My Worst First Apartment Decorating Mistakes

Furnishing your first home can be exciting and fun! You have the freedom to decorate your place however you want and to express yourself through your apartment! Not immune to getting caught up in the fun of furnishing an apartment, I’ve definitely made my share of decorating mistakes.  Here are a few things I would do differently if I could go back and do it again:

I would not invest in heavy, cumbersome furniture

While I love the aesthetics of the big dresser I bought from IKEA and express a lot of pride in building it myself, I wasn’t anticipating that I would be moving three times within the same year because of the tight housing market in the Bay Area. With each move, I had to haul 6 heavy drawers and the frame of my dresser with me. The dresser also became more damaged and scratched each time it was put in a moving truck. What I would do differently is start off with a smaller dresser, like this one, also from IKEA.


You never know what will happen with your first housing situation (my apartment was put on the market two months into my lease!) so until you’re officially “settled”, go with something that is easy to move from place to place.

I would not bring home generic art from a big box store

I was definitely one of those people that got really interested in purchasing art right away for my apartment, without taking the time to reflect on my taste or the style I wanted to convey. I ended up buying a $100 painting from Cost Plus and while I loved the painting at the time, my tastes changed and I got sick of the painting. It didn’t express who I was and didn’t seem as unique to me since a lot of people could have the same exact painting! My recommendation for next time would be to establish myself with the basic furniture first, and then invest in a few pieces that fit not only the apartment but also my personality. For my next move I’ll be checking out local art events in my town, but I also like to browse through the art collections at inexpensive online stores like Society6.


I would not purchase all of my furniture from the same place

While I love IKEA and all of its great deals on furniture, I realize now that my worst mistake was buying everything from IKEA. Combine that with roommates who also love IKEA, and our apartment started to look like an IKEA showroom!

ikea car

There are plenty of other places to purchase affordable furniture and avoid the dreaded “IKEA effect”. To mix it up a bit, check out the big box stores, such as Target and Walmart, even Bed Bath and Beyond, and check out my new favorites, All Modern and Living Spaces.

all modenvia

I hope you have learned from my past regrets what mistakes to avoid when you decide to decorate your first apartment. My main advice is don’t stress too much about having the “perfect place” right away. It will take time to build your home so that it feels comfortable and reflects your personality. Be patient with the decorating process, and the end result will definitely be worth it!

P.S. You can find more advice about avoiding decorating mistakes here.

Related Posts

Author My First Apartment
Anna R.

Posted by

Anna R. is currently a research assistant in a biology lab in the Bay Area and is interested in pursuing a Ph.D in Genetics. When she’s not daydreaming about food and browsing recipes on Pinterest, she likes to spend her free time dancing, paddle boarding and swimming. She’s been through a number of different housing situations and is eager to share her experiences with other MFA readers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.