Downtown Apartment Makeover—New Look Zero Budget
I have been so lucky lately to get to work with my clients in a bunch of different spaces—all so different from each other! One of them is a downtown Des Moines apartment in a cool new location. The Flux Apartments are located just on the outskirts of downtown and are within walking distance to a coffee shop, restaurants, and a brewery. Plus, they’re close to bike trails and parks galore.
I’ve worked with the owner of the apartment previously to design his lower-level office in one of the local hospitals. We transformed the dark, (almost) closet-sized space into a light and plant-filled office where my client can now enjoy spending time. I’ll be sharing those pictures soon…I can’t wait for you to see the before and after’s!
Once the office project was done, my client was ready for me to tackle his apartment. That often happens with clients…we work together once and they love the transformation so much, that they find other spaces to work on! This makeover was more of a reimagining, as I used only what was already in the apartment, styling it in a new way to create a whole new look—for FREE!
My client is an avid reader, book + art collector, and traveler. I am in love with his collections and couldn’t wait to get my hands on them, once I visited the space for our planning meeting. He already had so many great pieces in the space, all he needed was someone to help him display them differently to best show them off.
My first step was tackling the top of the cabinets in the kitchen. He had displayed things well up there on his own, but it did need some tweaking and general straightening. I was so excited that he had so many books to use because they are one of my favorite design elements. I tried to vary the heights of the décor pieces, along with arranging the books in different ways, to create interest and keep the eye moving across the space.
After the cabinets had been rearranged, I started hanging the art. What I was happy about in this project is that my client was all for hanging art in a more salon style, meaning I could go lower to the floor and hang in unusual places. I grouped the pieces based on the artist in different areas around the apartment, including the living room, hallway, and entryway, making them more cohesive and leveling-up the impact of each of the collections.
One trick I like to use when hanging art in any kind of a grouping is to limit the space between the frames. Depending on what kind pattern I’m hanging in and what size the pieces are, I try to stick to anywhere from 2”-5” between the frames. Leaving too much space between pieces is a mistake I see a lot of people make—it creates a lack of cohesion to a display and makes it seem less intentional. I think that people think it will help to fill the wall space, but by doing this, you can make it seem like you need more on the wall to make it look done. Hanging frames closer together allows the pieces to have more impact, so you won’t need as much in the end.
One of my favorite transformations in the space is the front entry table. The space was ho-hum before, but the after has so much more impact in the small area. It’s no more crowded than before, but now it has a wow-factor and fills the space much better. To help build-out the display, I pulled stacks of books that had been huddled around the entertainment area to flank either side of the table. This is a quintessential high-style look that you can achieve for little money! If you don’t have a book collection like my client does, you could easily thrift the same look without spending very much at all! I also hung a lovely piece of art as the focal point and added two more pieces he hadn’t hung yet. The plant had been in his bathroom, but this space called for something tall and organic, so I moved it here.
The last tweaks I made were to straighten and rearrange the window ledges and table tops. As we live in our spaces, things tend to just fall into a spot and not move. This is why a refresh can be so important and make huge impact! I was able to use only things he already had and move them into new groupings and positions to create a whole new look. Stacks of books with sculptural pieces, with plants mixed in, is my favorite kind of styling. It makes a space look collected, and beautifully organic.
Now that I’ve finished giving the apartment a new, fresh look without spending any money, my client is ready for the next step of finishing a couple of spaces that do need new items brought in. The plan I’m working on for his bedroom space is ah-mazing and I cannot wait to share it with you! I’m pretty much giddy about it! We’ll be adding a few more plants, plus a different way to display art other than hanging it on the wall. Vertical display in a small space is so important—otherwise, you can end up with a very congested feel along the perimeter of the room and on the surfaces.
I hope that this no-budget apartment makeover will inspire you to shop your own home to create a fresh look. Moving things from different rooms into a new spot can help you breathe new life into your space without spending a bunch of money…sometimes no money, in fact! I also hope that you will consider starting a book or art collection…or maybe both…after seeing what an impact they can make in a space. Throw in some beautiful plants and your home will have more style than you’ll know what to do with!