5 Ways to Freshen Up Your Apartment (On a Budget)

If you fall prey to the time-honoured tradition of spring cleaning, you may inevitably fall into another annual spring home ritual: thinking that your place is actually pretty boring, and that it’s time to give it a makeover.

I usually partake in this by browsing expensive furniture sites until I’m depressed enough to give up,  but there actually are ways to give your living space a refresher without dropping thousands of dollars. We’ve got five of those ways here.

1. Go Green

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Dare I say it, but plants are trendy right now. Adding a little green to your home is a great way to add some life to empty spaces and freshen up a cramped space. Some may go all out with plants, filling their places with mini-trees with huge, sprawling leaves, or with something nearly impossible to care for like orchids.

The rest of us are going the way of the succulent and it’s easy to see why. Succulents are affordable and relatively easy to care for. (They actually DO need to be watered, just not as often as other plants.) You can get some teeny-tiny fellas to pop into a windowsill and call it a day, or go with something a bit more extravagant. As someone who is terrible at keeping things alive and has two succulents, it is important to do a bit of research into their care before you get one. If I’m being entirely honest, both my plants have one foot in the grave at this point.

If any level of plant care is too much, there are always fake ones. And honestly, with some of them, you can’t even tell the difference right away. No care required, but your apartment will still look fresh and fancy af.

2. Art

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Let me be very clear. When I’m talking about art, I’m not talking about art. I don’t mean you can finally put up that original Rothko you inherited or anything, but if you have lots of blank wall space, why not fill it?

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You can decorate your walls with anything. Maps, photographs, old postcards. I have a penchant for space-related posters and charts. You could put up old movies posters (ask at independent theatres if they keep their old posters, and if they have any you can take). If you can find an antique market near where you live, a quick browse there could give you lots of ideas.

It’s a way of decorating your place, sure, but these are the kinds of things that make the place you live your home. It’s glimpses into your personality, your interests and likes, and it adds character to a place that could very well be boring.

3. Scent

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You ever have that moment where you’re walking through your apartment and something just smells…off? Nine times out of ten it’s the garbage you’ve been meaning to take out for like, three days, or it’s your neighbours experimenting with cooking again. I’m a person who likes my apartment to smell good, if I can help it. I’ll open windows to get fresh air inside, I’ll spray Febreeze all over my pillows and I’ll light candles.

Candles are my way of adding a little extra to my apartment. They’re a really nice touch on a cool, rainy day and I always have one going when I’m expecting company. It’s the perfect way for people to assume you have your life together.

If you’re scared of fire or candles in general are not a good option for you, may I recommend diffusers, a flame-free way to bring scent into your space. If you don’t like artificial scents at all, there’s the option of sticking some bounce sheets into choice places: one in your bed, tucked into the sofa, behind a pillow.

Last but to leas,t may I reinforce, do not underestimate the power of opening a window. Getting a breeze going through a stuffy apartment is like an I.V. for the soul.

4. Revamping Your Furniture

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No one can afford new furniture. Or at least some of us can’t. Most of the apartments I lived in while at university came with their living room and dining room furniture already there, and at the time that was a godsend.

If you are living at a place where the furniture was already there, or you’ve bought your own older, maybe second-hand stuff, there are still so many ways to make them seem new. Re-varnish your dining room table, or at least throughly clean it. Get a cover for your sofa, or even use a cool curtain you found at Value Village. This is especially helpful in covering up mysterious stains on couches.

If you have some cash to spare, pick up some throw pillows or a blanket to add some comfort to the living room. These things are also helpful in the event of unexpected overnight guests.

If your bed is feeling a bit old or unappealing, consider some new pillowcases or a duvet cover. You don’t have to break bank on bedding. There are so many places you can find affordable and nice stuff, such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Society6, Urban Outfitters and yes, Ikea.

5. Storage

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Every apartment has something akin to The Corner or The Chair, a place where everything that does not have a place winds up. It can be an eyesore in your space and is a black hole of miscellaneous paraphernalia. Event though you know what lies there, you can never seem to find it.

