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15 Unique DIY Projects to Personalize Your First Apartment

Transform your living space with these budget-friendly DIY projects to personalize your first apartment. Get ready to unleash your creativity!

Settling into your first apartment is a major accomplishment and rite of passage into adulthood. However, it may look too cookie-cutter for your taste. Infuse your personality into your new home with do-it-yourself projects that are fun, unique and won’t blow your budget. 

Importance of Personalizing Your Apartment

Your apartment is your private sanctuary, and making it yours by adding personal touches will increase your comfort. Above all, it creates a sense of belonging. 

It’s comforting to see a wall of personal photos in the living room or blue cabinets you painted yourself in the kitchen. Your apartment is a canvas, and incorporating pieces of your personality will make it more enjoyable to live in. 

15 Unique DIY Projects to Personalize Your First Apartment

Beautifying your home doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Some upgrades cost nothing but time and effort. Here are 15 unique do-it-yourself modifications to customize your living space. 

1. Build a Bookcase

A bookcase is a pretty straightforward build that’s ideal for beginners. Consider making one if you enjoy reading and want to display your favorites or decorate your living room with collections from famous authors. A traditional shelf is 12 or 16 inches deep, but feel free to customize it based on your needs. 

Gather your supplies first, then choose the type of wood you want. Home improvement shops have plywood, boards, paint, and every measuring and cutting supply you need to build a bookshelf you’ll be proud to display.  

15 Unique DIY Projects to Personalize Your First Apartment

2. Develop a Closet Organizer

Is your closet running out of space? Customize it by adding sections for better organization. You don’t have to be an expert woodworker — follow the instructions and have a more usable closet by the end of the day, with space for hung and folded clothes. Gather these supplies to begin the project: 

  • 4-by-8-foot plywood that’s 3/4 inches thick
  • 1 ¼-inch pocket hole screws
  • Closet rod
  • Closet rod pole sockets
  • Paint
  • Polycrylic for topcoat

The first step is to cut your plywood depending on the size of your closet. Next, mark and drill pocket holes to join the boards and assemble the shelf. Once complete, use an orbit sander to prime the surface for painting. Coat with your preferred paint color and finish with polycrylic. Lastly, install it in your closet — and voila! You have a transformed space for your clothes. 

15 Unique DIY Projects to Personalize Your First Apartment

3. Refinish Old Furniture

Do you enjoy thrifting and hunting for items? Why not give a table a new look by refinishing it? There’s no limit to your creativity, but the goal is to transform a piece of plain-looking furniture into a modern treasure that fits your style. 

The first step is to clean the furniture. Then, look for damage, like water stains or chipped wood, and repair it using a filler, which you can buy from a home improvement shop. Finally, restore the color with a coat of polyurethane. This cheap hack will give the old wood a luxurious look. 

refinish a chest of drawers

4. Sew Curtains

Put your sewing skills to good use for a DIY project that elevates your windows — but at a lower price than retail. If you don’t have a machine, sewing by hand will do.

Curtains require straight seams. Start by gathering several yards of beautiful, flowing fabric with a design of your choice, ensuring it blends well with the overall theme. Measure your window and the drape and leave a few inches of allowance for the pleats. Sew the edges in a line to form the curtains. Adorning your windows with drapes you made gives a sense of pride and privacy. 

15 Unique DIY Projects to Personalize Your First Apartment

5. Treat Windows

Windows are an ideal place for even more DIY projects. You’ll probably have only two or three at most, so giving them extra attention won’t cost you much — but the right treatments can considerably change your apartment’s atmosphere. 

Interior designers dress up the windows in many ways. They add coverings, paneling, curtains and other aesthetic items. One option is to get stylish rings, rods or brackets to hold up the drapes. 

Curtain rods come in various types depending on the size of the window, the weight of the panels and the frequency they’ll be washed. You’ll have options like tension, decorative or traverse curtain rods. 

6. Make a Scatter Rug

Whether you braid, weave, crochet or sew, you can give your old garments a second life as a decorative rug. The internet has instructions on almost all DIY decor under the sun. 

Moreover, there’s environmental merit in upcycling used clothes into unique floor coverings. This results in less textile waste for the planet and landfills. You’ll be surprised at how used clothes can bring a lot of personality and color into your life with a bit of ingenuity.

7. Accent a Wall

There are abundant ways to spruce up a bare wall. Applying wallpaper will make it stand out. Another method is to add accents, like photo rails, tiles and wood planks. Paint, add molding and install wallpaper to create wall focal points that match your personality and aesthetic. 

Highlight a white living room wall with an oversized flower decal for a simple yet elegant look. Create a tropical oasis in your bedroom if you want a vacation theme. Hang framed flamingo art and pineapple sconces on a green wall. Add a jute rug to complete the feel and look of adventure. 

Another option is to hang world maps that remind you of your next fun escape. Experiment with every space, from the living room to the bathroom. There’s no limit to what you can do to transform your walls into art. 

If you doubt whether the accessories match the general theme, use color theory. Artists and designers leverage this tool to create a proper foundation and framework and determine the relationships between hues. You’ll know whether one shade cancels out or highlights the other.

making an accent wall

8. Give the Sofa a Makeover

If buying a new sofa is not an option, give your existing one a modern makeover. You can partially or entirely revamp the furniture for this project. 

