Afford a Home Makeover For Your First Apartment
Do you remember your first apartment?
You landed your first full time job. When you got home, you took off those awful heels and jumped on Craigslist to find yourself a new place to live. You’re a real adult! Except, when you finally flew the nest, you realized that you don’t own any furniture, you finally understand why your Dad has been nagging you to turn off the lights when you leave the room, and there are bugs in your cereal because you don’t have anywhere to put it. You need a home makeover.
Buuut…. you can’t paint or put holes in the walls, furniture is no-seriously-is-that-pricetag-a-sick-joke expensive, and there’s a mysterious stain on the carpet that you hope wasn’t at one point the scene of a crime. What’s a young professional like yourself to do?
Knick-Knacks are Your Home Makeover Friends
Can’t nail stuff to the wall? Put it on a shelf instead. Keep your decorative items small, instead of spending money on large (read: fragile) vases and other pieces. Group them together in vignettes of threes or four on a shelf or a side table. These little beauties come from Artisan’s Hands in Buffalo, NY. Also, lots of smaller pieces means peace of mind for that inevitable move. That’s also why it’s good to have side tables and bookshelves with baskets and canvas totes instead of bulky dressers and coffee tables. I personally don’t own any furniture that I couldn’t move myself.
Leave Room for Negative Space
Not having a lot of space to work with means that its easy to make your place look cramped and cluttered if you just pile on the picture frames. Avoid symmetrical rows, and instead try odd groupings against interestingly-textured walls, leaving room for blank space around them. This is a great trick to make your room look more spacious. Pairing different materials against each other, like the distressed wood, brick and paper in the display above from Thin Ice is an awesome way to create a totally curated look.
This is my number one favorite cheap and change-up-able fix for a home makeover. Experiment with different colors, patterns, textures, themes, everything! Try taking an oversized square scarf and set it diamond point on a rectangular coffee table. Drape a quilt or afghan over a plain headboard. Or, if you’re the DIY type, buy a foam block from the craft store and a staple gun and you have an almost limitless supply of wall art for just a few dollars a yard. Simply cover the block with fabric and hang, and change it up as often as you like. I brought home some place mats from Artisan’s Hands.
Make Like a Merchandiser
Every time you pass a shop window or a display, you are looking at hours of collaboration and planning. Most stores employ merchandisers who put together just the right colors and textures in just the right way to make you want to come into the store and buy. Go to a store whose aesthetic you really love. Pictured is Anna Grace, where I got lots of inspiration from the vintage style dresses. Take a notebook with you, and get some ideas. Do you really like a display? Sketch out the arrangement and recreate it at home with your own pieces. Take note of any colors or materials that speak to you. Do you like big statement pieces? Clean lines? Asymmetrical arrangements? Modern or kitschy? You don’t need to take home everything in the store to create a space you love. Pick one piece that you can’t live without, like a candleholder or a picture frame, and build a room around it. It’s fun and gives you some direction while you’re rooting through the flea market heap.
If all else fails, talk to the professionals. Smaller, non-franchised stores are often run by fashion-forward designers who curate their collections to handpick and arrange the items that they love. Talk to them about your new space and what direction you want to take it in. I talked to Erin Habes who runs Room and she was full of great ideas and recommendations.
It’s so easy to love your new apartment with a home makeover that doesn’t have to eat up your whole first paycheck! And throw a pillow on that stain, or something. It’s freaking out your guests.
This post was made possible thanks to Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau, Thin Ice, Artisan’s Hands, Anna Grace, and Erin Habes. All opinions expressed are our own. For more information, see Ms. Career Girl’s disclosure policy.