Post-Grad: How to Decorate Your First Apartment

Getting your first apartment is one of the most exciting, craziest, most stressful ventures out there. In my last post, I went over all of my tips and tricks for moving to a brand new city, and this week I wanted to talk about how to go about decorating. Depending on how much home decor you already own, you might only need to do a little bit of shopping or a ton. Either way these tips will help keep you staying on budget and minimizing your stress. I personally will be moving next month (fingers crossed) and bringing almost no furniture, but quite a lot of decor with me - so I'll be following these tips myself as I get things together!

  1. Make a mood board: If you're completely lost as to how to decorate your place in a way that suits you both functionally and aesthetically, I highly recommend making a mood board. My favorite way to go about this is to just make a fresh Pinterest board and start pinning things like crazy. I'll grab inspiration from sites like Apartment Therapy, Domino, and Architectural Digest, paying special attention to articles featuring small spaces. As you pin, you should be able to get more of a sense of what your style is like, what colors you're drawn to, and what pieces are absolute necessities for you. Check out the two I made below - I tried to include both a general idea of how I want things to look as well as my desired color palette.
  2. Make a list of key items: Unless you've got a huge budget, I highly recommend decorating slowly. Figure out which items are absolutely key for functioning - like a place to sleep - and prioritize those. Things like knickknacks, rugs, and other non-essential items can be purchased later when you have more of a sense of the space and more room budget-wise. Of course what you consider essential will vary, I consider a mattress on the floor just fine while I hunt down the perfect bed, but everyone will have different priorities!
  3. Make a wishlist: Once you've got a general sense of the kind of items you want, you might want to make some sort of wishlist. I keep both a running Google Doc of my general ideal products and alternatives, and then use an Amazon wishlist (which you can add things to from all sites!) to keep track of specific items I like. This helps with avoiding wracking your brain to remember where that one chair you liked was from a month from now.
  4. Consider multi-purpose items: A table can be used for both enjoying meals and getting work done. A daybed switches easily between social gatherings and snoozing. Storage cube-style shelves work just as well for storage as they do for display. The point is, don't be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to getting the most function out of your small space.
  5. Bargain hunting is worth it: Worried about making things work with a small budget? You got this. Trawling secondhand shops, flea markets, and even Craigslist can unearth some real treasures. If you can, wait for sales. Stores like Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie tend to have sales on their sale sections at the end of each season. Lots of affordable stores like H&M, Zara, and Target have pieces that manage to look luxury with low prices.
  6. Got a super small budget?: Cinder blocks and plywood sheets can be turned into everything from a bed frame, to shelves, to a coffee table and they're super cheap. A small stool or a stack of books is a cheap alternative for a nightstand or side table. Keep in mind some materials are more affordable than others - a natural woven rug (like jute) will be way cheaper than average and outdoor seating tends to be way cheaper than designated living room furniture.
  7. Make it yours: If you're looking for more unique pieces, sites like Chairish and your local boutiques and antique stores are awesome places to check out. My all-time favorite home store is family-owned and they personally hunt down goods in the south of France and bring them back to their cute little shop right down the street from my mom's house. Go and search of gems! Also, there's nothing like a little DIY to take that IKEA bookcase everyone owns and turn it into a beautiful piece no one else has. I love both The Sorry Girls and Natasza for upcycling and DIY inspiration!
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