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I know what you’re thinking- isn’t this a teaching blog?
Well, whether you’d like to add some style to your home, your teaching space, or a home office I hope this post can help!
One of the projects I had this summer was to spruce up my apartment and make it feel a little more like home. Now that I know I’d like to stay in Barcelona, I wanted a style and design makeover. Of course, it had to be budget-friendly! So, that’s what today’s post is about.
If you’re looking specifically to organize your teaching resources, be sure to check out my specific post on 6 Simple Ways to Organize Your Teaching Resources.

Before The “Before And After”

So, I’ve dedicated this post to showing you the  “before and after” shots from the time I moved into my apartment (four years ago) to now. Remember, I made small changes along the way. Now I finally feel that it’s more “mine” though!  Also, the “before” pictures had been taken quite a few years before I moved in, and the kitchen was falling apart considerably more than it looks in the photo.
 A few points to keep in mind:
– Since I’m renting a furnished apartment and could only get rid of any furniture I was willing to replace (ie: the decrepit IKEA sofabed). Or, furniture and items I was able to store in the under the bed storage. I did convince the landlord to let me throw away the ancient tv set though!
– I had a small budget!
– Luckily, I managed to convince my landlord to redo the decrepit kitchen after a piece of wood nearly fell on my head! One year later, they did the reno and added an oven!  (As someone who likes to cook, that was a welcome addition)
– The only things I was allowed to paint were the bedroom and bathroom walls, from yellow to white (thank goodness!)
Why Organize Your Space?6 Simple Ways To Organize
I love organizing! I feel that an organized, clean space is a better place to work.  It feels fresher, and in my view – opens up space for new ideas to flow.
I know it can be expensive and overwhelming – but it doesn’t have to be!  Even “re-decorating” your home or tiny space can be done on a budget.

7 Simple Ways To Add Style on A Budget 

I have to say that I signed up for an Architectural Digest subscription and it’s been so much fun! Of course, I’m only reading about the rich and famous design styles, and then finding design blogs to help me re-create a similar effect on a budget.
With a little bit of time, summer weather and a flip through some Pinterest pages, you can accomplish a lot 🙂

1.  Minimal Furniture 

Design tip #1  is to have minimal furniture.  Also, it should match.  Now, remember that here in Barcelona a “furnished” apartment often comes with a lot of decor items that are not my taste, as well as a lot of old kitchen items and bedsheets which I don’t use. Instead, they take up all my storage space!  Frustrating, and definitely a challenge to work with.

A lot of the items (pictures, kitchen items, decor that’s not my style) in the Before picture below are now in my under-the-bed storage, or terrace storage shelf.


Choosing minimal furniture is really important for a small space!  So, I opted to dismantle the IKEA metal shelf and get rid of the old IKEA sofa I’ll have to replace later.


Tip: Glass furniture is great for small spaces! It’s transparent so it doesn’t take up quite so much visual space.


Here is the finished result (with as much of the kitchen as I could convince them to change)!



2.  The Magic of White & A Splash of Colour

Did you notice the colour of the “brick” changed in the photo above?  That was 2 hours and 2 people sticking on removable vinyl wallpaper. It was worth it, though!  I plan to do the same to the rest of the “brick” when I have time.

White definitely makes rooms look cleaner, fresher, brighter, and bigger.  Take a look at the putrid yellow bedroom and bathroom walls that the landlord (thankfully!) let me paint white.




Notice that a splash of teal blue colour adds a hint of fun to a space, too.  White, bright and fun!

Oh, and the map lamp I’m in the process of finishing up is a fun idea from several Pinterest and blog posts.  I obviously need to do a lot of finishing to mine before it looks less patchy, so I won’t pretend to have a tutorial for you on that one!

Duvet cover sets and bedsheets are pretty cheap on Amazon, too. If you want a sea/beach theme, they have tons! Some are even under $40.



3. The Magic of Spray Paint

So, this was the first time I ever spray-painted anything!  Since my landlord thankfully decided to upgrade the kitchen cupboards to a light colour, I decided to add a splash of my favourite colours – blue and teal! Now, my Nespresso machine and Moka cafetiere were red, which totally clashed with that idea.

Enter, Montana Water Based Spray Paint.  It’s eco-friendly, water-based, odour-free, and beautiful!    (Be sure to use painter’s tape to cover up parts you don’t want to spray paint).







Fits the colour scheme a bit better, right?


4. Removable Wallpaper

For more details on removable vinyl and design tricks, see tip #5.  I do want to say, however, look at the difference a bit of wallpaper can make on a faux brick wall!







5. Vinyl Tile 

This amazing accessory comes in a ton of colours and designs. It can be used to liven up walls, shower walls (like I did), or the floor. I did actually buy plain white ones for the bathroom floor, but I haven’t put them in yet. They are so affordable and easy to install. You just peel and stick!

You can find a bunch of removable tiles and backsplashes here on Amazon.

Vinyl Design Tricks



  • Vinyl floor mats on Amazon such as this one are such an easy option. They are affordable, come in fun colours and can be wiped down in no time. With a giant Labrador/German Shepherd cross, that’s way better than a carpet rug!   I have one in my entranceway, and one in the kitchen



Vinyl wall stickers or wallpaper are also great for covering up old-looking parts you don’t get permission to paint. For example: – See that metal strip running between the tiles on the kitchen wall below?





That’s actually vinyl tape in a metallic grey colour! What’s underneath, you ask? A really ugly red strip with peeled away paint someone painted yellow (the yellow was also peeling away). I would have painted it white, but the landlord refused.  So, silver vinyl tape it is!  (P.S. Use an X-Acto Knife to make it easier to cut).




6. Bamboo Mats

This one is a new discovery for me. Bamboo mats are great!   They come in a variety of sizes, can be used indoors or outdoors, and are pet-friendly and beautiful.  All you have to do is shake, vacuum, and wipe them down. They don’t have any rug-like fibers, but are surprisingly comfortable and cool to walk on even in the summer heat.

Bamboo mats come in a lot of different shades. I’ve actually seen them mostly for bathrooms, but trust me – the huge ones are a great addition to a living room.  Check out the main image of this post (under the sofa) for a peek at mine.

7. Plants and Trees


Finally, I have to say that bringing live plants indoors, and a sofa outdoors can really change both spaces.

I added a terrace sofa a couple years ago, a lemon tree last year, and a potted indoor plant this year. I also bought a handful more plants to pot for the terrace, which change the space quite a bit. Eventually, there will be a large glass table and nicer chairs, too!




Lemon tree




Don’t forget to include plants in your budget-friendly decor plans!  They may surprise you 😉
What do you think of the changes? Are you planning to take some time to stylize your space this summer?
If you are, Pinterest is a great place to start looking for design blogs to follow.
What part of your home, teaching space, classroom, or office do you plan to organize next?
Do you plan to try any of the ideas above? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Happy Organizing!
P.S. Photography fans, the photos in this blog posts are all from my apartment here in Barcelona!

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