Your first apartment is often your first chance to make your own choices about the space you live in. This can be exciting, overwhelming, or both!
Some people will turn the key armed with a vision board and total clarity on what their rooms will look like, but most of us need a little help, so here are some tips for how to decorate a space that you're glad to come home to:
Assess Your Space
First apartment decorating is your chance to make a home that works for you functionally and feels good to be in. A little planning can make the move less stressful.
If you haven't had a chance to settle on a style that suits you, that can be a great place to start. Picking a decorating style will help give your place a unified look and can make choices less overwhelming. Check this MirrorMate blog post for a style overview.
Next, think about how your style is going to work with the style of your apartment. If it's a small apartment with low ceilings, you probably want to save that gigantic High Victorian china cabinet for your next place! Or, if you have a loft apartment with exposed pipes, a few other elements from the industrial style would look great. Sometimes you need to combine your favorite style with that of your apartment for a mix that looks right.
Remember Both Form and Function in Decorating a First Apartment
Once you find a style or style combination that you like, consider how you want your space to function—what will you be doing in each room? With first apartment decor or any decorating project, you want a space that looks great and functions to suit you. You also want to consult both your head and your heart as you make these choices.
For instance, your head might tell you that the most sensible place for your office is in the smaller of two bedrooms, but your heart might pull you to work in front of your biggest window, smack in the middle of your living/dining space, where the light's good and there's an inspiring view.
So maybe you compromise, putting a small attractive table and a chair near the big window for working, but setting up good office storage in the small bedroom. It's all up to you!
Customize Your Space
You'll be happiest in a place that reflects your personality, so that means showcasing objects and art you love, working in the colors and textures that please you, and having places to work and to rest that feel just right.
If it's hard to know where to start, maybe you can begin with a signature piece. A beautiful oriental rug can serve as the color palette for your living area. Maybe you have a poster or painting that you want to be one of the first things people see when they walk in. Favorite pieces can set the tone for a room.
Another idea is a gallery wall—maybe you have an assortment of pictures, favorite photos, and even little objects you want on display. Buy frames or shadow boxes in the same style and color, arrange them in a grouping that looks unified, and feature them on a wall.
Apartment Kitchen Decor
Apartment kitchens are often small, but there are touches that can elevate them. You can swap out old lighting fixtures for new ones that suit your style, you can paint the walls a different color (with permission!), or you can put new hardware on dated cabinets.
If your shelving is open, consider sticking to one color for your place settings and serving dishes, such as white or cream. That gives open shelving a cohesive, decorated look.
If there's space and no island in your kitchen, consider a freestanding one—a butcher block with shelving underneath or a tall, little table with two stools.
Whether your dining area is the kitchen or another space nearby, think carefully about scale in choosing it. You might like the idea of twelve around a chunky farmhouse table, but if it's going to dominate the space, it's better to choose a smaller one that only seats four or six. You can buy some trays and serve buffet style when you have a larger group.
Apartment Bathroom Ideas
One way to instantly upgrade a bathroom with a wall-mounted mirror is to frame the mirror. MirrorMate offers a full selection of quality frames for any decorating style. To narrow your choices from all 65 frames, there's also a style quiz.
Custom framed bathroom mirrors add elegance to bathrooms of any size. MirrorMate's new Tuscany Travertine Frame is a perfect choice for elevating a white bathroom with classical or coastal elements. It's natural textured surface can be repeated in a bathroom shell display or a small marble statue.
If you have a sleek, modern vanity in black, a simple black frame such as the Highline Midnight Black Slim Frame will give the area a finished look. You can coordinate bathroom frames with furniture, fixtures or even accessories. Choose your towels, your shower curtain, and pieces such as dispensers and trays to give your bathroom a pulled-together look.
Cozy Apartment Ideas for Your Living Space
This is your most public space and where you'll probably spend most of your time, so make it comfy! In addition to your bed, a truly comfy chair is your most important big-ticket item. You'll probably be happier if you splurge on one good-looking, quality chair that feels perfect than if you buy a whole cheap living room set. (Your friends will still love you if they have to sit on beanbags for a while, right?) Make your second purchase as fine a floor or table lamp as you can afford to go next to it. Don't stress about having to have everything all at once.
As time and budget allow, add those elements that make a space unique—a rug that defines the living area, plants on surfaces or floors, pillows and a throw blanket in colors and textures you enjoy, and artwork that gives you a good feeling. To give your living space a cohesive look, pick one, two, or three colors for most of your items, and repeat those in your other spaces too.
Make Your Apartment Bedroom a Sanctuary
As we've already said, your bed is a key item that deserves a good chunk of your decorating budget. That includes buying the best quality linens and other bedding that you can afford. Once you have a bed you love, add to your bedroom's peaceful vibe by making sure you have a place to store all your clothes, shoes, and accessories where you don't have to see them.
If you don't have enough built-in storage, make what you bring in as attractive as possible. Go for woven baskets over plastic containers. Hide a clothes rack behind a curtain that matches your bedroom curtains. If you need to use an old dresser until you can buy something better, take the time to give it a new coat of paint or stain.
Add light fixtures and lamps that make it easy to read in bed, see into your closets, and get a good look at your jewelry. Rooms feel bigger when they have the light necessary to use every corner. It's equally important to be able to make a room dark, so consider some shades or curtains that cancel both light and noise for the best sleep possible.
Creative Decorating Ideas
You don't need a lot of space to create a beautiful home. Take stock of what you have, plan for what you want, clarify your style, and make the most of what's already there, such as adding a MirrorMate frame to a builder-grade bathroom mirror. Everyone deserves an orderly, attractive space, so have fun creating an apartment that's just right for you.