How to Make Your Generic Apartment Feel Like Home (for under $120!)

Fun fact: In the last year, my husband, Casey, and I have lived in four different US states. That’s right: 1 year, 4 states. Minor league baseball life (actually baseball life in general) means we are never in one place for long. It always makes things fun and exciting, but it does get a bit tiring, and it definitely makes it hard to make a place feel like home.

We move a lot, but we still own our home in Florida. So when we move for the season, all of our personal things that really make a house feel like home – our furniture, kitchen ware, and decor – doesn’t come with us. We literally pack the essentials into Casey’s truck and when the truck is full that’s all we’re taking with us. We go from living in our own home that I have painted and decorated completely to our style, to living in a generic little beige apartment.

I’ll admit, in the past I have not put the time and effort into making our season apartments feel like home. Maybe I was being lazy, maybe I was being cheap. Either way, I decided to change that this season.

While Casey was away on his last road trip, I had a mission: to make our generic little beige apartment feel comfy, cozy, and homey…for cheap. First, let’s peak at what it looked like before I got my hands on it.

BEFORE

Not bad, just very boring and beige, and well, generic. Most apartment places have an option to provide furniture and kitchen supplies for people who don’t travel with these things, or just don’t have their own. It is an extra fee of course, but paying the extra fee is much easier for us than moving all our furniture thousands of miles for a couple of months. The problem with the apartment furniture packages is the furniture is always basic and super boring. This furniture is not my style what so ever. My style is more rustic farmhouse (think Joanna Gaines style), so I had my work cut out for me trying to find other ways to make the room feel like ours.

AFTER

I love how this space turned out. I didn’t tell Casey about what I was doing. I wanted it to be a surprise and see if he noticed (lets be real, men don’t always notice obvious things). He noticed right away and – his words, not mine – said “I made it homier” and that he “loved it”. Woot woot! Success!

I did all this in the living room and a few things in the dining and kitchen all for under $120! Lets see how I did it!

Things I added:

how to make your generic apartment feel like home (for under $120)

Personal Touches

Hands down the easiest way to make a generic place feel like home is to add pictures of family, friends, and special memories. I didn’t want to go to crazy with the frames because I have quite a few at home, so I limited myself to buying just four. One picture of Gatsby, one picture of Lyla, and two pictures of Casey and I together.

Frames — $4.99 x 4 = $19.96 at TJ Maxx

Tip: TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and Ross are great places to get awesome deals on frames. BUT make sure you give the frame a good look over before you buy them! Some of the frames in stores like this have taken a beating and are chipped or broken are spots. 

Greenery

Casey doesn’t understand my love for greenery, but I think it instantly brightens up a space and makes it seem more alive; especially when your apartment is extremely generic and your walls and furniture are all just different shades of beige.

I have some larger faux greenery in our home in Florida, and I absolutely love it! But the larger the greenery the more awkward it is to move and travel with. At the end of the season when we’re packing up our car to head back to Florida the last thing I’m going to want to wrestle with is some big awkward greenery. I stuck to small and vibrant and it did the trick.

Faux Greenery: $7.99 at TJ Maxx 

how to make your generic apartment feel like home for under $120

My dog’s things

This is a weird and random thing, but it truly does make a difference for me. Last year when we lived in Alabama we didn’t bring all of Gatsby’s things. We brought a few toys, but that was really all. This year we brought his bowls, his mat, basically all his toys, his toy bin, and his plastic treat container. Having all of the dog’s things here has definitely help make it feel more like home, and it didn’t cost me anything because I just brought his things from our place in Florida. Yay!

Creative Art Work 

This is always a tough one for me when it comes to apartment living. I love art work. Our walls in Florida are covered with beautiful art, and it makes the whole home feel so cozy. In apartments there’s often rules about whether or not you can pound nails into the wall. I honestly don’t ever want to fuss with it, so I’ve gotten creative with my artwork and try to make my own and then hang it with Command Strips that I can press on and then pull off with out adding any holes in the walls.

