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28 DIYs You Need for Your First Apartment

May is here and that means it’s time for graduation, moving on and possibly moving into your first apartment. As a recent grad (congrats, Huskies 2015!), I picked up my stuff, moved across the country and started a job at Brit + Co (ahem, we are hiring!). It was a bit intimidating but also exciting, with new friends, new activities and a new city to explore. And thanks to social media, Snapchat and Skype, my besties are never far from my side.

So, caps in the air, bags packed — now it’s time to become an adult. Wait, what?! How do I do that? In the past few months I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around many adult responsibilities. Like taxes. How do I do them? And a 401K plan — shouldn’t I pay off my student loans first?! What’s the deal with health insurance? Put my options in a hat and pick one out? Even though I haven’t mastered these affairs yet, there is one thing I am good at — DIY. The best way to get comfortable in a new city is to make your house feel like home. In this apartment 101 guide, I’ll walk you through the basic steps to setting up a home of your own.

Did we mention student loans? Yup! All of these DIY projects can be done on the cheap. We’ve included price ranges to help you gauge how much you should be spending if you start these projects from scratch.

Statement Wall

There is nothing worse than moving into a new apartment and having your landlord tell you, a color and pattern addict, that there is absolutely no painting the walls. Don’t worry — we’ve got five ways for you to add color and personality to your space.

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1. Shower Curtain Art ($30): Start searching around Urban, H&M, HomeGoods, etc. to find an amazing shower curtain. Grab some wood strips, nail them into a square, and staple gun the shower curtain to the frame. When stapled to the frame the shower curtain will become taut and look just like a large canvas print. But guess what — it was super cheap! (via 6th Street Design School)

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2. Salon Wall ($30-100):  Create a mosaic out of your favorite pieces of art work and display it on the wall. The key to a successful salon wall is size variation and color coordination. (via Brit + Co)

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3. Washi Tape Mural ($25): This is one of my favorites and something I have done in two of my apartments. You can add color instantly to your walls and remove it without your landlord getting mad. Score! Try shapes, patterns, diagonals, and my favorite — a polka dot pattern of small plus signs! ++++ (via Brit + Co)

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4. Fabric Wallpaper ($100+): This DIY can get pricey since awesome fabrics come at a cost. If you want to keep the cost down, apply the fabric to half the wall and create a faux chair rail with washi. (via Apartment Therapy)

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5. Blueprint Wall Art ($0.75 per square foot): Listen to this — you can get large black and white prints for super cheap thanks to architects! Embrace the grainy effect by printing your favorite old memories. These large prints will be costly to frame, so we suggest sticking to washi frames. (via A Beautiful Mess)

Furniture

A West Elm apartment would be a dream come true, but for those prices — no thank you! Head to thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets to pick up cheap pieces that just need some love.

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1. Wood Crate night stand ($10): Stain can do amazing things! It can boost the appeal of something cheap in an instant. It is also super easy to use — you apply it with a rag. Anyone can do that! (via Lark & Linen)

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2. Painted Arm Chair ($50): This DIY requires some thrift-store and garage-sale scouring. Once you’ve found your perfect piece, add some patterns with fabric paint. Think about stripes, polka dots, tribal patterns, plaid, floral, the list goes on. (via Sugar and Cloth)

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3. Patterned drawers ($15): Update your drawers from college with contact or wrapping paper. Contact paper is sticky and will adhere instantly, but if you fall in love with a certain wrapping paper then just use some Mod Podge to adhere the paper to the drawer. (via Bright & Bold)

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4. Washi Tape Furniture ($15): You should ALWAYS have washi tape on hand. Use your leftover statement wall tape to create accents on your furniture. (via Brit + Co)

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5. Ladder Shoe Rack ($70): This might look intimidating, but it is actually the easiest shelving system ever! Purchase a ladder + five boards of wood and you’ve got a beautiful tiered rack to display all of your shoes. Don’t have enough shoes? No problem — use it for books or decorative bins to hold smaller items. (via A Pair & a Spare)

Wall Art

Wall art, you say? But how is that different than a statement wall? Well, these are little pieces that you can hang around your room to take the eyes on a wall-to-wall journey. Don’t be shy! Layer these pieces on top of your statement wall to give it dimension.

