Decorating your first apartment can be very overwhelming. Not only must your space be functional, but it’s important that it shows your personal taste and style. If you’re anything like me, you place a lot of pressure on yourself to make everything look nice and to love every part of your first apartment on your first attempt. I’m offering here three easy tricks to take some of that pressure off as you start decorating your first place.
Apply basic design concepts
Let’s start with looking at two basic decorating elements (both of which I recently learned and applied in my own space!): color and balance.
Color should be the first step in your decorating process. It is the fun decorating element, since it’s completely dependent on your taste. Select a relatively neutral base color that makes you happy and won’t be overwhelming. For example, if you LOVE blue, consider selecting navy instead of an electric blue to keep your apartment feeling calm while still bringing in your favorite hue. Next, pick a few accent colors to make your place pop! Use the color wheel to help you select which colors complement each other in your space, and if anything feels too “blah” or too bright, don’t be afraid to move things around for better look. For example, if you have an heirloom shelf in your living room that looks very brown, introduce a clear vase with green vine stems or a bright colored picture frame.
You can mix in different textures and patterns for an interesting and seamless look, using your colors to weave your pieces together. To put this idea in perspective, consider this example: Your favorite colors are blue and yellow (which are complementary on the color wheel!) In your living room space, you place a grey rug beneath your navy sofa. Then, you mix in brighter blue and yellow/mustard-colored accent pillows and throw blankets and find a pretty blue, cream, and grey piece of art to hang over your TV. In the kitchen, tie your grey rug to a grey patterned runner and use navy, grey and mustard-colored dish towels, placemats, and accents.
Balance is another key in interior design. If you have space in your living or bedrooms, try to make sure furniture balances with other pieces (i.e. setting the sofa across from one or two accent chairs or balancing with your TV stand) and feels symmetrical. However, balance doesn’t mean everything must be symmetrical, so play with your accent decor to find arrangements that feel right. Also be sure to select a focal point for each room and center your other design elements to highlight it.
Be selective with furniture and don’t over-furnish your space
First apartments are known for one thing in particular…they are generally very small! And, one easy way to make a small space feel smaller is loading it up with a ton of furniture or bulky pieces. This is especially a danger if you are furnishing with hand-me-downs from family and friends. Just because someone’s great aunt has a breakfront or armoire they want to donate, doesn’t mean you cannot graciously decline.
To avoid over-furnishing problem, make sure you only bring in pieces of furniture that you really need. If possible, limit the amount of big or bulky furniture; the spatial breaks between pieces will make your space feel bigger, not smaller.
New furniture, if you don’t already know, can be CRAZY expensive and can last a very long time. That’s why you should be sure you love anything now – and will continue loving it well into the future – before you buy! Instead of following home trends wherever they take you, try sticking with more timeless designs when it comes to basic furniture pieces, such as sofas and dining tables/chairs. Instead of choosing trendy, pick classic colors and lines. Think looks that are always in style, ones you loved growing up, and lean towards natural wood finishes and lighter colors. Then consider adding patterns to mix in colors and styles to make your place unique. Patterns work best in rugs, throw pillows/blankets, curtains, and bedding! They will not only make you happy and feel at home in your space, but they can also add interesting design elements to your first apartment.
If you want some trendy touches check out your local thrift stores or bargain shops. Pick up pillows and blankets, fun vases, or art to help balance your classic furniture with a touch of what’s currently ‘hot’ without sacrificing your budget.
Love every piece you bring into your place
This one is my most important decorating rule. If you only select things you LOVE to furnish with, the space will do two things. First, it’ll make you happy because you’re surrounded with things that speak your personality. Second, the whole space will come together on its own, as most people are drawn to certain color schemes and styles of decor. If you’re too worried to trust yourself completely, check out home magazines or Pinterest to get decor ideas. But, don’t waste your time on a piece or item you’re not sure about. Instead, move on and keep searching for something you really love. Trust me, it may take longer to finish your place, but you’ll appreciate it more.
Please share your tips in the comments. Happy decorating!