How to Decorate Your First Apartment


Congratulations! You finally have a place to call your own, and decorate completely from the ground up; the question is, where or how do you start? The thought of having your own apartment for the first time is exciting and very overwhelming. You can do whatever you want with it, but before you go crazy with furniture shopping, have you ever thought about how you should go about decorating so that you avoid potential problems or clashing decor schemes?

Of course you could hire an interior design professional, but if you’d rather do it yourself, here is where to start:


There’s three types of lighting you should plan out in each room: general, task, and accent. General lighting refers to how the room is evenly illuminated. This takes natural lighting into consideration too. Think about the kind of curtains you want over your windows, do you want two layers so you could soften the light that enters your room, or you just want to completely shut out any light that could come in? Task lighting is extra lighting to aid certain tasks, such as a reading lamp by your bedside, special lighting for intricate hobbies, or cabinet lights for your kitchen utensils. Accent lighting is meant to accentuate a certain object, usually painting or collectibles. The way a room is lit can completely change its ambiance.

Furniture Size

If you have a small room, bringing in large furniture may make it look even smaller and make living in it very inefficient. You want there to be a steady ‘flow’ in your apartment, where you can wake up, move around, do what you need to do, and not have your things hindering your activities. The right furniture can make even a small room look large. You could also consider purchasing furniture which ‘folds’ or ‘collapses’ to maximize space. You can still get large furniture if you wish as long as it doesn’t block the entire room. The secret is to not overcrowd a particular area.

Don’t be Afraid to Mix and Match

For most parts of your home you don’t need to make everything match or be the same colors or patterns. Constant exposure to the same thing can look straining and tiring to the eyes. Keeping a general theme, like keeping everything contemporary or rustic, is okay too if that’s your preference. Just don’t be too caught up in trying to make everything the same. Variety keeps interest in a room.

Take Measurements

This is something that can easily be overlooked by many people. When purchasing a new fridge, bed, or any other large furniture or appliance, be sure to have the measurements of the area on hand so you can refer to it while shopping. Consider as well, even if it does fit, does it fit effectively? Will you end up hitting yourself on something? If you open the fridge/cabinet door, does it open all the way through? Will it start crowding your apartment in an uncomfortable way?

Furniture Placement

There’s this natural tendency for people to place a lot of furniture against the walls, especially sofas and couches. The point of those things is to bring people closer and have some connection to the people within your room. Try to put those things closer to the center of the room and place the coffee table roughly 15”-18” away, depending on the size of your place. When hanging paintings you would usually like about 56”-60” above the floor, this is so the piece can be viewed as a whole through eye level by most people. Avoid hanging painting above couches which are not as long as the painting. The painting should be no more than two-thirds as wide as the couch. Also, when deciding how far away to station your TV, a good general rule is to double the diagonal size of the TV and put your viewing area within that distance.

These are just basic tips to consider when decorating your new apartment. In the end, your personal tastes and the satisfaction you have for your own living conditions are all that matter. If you feel you still need help with your interior designing you can always seek professional design expertise to help you get your home the way you want it!

About Jennifer Cribsly

I'm a former real estate broker who specialized in helping first time buyers be able to purchase a home. Now full time mom, part time real estate owner/investor.
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