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1. Typography Felt Banner ($5): Upgrade crossed-stitched “Home Is Where the Heart is” signs with felt and a wooden dowel. We suggest phrases like, “More Guac Please!” and “Dancing Is My Day Job.” (via Brit + C0)

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2. Nail String Art ($15): This is one of my favorite DIYs because it brings so many different textures together — string, metal, and wood. Play with size when creating your string art. Maybe it’s just one letter per board spelling out “FLAWLESS.” (via Brit + Co)

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3. Woven Wall Art ($100): The key to adding instant warmth to your home is texture! Weavings are all the rage and can be made on the cheap. It will take some time but we promise it is DIY foolproof. (via Brit + Co)

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4. Macrame Wall Art ($10): Don’t have enough time for a wall weaving? We understand. Try a macrame wall hanging. You can add the same colors and warmth to your room in half the time needed for a weaving. (via Brit + Co)

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5. Wall Vase ($15): A home isn’t a home without flowers. Create this geometric wood and glass wall vase to display your beautiful buds. Want to learn more about buds in general? Check out our e-class! (via Fabric Paper Glue)

Bedding

A house isn’t a home without a comfortable bed. If you are going to splurge on anything, we recommend a quality mattress. From what I hear, your spine will thank you a lot when you are in your 30s. Since you just spent all your hard-earned cash on the mattress, leave the rest up to DIY =)

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1. Iron-on duvet ($35): Patterns are tricky, and a lot of times you can never find exactly what you want. We love how they create the floral duvet of their dreams with this DIY. Purchase a new white duvet and start from scratch, or save money and iron on a pre-existing duvet. (via Design Sponge)

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2. Vintage Duvet ($30): Turn a set of sheets into a stunning duvet cover. We love how they added the fringe trim to give the cover extra flair. (via My Poppet Makes)

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3. Ombre Dip Dye Duvet ($5-50): Spilled some wine on your white duvet during a girls’ night study sesh in college? No worries! Grab some fabric dye and dip dye your duvet for a whole new look! (via HGTV)

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4. Pom- Pom Throw ($5-30): Here at Brit + Co we love ourselves some pom-poms. Add some whimsical poofs to your blankets for an instant update. (via Vintage Revivals)

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5. Potato printed bed linen ($5- 50): Yes, it is true. You can get that geometric look with a potato! We recommend creating this fabric paint pattern at the bottom of your duvet. Fabric paint tends to be a bit stiff and could be uncomfortable near your face. (via My Attic)

Pillows

I can never understand why decorative pillows are so expensive! Grab some plain white pillows from Amazon and start DIYing for a perfectly curated couch, chair or bed.

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1. Custom Text pillows  ($5): Update pillows with your favorite phrase using iron-on transfers. This DIY, plus many others, can be found in our book Homemakers. (via Brit + Co)

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2. Cactus pillows ($10): Succulents will always win us over. Create this quirky DIY to add some whimsy to your decor. Don’t worry — this DIY comes with a free printable to get that perfect cactus shape. (via Brit + Co)

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3. No-Sew Leather Pillows ($20): Not a fan of the sewing machine? Take our sewing e-class or stick with these no-sew pillows. (via Brit + Co)

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4. Stamped pillows ($30): We’ve kitted up the perfect pillow to add patterns to your life. You’ll never believe how easy it is to create your own stamps! (via Brit + Co)

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5. Geometric Tassel Pillows ($10): These pillows are great for couches, and they also double as floor pillows for lounging. Play with shapes, colors, and sizes. (via Brit + Co)

Lighting

There is no doubt about it — lighting always sets the mood. We have some great ideas for ways to ditch those generic overhead lights.

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1. Leather Pendant lamp ($39): White leather mixed with a bright colored cord? We’re swooning! We couldn’t be more excited about this kit and can’t wait to add this piece to our own space. (via Brit + Co)

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2. Origami Pendant lamp ($15): Step up your paper-folding skills with this origami pendant lamp. Pro tip: These lights aren’t meant to be used as your main light source. We recommend turning them on for reading or mood light. (via Brit + Co)

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3. Cord art (free!): This hack hits all the right marks. Stop stressing about an ugly hanging cord and turn it into art. (via Homedit)

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#TBT to when I was obsessed with palm trees and anything tropical. P.S. There are seven DIYs in this picture. Can you name them?

Are you feeling better about tackling your new adult apartment? Send us your questions and comments below!