Easy Fixes to Personalize Your New Apartment

You moved into your new apartment a few months ago. All your major chores seem to be done: Unpacked all your boxes? Check. Hung up your pictures? Check. Learned the basics of your new neighborhood? Check. But something feels a little bit off … and you can’t quite put your finger on it. Perhaps it’s that your apartment feels like Anyapartment, USA. Are you lacking in a personal touch? Do you have aspects of your apartment that distinguish you as the renter? If not, it may be time to do some decorating – below are a few easy tips to personalize your space.

1. Re-Appropriate some of your tchotchkes. We all have little doodads that we like, but that serve no useful function. Most of us keep them on our dresser, or in a box in the closet, collecting dust. Instead, think of ways you can use one or two for something practical. Then, visitors will see your favorite tchotchkes regularly, and you’ll interact with them enough to like them, and to prevent them from getting dusty. An example: when I moved to Chicago, my mother gave me a small replica of “The Chicago Picasso” (see picture), which I like a lot – she had gotten it in the late ‘60s, when the Chicago Picasso had just gone up, and now was giving it to me. But what was I going to do with it? Put it in my junk drawer? Seemed that way … until I realized I didn’t have a napkin holder. And now, it sits on my kitchen table and I lift it up and down nearly every day! Brilliant, and just a little bit of pizzazz for the apartment. Other ideas for tchotchkes include bookends, doorstops and keyholders, but really, it’s up to you and how you use your apartment.

2. Buy a throw pillow or two. If you have a plain couch, and you want to gussy up your living room, buy a throw pillow or two. A colorful one. It’s far cheaper (and more practical) than buying a new couch, and can make a world of difference. It can also make sitting on your couch far more comfortable. If you keep your eye out, you can find last season’s models at deep, deep discounts. We’re talking a fancy pillow or two for $25.

3. Use the postcards and letters you get in the mail. This is advice for your bedroom, where, presumably, you’ll not have too many people hanging out, so you can be less concerned with appearances. When I lay in bed, I always like to be able to see a few things that remind me of people I know or places I’ve been. So I take postcards I’ve been sent, or tickets from shows I’ve been to and tape them up on my dresser, my nightstand or wall. It may sound corny or jejune, but it’s a free way to decorate and personalize your space. Some people even have corkboards that they use for this.

4. If you have a crazy idea, go for it. It’s your space after all. One of my friends loves rotary phones. (Remember those?) So he has a very small end table, upon which he has a red rotary phone. Sort of like the phone the mayor uses to call Batman. The phone is not plugged in, so one might say that the set up is “a useless waste of space.” I say, “What a conversation piece!” It’s quite lovely and mod. If you have some idea yourself, why not go for it!? You’re only young once…

Well, those are some ideas I have. Feel free to comment below with your own apartment decorating tips. Talk to you next time!

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Author My First Apartment

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Alex has rented in Minneapolis, Queens, Brooklyn, and now Chicago. He can kill rodents and roaches when required, and loves picture-hanging projects. If you're ever in town, give him a shout.

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Comments (2)

  1. Avatar Rhiannon

    I do the same thing with postcards in my dorm. I used to just tack them up on one wall, but I moved things around and that just didn’t work. Now I have them tacked in a row at the top of the wall as a border all the way around the room. Turns out I have 34 post cards from my sister alone! Wonderful way to keep everyone with you.

  2. Avatar Paola

    Well I’m in the hunt for my first apartment, but been planing the decoration from ages. One of the things I sure wanted in my house was a poster that says: My house, my rules and the 15 point list, that I wrote of course.
    Some are quirky, and some are motivational, but it’s more of a self-indulgence after years of hearing: when you have your own house you’ll make your own rules.
    I just CAN’T WAIT to print and frame that poster.