Updated: Mar 8
Once you've settled into your first apartment, it’s time to start decorating! This is the exciting part about renting. It gives you the opportunity to personalize your home and the good news is that you don't need to spend a lot to create an Instagram-worthy space. Picking the right decor can also go a long way to prevent your rental from looking, well, just a little bit sad...
In our guide to first time apartment decorating, we explore some must-know tips for those who aren't moving into a fully furnished apartment and need some help making their rentals look and feel like home.
Why You Should Decorate Your First Apartment
You walk in the door after a long day at work only to be surrounded by the four walls of the apartment and a few key pieces of furniture. There's not much to uplift your mood or to make you feel comfortable and relaxed. There's also not much to entertain family and friends.
You may not know it, but surrounding yourself with color, accessories, and functional pieces can easily turn your drab apartment into a trendy and practical space.
With our tips, you'll soon be on your way to achieving every decorating success. Let's start with furniture and accessories for first-time renters.
Heard of Multi-Use Furniture?
It’s a Great Addition to Any Apartment on a Decorating Budget
Multi-use furniture consists of a single piece that you can use in different ways. Examples include the combination of a dresser and a mirror, an ottoman with legs to use as a chair with added storage space, or a bed with hidden storage in the base. These items can go a long way to providing essential storage while helping you decorate on a budget.
Flat-Pack & Ready-to-Assemble Furniture
For any first-time renter of a small apartment, flat-pack or ready-to-assemble furniture is available in many contemporary styles including bookshelves, tables, modular shelves, and TV display units.
Flat-Pack furniture is available in wood, chipboard, and fiberboard with realistic wood grain or smooth finishes. It is one of the least expensive types of furniture to decorate an apartment while taking up less space. This makes it the perfect choice for a small apartment while shopping for furniture on a budget.
These items do not come fully assembled which is part of the reason you pay less for each piece. When you purchase a bookshelf for example, you receive the boards, the fixtures, and the accessories that you are required to put together. It is a bit of a DIY task, but well worth the effort once your fully assembled shelf, bed, or desk is ready for use.
Ready-to-assemble furniture is also ideal for first-time renter who doesn’t want to spend too much on furnishing the apartment.
Bring Plants In
If you’re an avid gardener or wish to get started on planting your own greens, there is no better time than in your first rental! If you have a balcony, all the better to decorate with some lush green plants that add freshness and positive energy to the space.
A popular apartment decorating tip is to purchase pot plants or containers to place on a sunny windowsill and to grow your own herbs or vegetables. There is certainly nothing better than adding a few sprigs of fresh celery and mint to your salad from a home-grown garden!
If you don’t have green fingers but still want the appeal of apartment greens, then artificial plants including cactus and broad-leafed plants will provide the exotic look and feel without the maintenance!
Think About Saving Money with Used-Furniture
Today's used furniture is about finding key investment and vintage pieces in high-quality wood finishes that will last a good few years.
It's about knowing what to look for and then getting it at the right price so not only do you save but you also score a unique item of furniture for your new home. You can find a variety of styles and at a fraction of the cost of brand new pieces whether you shop online or in-store.
With some research and careful furniture selections, you can invest in some solid pieces that would last a lifetime. And don't be put off by old or worn pieces. Many of these items simply need a makeover. A fresh coat of paint, reupholstered material and a good sanding can bring many styles of old or damaged furniture to life.
Giving thrift furniture a good clean can create an impressive conversational piece when you invite guests over!
Spruce Up an Old Sofa with Pillows and Throws
If you don't have a sofa as a first-time renter, the next item on your decor list should be a suite you can afford, but with so many styles and fabrics how do you know which is the right one?
The sofa you choose all depends on the price and the style. L-shaped sofas can create a comfy space while single chairs need to be properly positioned or they could look chunky in a small living area.
Look around for online deals and purchase what you can afford, then decorate with scatter cushions. A combination of scatter cushions and textured throws are affordable and easy ways to make living rooms feel cozy.
You can also find more DIY decorating ideas for a small apartment by visiting: affordable-diy-tips-to-make-your-small-apartment-look-amazing.
Decorating Tips for Each Room in the Apartment
Create a Contemporary Entrance
Keep the clutter to a minimum. You don’t want to feel overwhelmed the first time you walk through the door. Your new space should be light, airy, and spacious so you can freely express yourself, relax, and feel safe.
The easiest way to make your new apartment look modern and attractive is to create a neat entryway. A clothes hanger, storage boxes, and a contemporary rug are simple and affordable ways to create a positive impression the moment you walk through the door.
Tackle the Kitchen
You can easily give your kitchen a makeover without a stitch of paint or adding fixtures. Introduce storage canisters that keep your countertops neatly organized.
You can also use something like a portable wine rack to organize your spices, dishcloths, and similar items.
A kitchen can feel modern when you know how to keep your cooking utensils and groceries neatly organized.
Hang a Shelf within a Shelf!
Did you know that you can purchase slide-in or clip-on shelves that you can place in a kitchen cabinet? These features do not require fixtures and you can take it with you should you move at the end of your lease. It creates more storage and helps you keep things off the counter and packed away.
Use Your Bed for Storage
If your bed is propped up and you have a cavity, you can use this to store goods. Purchase a pull-out shelf or storage container you can place under the bed. This will help you manage your valuables and ensure that it is always within reach.
Accessorize Your Bedroom
The bedroom is a space where you can unwind. With scatter cushions, decorative features that you love, and the smart use of furniture for storage, your bedroom can become a modern oasis.
Avoid Fixtures in Your Apartment
As a first-time renter, you may want to add shelves, change the color of the walls, or hang some interesting artwork but fixtures that include knocking into walls or repainting are not generally permitted unless it’s approved by your landlord. Tenants should always maintain the original condition of the apartment to prevent losing the security deposit.
What you can do is get creative by introducing alternative decorating and design ideas. These include vases with fresh flower arrangements, contemporary ornaments or keepsakes, and photo frames with a stand so you can display your favorite pictures without damaging the walls.
Try to Work with What You’ve Got
Get creative with the accessories and furniture you already own. Sometimes you just need to add a few pillows in a striking color or a rug to add warmth to the room.
You can also try your hand at a few DIY projects from painting terracotta pots to reusing and repurposing mason jars or woven baskets for decor and storage.
Maintaining the Condition of Your Apartment
Keeping your apartment well-maintained will go a long way to passing your move-out inspection. Address any damages or wear and tear by bringing it to the attention of the landlord to avoid complications when your lease expires.
The Beauty of First-Time Renting
Renting for the first time provides independence and pride. Once you’ve managed your finances and settled into your new home, the most exciting part of your new space is adding the accessories and the features that you love.
If you lack space, consider simple apartment storage solutions and inexpensive additions that keep you organized while making for a practical home.
Another tip is to read your lease terms concerning changes to the interior. If there is a change you need to make, call your landlord and speak to him or her about it. A simple phone call or email can prevent losing your deposit.
Ready-to-assemble furniture, plants, pillows, and accessories will add the value that you are looking for. It also reflects your personality which makes you feel more at home.
At the end of the day, your first-time rental should be exciting, fun, and rewarding! By thinking outside of the box and looking for a good deal, you can decorate and come in under budget.
With only a few additions you can transform your space and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune!