Remember your very first apartment? It was the place you could call your own and enjoy your independence (which is just another way of saying that you could fill your fridge with beer and your parents wouldn’t know about it). Decorating an apartment is easier than ever with finds from Ikea and Target.

Mixing old with new for a designer living room

We moved our daughter into her first place (yes, there is already beer and a bag, yes a bag of wine in the fridge), she inherited the obsessive designer gene and her roommate’s mom works at Pottery Barn so naturally there was a 48 hour decorating frenzy.

The girls already had hand me down couches, black tables and red accents. We found the bold lampshades at TJ Max on clearance, got some throw pillows and the zebra print from ikea and voila, the room came together. Small accents like a runner on the coffee table, the tray with clearance sale vases and a large plant transformed the space from an average apartment (with walls the color of baby shit, seriously) into a very cool place to hang out.

Branches and leaves come in pieces so you design your tree to fit your space.

My new favorite decorating tool is wall vinyl. You can find it at Target and Orchard Supply. It is inexpensive and removable so at the end of the lease you can take it down and get your full deposit back. It comes in tons of colors and patterns, we stuck with black to continue the color scheme. We used it in the dining area, the hallway and the bedroom.

Fab wall designed by the "K"s

Starting with a color scheme is the easiest way to get a decorator look without a big budget or interior designer at your disposal. Black and white with a shot of a bold color is almost guaranteed to look hot. And it’s easy to find bold color accessories, just think out of the box or grab a can of paint in your favorite color and go nuts.

My daughter’s room was designed around the team colors of the San Jose Sharks. Doesn’t sound very girly, but it works.

Who knew that a Shark's jersey and a chandelier decal could hang in the same room?

Easy to apply butterflies mixed with vinyl wall art.

Another amazing new designer accent is the 3d wall art by Umbra. These butterflies are made of light weight plastic and attach to the wall with a thumb tack. So simple and so genius at the same time, wish I had invented them.

When friends came to visit and drink wine out of a bag, their first response was “this does not look like a college apartment.” Anyone can make a house feel like home, just turn on some good music, gather up your friends and get creative.