3 Affordable Ways to Modernize Your Apartment

If you live in an older apartment, chances are you’ve found yourself wishing for a newer, more modern living space. Interior decor and appliances age rapidly, and an apartment that was newly built 10 years ago might seem like an archeological exhibit today. If this is true in your case, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to improve your apartment, both functionally and aesthetically. Lucky for you, you can do just that.

In this article, we’re going to go over a couple of ways you can modernize your apartment and revitalize your aging living space. Don’t worry; these improvements are all relatively inexpensive, so you won’t have to take on a second job to afford them. Let’s get into it.

Repaint your apartment

Repainting the walls (and ceiling, if you’re feeling ambitious) is one of the best ways to modernize your apartment. Nothing really makes an apartment seem dated and out of vogue like 70’s style wallpaper or shiny beige-colored walls; so why not replace this antiquated look with a stylish splash of color? After all, it’s fairly inexpensive if you do it yourself, and it’s far easier than you might think. But if you’re struggling, you might want to hire the pros for painting.

If you’re interested in going this route, you’ll need to acquire the necessary supplies from your local hardware or home improvement store. The list of supplies will include rollers, extra roller sleeves, brushes for cutting in around the ceiling and trim, paint pans, paint cans, mixing sticks, masking tape and other essential tools of the trade. If you’re not sure exactly what to get, just ask one of the attendants for assistance and they’ll make sure you have everything you need.

Here’s a quick tip when it comes to buying brushes: don’t cheap out. Those $1.99 plastic-handled brushes in the clearance aisle might be tempting, but they are rigid, unwieldy and you can usually only get a single-use out of them. If you can afford it, go for Purdy brand brushes, or a similarly high-quality brand with soft, malleable bristles. These will give you a much cleaner line when cutting in, and yield much more even paint distribution.

Once you’ve thrown all the equipment in the cart, it’s time to pick the paint. Now, before you choose colors, you’ll need to ask an attendant to help you find the primer that’s right for your walls. Primer is the first layer of paint you’ll apply, and it gives the following layer of paint something to stick to. Once you’ve found the right primer, it’s time to pick the colors to finish the look you want for your walls.

When it comes to picking your paint, there are two things to keep in mind: the color and the finish. The finish determines the texture and the amount of reflectivity the paint has, and the color … well that’s pretty self-explanatory. As far as finish goes, it’s down to personal preference whether you want a gloss, semi-gloss or matte finish on your walls; just choose whichever you like best.

And now for the color. If you are on a really tight budget, you can go with a single color to reduce waste as much as possible; however, a computer-generated color palette will really increase the aesthetic appeal of your apartment. To pull your apartment together, even more, take into account the color of your furniture and trim. Try to pick a palette that compliments the positive aspects of your interior furnishings and offsets the less appealing ones. 

As far as actually painting the apartment goes, there isn’t enough space here to adequately explain the process. Fortunately, there are plenty of free resources that will show you the basics, and you can just go from there. Just take your time, learn as you go, don’t rush it, and it will turn out great.

Switch out the flooring

Changing your flooring can have a hugely positive effect on the apparent modernity of your apartment. Nothing screams “this apartment was built 30 years ago” like drab brown shag carpet. Keep in mind, this one is a bit trickier than changing the color of the paint, but if you’re up for a challenge and you want to learn something new, this might just be the thing for you.

Now, the first thing you’ll want to do is take into account what the current floor material is. Some flooring types, such as linoleum or hardwood can be left in place as you simply lay the new floor over top of the old. Other flooring types, such as carpet will need to be removed before you can lay new flooring. Then it’s time to pick the new flooring type; we recommend laminate.

Laminate is one of the cheapest, easiest to install, and most aesthetically pleasing flooring types. Ranging in price anywhere from $.70 to $4.40/ sq. ft., this flooring type only requires one specialized tool to install, and is held in place by an interlocking jigsaw-type design that will last years. It comes in a variety of different styles and colors too, but the basic concept remains the same: cheap flooring that looks good and is easy to install.

The installation process takes a bit to get the hang of, but once you do, it’s simply a breeze. The only caveat is the fact that you’ll need a mitre saw in order to cut the pieces to length, but you can rent one from your local RAC or borrow one from a friend. After that, all you need is a measuring tape, some basic math skills, and a rubber mallet to tap the flooring into position.

Of course, before you do this, you’ll probably want to do some research on the exact process of tearing up the old floor (if necessary), laying subfloor and then laying the laminate. As we mentioned earlier, this isn’t the easiest DIY home improvement project. However, it is doable, and with some trial and error, you should be able to cheaply modernize your home with beautiful new laminate floors. 

Give your lighting situation a facelift

This is probably the least time consuming, and also the most inexpensive idea on this list. If your apartment is lit with dim, 40-watt bulbs in hokey scallop sconces, it might be time for an upgrade. With some simple tools, a couple of wire nuts and some new light fixtures from your local home improvement store, you can change the ambiance in your apartment from somber to snazzy.

Now, before we go any further, be warned: working with electricity, in any capacity, is dangerous. There isn’t a lot of amperage running through the wires you’re connecting when installing a light fixture, but the shock can be very painful so it’s best to take all possible precautions and when in doubt hire an electrician. 

When installing a light fixture, always make sure that both the switch and the breaker for the room are both OFF. Additionally, always use insulated screwdrivers and pliers, and never touch the uninsulated portion of the wire unless necessary. ALWAYS make sure you connect the right wires to one another. Now, don’t be worried; if you work slowly and steadily, paying close attention to detail, you’ll avoid all of these problems, and be rewarded with a stylish, newly installed light fixture.

With that out of the way, let’s get on with it. The first step of installing a new light fixture is removing the old one. This process will be different for each light fixture, but usually, it’s fairly intuitive and not particularly difficult. Once removed, it’s time to install the new one. Most light fixtures come with instructions, which will make installation a breez. Once you’ve installed your new light fixture, all that is left to do is simply enjoy the new ambiance.

We hope you’ve found these ideas helpful; if you did, that just might mean that your apartment is about to get a whole lot more stylish.