My Apartment Makeover Under $450

January 16, 2019

My Apartment Makeover Under $450
My Apartment Makeover Under $450
My Apartment Makeover Under $450
My Apartment Makeover Under $450

This post was a loooong time in coming. I started working on it when I first moved into my Oakland apartment in September. It had been done for a few months actually — there was just a hold-up because I had been scouring Craigslist for the perfect light fixture to replace the original weird stained glass cathedral-esque one. But now, the apartment makeover is complete! The apartment is just a rental, so although I love the location and abundant natural light, there were a few things I wasn’t so crazy about. I’m only renting the apartment for a year, so it’s not worth putting serious money and time into long-term improvements, but I’ve found a few ways to hack prettier-looking non-invasive solutions that will work in any space. This post is in connection with a YouTube video that is part of my 5-part Sweet New Year series where I post a new video every week of January specifically related to common New Year’s resolutions to get your new year started off right! If you haven’t seen the other videos in the series, I highly recommend you take a gander over to FSTV (Fruit Salad TV aka my YouTube channel) and check them out.

Since I work from home (+ am just a plain old introvert and like being home), I spend more time at home than the average person. I put a lot of time and effort into creating a space that I could enjoy being in, even if it is only for a year. Writing this apartment makeover blog post and editing the video made me realize how much work I put into thoughtfully creating a space I could enjoy being in (especially that white marble countertop DIY!). Let’s dive into it…

Since I don’t own this place, it was very important that all these customizations be easily removable. I also gave myself the budget of $500 and the rule that any accessories or pieces of furniture I got had to be able to work in my future spaces. To help me with this apartment makeover, I enlisted my favorite partner in crime: my mom.

First off, we painted the orange wall white. We did have to get landlord approval to paint the wall white, but most landlords are fine with different wall paint, especially if it’s just plain old white and you paint it back the original color before you leave. The paint was left over by the previous renter, so we didn’t have to buy it, but a simple gallon of paint will cost you around $25-$45.

My Apartment Makeover Under $450
My Apartment Makeover Under $450
My Apartment Makeover Under $450

While the paint dried, we started our next DIY: white marble contact paper over the kitchen countertops to give them a more contemporary look.

Oh, this DIY. Where do I begin? Our high expectations were met with a truckload of adversity. After making numerous rookie mistakes from not doing proper research beforehand, we actually ended up scrapping our first try and starting over on Day 2.

Tutorial is at 4:31 in the vid


Marble contact paper

Tape measure
X-Acto knife
Smooth tool
Blow dryer (optional but useful)

1. Lay out your contact paper for a few hours or overnight to allow it to flatten before use.
2. Make sure you give your countertops a deep cleaning as you don’t want any pesky crumbs making weird raised bumps underneath the contact paper.
3. Wet the surface with Windex, then, with a towel, gently pat dry, but not completely dry. You’ll want it to be slightly damp so you can move around the paper to adjust after you place it down.
4. Measure out your area, then cut the contact paper accordingly. Peel back the adhesive layer. (Tape helps keep the paper in place as you peel it off.) After you place the paper down, guide a squeegee and/or smooth tool over it to smooth out air bubbles, wrinkles, and drain out Windex residue underneath. The paper is very durable and the Windex makes it easy to slide the paper to make adjustments. When you’re sure of your placement, press down to lock the contact paper in place.
5. Optional: Apply heat around the edges with a blow dryer to make the paper malleable and better adhere to the surface.
6. Use an X-Acto knife to cut off any excess. (This part is really satisfying.)

The sink was the trickiest area: we cut two 1.5 inch strips, then cut slits around the edges which we folded down to make the paper fit flush around the curve. We used an X-Acto knife to very carefully cut around the faucet and soap dispenser. We covered our jagged handiwork by gluing an o-ring around the perimeters using E600 glue and using books to hold the rings in place while the glue dried.

All of the other video tutorials we watched made this DIY look so easy, but we probably spent at least 20 hours contact paper-ing up these darn countertops, so unless we just weren’t doing it right, this DIY is not for the faint of heart. We used 4 rolls of 26″ x 78″ white marble contact paper which cost $12.99 each on Amazon, bringing the total to $51.96 excluding tax, so if you’re on a budget and don’t mind putting in a little time and elbow grease, this DIY is a great option.

The job isn’t 100% perfect and if you look closely, you can see our seams and small air bubbles we couldn’t get out, but these can be easily masked by styling with cute plants, mugs, books, and other kitchen accessories.

After we finished laying down the white marble contact paper, we changed out the white and metal wall plates for copper ones which cost $3.02 each at Home Depot. We needed 6 wall plates which cost $18.12 excluding tax.

I brought the dining room table from my old house, but got the chairs new from Anthropologie during one of their sales. The chairs were already on sale and they had a special promo where all sale items were an additional 30% off which was just the incentive I needed to snag these babies. A week later, the same chairs were an additional 40% off, so I contacted Anthropologie to see if they’d retroactively honor the additional markdown and they did. With the 40% discount, the chairs cost $41.97 each excluding tax. That brought the total of 6 chairs to $251.82.

Apartment Makeover on a Budget
My Apartment Makeover Under $450
My Apartment Makeover Under $450
Apartment Makeover on a Budget
My Apartment Makeover Under $450

The light fixture is probably the find I’m most proud of. It’s a West Elm chandelier, unfortunately no longer available on their website, that retailed for $399. I found it barely used on Craigslist for $100. I don’t know why the woman was selling it so cheap because she said she only had it for a few months, but these are things I don’t ask.

Apartment Makeover on a Budget

It’s amazing how a few tweaks can really change up the feel of a place. The white wall completely opened up the room, the faux white marble countertops livened up the old dark countertops, the chandelier accented the space in a minimal and modern way, and the chairs, well, I had no chairs before, so the chairs were very necessary. Plus, they match the dot in the “i” of Fruit Salad, so I guess I’m very on brand *wink*.

All in all, these improvements cost $421.90 excluding tax which was under my $500 budget. With the exception of not being able to keep the one-use only white marble contact paper, I adhered to my rule of buying only items I’d use again in the future.

Watch the video version of my apartment makeover to see all our improvements in action!

What was your favorite part of my apartment makeover?

Items purchased:
Marble Contact Paper
Copper Wall Plates
Anthropologie Tamsin Dining Chairs

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