Adding Charm to Your Apartment with Reclaimed Items

When you first move into a new space, it’s tempting to go ahead and fill it up. New apartment renters might be itching to deck their walls and establish an interior design scheme. You’re anxious to immediately determine your colors and theme and run right out to HomeGoods to start collecting the perfect pillows, art pieces, and side tables to make your space your own. While this is not a bad approach, it can lead to a cookie cutter apartment.

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Before investing in entirely new items think carefully and creatively about repurposing old and vintage pieces. Here are some strategies for personalizing your space with re-worked items that drip with nostalgia (and don’t necessarily scream, “I watch Fixer Upper.”):

Ask Around

Maybe grandma has a small table cluttered with old newspapers that you know would work well in your space. Grandma might be ready to relinquish that table or may have forgotten about it entirely, so it can’t hurt to ask. Be gentle when asking around, but realize that many of your relatives might jump at an opportunity to clean out their closets and unload some clutter. You might land on a gold mine just by suggesting you need some kitchenware, wall decor, or furniture.

Don’t forget to ask around to see if anyone has any furniture or decor they’d like you to take off their hands. Credit: Dining area by Suzette –

Showcase Memories

We have all seen the gallery wall idea and it’s a great way to add personality to your space. You can create a gallery wall on a budget or simply fill your walls with items you already own by being creative. Postcards, greeting cards, maps, magazine covers (The Washington Post magazine is great for this), and even postage stamps can make great wall decor. You might have to shell out a little money to mat and frame these keepsakes but they ensure a nostalgic and one of a kind space and normally cost less overall.

Use Unexpected Objects as Center Pieces & Focal Points

Do you have a rock collection from middle school? Do you have books that are all a similar color? Do you like marbles, sea glass, sea shells, or even buttons? Great! You’ve got decorations. You can create a curiosity cabinet feel on your coffee table by jarring up collectables like marbles or sea glass or even old toys. I once used old wine corks in a DIY project to create this effect. If these items mean a lot to you they can add something to your space while also becoming fascinating conversation pieces helping visitors learn more about your personality and they don’t have to cost anything – you ALREADY have them.

[ Related: How to Paint Wooden Furniture Like a Pro ]

Hang Objects on Your Wall

Have a large wall you need to fill but don’t want to find a huge Van Gogh reproduction to fill it with? There are many ways to add interest to a blank wall and you can repurpose old but meaningful items to this end too. You can mount an old bicycle, fill it with shelving, hang three or four big clipboards and rotate encouraging notes or pictures to display. The options here are limitless. Another route is always scarves! Displaying your scarves is a low cost, highly functional strategy for personalizing your space.

Remember, fine-tuning your new space is a delicate process. It may take months to settle in completely but the more personal your space feels to you, the more at home you will feel when you are in it.

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Elaina Hundley

Elaina Hundley is an education professional with a passion for cozy, affordable home decor. She loves coffee, watching "Fixer Upper," and tries to read and write as much as she can in her free time.

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