If your landlord allows you to paint the walls, go crazy! Choose a wall to paint as an accent wall with your favorite bold color. Cheap but durable paint is available from most home improvement stores and you can make it stretch farther by cutting it with some water. If your apartment came furnished then you might want to consider matching you accent wall to those colors, if you are furnishing your own apartment, paint your belongings using a color palette that fits your space.
Organization is key especially when moving into a smaller space than you are used to. While you may have to part with some of your belongings, do not fear- the rest can and will fit! Be sure to optimize the space you have by placing things very carefully.
Make sure chairs do not block walkways but that everyone still has a place to sit, and think outside of the box when it comes to the placement of a chair or lamp. Sometimes things you would not expect to go in a certain room might be perfect there!
Invest in a couple small house plants and stick a vase of flowers on a table or bookshelf. Plants really brighten up a space and bring life to it, even if it is small. Plus, it gives you something to watch grow and change and take care of!
Use what you have, part of decorating on a budget is using the things you already own in new and innovative ways. If you have a lot of scarves or fabrics, hang them from the walls or use paint sample cards to create a unique design if you are not allowed to paint.
If you have a collection or hobby, display an example of that in a frame or on a wall to bring your new apartment personality. Use postcards, pictures, and other hang-able memories from your life to create a collage or interesting art piece on your wall that will attract the attention of people who visit.
If you have to buy, buy it used. Good used kitchen goods, shelving and storage items, and other furnishings can easily be found at thrift stores or at a discount. If there is something you know you really want or need that you do not want to get used, feel free to splurge a little.
Hopefully these tips are helpful and will allow you to make thoughtful, fun apartment decorating decisions! Remember, this is a fun time in your life, so enjoy the process.