Yarn art is totally trendy right now. I used this pretty little thang (yes I just said “thang”) from Target as my inspiration, made a little trip to the craft store and after an hour my art was complete. I love how it turned out.

Yarn — $4.99 x 3 = $14.97 at Michaels

Wooden Dowel — $0.69 at Michaels

how to make your generic apartment feel like home (for under $120)

Throw Pillows

Our furniture package came with throw pillows (you can see them in the before picture above). In my opinion they are super ugly, plus they’re not soft or comfortable at all. I knew swapping them out for something better looking would do wonders, and it did! Pillows are one of those things that can be low-key expensive. My advice is to buy them in a set. They’re always cheaper sold in a set of two.

Gray and white pillows — $12.99 (for the set) at Ross

how to make your generic apartment feel like home (for under $120)

A soft comfy blanket

I’m a big blanket person. Mostly, because my happy indoor temperature is 72 and Casey’s is 68. So we compromise at 70. It’s still a little chilly for me so I can usually be found cuddled underneath a blanket. Casey is not a fan of white (because it shows dog hair) but our couch and table are pretty dark so I wanted the blanket to break that up some.

White tasseled blanket — $9.99 at Ross

How to make your generic apartment feel like home (for under $120)

Rugs 

The kitchen in this apartment was really lacking. It’s small so there’s not a ton of space to add a lot even if I wanted to. I stuck with adding a few minor things and they made a huge difference. I found this big colorful rug at Kohls and knew it was perfect to brighten up the space. It’s an added bonus that the dogs love it and lounge there while I’m in the kitchen cooking.

Blue rug — $19.99 at Kohls

how to make your generic apartment feel like home (for under $120!)I found this weaved basket at Ross and scooped it up right away, knowing it would make a perfect little produce basket instead of having my produce piled on the counter in a corner. It’s a little thing, but like I said it makes a big difference in making the space feel more lived in.

Weaved basket — $4.99 at Ross 

how to make your generic apartment feel like home (for under $120!)

Details

For me, everything is in the details. This wooden platter is completely unnecessary, but it looks so nice and adds that extra little touch that makes the entire living room more homey. The addition of the blue candle, a faux succulent, and a sentimental picture makes it feel 100% comfy and cozy.

Platter — $12.99 at TJ Maxx

Blue candle — $6.99 at TJ Maxx

Faux succulent — $5.99 at TJ Maxx 

how to make your generic apartment feel like home (for under $120!)

A cute dog (or two)

No house is a home without an adorable spoiled pup, and we are lucky enough to have two! Some people think we are crazy to move our dogs around with us everywhere. I will admit, it does make things tougher at times, but it is 100% worth it and no place would feel like home without Gatsby and Lyla being there.

how to make your generic apartment feel like home (for under $120!)My total comes to $117.54. I had a $30 Kohls gift card so I was able to do all of this for under $100. Mission accomplished.

how to make your generic, boring, beige apartment feel like home (for under $120!)

What is your best tip for making some place feel like home?

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  • TJ Maxx is my favorite store for great style at a fair price. Love your personal touches!

    • thank you so much, Isabel! TJ Maxx is SO. GOOD. I have gotten so many steals there over the years.

      • Yess!! It is so disappointing that hasnt arrived to Belgium yet. I went in Poland and Germany and it is amazing! haha

  • Looks awesome – I so wish I had the design eye!

  • I think that you totally nailed getting your bland apartment to feel more like home! I also totally agree that no matter where you go, if your dogs are there and their things it automatically feels more like home!

    • haha yes! I need to get one of those signs that says, “home is wherever my dog is” 🙂

  • You did such a good job with the space! It does look surprisingly different. We’ve just done a mini makeover on my sister’s basement to turn it into a workspace for us. Mostly we bought new lamps. I’m a big believer in lighting transforming a space so I tend to spend most of my money there. Also my husband refuses to have fake plants because he says they freak him out 🙁 so, lights it is…

    • Lighting is huge!!! I believe lighting and paint can make a big impact. Too funny about your husband being freaked out by fake plants, lol!! Men, I tell ya!