How to Decorate a Kick Ass New Apartment for the New Year

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Are you moving into a new apartment? Or maybe your old apartment desperately needs a new look?

Whatever the case may be, just the thought of furnishing, or re-furnishing, your apartment can be overwhelming, not to mention the time and the money it takes to actually do it. And it’s even worse if it’s your first apartment — you’ve already gone through the hassle of getting the lease signed, un-packing everything you own from your car, having the WiFi turned on, etc. and now you’ve gotta worry about decorating? Heck, you might not have any furniture, let alone the right style for your new place.

Don’t worry. Whether you’re moving into a brand new place, or just need a new look for the new year, we’ve got some simple rules to follow for making your apartment look good. More importantly, the right design choices can also make you feel good. We’re not kidding: Believe it or not, the choices that you make when deciding how your home will look have a documented effect on your emotions and perceptions. Oh, and they can also affect how people feel about you, which is probably something you should think about before bringing a guest over for the first time.

So, where do you start? With color.

Always add color

Color is an important part of how we experience the world around us, and can have a measurable impact on or moods and emotions, so adding color should really be one of the first things you do when furnishing, or decorating, an apartment. But which ones?

Thankfully modern color theory (yes, that’s a thing!) has some answers for you. These answers obviously aren’t definitive, but researchers, interior designers and marketing professionals all tend to agree on things like:

  • Red: Symbolizes power and passion, and can make a space feel warm
  • Orange: Is energetic but can overwhelm people if you use too much..
  • Blue: A calm and fresh color perfect for high traffic areas.
  • Purple: Connotes royalty and luxury and is often used to suggest sophistication.
  • Gray: Relaxing and serene, making it good for home offices or bathrooms.
  • White: It is a “clean” color, and is great for defining spaces, but too much is just boring.

And that’s just to start, so it’s definitely worth thinking about what impact your favorite color might have on you, and the people you invite into your home.

Once you’ve picked your colors, there are tons of ways to add them to your apartment without spending a ton of money. And without going overboard — no one wants to live in a an apartment looks like a melted box of crayons, and if you start with a neutral base then mix in pops of color it’ll make your space seem more sophisticated.

You can start with some colorful throw pillows and/or blankets for your furniture; or by hanging a big, bright poster or piece of art on the wall; or just by adding a few plants. When you’re ready to go bigger put down a area rug to add a pop of color, pattern and texture. Or you can go really big and add color to one of your walls — an accent wall can add life to a space, and fool the eye about the size of your room. Plus it’s even easier than you think if you use a removable product like Tempaint that looks just like paint but goes up in a fraction of the time, and comes down even faster when your lease is up.

Play with (your) space

Interior designers are very good at alter our “perception of space” to make rooms seem more spacious and to make sure that rooms are as user-friendly as possible. Basically, they use a bunch of visual tricks to alter how we view the space around us. But you don’t have to be a pro to do it, you just have to remember a few simple concepts.

  •  If you want a room in your home to appear larger, choose furniture that is scaled to size and slimmer, or place a large mirror on the back wall to create depth. You can also use window treatments to add depth and height to a room — just hang curtains from the top of your wall instead of the top of window.
  • People who want their space to feel inviting should stick to a warm color pallet, create intimate groupings with furniture, and offer plenty of ambient lighting. Filling a room with larger furniture can also make a space seem cozy.

The takeaway from all that? There is no right way to alter perceptions of your space: If you’ve inherited a huge couch, cool, just shove it against the wall and choose colors/accessories that make space seem super comfortable. Got a tiny living room? Ok focus on making it seem bigger. The bottom line is, as long as you give it some thought you can get away with pretty much anything.

What your stuff says about you

On the one hand, picking the right furnishings is a very practical subject. If you’ve got a small space, for example, adding some minimalist hanging shelves, or a clear coffee table, provides obvious functionality but also makes your space seem bigger. If you’re trying to make a space more intimate, the right lamps or lighting fixtures can make a big difference. As can a colorful, and comfy couch, or a richly textured ottoman.

But on the other hand, everything from your furniture to your coasters can also impact the way you feel about yourself, and how others feel when they visit your home. That means when you’re decorating you should ask yourself if you’re the kind of person who chooses a smaller, designer couch over a cheaper one that offers plenty of room for people to spread out together? Is your refrigerator door is covered pictures of your family and postcards from friends’ trips, or do you keep your kitchen clean and minimalist?

There’s no right answer to these questions, but they’re definitely worth asking when you’re shopping, especially when you consider how much time you’ll be spending in your apartment, or whether you ever want your guests to come back for another visit.

The last thing you should do when decorating your apartment? Remember to have fun. Don’t get overwhelmed googling decorating tips or pouring over Pintrest (that said, ours is pretty great!). Don’t agonize over whether or not you’ve got the right kind of chairs. Just remember to ask yourself what kind of space you want to live in, and what you want it to say about you, and you’ll be fine. In other words, just remember our three little rules and enjoy your new apartment.

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