Some personal news? Or rather, non news: I’m not moving! My roommates and I just resigned our lease for a fourth year, which is relatively rare for a group of recent graduates in NYC.
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my apartment. It’s my first-ever place of my own — in college, I lived in the dorms and then in my sorority house, and on breaks, I’d either live in NYU dorms or at my mom’s house. It’s in a great location, close to the subway and lots of restaurants (although, too close to a bar that’s practically downstairs!) Our rooms are spacious by NYC standards, and we all have closets. And I get to live here with two of my best friends. It’s just the best.
This will be our last year in this apartment, which is bittersweet, as it’s really become home to me over the past three years. (Of course, I’ll also be excited to eventually decorate another space + explore another neighborhood in the city.) But over the past three years I feel like I’ve learned a thing or two about making your space feel like home, which I’m sharing below!
Frame your prints.
This isn’t college anymore — no posters here! A grown-up apartment has framed painting and prints. Adding them to your space goes a long way in making your apartment feel less like your college dorm room and more like your parents’s house (in a good, adult way!)
Buy a headboard.
Same thing here — you’re not in college anymore. I’m not even saying you need to buy a full-on bed (I’m talking more than a wire frame), because those can get pricey. But a headboard does a lot to tie a room together, and is a much more cost-effective option than buying an entire bed. Mine is from Target, comes in a bunch of different colors and is currently on sale!
To that point, don’t buy the cheapest one you see just to save a buck. My first headboard was $90, and I literally bought it because it was white, simple, and inexpensive. It ended being too big for my bed (another tip — full/queen means queen, not either or), and really, I just wish I went with something a tiny bit pricier (my new one cost is $230) that was what I really wanted. Obviously, everyone has financial constraints, but sometimes, it’s worth it to pay a tiny bit more to get what you really want.
And a rug.
Oftentimes you’re required to do this by your landlord to protect the floors, but I think a rug does a lot to pull a room together when there’s a fair amount of floor space. It’s also nice in the morning during the winter when the floor gets cold.
Hide the clutter.
I have an Ikea Expedit across from my bed, which is a great piece to hold a lot of stuff and display it in a pretty way. The bottom row of boxes has always been a place where I put all my junk: Papers, receipts, bills, beauty products, all of that stuff. It took me two years (I know, I know) to buy bins to put all that stuff in. They’re cheap and they disguise the mess. A must-have.
Paint your furniture.
This is definitely an undertaking, but one that has great payoff! If you’re willing to buy a piece of furniture in a color that doesn’t thrill you and paint it the color you like instead, you can save money and get the ~vision~ you’re looking for. I’ve painted parts of my bookshelf (the back) and nightstand (the top) lavender. I think it gives these otherwise basic pieces a unique touch.
Don’t buy all your furniture from Ikea.
It’s so tempting, as Ikea has great prices and simple, clean design. But do you really want people to walk into your apartment and recognize every piece in there from their own trip to Ikea? (Don’t get me wrong, my apartment is probably 50% Ikea furniture, it’s great stuff!) There are a lot of other places where you can affordable, basic pieces for a starter apartment. My dresser is from Wayfair, which has a ton of options all sorts of price points, Amazon, of course, has a lot, too. Sites like Joss & Main have flash sales with good deals, too.
Add in personal mementos and photographs.
The key to making a place your own? Making sure your personality shines through. As you probably know, I’m obsessed with all things British. And if you didn’t know, you’d definitely realize after walking into my room. Framing personal photos, finding prints or posters that you really love (and framing them!) is such an easy way to add personality to a room. The print above my bed is actually a tea towel from a British-themed shop in the West Village. I loved the illustration, so I took it to a framing shop to get it finished. It was an investment (about $100.) But in the end, it was worth it to have a piece I truly loved up in my room. I’ve also always thought digital photo frames, like these ones from Aura Frames, are an easy way to display a number of photos in a compact space, too!