Finally have a place to call your own. A crib. A pad. A love nest. You're not sure what to call it, but it's better than your parents' house, and it's all yours. The only problem is, it's kind of empty. And you want to fill it with stuff so you can, like, have a party and impress your friends. And a little feng shui to bring you some luck couldn't hurt either. But you're no Martha Stewart (thank God), you don't have a lot of money, and you're also kind of busy. That's where we come in.

First off, first apartment decor - or first dorm room decor for that matter - doesn't have to be limited to beer posters and stackable storage crates. With a little imagination and the benefit of our guidance, you can put together a place you're proud of without breaking the bank. Just be sure to thank us by inviting us to your housewarming party. We'll bring the salsa.

Since many first digs are smaller than closets and darker than medieval dungeons (sorry, we're a little bitter), it helps to know how to play down your apartment's bad points. Then take a look around your new surroundings and make a list of its aesthetic pros and cons. Does it have big windows but low ceilings? Great wood floors but a boxy, square feel? While emphasizing positive qualities takes little or no effort, counteracting undesirable elements is a bit harder.

One-room living (studios and dorm rooms)

You eat there, you sleep there, you watch Who Wants to be a Millionaire? there - all in that one, single, solitary room. Can you say "stir crazy?" While studios and dorm rooms can be a bit claustrophobic, they suck a lot less if they're pleasing to the eye and well arranged. With single-room living spaces, you have two options. You can either keep the room as spacious and open as possible, or you can divide it into areas of activity by using screens and/or large pieces of furniture that appear to "section off" one area from the next. Depending on the size of your place, the décor you choose and your lifestyle (whether or not you'll be doing a lot of work there, entertaining often, etc.), you can decide which option is better for you. Either way, be sure to keep it simple. Limit your color palette, and avoid clutter and excess furniture. Consider getting a two-in-one piece like a sofa bed or a futon to save space.

Dark rooms

No, not rooms where you develop your photos, silly. We mean rooms that resemble prehistoric caves. Don't know what time of day it is until you go outside? Well, brighten up dark rooms with light-colored walls, sheer curtains and plenty of plants. Mirrors also help by reflecting light and limiting the appearance of shadows. Opt for blinds instead of shades on your windows, and choose minimal lampshades with a translucent effect.

Tiny rooms

We can relate to the shoebox syndrome. Go with pale, cool colors, and fill the space with as little furniture as possible. Instead of a free-standing bookcase, for instance, try a shelf that's mounted to the wall with brackets. Also, if your room is really small, avoid busy patterns on items like curtains, tablecloths and bedspreads.

Boxy rooms

Adding character to a boxy room is fun because you get to break all the rules. The key is to create a focal point in the room. Paint one wall a different color than the rest, or hang up a funky mural or tapestry. Other focal point ideas include an attention-grabbing piece of furniture, or a ceiling covered with gauzy fabric and stick-on stars.

Low ceilings

Feel like the sky is falling? Raise the roof by using up-tilting lamps to cast as much light on it as possible. Paint the ceiling a shimmery, satiny, pale color, and do the walls one or two shades darker. Draw attention to the bottom half of the room with floor cushions, interesting rugs and low-to-the-ground seating.