If you’re a renter, you probably know all too well that your overall apartment design won’t always match what you envision. And when you throw in a less-than-desirable budget on top of that, the situation can almost feel soul-crushing for the style-savvy—especially if you have expensive taste. Mid-century modern has held its own as a top trending style in recent years.

Unfortunately, along with the hot trend factor comes a hefty price tag.
However, if there’s one thing we know, it’s that no matter your budget or circumstance, you can make a space shine with some well-thought out preparation. To make your life easier, we compiled our top tips and a few of our favorite affordable mid-century pieces so you can achieve the retro-chic apartment of your dreams.

1. Jazz Up Your Walls With (Temporary) Color

One of the biggest downfalls of apartment living (or rentals) among design enthusiasts is being restricted to bare white walls. The great thing about mid-century modern design is that you can actually use this to your advantage. White will keep your space bright and open, and you can easily add pops of color by showcasing vibrant artwork. And, if you really can’t stand living in an all-white box, consider using temporary wallpaper adhesive to create an accent wall. A solid color, geometric pattern or faux wood paneling are terrific choices for exuding some Mad Men flair.

2. Curate Your Space With Cool, Canted Legs

Wooden canted legs are one of the most recognizable elements of mid-century design, so integrating just a few pieces with this retro hallmark will totally set the mood in your apartment. While many mid-century inspired sofas can cost a small fortune, the Zardoni sofa comes to the rescue at just under $400. Pair it with a wooden coffee table and some brightly colored accent chairs, and you’ve got yourself a living room that encapsulates mid-century modern to a T.

3. Add a Snazzy Cocktail Station

In any iconic classic film, you’ll see that drinks are always at the ready after a long day or for guests (they clearly had the right idea). Bring this concept into your own apartment by adding a stylish bar cabinet. To drive home the retro feel, adorn your cabinet with a vintage-style record player or old-school radio. Aside from decorative purposes, the mood-setting sounds of the past will make happy hour even happier. And of course, you can’t forget bar seating. While the sofa or the dining room are perfectly fine options, a couple of bar stools by a kitchen counter or DIY floating shelf is a nice touch.

4. Roll Out a Graphic Area Rug

Area rugs are the perfect way to add color, comfort and variation to your design. We suggest geometric patterns or a bold, abstract print to add some pizazz to light walls and natural finished wood. Sharp, graphic lines are a definite throwback, which is why the Jai area rug is at the top of our list for mid-century inspired rugs.

5. Embrace Minimalism

Last but not least, keep decorative items to a minimum in your apartment. Keeping surfaces clear of clutter will allow the fundamentals of mid-century design to take the spotlight. After all, you’ve worked hard to achieve the look, why detract from it with busy trinkets? Holding back on the accessories might sound easy (especially if you’re on a budget), but clearing your space of collected mementos and accent pieces can be harder than it seems. To help with your growing collection through the years, make sure not to skimp out on storage and consider investing in multifunctional furniture pieces.

How easy is that? By following these five simple tips, you’re sure to achieve the expensive mid-century look without stretching your wallet. If you have any other tips, we’re all ears!
And if you’ve jumped on board with mid-century modern style, make sure to share a photo of your look with the hashtag #MyAshleyHome—we’d love to see what you’ve created.