Your first apartment is your opportunity to reflect your personality in your decor. Whether it's landlord rules, lack of space or boring furnishings, this isn't always as easy as it looks. Luckily, there is a variety of ways you can liven up your apartment space without spending too much.
Here are seven tips for decorating your first apartment.
Depending on your property manager's rules, your first apartment might be your first chance at painting your walls. Be smart about the paint you select. Make sure to choose colors that make your spaces feel more open—especially if you're working with smaller square footage. If you're aiming more for coziness and warmth, a deeper, richer color can offer that feel. (Just remember that most property managers will require you to paint back over with a neutral white or beige when you move out—and the darker the paint, the harder it will be to neutralize on move-out day.)
One easily replaceable aspect of a rented unit is lighting. If your apartment features overhead lighting you don't particularly like, consider swapping it out with something that better fits your style. (Just make sure to avoid changes that require complex wiring, and stick to swapping shades and bulb covers.) You'd be amazed at how simply changing the style of light bulb can alter the feel of a space. Swap out a yellow light with a clearer or whiter light to make your space feel brighter and, potentially, bigger.
Speaking of using lighting trickery, mirrors can go a long way in making a small space feel bigger. Place mirrors in rooms throughout your apartment that will reflect light—and place them strategically where they can catch natural light through your windows. It will brighten up your rooms during the daytime, and can potentially save on energy costs if your electric lights don't need to be turned on until later in the evening.
Whether you're living in a studio apartment, or simply an apartment with limited space, one great way to better define the boundaries of your various spaces is area rugs. If your living room and dining room blend into each other and you want to offer a clear transition from one room to another, an area rug under your table or under your couch/coffee table can indicate a separation. This could make your space feel more expansive than it is. (Plus, as an added bonus, rugs are easier to clean when it comes to spills than fixed carpets.)
One big issue with smaller apartments is typically the bathroom—it tends to be small and lacking in storage, in many cases. One way you can offer yourself a little more storage in an apartment bathroom with a pedestal sink is to hang a curtain around the basin. This sections off a logical space for you to store cleaning supplies and leaves shelves and closet space for linens, towels and toiletries.
When you move into a new apartment, odds are you won't be able to afford all-new furniture to match the style of your new space. One quick-change is to pick up slip-covers for your couch or chairs. Opt for a color scheme that will make your space visually appealing and give you more connection between your pieces of furniture. It will completely overhaul the look of your space without costing an arm and a leg.
If you're an entertainer, a small space can be an annoyance. However, opting for furniture that can stack or collapse is a huge bonus. Consider end tables that can slide under your coffee table. Or a dining room table that is easily collapsible to open up more space in the living area. Your everyday activities don't require the same amount of space as a dinner party, so easily transform your apartment for special occasions with stowable pieces.