In business, you have to spend money to make money.
And unfortunately, you also have to invest a little at the start in order to give the impression that you're always able to buy good things.
I never pay over the odds for something, but I never buy the cheapest, either. Personally I find that the cheapest thing is never the best thing to buy. Sure, it might be cheap, but you'll hate the sight of it and want to get something new anyway, and so the money you spent on the cheap thing is actually wasted (note the tea, coffee, sugar pots and kettle in the picture below - both of those were bought when I first moved in and changed for better quality a few months later).
Always buy the next one up. It really does stop the false economy. Cheap looks cheap. But the next best thing can often look a million times better.
eBay is a brilliant place to go hunting for things to spruce up your living space. The kitchen at my University flat was hideous. Absolutely vile. Stained tiles and an unsightly boiler. So I measured up the size of the tiles and hit the net. I managed to find some tile stickers and promptyly bought them. The stickers were also easily removable so I could take them off when I left, but whilst I was there I could at least be happier with my kitchen.
I also bought the occasional fridge magnet and started to add a bit more colour to the kitchen that way. I buy them every once in a while, and also get them as gifts from friends. I like using the small ones to stick up photos and cards from friends. And that way I get more of a surface area covered!
It's also a good trick to hide any unwanted marks. The fridge I have now is built in but the freezer we have is in a terrible condition. Matt had it in his student house and his housemates thought it would be a good idea to draw all over it in black pen - a lot of cleaning and not all of it has come off, so now the freezer is jam-packed full of magnets for no more of a reason than to hide the pen marks left behind.