Five ways to brighten your apartment for less than $100

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We like to say that a man’s home is his castle, but if you rent your house or apartment, the castle actually belongs to someone else. And if it’s time to freshen things up a little, you don’t want to spend a fortune on a place you don’t own. But there ARE ways you can get a maximum bang for a minimum buck!

Here to give us ideas is Real Estate expert, John Adams:

Q:  If I am renting a house or an apartment, what can I do to make the place my own without spending money I won’t get back?

ADAMS: I’ve come up with my TOP FIVE tried and true ideas for brightening up your rental without breaking the bank or breaking your lease.

5.  Re-arrange the Furniture

Before you start lifting sofas, relax and sign up for a free online program called  You will quickly learn how to create furniture layouts and changes to your decor in 2d and 3d without any special skills. This is an intuitive program that takes your existing room dimensions, lets you add copies of your existing furniture, then easily re-arrange in any way you choose. Really neat software!

4. Mirrors

Mirrors are an inexpensive way to completely change the look and feel of a room. The human eye is trained to believe what it can see clearly, and a large mirror does just that. The smaller the room, the more benefit you will get from a large mirror. Most stores carry a 3 by 4 foot mirror for well under fifty bucks. And you can even take it with you when your lease expires.  

3.  Lighting

Dark corners and dimly lit rooms are depressing to the soul. Add hanging pendant lights for more down lighting, and tall floor lamps i n corners to direct bright light upward. These fixtures can be had for less than twenty bucks each, but watch out for the new super expensive bulbs. Also, make sure your ceiling is still “bright white,” as reflected light will give a soft glow that is pleasing to the eye.

2.  Live Plants

I have personally killed more house plants than anyone in history, mostly from simple neglect. But there is one sure-fire houseplant that adds interest, looks pretty, and costs less than a dollar. It’s the sweet-potato vine!

FInd a sweet potato with at least three eyes, use toothpicks to suspend it over a wide mouth jar, and fill with water. In a couple of weeks, your plant will have roots and stems. Allow the vine to descent from atop cabinets and bookcases.

Another inexpensive candidate is wandering jew. Cheap and hard to kill!

1.  Paint

This idea works every time (as long as you pick the right color).  Take some interior photos of your rooms, and upload them to Sherwin Williams ColorSnap Online Instant Room Painter. Then click away til you find the perfect color combination for your space. Most major paint brands offer their own PAINT VISUALIZER on the internet.

Remember that your computer screen may not accurately reflect the actual color of a particular paint on your wall, so try a pint on the wall before you make a final decision.

As room refreshers go, a new paint job can brighten your walls, cover those nicks and scratches, and give you a great opportunity to use color to your advantage. The right wall paint can induce a feeling of happiness, depression, or any emotion in between.  

Blue shades encourage productivity, while green shades evoke tranquility and health.  Yellow increases metabolism and brightens the room, while shades of lavender will calm the nerves.

At twenty to thirty dollars a gallon, wall paint is a bargain in terms of bang for your buck.

One final word, your landlord has a legal right to expect that the place you are renting will be returned looking just the same as it did when you moved in. So either get permission in writing to paint, or plan on repainting when you move.