Storage solutions doesn’t sound fun. It sounds like buying a giant plastic bin and putting everything in that bin and leaving it in a closet somewhere.

What it can be is reusing items you already have or finding inexpensive alternatives for storing things. Leftover baskets or containers from market produce can be washed and used to store small things. At one of my old apartments, I kept my books in milk crates that I stacked on their sides to create a makeshift bookshelf. When you hit the bottom of a candle, freeze it and then scrape out the wax so you can use it as storage for jewellery, hair accessories, anything you need.

And if all of this is sounding a bit too crafty, I will once again defer to the ever-wonderful Value Village, or any local thrift store, where you can find storage baskets, containers and old shelving units. When it comes to fixing up your apartment on a budget, secondhand is the only way to go. But also watch out for secondhand furniture that may be haunted. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but I am saying I’ve seen Oculus and you were warned.

Artemano Don Mills Opening


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On December 5th, We had the pleasure of co-hosting the opening of Artemano Don Mills location and got to chat with one of the owners Eyal Shoam.

How has it been opening your first location in Toronto?

ES: Our Don Mills location is our first location in Toronto thus far and has been such a nice surprise and pleasant welcome into the city. We are falling in love with the city and the people more and more.

What makes Artemano unique?

ES: We are bringing a different product that we have not seen in the city. The Artemano concept is functional art and we have two different families of products. One family is the products that are designed by nature which means that the material comes directly from the jungle. We just give the direction on if it’s going to be a coffee table, console, or bench based on the way that we are going to cut the root that naturally fall on the ground and we give it a second life. The second family of furniture our pieces that we develop that have a little bit of a twist and reflect what we believe in. There will never be two pieces that are a like because it’s all handmade and the combination of the wooden planks create a unique result that are one of a kind. Perfection is in the imperfection is what we are trying to sell.

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What can people expect when they walk through your doors?

ES: At first it will be a bit of a culture of shock. I have visited a lot of places in Toronto before we decided to open here and I realized that the city has a bit of conservative approach towards furmniture. We bring something that is out of the box. People will be amazed by the warmth of the wood and want to touch each piece because they are so unique. which is a natural reaction. If you appreciate high quality furniture then you will be amazed by the price.

We have no middle man. We go directly to India, Thailand, and Indonesia every season and we spend three months choosing our pieces and follow the process to personalize it into a final product that people will choose on the sales floor.

A lot of pieces are multi-purpose and offer customers many options on how to use each piece. You can buy a nice table anywhere. At Artemano each piece has a story and a history that goes with it.


Furniture designer Peter Coolican and his partner Chris Jackson are changing the way we see timeless and sustainable products, with their focus on detail, clean lines, contemporary design and simplicity at it’s finest.


The emerging Coolican & Company is a new and growing business, with beautiful craftsmanship, and production of small batch furniture, located in the heart of Toronto. The company designs small commodities of products, with their focus on detail and producing the best quality for their customers. Whereas, bigger furniture companies tend to supply large batches, that can distract the true design and appreciation, and are less controlled for quality and superior finishes.


The Rusholme Coffee Table in black walnut was sustainably harvested from Ontario’s Niagara region.


Coolican & Company has a main focus on locally sourced wood from northern Ontario, and provide their customers with pieces that will last a lifetime. They also believe its important to support and use hardwood from responsibly harvested and properly managed Canadian forestry.


This company is a hidden treasure, and their slogan, “Endlessly Durable, Purposefully Made”, speaks for their beliefs and true investment in their customers. They continue to make unique and beautiful designs made with devotion and love, meaning you only have to buy it once, and you’ll have that timeless piece for many years to come.


The Adelaide Bench is made from Simcoe Country’s solid White Maple, and was made for putting on shoes and boots, pulling up to the dinning table for unexpected guests or just taking a moment. The Adelaide bench and is a great addition to any home.