Colourful Apartment Makeover

Phew, it’s finally ready. Remember that builder-basic rental apartment that had about as much soul as a paper clip? You’ll recall how I teased you about that empty space and the dreams I had for its future? Those two young roommates, breaking out on their own in the marketing and advertizing business who wanted something jazzy? Well, here it is. Please don your shades, ’cause this one’s bright and cheery!

Okay so these young ladies had very little to work with, so their apartment is FULL of budget-saving ideas and on-the-cheap tricks. Check ‘em out!

Photo: table top with bright blue napkins and simple glassware set

1. Use psychedelic yet gorgeous vintage wallpaper to cover a sheet of plywood from The Home Depot and lean it against the wall. Most apartments won’t let you wallpaper the walls, so this way you get the impact — and it’s portable! I created a pair of panels facing each other in the dining room and behind the writing desk in the living room.

Photo: Desk with red vintage chair and bright graphic wallpaper

2. Get out some lipstick-red paint and a staple gun to transform a Value Village chair for your writing desk.

Photo: Living room makeover, white sofa with bright throw pillows

3. Add a basic white Karlstad sofa from Ikea and add poppy primary colours with cushions. These were made from fabric remnants and a tea towel from the dollar store!

4. Pick up a pair of retro, Mad Men-esque swivel chairs (bright blue, please) for $20 each on

5. Don’t be afraid to get the discontinued store sample on things like this West Elm rug — a steal for $40!

6. Skip curtain rods and throw up a thick piece of bamboo ($9) on regular brackets from The Home Depot.

7. Don’t have a big art budget? No biggie, just create your own wall of botanical prints by using Ikea Ribba frames and some corner shop ferns. Sure they’ll fade, but then they’ll only look better and more antique-y!

Photo: VIntage lamp on a end table with flowers and a book

8. Hunt vintage or thrift shops for interesting and chunky lamp bases, then top with new shades to freshen things up.

9. Mix shiny modern with earthy textures like I did with this $30 flea market side table.

Photo: Dining room, large white paper ball chandelier, bright graphic wallpaper

10. Make a wowie-zowie lighting statement with a $15 paper pendent lantern from China Town and a basic lamp kit from Ikea. I LOVE this look!

11. Layer up your $120 dining set with $1.50/yard burlap and an H&M pashmina.

Now this apartment has youthful joie de vivre thanks in large part to the cohesive colour scheme gleaned from the wallpaper. Just use a jumping off point like this to guide and direct your subsequent purchases. Shop smart, go vintage and layer with the things you love and use.

Basic and bland apartment, what now? R.I.P.

Photo: Before shot of the apartment

Photo credits:
1-5. Kim Jeffrey
Michael Penney