Getting your first apartment is a big deal, and it can be tempting to rush out and try to do everything at once. After all, you need somewhere to sit, sleep, and eat, and furniture is required for all those things. But great interiors don’t happen in an instant. It takes time, persistence, and a willingness to live with the imperfect while you search for just the right pieces. So even though it may be tempting, make sure you don’t jump the gun, otherwise you may end up with an apartment full of regrets.
Don’t Buy All Your Furniture at Once
Chances are if you’re moving into your first place you have a few hand me down pieces of furniture – maybe a sofa or dining table, but that’s it. You’ll be lacking things like coffee and side tables, comfortable seating, possibly even a bed. So it’s perfectly understandable that you’d want to fill it up as quickly as possible. But racing out to buy a lot of furniture at once can be a big mistake – an expensive mistake. The best thing to do is make a list of the major items you need and purchase them in order of importance. If you desperately need a sofa then by all means get one, but don’t buy the coffee table, side tables, chairs and everything else all at the same time. Spend some time looking for the right pieces and make the purchases as it makes sense for your budget. It’s much better to go without for a little while than to rush into things that could end up being mistakes.
Don’t Try to Fill the Space Too Quickly
Rushing into things can lead to regrets – it’s as true in decorating as it is with anything else. And it’s not just about the furniture, it goes for rugs, lighting, and accessories too. Decorating a room is a little bit like putting together a puzzle. Each piece connects in a way that might not be clear when you first start.
The best way to deal with this is to make a decorating plan before you start. That way you can begin to put all the pieces of the puzzle together before spending any money. You can figure out what furniture you need, what type of rug will work with that furniture, all the types of lighting you should have, and so on. It will also help you to determine how much you can spend, and which items should have priority. Taking your time and planning appropriately will lessen the chance of buying on impulse and making mistakes.
Don’t Buy All Your Accessories in One Place
One of the cardinal rules of decorating is that you shouldn’t buy everything in one place – not the furniture, and definitely not the accessories. Every room should look like it has developed over time, and that’s virtually impossible when everything is bought at the same store. Accessories are what make our interiors personal, and looking at and using them should remind us of positive things. Perhaps a piece of art is something you found while on a trip with family, or maybe a little knick knack is something you purchased while out antiquing with a friend. It doesn’t really matter what the story is, as long as the things in your home reflect your life and the journey you’ve taken – and represent more than just the day you filled a shopping cart with stuff and slapped down a credit card.
Also, when everything is from one store it doesn’t really reflect your style. It just reflects the style of the store’s purchasing manager. So take your time and let your accessories tell a story.
Don’t Buy Only Cheap Things
Most people moving into their very first apartment are on a budget and therefore are looking for things to be as inexpensive as possible. There are certainly ways to decorate for cheap, however even when on a budget it’s important to still think about quality – particularly for the major pieces. Just because it’s your first place it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy things with longevity in mind. For instance, when it comes to buying a sofa you should always get the best you can afford. When you purchase things that are low quality it’s inevitable that they will need replacing at some point in the not too distant future.
With large, costly items like sofas you want to minimize the need for replacing every few years. So while it’s definitely ok to try and save money by way of upcycling and being creative, don’t be pennywise, pound foolish. When it comes to big ticket items buy the best quality you can afford. The key is to know what items to splurge on, and what items you can save on. That said, always be cautious of your budget and don’t overspend just for the sake of spending.
Don’t Settle for the Generic
If your first apartment is a rental you may find it’s tricky to put your own stamp on it. Many rental units have restrictions about what types of changes you can make, and as a result a lot of people don’t decorate in a way they would really like. Fortunately there are a number of things you can still do to make a rental unit your own. If applicable switch out the existing window treatments, light fixtures and hardware; layer area rugs over the existing floors or carpet; decorate with removable wallpaper that won’t leave marks; and if your landlord approves paint all the walls, trim and doors. In most cases landlords will be ok with changes as long as you agree to change things back before you vacate at the end of your lease. There’s no need to live in a generic apartment with no personality simply because you’re renting.
Living in your own place for the first time is very exciting, and it can be tempting to make it perfect right away. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, so slow down, take your time, and create a space that’s truly you.