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the style guide


HOW TO STYLE AN APARTMENT ON A BUDGET

As previously mentioned at the end of last year I packed up my life in Melbourne to make the move to Alexandria, Sydney. We were lucky enough to get a brand spanking new apartment in this inner city suburb and I couldn't wait to get here to start decorating the place. However I knew starting from scratch was going to be expensive, the cost of moving alone was a big blow, so styling the apartment with champagne tastes on just about a cask-wine budget was going to be a challenge. Three months have now passed and I am very happy with how the apartment has come along. So I thought I would share the little tricks I used to kit it out on the cheap without sacrificing style.

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It takes time for you to really hone your personal style. If you are unsure, the best way of getting a sense of what your eye is drawn to is by simply gathering together some images that you identify with and that you can build a look around (cue: Pinterest binge!). This mood board will now be a resource that you can continually refer back to throughout your entire fit out and guide your product choices. The result will be a cohesive look that is true to your personal style.

I see my style as relatively modern but with a bohemian twist. I love a monochromatic scheme but like to layer natural textures like rich warm timbers and linens to create warmth.

GO SLOW

First off, don't feel as though you need to do everything at once. If you try and get everything all in one go, firstly you will burn out your funds way too quickly but also make decisions that may not reflect your original vision.

Start out by getting everything you need on a practical level- to sit on, to cook with, sleep in etc. And be careful about what you deem a necessity, can you get away with eating dinner on your couch for a few weeks before you find the perfect dining table? You want to make time to source quality items that will last, and by adding them to your scheme one by one you are able to build your look and carefully assess if things are heading in a direction that is true to your original concept.

SAVVY SHOPPING

Research is key, and once again Pinterest is your best friend. Probably about 2 months before I moved I started a private board on Pinterest to start gathering together somewhat of a shopping list for everything from furniture right down to small things like cutlery. This allowed me to keep track of what I needed in one place but also helped me to compare products before I made the purchase. If I was out shopping and saw a potential purchase I would take a photo and add it to the board with a note about the price. Likewise if I was scrolling Instagram or websites and found things that I liked.

Then once I arrived in Sydney I simply scrolled through the pins and chose the most cost effective option. Or, if I had pinned something that may have been out of my budget I took some time to hunt for a cheaper option. The key to this is looking both online and in stores. Particularly with furniture, stores can often be a better source of a bargain as you can often get discounts off floor stock or find that last piece that is no longer listed online.

In general a good place to start for budget friendly pieces are chain retailers like Kmart, Target, Adairs, Ikea and Freedom who are all now selling quite trend focused products. It is really all about having a savvy eye for design and quality.

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Chest, Bedside table & Lamp from Kmart, Chair second hand, Bedlinen from Adairs & H&M Home 

GO SECOND HAND

Another way to save a significant amount of cash is to really embrace second hand. Ebay and Gumtree are excellent for finding pre-owned pieces at a fraction of the cost of a new equivalent. You may have to be a bit patient waiting for the right thing to come along but when you find it contact the lister with a friendly message that let's them know you're interested. Be sure to ask them questions about the quality of the item, you may even wish to see additional photos, and always ask if they can do better on the price. They mightn't budge but you'll never know if you don't ask.

A little anecdote for you, I was struggling to find an accent chair for the living room for less than $500 new and even second hand wasn't proving cheap. I persisted with both Ebay and Gumtree, checking back every couple of days and finally one came up that looked similar to one that I had seen from an online furniture retailer for a much heftier price tag. So, I enquired and managed to talk the price down to $90. This was going to be a win, right?

However when I went to pick it up the "charcoal" fabric was definitely more of a faded 90's brown... Not quite what I had in mind. On the other hand the overall quality of the piece wasn't bad, and the price was still less than anything else I had seen that I had even remotely liked. So I took it anyway and with some upholstery fabric from Spotlight, a staple gun and some hot glue I re-covered the chair for an extra $40. So the moral of the story- with second hand it is work thinking outside of the box. If the piece itself is a decent quality can you re-cover, re-paint or adjust it to suit your needs?

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And the other way of getting second hand pieces for absolutely nothing isn't for the feint of heart. Hard rubbish collection. I know, it is not the most honourable way to acquire things and I am certainly not advocating dumpster diving but sometimes people really do throw away some good stuff.

I have three pieces that I have acquired this way- a chest of drawers (below), cane chair and a small glass table that I have adapted to a bar cart. Look the chair just needed a new coat of varnish (you may have already seen it in this post), and the glass shelves did need a bit of a clean but when I came across them I knew that the were worth a little bit of elbow grease to bring them back to life.

At the end of the day, today's society manufactures so much new that the world is literally filling up with stuff. If you can put some time into something pre-loved you're not only helping to break this cycle but you are being kinder to your wallet too. And who doesn't love a piece with a bit of character.

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I'd love to hear if you have any tips for styling on a budget or if you enjoyed this type of post.