Decorating Your Apartment 101

By Amanda Ferrara, Student at New York University

Moving into your very first apartment is your chance to bring your style and personality to life in rooms that go beyond your bedroom.

While the only rule to decorating your apartment should be to customize it in a way that appeals to you, here are some basic decorating tips to help you get started!

What you should know about color:
Choosing a color scheme is not as difficult as you think! In fact, almost any colors should work if you keep a few things in mind. For one, the color principle of 60-30-10 is something that you should consider: divide your color choices so that 60 percent of the room is the dominant color, 30 percent is the secondary color and 10 percent is the accent color. The accent color should always be the boldest and brightest of the three. Aside from the customary pillow and picture frames, the accent color can be used in the back wall of a bookshelf or windowsill as well. 

Another important thing to keep in mind is lighting. Wall colors will change appearance at different times in the day, so use paint swatches to see how each color will look in the room as the day progresses; this might affect your color choices!

What you should know about wall art:
If you are renting, chances are you cannot paint the rooms in your new apartment. If that’s the case, bringing out your camera is a great way to spice up your walls without spending tons of money on art and posters. Take pictures of anything (your friends and family, sunsets, skylines, your pets) and arrange them in frames in clusters or along the length of your walls.

What you should know about mirrors:
Mirrors are well known for their ability to not only expand a room but to add a chic and posh feeling as well. When hanging your mirrors, you should choose a place where the image reflected is something you actually want to see. For example, you do not want to hang a mirror where the only reflection is a bare wall — you should hang it opposite of a window or a piece of furniture instead. In the bedroom, you might want to try full-length mirrors to make a dramatic statement (and these will definitely prove to be useful when choosing outfits in the morning).

What you should know about buying furniture:
Utilize secondhand stores and flea markets to find unique accent furniture like end tables and bookshelves at a low price. This tip is especially fun for the creative types who love to spend some time making items their own. For example, you could buy a wooden table with a few mismatched chairs and go crazy with some paint!

What you should know about placement:
There are many ways to arrange your furniture, but one of the basic choices you have to make is deciding between symmetrical and asymmetrical. The symmetrical approach would allow you to have two of the same size couches facing each other on opposite sides of the room, which gives the room a very balanced and restful feel. On the other hand, mixing furniture of various sizes adds aesthetic interest and energy to the room. You can also achieve asymmetry with accent items, like placing candlesticks of different lengths next to each other. 

What you should know about your bed:
Make your bed be the focal point of the bedroom and use it to tie in all three of the colors in your color scheme. In fact, using already-made bed sets that come with comforters and matching accessories is a great way to get inspiration for what your color scheme will be. By having your bed include all of the colors and making it look comfortable with throw pillows and blankets, you will make the most important part of your bedroom stand out yet blend in with the rest of the room at the same time.

Image: luigi diamanti /

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