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by Laurren Welch
Youxi988 Budget living room decor7
photo by | from: sylvia’s living room surprise makeover

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.

Rugs Under $200

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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 . It’s like the denim jacket of rugs—somehow it just goes with everything. I’m very into the price of , and 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.

Table Lamps + Sconces Under $200

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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. is great but you can’t beat in terms of price. I’m always drawn to anything woven, so and are winners for me, but I also can’t deny loving the simple, sculptural feel of and .

Art Under $100

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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 feels very on-trend and fun, but I’m also into the simplicity of . When it comes to landscapes, vintage generally feels like the way to go, but there’s something really nice about . If you like the feel of a gallery wall but are unsure of what to hang with what, go with —these abstract watercolor prints come in a set of six.

Chandeliers & Pendants Under $200

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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, is $34!) I want to hang in my imaginary desert house. is a simple-but-striking twist on a simple globe pendant. I also love the idea of using two s in a bedroom to flank the bed.

Pillows & Throws Under $50

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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 is playful but also pretty neutral at the same time, looks way too luxe for the $10 price tag (what?!), and and look cozy enough to see me through many a Netflix marathon.

Accessories Under $50

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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 (set it atop a stack of books), and are great options. I love that looks like a vintage find (and also supports our recent thoughts that seashells are trending) while and 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.

  1. Loving this! Especially the lighting and art!!

    Could use a bathroom edition of this: hand and bath towels, mat, hooks, lighting, shelving, baskets…

    1. Ah good idea!

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  2. Nice post! So I hate to be that person but your category title reads scones instead of sconces and now I want a scone.

    1. People often feel that you should have either savoury or sweet…. Cheddar, Strawberry jam & a dollop of whipped cream is gorge

    2. Same!😂

    3. Ha! Man, now I also want a scone…mistake fixed!

  3. This is amazing. Thank you!!!

  4. Always appreciative of someone taking their time to find good deals to share.
    Thank you.

  5. Emily, this is a very helpful and inspiring article. Looks like lots of work to bring together all the great options. Much appreciated!

  6. Thank you so so so much for this roundup! I’m moving to a new apartment this fall, and I’ve been feeling a bit at sea since I have a small budget. I had no idea that there was such a thing as a plug-in sconce – my mind is blown!

  7. This makes me want to cry, thank you! We just moved into a new house and I feel like I have spent so much time and energy trying to pick all these out myself. Between going into stores with children and ordering things online that I end up not liking in person, I’m getting pretty discouraged. I very much appreciate this curated list! Especially since a new HVAC system bursted my decorating budget dreams! Thank you!!!

    1. So glad this is helpful!! Good luck with the new house.

  8. Thank you!
    We often make the choice to splurge on investment tools or home improvement projects that ultimately add value to our home. Decor items definitely get whatever is leftover in the budget, and it’s usually slim. This is so helpful.

  9. This is FANTASTIC! Thank you so much for this round up. We love our home and want it to look nice but decor just isn’t where we want to put down the dollars. This makes a nice, finished spaced accessible for just about any budget.

    FYI… the link for the pendant light (#17) takes you to the plug in version but the thumbnail is for the hard wire version. Both affordable, both an option!

  10. THANK YOU for the BUDGET ideas! I love this this post so much.

  11. Love it! How about an office round up? How to pick out the right impact pieces to add character to a standard corporate office?

    1. I second this! My cubicle is beige, brown, tan, and off-white … I would love tips on how to personalize such a neutral and corporate space and add a little fun and whimsy!

      1. I third this (is that a thing?)! I’ve been spending time on Pinterest looking for ideas on how to help decorate my husband’s government-job office space and there is NOTHING. The world needs guidance on how to take masculine office spaces to the next level!

  12. Thank you so much for compiling this list. It’s really so helpful!

  13. Thank you for this! Can u pls fix #17 in the rugs!? Link doesn’t match picture and the picture is beautiful!

    1. Hi Chrissy! It’s the right link just strangely defaults to a darker, round version. Be sure to click the “ivory/slate” color (I believe it’s the third option), then change the size so you don’t see a bunch of runners!

  14. Putting some finishing touches on the bedroom in my bachelor pad, but did the whole thing for just under $600. Part budget constraints, part being ridiculously picky about aesthetic. I may have slept in a sleeping bag on my bed for a week… having a farmhouse basic white boy sign made, and need to figure out another art piece, but it turned out so well. Keep RH open in one tab and wayfair in another lol, you can make style happen for cheap.

  15. My life is complete – I have something in this round-up! Under chandeliers and pendants, I recently purchased 2 of #22, and have them hanging above my kitchen island. Larger than you might think, but I love the scale.

    Also, I’m surprised how many good picks there are from Home Depot (lighting and throws even). Thanks for the awesome round-up!

  16. Love the blue club chairs can you share details?

  17. I want that map in the living room! Where is that from?!

  18. Great post! And when did Home Depot get good lighting?! Are these only at select stores?

  19. Folks, a possibly-silly question for you: do you all, or does the blog generally, have a thing against the color red? I notice it because I love it, and decorate with a lot of it (kilims, Persian rugs, throw pillows, etc — not walls or furniture but accents). I almost never see it here, though. Loads of blue, and a fair amount of orange/peach, grey, white… where’s the red?

  20. Juniper Print Shop is a great source for printable art too! I have several pieces from there and love them.

  21. Yeeees this is the best series! I love seeing items from Etsy shops and other lesser-known stores. Personally, I could use a budget bathroom roundup… but I’m happy to see budget anything!

  22. Thanks to a post like this one, i got a $15 basket at World Market Plus that looks $150+ — and it looks great. Sometimes your finds are so inexpensive it seems like the vendor made a mistake, e.g., a $10 wood lamp at Target! many thanks

  23. I know some of your profits come from advertisements, but your website has way too many pop-ups and ads. There’s too much going on (video ads, pop up adds, graphed ads with multiple tiles, etc). It’s a bit overwhelming and a bit annoying to constantly click the ‘x’ button whenever the pop up comes up (multiple times during a site visit). Your recommendations and referrals are great, but the ads…

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