We know it’s tough, you may have just moved out of your parents house for the first time, or have graduated from uni and it’s time to get your first apartment. Costs can be tight in the first few months and you don’t want to spend that hard earned cash all at once on a brand new $5000 sofa. We have this covered. 

Here are some of my tips to get you started!

First Apartment Furniture Budget

Let’s start here – money . So you have your down payment on your rent, paid for hydro, internet, once all your bills have come out for the month, where does that leave you? This is your budget. Remember that and most importantly , stick to it!

Allocate a portion that you will spend on furnishings and make sure to not overspend. 




Furnishing Your First Apartment On A Budget

Now we have the money angle sorted, let’s think about the actual furniture. . Some say furnishing should come last, but I know sometimes you don’t have the cash to redecorate what’s already there straight away – so we have to improvise and work with your surroundings rather than against them.

  • Second hand furniture – Second hand will become your friend. Furniture can be REALLY expensive. Because of this , we do not recommend buying most items new. We know new things are nice, but think about the environmental impact of reusing something. Also – you will find some bargains , as some people like to keep on top of the trend and sell furniture that is very little used, in order to get the latest thing. You might even find something cool and vintage from a thrift store that totally goes with your new place! We recommend sites like Kijiji, Facebook marketplace, and ebay. Or just keep an eye out at Thrift stores around you, you will be sure to pick up a bargain
  • Furniture Making – If you are handy enough, you could even make the furniture yourself. Materials are cheap so if you have the time you can certainly make a stunning statement table, or chair item. We offer Furniture making courses for those interested in learning more about this option.
  • Upcycling furniture – if you already have some furniture in your apartment that’s been left looking sad, and tired by previous tenants, you could always upcycle it . not sure about upcycling?

interior design cover photo


interior design cover photo

Apartment kitchen decorating ideas on a budget

Let’s move on to the kitchen. Here there is a lot of opportunity to save. You don’t always need to strip units out and buy new, sometimes a lick of paint will do the trick to make your kitchen look new, fresh and modern once again. Sometimes even just changing kitchen handles or the unit doors can make a kitchen transform into something completely new. 

My other tip, is to use the space. Make use of all of the storage areas that a kitchen has and keep your surfaces clean and tidy, this makes it much more hygienic and easy to clean but it also makes your space look bigger and lets more light in

Changing the backsplash on a kitchen often makes it look cleaner, and less grimy if it was left looking tatty by old owners. Brick effect tiles look great and give kitchens an industrial look which is really ‘in’ at the moment. You could even tile it yourself, saving on the money of a labourer.

How to Tile a Backsplash?

You will need:

  • Tiles
  • Tile cutter
  • Adhesive
  • Trowel
  • Tile spacers
  • Clean water & sponge

Wall Prep For Tile Backsplash

This is quite a simple one, and if you get the initial preparation right, it should be very easy to get effective results. You can purchase tiles from any home hardware store, but I like these hexagonal tiles from TilesInspired.

  • First, measure your area. You need to make sure you have a straight line where you are starting to tile from. Once you have this line draw it on the wall, so you will not go off the mark once you have started. Make sure you have an entirely smooth surface before your tiles go on the wall. You may want to get a plasterer to skim the wall to make sure it is entirely flat. 
  • Second, use your adhesive and trowel and cover the tile
  • Stick The tile  on the wall. Use a spacer to get an even space between each tile
  • Repeat until finished! You have a perfectly tiled wall. To finish, you should clean off the remaining adhesive , as this will prove much more difficult to come off when it has hardened. 

cute living room toronto


cute living room toronto

How To Install Backsplash around outlets

Simply draw an outline where your outlets will be, and cut this out of the tile with your tile cutter. If the cut is more difficult, you may need to cut two lines in the tile and snap the remaining piece off with some pincers or another tool. Some tiles can be more difficult than others to cut so it will be a case of trial and error. You now have a perfectly cut tile!

