Decorating a First Apartment on a Dime: How my Cutie Pie Cuz Makes her Apartment look like West Elm

If you haven’t met my cousin Lauren O’Grady, then I will fill you in: she is the littlest, cutest and most perfectly put together 23 year old you have ever met. Oh, yea but you have that friend that is always baking and does her laundry twice a week. No, trust me: she is no Lauren O’Grady. I.e. see above photo (no, this is not, as I thought, a photo from a West Elm catalog). So, since I’m not exactly the most “home decor inspired” I decided to recruit her for FunnyGirlsDressBetter. So, check out her article detailing her home decorating tips and tricks below! 

IMG_0162So after agreeing to write this blog post I realized I had a small problem: I’m not very funny. I would be lying if I said that Jamie’s shopping addiction didn’t run in the family (I am equally as guilty about shopping) but I don’t really think I got the funny genes. Since I am way less fashionable I guess that makes sense right — funny girls dress better. She also got the athletic genes but I could write a whole other blog post about the two of us going to soccer camp as kids… I will save that for another time.

Apparently staying on topic isn’t a strength of mine either… Jamie asked me to write about decorating a first apartment on a dime. I will start off by humbly admitting I am an expert. Before I dive into the deep stuff, however, I would like to warn all readers that decorating is just as addicting as shopping so if you have a shopping problem don’t continue reading. It is dangerous.

 So thinking about the most important suggestions I will start off by saying plan ahead. I’m sure you’re thinking, “well that advice stinks because it is already too late to plan ahead”, but if you can — start making sure everything goes together early on. My apartment has things from many different rooms and houses from my college career because I tried to make sure everything sort of went together. This really helped when I moved in by myself because I had a lot of stuff from college that I could use again saving lots of $$$. 

Another good piece of advice is to locate your local Ross store. I had not heard of Ross IMG_0165before I moved to Richmond but was an old friend of Marshalls, Homegoods, and TJ Maxx. Those are great options for inexpensive decorations but Ross is cheaper than you could ever imagine. It can be hit or miss, but I have gotten a lot of great things there. I paid $5.99 for a doormat and $4.99 for a kitchen mat that were both selling (the exact same brand) for $16.00+ at World Market. Be patient with Ross and go frequently to get the best finds.

That brings me to World Market. If you can swing the shipping challenges, World Market has great (and super affordable) furniture. I got my couch from World Market for under $500 – hard to beat for a brand new and comfortable sofa. Please note, however, that you either need to be able to fit the piece in your car or be willing to arrange third party shipping. My mom and I shoved my couch in the back of a rental van and built it the two of us. #GIRLPOWER

Find your local antique/ second hand furniture stores. All of my side tables and my coffee table were about $20 dollars from a local Richmond second hand furniture store. It is filled with a lot of good stuff, but an equal amount of junk. If you like something you IMG_0163have to buy it immediately, so trust your gut and have a lot of Clorox wipes on hand because this stuff tends to be really dusty. These places also tend to be good for super cheap silverware and pots and pans. Just run them through the dishwasher a few times.

Ugly appliances? No biggie. One of my favorite decorating tricks is It is a website where you can turn your Instagram photos into magnets and make your fridge or dishwasher a colorful Insta feed. I love it!!

Another important thing to note is that if you like something at a more expensive store like Anthropologie, check on Amazon to see if they have it too. I found many of the dishes I liked from Anthro on Amazon. This also means free and fast shipping, in addition to a lower price!

 Get your vacuum at Walmart. I purchased a bag-less light vacuum for about $35 dollars and ordered online to pick it up in the store without waiting in line. It is so easy to use, clean out and store. I named mine after my Aunt Julie because she seriously vacuums better than anyone I know. I aspire to do a lot more than just vacuum like her but if I can manage just that I will be happy. Also, get a Swiffer wet jet. They are the new mops. Lets be honest… no one wants to store a gross old mop in their tiny new apartment.

 Print lots of photos. You can never have too many photos, and they make your new place feel like home so fast. 

Lastly, splurge when you’re grocery shopping and buy those $4 flowers from time to time. It is always worth it. Speaking of plants, however, if you’re anything like me and your thumb is the farthest thing from green, invest in an air plant. They don’t need water!! Aloe plants are great too because they are almost impossible to kill and you can cut off the tip and use some if you burn yourself cooking.



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