texture found there will serve as a jumping off point for the rest of the choices you’ll need to make. (They’re also just a great way to define different areas within a space.) The price you see here is mostly for 8x10s (give or take), so pretty sizeable. You really can’t go wrong with #14. It’s like the denim jacket of rugs—somehow it just goes with everything. I’m very into the price of #6, and #12 would be great on its own or layered under something with a bit more color, like that too-small vintage find you don’t know what to do with.
We’re not saying all of these roundups are for people who rent apartments, but if you DO, you know the lighting can sometimes be…unfortunate. No overhead lighting, or just…not good stuff. Good news, all you need is a pretty lamp to fix your life. Also, whoa…lamps can be EXPENSIVE, even in the “budget” category. Most of these are $100ish or less, though we did go up to $200 for some of the sconces (both hardwired and plug-in). Hot renter tip: plug-in sconces are everything. Use them next to your bed, flanking a console or fireplace, in hallways (obviously, as long as there is an outlet nearby). I’m definitely a fan of the mushroom-y lamp. #13 is great but you can’t beat #2 in terms of price. I’m always drawn to anything woven, so #1 and #27 are winners for me, but I also can’t deny loving the simple, sculptural feel of #7 and #26.
Art is an important part of decorating any home (budget or high-end). It adds the soulfulness that makes a house a home. And in the case of a rental, it’s an especially good friend of those with a no-painting-allowed policy (been there, survived that). It’s also expensive, so, with that in mind, we focused our efforts on finding printable pieces that’ll hopefully make the cost of framing hurt a little less as well as some already-framed finds. The color palette of #1 feels very on-trend and fun, but I’m also into the simplicity of #7. When it comes to landscapes, vintage generally feels like the way to go, but there’s something really nice about #14. If you like the feel of a gallery wall but are unsure of what to hang with what, go with #2—these abstract watercolor prints come in a set of six.
We understand the reluctance to replace hardwired fixtures in a rental, but it really does make such a difference (and isn’t that hard to do yourself as long as you do your research…that are hire someone from say, Taskrabbit to do it for you…you’d be surprised how inexpensive that could be). There’s a lot to love in this lighting roundup, and at under $200, the expense to have it installed is a little more justifiable. (I mean, #17 is $34!) I want to hang #5 in my imaginary desert house. #23 is a simple-but-striking twist on a simple globe pendant. I also love the idea of using two #20s in a bedroom to flank the bed.
When choosing pillows and throws, take a look at your rug and art choices and stick to the color palette you find there. Make sure to balance out prints with a few solid options and you’re pretty much good to go. I love that #13 is playful but also pretty neutral at the same time, #16 looks way too luxe for the $10 price tag (what?!), and #12 and #19 look cozy enough to see me through many a Netflix marathon.
These are the little things that come together in the end to really round out a space. Pretty much every room, no matter the style, can benefit from pops of black (adds instant modernity and depth), and #7 (set it atop a stack of books), #12 and #17 are great options. I love that #3 looks like a vintage find (and also supports our recent thoughts that seashells are trending) while #1 and #18 look like they might be handmade.
Phew…that was a lot of products (132 if you were counting…I wasn’t) but I hope that there are tons here for you to pull from whether you’re decking out your first home or your 20th. Anything here catch your eye? The team is wrapping up this series soon (I think Arlyn might have a kitchen one up her sleeve for the next few weeks), but in terms of general roundups, as always, chime in if there are any specific roundups you’d love to see here.