On a cold winter day, it’s almost therapeutic to come home to a space that is bright and cheery rather than gray and dreary. Even if you’re renting – and on a budget – there are lots of easy ways to add a little bit of the outdoors to your home without breaking the bank.

Flowers in Apartments

Flowers and plants: When nothing is growing outside, head to your nearest florist, or even grocery store, and pick up some colorful living things for your apartment. Bouquets of roses, lilies or even simple (and cheap) carnations can go a long way when displayed on your kitchen table, end table or dresser. For something longer lasting, pick out a couple potted plants; do your research so you know what grows best indoors without direct sunlight.

Outdoor-inspired artwork: If you’ve had the same artwork displayed in every apartment since college, now’s the time to update your collection. Stores like Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and World Market have a wide array of canvases and framed pieces, from beach scenes to French cafes to sunsets. Or get crafty and make your own nature-inspire prints like these; if there aren't any real leaves outside your door, buy artificial ones at a craft store like Michael’s or Jo-Ann Fabrics.

Bright lights: Christmas lights look cheesy if they’re still up after January, but other strands of twinkly bulbs can look great when used thoughtfully. Buy a box of Chinese-inspired paper lanterns, a new floor lamp or just a colorful lamp shade to liven up a boring lamp you've had for years.

Stick Art

Source: Shelterness.com

Stick art: No really, with a little creativity, common sticks and twigs can make great accents in any room. Add them to a bouquet or let them stand alone in a tall, colorful vase to add vertical interest to a shelf. Gather them into an artful bundle accented with pine cones  fake fruit and twine for an eye-catching centerpiece. Or spray paint and display them in a collage or shadow box on the wall. This blog has a lot of great inspiration.

Painted Vases

Source: Sugarandcharmblog.com

Paint Job: Painting an accent wall is always an option – if your landlord allows and if you paint it back when you move out, that is. But if that’s too much work, look for other things in your place that could use a fresh coat of paint, like kitchen chairs, old bookcases or glass vases. Here’s a tutorial on turning a clear vase into a work of art.

What are your favorite ways to brighten up your apartment?