When you first move into a new apartment, its bare walls and empty rooms may feel like the farthest thing from home. However, with a little creativity and hard work, you can turn this sterile space into a cozy home. Read on for tips to make your apartment the place you look forward to coming home to at the end of the day.
Unpack Right Away
The stress and hassle of moving makes many people postpone the unpacking and decorating process. You may know someone who is still living out of boxes and suitcases despite having moved into his apartment months ago! Don’t let this happen to you. If possible, take a few days off from work after your move to unpack, set up furniture and make any necessary purchases. The longer you wait, the less you’ll want to take the time to decorate and settle in.
Start with the Basics
Before you start decorating, you’ll need to make sure that the “personality” of the apartment is to your liking. Is the bathroom adorned with a dingy shower curtain? Does the living room carpet remind you of the hallways of your office? Don’t settle for these shortcomings if you don’t have to. While it may not seem that the effort installing a new carpet or set of light fixtures is worth it for a rental apartment, it will make a big difference in the way you feel about your home. Talk to your landlord before you install new carpets or change the bathroom tiling. Your landlord may place certain restrictions on making substantial changes to the apartment. On the other hand, he or she may be willing to absorb some or all of the costs of the improvements you suggest. When considering whether to change anything about the structure of the apartment, pay attention to the details as well as the big picture. Consider the shade of paint on the walls, the curtains, kitchen cabinets, door handles and light fixtures. Sometimes even a small change, such as the type of handles on the kitchen drawers, can change the look of the entire room.
Make it personal
Nothing will turn your apartment into a home more effectively than adding personal touches to all the corners of your apartment. If you need to buy furniture, try mixing neutral, functional pieces with a few interesting, unique items. It’s fine to get some of your furniture and appliances from Ikea and Bed, Bath & Beyond, but avoid making all of your purchases at these more generic stores. Before you know it, your bedroom will look like everyone else’s. Instead, explore the local thrift and vintage stores for unusual items. Checkout what people are selling on craigslist or in the local paper. Not only will you have an apartment with more personality, you may save some money in the process.
When it comes to decorating blank walls, many people turn to framed prints of classic paintings. Still, you can take a more personal approach to decorating your walls. Take some of the best photos you have taken and have them enlarged and framed. Consider doing the same thing with family photos and pictures of loved ones. Snapshots can take on an entirely different personality when they are framed and well hung. If you like art, take a look at paintings from local artists and small galleries. Depending on the artist and local market, you can pay very affordable prices for unique pieces you won’t see anywhere else.
Houseplants and fish tanks are other great ways to enliven your apartment. If you spend a lot of time away from home, be sure to choose plants and fish that are hardier and require less maintenance.
Perhaps the best investment you can make in your apartment concerns light and light fixtures. Even the location of your light source can make a big difference in the appearance of a room. Cover any bare bulbs with a visually pleasing light fixture. If an overhead light looks too harsh, invest in a table or floor lamp. Many home furnishing stores sell hanging lanterns and paper lamps that emit a soft, calming glow.
Make Room for Yourself
If you really want your apartment to feel like home, make sure you treat it like home. Create a special space for yourself where you can think, read, mediate or relax quietly. This could be a special corner of the living room with a pleasing lamp and a comfortable chair. If you have a small one bedroom or studio, this space could even be your own bed. Invest in a few well-made pillows that a designed for your sleeping style, a thick comforter and soft sheets. Whatever this special place is, it should be a place you can turn to after a hard day for rest and comfort.
Home Sweet Home
Creating a homey apartment is less about how much money and space you have, and more about the time and effort you are willing to put into it. If you move often, it may not seem to be worth the time and effort to invest in changes you can’t take with you. Still, your apartment is the place you have to come back to every day. Even if you stay in your apartment for less than a year, it may be worth the investment of a few days to make somewhere you want to come home to.