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How to Decorate Your Rented Apartment Without Breaking the Bank

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

I’m sure you all have been there at least ones – or in some cases even more than 10 times (yeah, I know). I moved from one city area to another, other times it was from one city to another and my most challenging one was moving to different countries.

Yup, I’ve got lots of training on how to pack everything you own as quick as possible, what you should keep and what to give away. Not to mention that I was pretty much decorating every home from scratch making sure everything is colour coordinated and perfectly matching with the rest of existing decor or mood the flat is already in – because that’s “really important”. Call me crazy, but unless the space I live in is aesthetically pleasing I can’t enjoy it and relax. Now, I’m hoping there are more of you out there with similar views. If not, I am aaaall by myseeeelf (as the song goes 😊) and I’m writing this as an online reminder (hope not).

I will talk here particularly about decorating rentals and what I learned so far.

Moving after moving, as the time went by, I tried to learn how to be minimalist without compromising on the desired aesthetics. In my case sometimes it was just my husband (voice of reason) saying: ‘Do you REALLY NEED that?’ It was mostly when I would just walk in casually into Home Sense, where btw if I could I would buy every single item in the store!

Knowing the difference between what you need and what you want is crucial, especially if you are a nomad like me. 😊 In my opinion there are two good reasons: first - no need to spend unnecessarily too much money (better to invest that in yourself); second – does the Planet Earth really need more of our rubbish? If nothing, we can try to minimise our throwaways. One man's Trash is another man's Treasure. I was one of those people too – who would just impulsively buy things, but it’s never too late to learn. You can also do some DIY Projects or pay a visit to Secondhand stores and Flea Markets to save some money.

I always lived in furnished or half furnished flats. For the first time I decided to move into an unfurnished flat and the biggest reason for that was me falling in love with the HUGE windows. Seriously I'm talking entire walls in the living room and the bedroom (a dream come true).

Only this time I told myself – this is rental, no need to break the bank. When you have only empty space it can be intimidating and exciting at the same time. If you are not sure and you can’t visualise the final result, don’t stress. Instead just strategically buy one thing at the time.

The way I did it – before even starting to imagine how it will look like, I measured every room and every corner to figure out what sort of layout I would like and what is doable in reality.

Next really important step is thinking about your daily activities and how do you use the space mostly. For example – do you spend most of your time cooking, chilling on the sofa, if you need some extra space for exercising, or you need a home office. Take those things into consideration and you will save yourself from a headache.

Once I had that figured out, I started looking for inspiration. Pinterest is absolutely amazing place to look for beautiful interiors (take a look at my profile if you would like to find some interior inspiration). What I find also inspiring and therapeutic is to check out some home decor shops. The reason I like to do that is because it’s like gold digging - so many interesting pieces you can find you wouldn’t think of otherwise.


What I meant when I said to buy strategically is to buy items depending on urgency - what do you need as quick as possible? You need a bed. Now this is one of the things I will never be able to compromise on. You need a good quality sleep! Otherwise, you won't be well rested and productive throughout the day.

I am not saying to spend thousands on a perfect bed, but you can do a little research and I’m sure you can find some good deals. A bed frame is not normally as expensive, but the good mattress can be. Another budget friendly solution, if you don’t want to spend a lot on the mattress, is to buy a cheaper one and add a Mattress Topper (I bought mine on Amazon). It can really help a good night sleep.

I found a great mattress on Wayfair and guess what, it was an amazing deal too. When it comes to the bed frame, I bought the one with side drawers for some extra storage. Also, I like to keep all my bedding and towels under the bed.

Place an Ikea Chest Drawer next to your bed for more storage, add a house plant of your choice on top of it and you’ve got yourself a beautiful and functional bedroom.

how to decorate your bedroom on a budget
Budget Friendly Bedroom Decor - Barbulianno

Big bedroom window design



Next thing I needed is somewhere to sit on in the living room. This is where all that walking around the shops paid off. Instead of spending money on a sofa which I don’t even know if it’s going to fit in my next flat (hopefully my own), I bought a few extremely affordable and super cute Ottomans from Wilko. They act as a sitting area as well as extra storage space. Having dual-purpose furniture really comes in handy when you need space to leave your winter clothes or paperwork.

