Like many people, you may think that you have a money problem. You may feel that you don’t have enough income to live the life you want. Instead, you live within your means and live frugally. Living frugally has many benefits, including decreased waste and less stress. But in the back of your mind, you may think that frugal living means sparse living. After paying the rent for your condo unit, your groceries, taxes, and your utility bills, plus saving money for your retirement or for emergencies, beautifying your space can seem like a first-world problem.
Here’s the thing: frugal living is good, but it doesn’t mean you have to live like a hermit in a cave. You can beautify your two-bedroom condo without any over-the-top spending.
Celebrate That Light Bulb Moment
First, think about when you change a lightbulb. It’s a simple yet tedious chore. But focus on that keyword “change.” What can you replace that busted bulb with? You can go with the same type that was there before. Or you can go with a new one: spiral CFL bulbs can give your lighting fixture a nice twist. LED bulbs can be relatively pricey, but in terms of energy efficiency, they’re pretty good. They also come in different colors: warm incandescent, purple, red, and green. Changing your light bulb is a great opportunity for people to see your home in a whole new light.
Tame Wires with Tubes and Ties
Maybe you have an entertainment center in your living room, with your TV, DVD player, and stereo/speaker setup all interconnected. Or maybe you have a computer setup with a desktop PC, monitor, printer, and keyboard. Both situations bring up one obsessive-compulsive nightmare: tangled wires. They can stick out at odd angles and be eyesores, and because they’re electrical, they can be major dust collectors too. To make tidying up much easier, consider using colored cable ties or simple PVC pipes. You will not only rein in those wild wires, but it can also help add interesting lines and colors to your space.
Your Wall is a Canvas
Don’t settle for the wall that your condo unit started out with. It’s a blank canvas, a page that you can draw and write on to express yourself. There are plenty of condo design ideas you can use to spice it up. Find inspiring and charming decals to stick onto that flat surface. If you’re an artist, you can choose your best pieces and showcase them on your wall. Simple frames and photos can turn it into a running history of your life. You can even do wallpapering with a frugal twist: instead of wallpapering your entire unit or a whole room, just choose one section to highlight as an accent for your space.
You Should Go and Love Your Shelves
A simple alternative way to adorn your walls is to install mounted shelves and put eye-catching decorative pieces on them. Maybe you’re a bookworm, in which case you can put your favorite titles on a wall-mounted shelf in the living room. If you’ve got a collection of fancy toys, you can put them on display for kids and kids-at-heart to appreciate. Shelves can even be practical: a well-placed wall shelf in your bedroom can provide convenient real estate for shoes, cologne, powder, and other small items that you wear on a regular basis. Floating shelves usually cost less money than cabinets or wardrobes, but since installing them can be a fairly major project that may permanently change your unit, you’ll also want to discuss this with your landlord or condo administration.
Re-Covering the Beauty of Your Throw Pillows
Another aspect of condo design that people overlook is fabric. Accent pieces, like throw pillows, are very versatile. By replacing one set with another, you can totally rejuvenate the look of your living space without buying new sofas or armchairs. But you can perk up your throw pillows by replacing the fabric they’re covered with. Take out that thread and needle, channel your inner tailor or seamstress, and just start sewing up new covers. You can buy a few yards of fabric with a pattern that appeals to you. Earn bonus points by using cloth from old dresses or T-shirts.
Give Your Closets a “Curtain” Appeal
One of the many realities of condo living is the struggle for space, especially when you’re dealing with closet doors. You know what we’re talking about: most closet doors open by swinging outward, so when you plan your room layout, you have to make space for that aspect. In a condo unit with limited space, that can be a hassle. Liberate that space by replacing those doors with a beautiful curtain. This is another handy DIY project, but it’s easy enough. All it takes is a Saturday morning’s work, and you can totally turn your closet into a personalized design piece.
Free Your Mind by De-Cluttering Your Space
One of the most practical tips in designing your condo on the cheap is to get rid of items that just take up space without adding anything to your home. Clutter is the enemy of good condo design: it takes just one knick-knack out of place to spoil the ambiance and layout of a living room or bedroom arrangement. You try to move it somewhere else, but where can you put it? Think about the mental energy and time you’d expend, and multiply it by the number of unnecessary eyesores you have lying around. Save yourself the trouble and really evaluate which items you want to keep, and throw away what you don’t want. As home decluttering expert Marie Kondo says, tidying up can change your life for the better.
Give Your Bedroom a Dash of DIY
Of course, when you go to bed, you want to feel like you’re in your own space, and it’s hard to feel that when your bedroom is bare. A plain headboard and dull beige lampshades can feel peaceful but uninspired. When you appreciate the nuances of designing a frugal condo, you can be satisfied with much less. To put a spin on an old saying: want not, waste not. Add a touch of personality with a fabric panel headboard. Give those dull lampshades a makeover by covering them with Japanese paper or old fabric (again, old printed T-shirts can be your best friend in this case). If you’ve got old window shutters or leftover lumber from past renovations, you can give those a nice coat of varnish and use them as a personalized, upcycled headboard too.
Go Wild with the Second Bedroom
To live frugally, you have to always see the metaphorical glass as half-full. If you live in a two-bedroom condo, you may see yourself as not having much floor space. On the other hand, you’ve got two bedrooms, and that means two different sleeping spaces to decorate. You can go for a muted and laid-back feel for the first bedroom with pastel tones. Then with your second one, you can be more artistic and experimental, going for loud and expressive colors. Accent pieces can be covered with glossy paint or spray paint in the colors of your choice, just buy your preferred shade from the hardware store and paint away. If you’ve got kids and they’re using the second bedroom, of course you want to get them involved in the color selection and painting process.
Re-design by Reorganizing
Maybe you’re tempted to buy a new coffee table or couch to spruce up your humble living room, but do you really have to? One of the best money-saving hacks comes from realizing that you don’t need new pieces to change the look of a space. Strategic placement of your furniture can change your condo living room design from closed and intimate to something that’s open and free. This strategy works best if your furniture can be separated into smaller pieces, like a sofa that can separate into two smaller lounge chairs, or two side tables that can combine into one coffee table. If you’re just moving into your own cozy, two-bedroom condo space, keep this in mind when choosing living room furnishings.
Because of different biases, a lot of people find the idea of living for less difficult to swallow. In particular, they may think it means giving up their dignity and style. But as the examples above tell us, frugal living doesn’t mean not living decently. You can compromise: be as happy as you can with what you can afford, and don’t stress over what you can’t. When you get into the “condo living for less” mindset, you might even come up with your own frugal design tips. Then you can start living free and easy.