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Decorating a impermanent apartment

... pointers for making a small apartment look like an adult and comfortable living space

Like most young people, I have lived in a series of small and impermanent apartments with a roommate (or two). While people over thirty remind us to enjoy this time in our lives, it’s still difficult to create a living space that doesn’t consist of a bunch of Ikea cast-offs—or doesn’t reek of it. Here are a few tips to make Ikea, hand-me-downs and Goodwill-thrifted finds look good in a small place of your own:

  1. Don’t pick a theme, rather choose a neutral basic as your apartment’s basis. If you’ve moved around a lot and relied on the kindness of strangers—and thrift shops—you’re probably not going to have the kind of furniture or décor to create a schematized apartment. But that’s okay! Some people—myself included—prefer a kind of random assortment that displays something more about its resident than her ability to match her pillows or her rugs. However, you don’t want your place to look so thrown together that people start to worry about your sanity and/or your shut-in status. Pick a neutral—black, gray or brown—and add simple touches like handmade throw pillows or cheap sofa covers throughout the space to make it all look like it’s supposed to be together.


  1. Buy at least one nice thing per room. You know those apartments with the cat-haired couch and the watermarked coffee table? I hate to be in apartments like that and so does everyone else in the world. But think of it if you had to live in an apartment like that? Goodwill or other thrift stores—not to mention your relatives—have a nice sofa that you could actual afford if you stopped drinking at fancy bars on Friday nights.


  1. Get rid of the clutter. Apartments are small. Old bills, magazines, newspapers and the like are going to look both obvious and terrible. If you can’t part with something, put it away in a magazine holder.


  1. Don’t post things on the walls without frames—not even pictures! The biggest trap of the transient apartment dweller is to make the place look like your old dorm room. Curling-edged posters, photographs of family members and notes from your old lovers posted to the wall do not decoration make. Put the mementos in scrapbooks, but frame your posters or photographs. Also, don’t put too many up—your place, not your excessive decorations should say something about you.

What are your pointers for making a small apartment look like an adult and comfortable living space?