We’d all love to have Martha Stewart’s living room … a splash of color here, a nice piece of furniture over there … but for those of us without Ms. Stewart’s experience and budget, decorating isn’t just about choosing the right furniture – it’s a combination of financial savvy, an eye for design, and the patience to figure out the best approach.
The first thing to do is learn the basics. Our blogger Christina has an article on what to do before you purchase your first piece of furniture. Among her tips: plan to purchase large pieces of furniture first and design around them; have a color palette chosen before you go out shopping; and, of course, measure, measure, measure.
What type of color should you look for? Our friends at ForRent.com have this handy home changes infographic that gives you some helpful tips, particularly in the color realm: approximately 30% of your room’s color comes from your furniture’s upholstery, while only 10% comes from accent pieces – the rest is in the color of the walls. So, if you’re not able to choose the paint color of your place, you should realize that, like it or not, it’s still a color you need to plan around – visually, it’s going to take up about 60% of the color of your rooms.
Likely, if you’re moving into your first place, you’ll be a little cramped. I have some suggestions on how to save space in your bedroom by thinking vertical. Or, you may need some unique workarounds. Christina separated her living room from her kitchen (in her studio apartment) using a curtain – creative, but effective.
And then there’s the furniture on the cheap: thrift stores are a great option, as is craigslist – but don’t overlook places like Target, IKEA and World Market. If you hunt, you can find good quality pieces at reasonable prices in chain stores. And, of course, keep an eye out for sales.
Finally, if you’re moving to your first place, you’ll need to consider your roommates. Our blogger Sabrina suggests keeping the bathroom and kitchen simple, since they’ll be used by all, and those spaces have a very specific function. And then blogger Dedreanna reiterates the obvious (but often overlooked): talk to your roommates about every design step and make sure you have a consensus. Otherwise, you’re asking for trouble.
This is just a start, but it’s a good one: thinking through what you want, how you want to do it, and discussing it with everyone involved is half the battle. Once you develop a solid plan with 100% buy-in, it’s much easier to execute. And keep in mind that even Martha did not furnish her houses overnight. Take your time, keep to your budget and have fun finding pieces that turn the apartment into a home.