Another amazing thing about this sitting solution is you can make any shape you wish. If you want to watch a movie comfortably - change it to a cube, or if you have friends coming over change it to an L shape to fit more people. 😉

Barbulianno living room decor on a budget

Barbulianno rented apartment decor


3. HOME OFFICE (it can be just a designated area in your living room).

I needed a desk which can fit two people at the same time if necessary. Also, very important to keep in mind when adding extra furniture - it shouldn't clutter the space (remember that measuring I mentioned at the beginning). Here comes Ikea to the rescue one more time with super simple, stylish and affordable desk & chairs.

One of the things I had already in the flat was some random big shelf and I really wasn’t sure what to do with it. At one point I wanted to get rid of it so it doesn’t take as much space. The other times I thought I’ll keep it and make it as a plants heaven corner. In the end, I kept it with no regrets. When I look at it gives me happiness and it even motivates me to work better.

home office decor with plants idea
Home Office Decor | Barbulianno

As you can tell I am a little bit obsessed with house plants, but hey – nothing wrong with that.

Next thing on my agenda is to grow a coconut tree. Yes, I said coconut. Can you imagine, your own coconut tree and you don't even have to live in a tropical place. Yaay! I'll definitely let you know how it turned out.

Besides looking beautiful there are number of health benefits (if you would like to learn more about house plants in your home take a look at my previous story).

If you live in UK, I’ve got few Plant Companies I really fancy (not sponsored):

-Patch Plants from London – they deliver plants to your doorstep and also provide courses on how to become a good plant parent if you’re interested.

- Ikea – you can find really good ones there at lower cost.

- Gardens4You – huge variety of indoor plants.



I would suggest decorating depending on how much time you realistically spend in there. I am not a chef or anything near that but I do like to prepare quick and fresh meals often. That being said I knew what I would need to have on my kitchen counter without taking too much space and looking messy (I don’t have an enormous space to play with).

A tall and stylish Spice Rack is going to be the focal point with all the spices I use on a daily bases. (I wrote step by step on how to make sustainable spice shelf if you would like to take a look).

Barbulianno kitchen decor ideas on a budget
Kitchen Decor | Barbulianno

eco-friendly home decor

Eco-friendly home decor items

SHOP on Amazon:



If you have a small Bathroom like I do, try to use every corner cleverly. For example, I really needed a space to put all of my cosmetics and having a tiny bathroom really forces you to think outside the box. Instead of buying a classic bathroom chest drawer, I bought an open style triangle shape shelf that normally goes into the shower, but hey who makes the rules (you do). It fits perfectly and it doesn’t take as much space. I bought another standing Bath Caddy from Futon - experts in small space living. Two things can instantly make your bathroom pretty is plants and fluffy towels.

how to decorate bathroom on a budget
Bathroom Decor | Barbulianno

hot to organise small bathroom
Bathroom Storage | Barbulianno



Entryway was the last challenge and to be honest it’s the easiest space to decorate. You can break it down into a few simple parts – take a look at my previous post where I explain it all about styling an Entryway, where to find the items & budgeting.

For my own entryway I had to squeeze in somehow a wardrobe as this was the only space I had left. Purely because I went for Super King Size Bed and didn’t leave me with much space in the bedroom. I was looking for a simple, white and big enough to fit all my seasonal clothes I need at the time.

I still had another small corner screaming: 'DECORATE ME!' So I decided to make a small makeup area with a tall mirror. I bought a Wardrobe and chest drawer for makeup in Ikea for less than £100 (I know, right).

makeup corner organising solution in a small flat
Makeup Corner Decor | Barbulianno

entryway decor ideas


To summarise – the only piece I think it’s worth investing is your bed, everything else can be solved by simply being creative and thinking outside the box. Remember - You don’t have to follow what the label says.😊 Hope this helped you a tinny bit and made your life easier. Most importantly try to make a space where you feel happy and energised.

P.S. Don't be shy and share your ideas with the creative community (all you need to do is subscribe). Meanwhile , get more interior Ideas from my Pinterest & Instagram account.

Have a wonderful week lovelies!



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