Here’s the truth about renting in San Francisco: it’s expensive. San Francisco is the most expensive rental market in the country, with a one bedroom within the city limits averaging out at more than $3,500. Paying this amount every month is difficult with even a top tier salary and after you pay your rent, utilities, and other bills there’s often very little left over for discretionary spending like decorating, painting, etc.
Luckily, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to make your apartment look beautiful. It is absolutely possible to create an elegant home that looks expensive with very little money. Here are some tips for how to do that:
Before you start taking things apart, moving things around, etc. make sure you’ve got your insurance squared away. Renters insurance is a requirement by most landlords and it is what will cover you if something goes wrong within the walls of your new rental unit. Do not change a single thing until you’ve got good coverage. It is also important to make sure that your landlord’s property insurance is up to date if you uncover any structural issues that could be damaging to your apartment or yourself during your renovations.
Wood Then Metal, Never Plastic
As you decorate and furnish your apartment you are going to be tempted to look for very cheap items that, after some DiY shabby-chic making over, will look cute and not at all like the plastic they’re made of. If you ever have a choice, it is absolutely worth paying a few extra dollars for something made of wood (or, in a pinch, metal) than out of plastic or cardboard. Wood doesn’t need as much making over as plastic; it can be left as is. Metal will also look better in your space than plastic does. With wooden features you can create a rustic elegance; with metal features you can build elegance with a modern twist.
Believe it or not, learning how to reupholster furniture is relatively easy. You can usually figure it out by watching a few videos on YouTube or taking a class or two. Most decorating advice will tell you to steer clear of upholstered furnishings but if you know how to reupholster pieces there’s no reason to avoid them. You can find lots of beautiful pieces in thrift and consignment shops. Giving them some new upholstery (make sure their springs and other fixtures are sound) is a great way to make them over for a fraction of what you’d spend on something new.
Nothing says elegant like having top of the line linens. Obviously having good sheets is important but in this case we’re talking about the linens used elsewhere in your home. Throw pillow covers, cloth napkins and placemats on your table, fabric accents made from high end linen fabrics, etc., each of these things adds a touch of taste to your home. Of course, there’s no reason to spend your entire decorating budget on these items. If you know how to do basic sewing, you can make most of them yourself using fabric you purchase in bulk.
Almost every decorating expert out there will tell you that white walls are the devil’s work. It is important to tread carefully before you paint over them, though. Many San Franciscan apartments are small and if you rush to paint their walls darker colors, you risk making your apartment seem cave-like. If you do decide to paint, opt for lighter and brighter colors to help keep the space feeling open. And, since you’re on a budget, you should choose paint that only requires one coat.
There are a lot of ways to make your new apartment look and feel like the posh environments you love, even when you’re on a budget. These tips will help you get started.