Ask a Designer: 5 Apartment Decorating Tips

Whether you're balling on a decorator budget or splurging on luxury, furnishing an apartment is a great opportunity to explore and develop your personal style. While the customization process may feel a bit overwhelming at times, curating a look and feel that suits you will help you feel all the more at home while renting (which tbh is entirely underrated). After all, any place where one can roam pants-free and eat ice cream straight from the carton deserves its fair share of aesthetic attention.

For this purpose, we reached out to designer Kelly O'Neal of the prestigious Fort Worth-based Joseph Minton, Inc. for her top tips on making an your apartment space feel a little more like home.

#1) Maximize your budget

Be open to shopping anywhere. Good quality items can be found in expensive and inexpensive places. Consignment shops, outlet stores, online "LetGo" and "Craigslist" type sites, designer knock-offs at Target, etc. are good options for those on a budget. Shop sales, too. Furniture stores always have sales near holidays. Also, because home furnishings are big ticket items, many stores have no interest for 48 or even 60 months which make big purchases much easier to afford.

Look for solid construction, durable fabrics, classics rather than trendy pieces. If possible, take your time. Rather than run out and fill a space in a weekend, spend time finding pieces that will last and that you will enjoy and be proud to own.

#2) Enhance your small space

When working with a spall space, less is more. Opting for fewer, larger pieces over a bunch of smaller items will make your space feel bigger and less cluttered. For example, choose a sectional instead of a sofa and set of chairs to maximize a petite living room. Go high with bookcases (and kitchen cabinets!) all the way to the ceiling, which leads the eye up and fake the appearance of a taller space.

Try furnishings with legs. Sofas and chairs with legs create a more open feel than pieces that sit directly on the ground or those with skirted bases. Think clearly. Transparent materials, such as glass and Lucite, take up less visual space in a room. Try them in the form of a glass coffee table, desk, or an acrylic chair.

#3) Jazz up boring walls

The possibilities are endless and don't have to be expensive. A great oversized mirror will add drama and interest and will bounce more light around your space. Large scale canvas art is available online at sites like Art.com. Unique personal collections (sports memorabilia, travel posters, pictures of family, friends, vacations, or events, and even wallpaper) can be framed in clean line simple frames to create interesting collages

#4) Get organized

First things first: purge the junk! Be ruthless! Clutter is the enemy in a small space. Then maximize efficiency in the space with shelves, baskets, containers. Think outside of the giant plastic bin with decorative storage such as woven baskets, which add a layer of texture to the room.

#5) Find your style

Look online (Pinterest), in magazines, and in stores to see what styles and colors speak to you. Rather than quick and “matchy-matchy”, try to patiently acquire things you love that echo your style. The best rooms evolve over time for a curated look.

It can be a tough world out there. It really is worth your time and effort to create a “nest” that makes you feel happy, relaxed, comfortable and proud no matter the size of your space or your budget.

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