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Modern grey couch with white throw pillows, white paper floor lamp and grey area rug against a green wall, source:
Dive right in and decorate your new rental. The sooner you start, the sooner it will feel like home. If you're beginning college this fall, now's a great time to hunt for dorm room decor. Whatever your space, remember you're not alone: Most home buyers are choosing pre-owned, and face the exact same make-it-mine challenges as you do!

1. Curtains are key for making a place feel like home. Sheer window panels are affordable and come in many gorgeous designs. Budget tip: Chunky curtain rings make window treatments really pop. Skimp with budget-priced curtain rods then splurge a little with eye-catching curtain rings such as bamboo hoops.

2. Rugs really anchor a room. It's OK if you're on a tight budget: Small rugs work surprisingly well, too. Opt for a small living room rug and position a coffee table on top of it. Similarly, a small throw rug next to the bed is a heck of a lot cheaper than a full-size area rug, but still makes the room feel cozy.

3. Artwork is critical for personalizing a space. If your budget only stretches to posters, invest in inexpensive poster frames for at least one or two favorites. Don't forget, too, that thrift shops are packed with low-cost framed prints and original art.

4. Don't go overboard with ultra-budget furnishings. We're talking cardboard, plastic and fiber board. It's OK to love IKEA, but remember even college students can afford to pick up a couple of more substantial room anchors. Good places to look: thrift shops and Craigslist.

5. Add at least one mirror to your living area. Mirrors add light and a sense of spaciousness -- especially important if you're sharing walls on both sides of your apartment. Large mirrors look great simply leaned against the wall, adding instant impact.

6. Ask to upgrade ugly and dated light fixtures, kitchen and/or bathroom faucets and shower heads. Budget secret: change out ugly glass light bulb covers with inexpensive new ones from your hardware store. I've found that frosted white covers perform miracles on aging light fixtures.

For lots more free rental decorating tips, check out Real Simple, Rental Decorating and this top 5 list from Alpha Mom.


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