Did you make some big changes this summer? Did you finally find an ideal apartment? Good for you! Now, as you look around at the blank walls, are you wondering just how to decorate your new space? Whether this is your first apartment or your twentieth, moving is exciting, overwhelming, and often expensive. You may not have a lot left for decorating, and there are some restrictions to what you can and cannot do in your apartment. So how can you get the look you want without violating the apartment community’s restrictions — and on a budget? It’s easier than you might think!
First, know your style. If you aren’t sure, make a list of your favorite items and look for a common theme. Think about your favorite places — is it a country meadow, a quiet beach, or 1940s Hollywood? Look through decorating magazines and websites and save the rooms that inspire you. Once you know what you like, you’ll be able to match it to a decorating style.
Here are some elements to the most popular styles — determine which of the following appeal to you:
Contemporary — Not modern (there’s a difference). Contemporary is clean lines, furniture that sits low to the ground, and lots of metal and glass. Neutral colors with bright, fun pops of color here and there.
Eclectic— A mixture of several different styles, eclectic relies on similarities in color and pattern to pull the varying elements together. Try to find a common theme when decorating in the eclectic style to avoid a disjointed, jumbled look.
Modern or mid-century modern — Modern is minimal. Very few decorations, not fussy, muted neutral tones throughout. Geometric shapes, sleek furniture, asymmetrical designs. Think cool, sleek, and simple. While contemporary design allows for some fun colorful elements, modern is more formal. Mid-century modern has a 1960s vibe. Natural elements, lots of stone and wood, Scandinavian-inspired furniture, lots of simple, natural lines. Decorate with lots of deep yellows and greens.
Art deco — Mirrored surfaces, geometric shapes, curves and ornate details, plenty of glass and chrome, shiny and sophisticated (think 1930s Hollywood).
Country — Rustic, lots of wood and floral patterns. Handmade and hand-carved items, farm-inspired accessories, lots of items found at flea markets and craft fairs. Checkered fabrics, stripes, and green, yellow, and red hues are popular.
French Country or English Country — For French country, think soft yellows and blues, decorating with useful items (i.e., plates and urns), toile fabrics, lots of flowers. For English country, think roses, slightly fussy, feminine, florals and pinks, and overstuffed furniture.
Shabby Chic — Sort of a worn cottage feel with hand-painted furniture, lace, lots of white and soft shades of pink and green. Decorate with flea market finds, antiques, and anything vintage.
Coastal — Breezy, lots of blues and whites, shells, shorebirds, lighthouses (anything beach related).
Now that you’ve chosen your style, it’s time to start decorating! Where you shop depends quite a lot on your decorating style, but thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales are ideal budget-friendly venues. When buying furniture, look for the shapes and lines that match your style — and plan on fixing it up, changing hardware, or painting the item to help it fit your décor.
Personalizing an apartment space isn’t as difficult as you may think. Even if you can’t paint the walls, you can paint your furniture — use bright colors for a big impact. Open shelving is also ideal for showing off your collections of style-related décor — use floating shelves, bookcases, or (especially contemporary style) industrial metal racks. If you want floors that make a statement, use area rugs to cover whatever carpet or flooring your apartment community has installed. Find rugs that accentuate your style — one with a bold geometric pattern, for example, in your contemporary room or a soft, plush, floral-inspired rug for your English country room. Instead of hanging pictures, lean them. Prop a painting up on the fireplace mantel or a side table placed against the wall. Don’t overlook the curtains and lamps — these will go a long way to helping personalize your space.
Now that you know your decorating style, have fun decorating your new place! Remember — your decorating style is a general outline — not a rigid plan. If you find something you adore but it’s more “French country” than “Contemporary,” go ahead and get it anyway! It will be that unexpected, quirky touch that adds even more personality to your space.