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First Apartment Decorating 101
A Primer for the First-Timer


First apartment? Home decorating novice? Chances are you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the questions floating around in your brain like: What furniture do I need? What accessories should I buy? Should I buy everything at once? What can I afford? Can I mix plaids and stripes? How do I avoid the college dorm room look?

Fear not. For here are a few tips that may make your first time (or that of a young loved one) more gain than pain. 

You are not alone: Need some help brainstorming on what style or look is right for you? Find inspiration by checking out the home decorating advice on design blogs and the photos on Instagram and sites like These can help with your selection of color schemes, lamp, coffee table and fabric choices, just to name a few. Just gather pictures that appeal to you and build from there. And take solace in knowing that while those photos may contain pricey pieces, you can bring them into a store like Ikea and get similar, cost-effective alternatives. And don’t forget the treasures often found for next to nothing on Craigslist and at flea markets and garage sales.

Less (speed) is more: Thinking you need to buy everything at once is often misguided thinking. Get just a few of the absolute necessities (bed, table, chairs) at first and then build off of that slowly but surely. Who knows what ideas may come to you (or your friends) later when you see those first purchases in place? Who knows what sale you may discover that helps your budget? Who knows what to think when they’re feeling the pressure they need to make a decision right this very second?shutterstock_136162241

Less (furniture) is more: By taking your time in your decision-making and purchasing, you may discover that the room(s) you’re decorating does not need as much as you thought to feel finished. While matching sofas may work well for your parents, maybe you’ll find just one with a nice rug in front does the trick for you.

Change is good: As you grow older, your tastes can change, sometimes sooner than later. That said, the last thing you want to do is spend a huge amount on one or two pieces only to discover that just six months or two years later you’re already tired of it. Of course, have fun buying what you like, but just know that your style is a work-in-progress. And what you like today, may not be what you like tomorrow.