Let’s face it: if you live in an apartment there’s a good chance that you aren’t exactly the richest person on the block. So most of the time you’ve got to watch what you spend and sometimes that can feel disheartening if you’re not happy with the space you’re currently in. Doing “pro-level” decor may seem out of reach, but trust me, you can do anything that you put your mind to.
Today, I’m sharing an apartment family room decorated from “scratch” because I had just moved into the place.
I wish I had a better “before” picture but this was literally a move-in do-over, and I happened to take this picture to show people the place I was moving into.
If you’ve ever lived in an apartment then you already know about all the “rules”. In this particular apartment, I was technically allowed to paint the walls, but they’d charge a “repaint fee”. And since I didn’t exactly have cash to burn I decided not to paint the walls (although whoever decided THIS was the color that all apartments must have, should really get their eyes checked. Pukey-pastle-yellow is not my favorite color. To say the least. And the picture isn’t really showing how yellow it was.)
But just like how apartments come with rules, there’s definitely decor “rules” that can help you elevate a room.
Painting a room, changing out drapes (or adding them), updating light fixtures, and removing popcorn ceilings can really elevate a design. HOWEVER, in this case those things were not things that I had any control over.
So let me show you how I transformed this apartment family room into one that looks like it cost the big bucks.
Essential Pieces for Elevated Styling
Furniture is really important. And, yes, furniture is also really expensive. (Or can be). Furniture can be thought of like the “foundation” since they are usually the biggest pieces in a room. But there’s a few key things to understand about furniture:
- Make sure that your furniture fits in the room – It’s a rookie mistake to have huge pieces in a room that just can’t handle the size of the pieces. In addition to the sizing of pieces, make sure that you don’t have too many pieces shoved into a small room. Both of these make a room look smaller than it is, and can end up feeling really cramped.
- Make sure all the pieces flow – When I say ‘flow’ I mean they need to be in the same decor genre. And typically you don’t want to blend more than 2-3 genres at a time (just as a very general rule). So try to incorporate pieces that look like they belong together, instead of compete with each other.
- Go for classic timeless pieces – It’s likely that you’re going to keep the big pieces of furniture for years to come. So consider choosing styles that are simple or neutral, and would easily combine with another style. Additionally, if you’re aware of a style that you seem to constantly gravitate towards, then it may be worth investing in those pieces even if your adjunctive style changes.
I went for a modern-design with the couch, and found other pieces that had more of the mid-century style I was after. The TV stand was actually an old dresser that I rehabbed (which I made a separate post about, and you should definitely go check out because that dresser was hideous). The couch and lamp I purchased from Ikea, and the glass coffee table was from Walmart (which I spray-painted).
So we can see here that things look decent, but they don’t really have that professionally-done-and-stylized feel to them… Yet.
It’s The Little Things In Decorating That Make a Big Impact
I’m a big-time movie lover. But I’m not the biggest fan of making the TV the focal point in a room. So I wanted to do a gallery wall.
Most of my frames I bought from thrift stores. I filled them with prints that I printed off of my printer, or drawings that I did. I went and bought a canvas (which I painted). And a few of the pictures I got from my family members who had them sitting in storage.
By sticking to a color palette you’re able to bring different pieces together in a way that makes them look like they belong together — even if, individually, they look quite different.
After my gallery wall was complete it was time to add in some decor pieces. This is another place where it can be easy to over-do it. One trick is to take pictures of a space. If it seems cluttered then try taking pieces away.
The Secret to Really Pull a Space Together: An Area Rug
As you can see, I had the foundation done. I sprinkled in the decor elements. Namely: new mid-century couch legs, gallery wall, basket on dresser, two plants on left of TV, plant on coffee table, stack of books on coffee table, small statue on books, clear glass jar on coffee table, decor pillows, and blanket.
And while the daylight does make things look better, I hope you can see that it’s still missing something… the area rug!
I know that a rug might seem like an unnecessary thing, but it helps define a space. Of course, you still need to make sure that the rug fits the room, and matches the design esthetic. But look at what a difference it makes!
I hope that you learned a few valuable things so that you can elevate your decorating (even when on a tighter budget). If you have any questions, please ask in the comments below! Or if you loved this, then please do let me know in the comments as well.