Sometimes, deep cleaning does the trick of renewing its appearance. If it’s sagging, inserting 1/4-inch thick medium-density fiberboard or plywood underneath the cushion is a quick and cheap fix. While at it, sew small tears or make a slipcover to restore your sofa’s glory. 

9. Design Photo Pillows

Sewing wizards can also stitch photo pillows for the bedroom and living room. Printing a special picture onto a huggable cushion is the best way to add personal flair to your home and make it cozy. 

You can order a photo pillow from online stores, but this is a great project if you’re up for a DIY challenge. Buy pillow inserts and fleece fabric from the nearest home improvement store. Then, find a company to custom print the photos on the cloth. Sew all the edges of the covers until it forms a case. Finally, fill it with the insert and you’ll have a beautiful memory engraved on your pillows. Add piping or tassels if you want it to be more decorative.

diy ribbon mirror

10. Customize a Mirror

Who says you can only use mirrors to check your appearance? They can be major accents in your dwelling. There are multiple ways to make them the centerpiece of any space. The first option is to add a frame. Raw, stained and painted woods are an excellent choice for a natural look, while metal suits an industrial vibe. 

If you want to skip the frame, make a border instead. You’ll need a few sheets of glass mosaic tile that blend well with the rest of the theme, a putty knife, and a tub of premixed adhesive and grout. It only takes around 30 minutes to complete and will make your mirrors turn heads. 

11. Install Some Planters

A trend among modern homes nowadays is bringing nature indoors by incorporating natural elements, like planters. Create a mini herb garden in tiny pots and place them near your kitchen window or balcony. 

Add a boho-style look to your space by macrameing knots for stunning plant hangers you can suspend from a wall or ceiling. It’s easy to learn, shows off your creativity and adds a touch of greenery to your apartment.

small planters in a cute apartment

12. Build Terrariums

Terrariums are another popular option among plant enthusiasts. These mini-ecosystems require less care, perfect if you’re engrossed with work and don’t have time for traditional planters needing high maintenance. Above all, they make gorgeous decorative pieces.

You can reuse a glass jar with a wide enough opening or buy one from your local shop. Drop by your nursery to choose plants to suit the container’s size. Add drainage layers, arrange the plants and decorate them however you want. 

Asparagus fern, fittonia, moss and polka dot can survive and thrive with water and care a few times a year. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about them dying if you forget to give them attention for days. A tablespoon of water once a week will suffice.

small diy desk terrarium

13. Hang Your Own Art

If you possess artistic skills, whether knitting, cross-stitching, painting or jewelry making, display your work. Did you just finish an abstract painting? Instead of letting your artwork collect dust, show it off to visitors. Someone might even discover your talent and sponsor you as an artist. 

DIY wall art will add an air of elegance to your living room and make your home truly reflect your style.

14. Make a Patio Table

If you can’t afford a new table, building your own is a cost-effective option to dress up your patio or deck. This is an entry-level DIY project anyone can quickly learn, even if they don’t have woodworking experience. First, you’ll have to choose a durable wood — cedar is a low-maintenance PVC and is rot- and weather-resistant, making it an excellent choice.  

If it’s your first time, stick to standard features like a table with four legs instead of a central foot. Gather basic hand tools, including a driller, pocket hole jig, circular saw and other supplies. Cut the wood into five parts — aprons, legs, a tabletop, a corner brace and a stretcher. Piece them together with screws. In 12 steps, you’ll have a usable table to put things on. 

diy patio table

15. Create an Umbrella Stand

An indoor umbrella stand at the entryway isn’t a staple in many American homes but is handy during the rainy season. It provides a space for storing wet umbrellas, spares the floor from getting too damp and reduces clutter. Plus, making one is easy and requires few materials, so it deserves a spot on your DIY project list. 

Gather two hexagon wall shelves without backing, plywood, glue, bar clamps, sealant, jigsaw and sandpaper. Use one of the shelves as the base, gluing a ¼-inch piece of plywood at the bottom to seal it. Allow it to cure for 24 hours. Then, stick 1-inch by 2-inch long wood on the opposite sides of the base, waiting another 24 hours to dry. Finally, glue the second wall shelf to form the top. Paint and seal to complete. 

Try These DIY Overhauls to Spruce up Your Space

DIY projects are fun to do. They bring out your creativity and save you hundreds of dollars from hiring a professional to do the job. They’re the perfect weekend activity if you have extra time but no budget to remodel your apartment. 

The best upside of these do-it-yourself overhauls is you can style your own space however you want, adding personality, character and the right vibe. These projects will make your first apartment feel like home.

Settling into your first apartment is a major accomplishment and rite of passage into adulthood. However, it may look too cookie-cutter for your taste. Infuse your personality into your new home with do-it-yourself projects that are fun, unique and won’t blow your budget. 

15 Unique DIY Projects to Personalize Your First Apartment
15 Unique DIY Projects to Personalize Your First Apartment

About the Author

Mia Barnes

Mia Barnes is a freelance health and lifestyle writer from the East Coast. Mia is also the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine. She enjoys writing about topics related to self-care, mindful living, and overall wellness. When not writing, you can find Mia reading romance novels, trying new recipes or practicing yoga.