Decorating A Rental Apartment On A Budget

I find this one difficult sometimes. Some Of our landlords are very …shall we say… particular about apartment rules, and come up with a long list of things we can and can’t do  with the place. I guess this is for the best, as they don’t want to find one day that their renter decorated their apartment with a lovely orange and purple polka dot accent wall because they read an article about ‘futuristic 2020 design trends’… BUT that’s not to say you have to be locked into a contract of white walls and plain floors for the time that you spend there. 

Apartment Decorating on a dime:

Versatility – You need to choice pick items that are versatile. Maybe you have a blanket that can also be used as a rug, or a wall hanging, depending on the mood? Fantastic.

Wall hangings are brilliant because they can cover those stark white walls, and liven up the place. Same with rugs. I love Persian design rugs, they add a feeling of luxury and exuberance. They also can help insulate your apartment.

Use your walls – like  a piece of art? You can even buy a cheap poster print of it and stick it on your wall. Maybe improvise  a frame, or buy one and you can look at some great art. Your friends will think you are so cultured , and it gets rid of those pesky white walls . 

Temporary measures – sometimes things have to be temporary,so maybe you could think about stick on wallpaper, or an accent wall? These are great ways to decorate, without totally changing your apartment.

interior design cover


interior design cover

Small Apartment Design On A Budget

I have spoken to a lot of my friends for this article – and quite a few of them live in a studio apartment. This can cause some people to panic when they think about decorating. Especially if they are naturally untidy. 

Entertaining guests can be a problem when it comes to a studio apartment too because people have nowhere to store their bed and laundry and it can be a potentially embarrassing experience. 
But I have some tips for this to be as pain free as possible and a really fun space. 

Zone your apartment – you can’t have everything be mixed up in a studio apartment. It is healthier to have a distinct sleeping/eating/living space. Do this by switching up lighting and vibes in these different areas, and having different colour schemes.

The bed –  your bed will inevitably take up space, so you really need it to double up as something else, as in , a sofa during the day. Alternatively you could invest in a concealed bed, or a pull down bed. This takes the bed out of the space during the day leaving it an obvious day time space.

Plan your space – temporary partition walls are a very good idea and give the impression of a wall , they are also great to install with a desk area so you have somewhere to work.

Decorating A One Bedroom Apartment On A Budget

This is a similar one to the studio apartment – however you do have that bit extra space. Here it is not as important to assign set zones, and make differences, you may want to do the opposite and tie your apartment together with a linking colour scheme or similar. A one bedroom sounds small, but you have so many options. Check out my article on French style Interiors for inspiration about vintage, cheap furniture.

Personally, I like a minimalist look in a one bedroom, and the best thing about minimalist, is it is naturally cheap.


Yellow light apartment

Minimalist Apartment On A Budget

Black and white are the two cheapest paint colours, so make white your primary colour and black your accent colour. This is also a minimalist go to colour scheme.
Simple , easy, effective. Use your clothes as that accent! You can even use your wardrobe rail and put your wardrobe on display. Sometimes this splash of colour is all you need in a minimalist apartment, and it really helps you decide what to wear on a morning.
Wall rack – Wall racks are cheap, and you can display stuff in a stylish way on them. You can also hang small potted plants on them, giving that hint of green. What’s not to love?

finsta bedroom


cute apartment

Apartment Budget Checklist

So, you have my tips, now it’s time to put them into practice. Lets recap

  • Know your budget before you start
  • Get thrifty
  • Be patient – it might take awhile for you to be perfectly happy with your new design and it might take a while to gather all of those pieces. 
  • Do your research – you might find something cheaper elsewhere
  • Keep it light and fresh, natural light is great and makes any home look more impressive. 
  • Enjoy it! Even though you are renting, make this space your home.
If you want more tips on your apartment, or anything else – don’t hesitate to contact us! We would he happy to help. You can also look at some of our pricing plans for apartment design in Toronto.


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