How to Decorate Your First Apartment

How to Decorate Your First Apartment
How to Decorate Your First Apartment

So you have just purchased your first apartment, and you are ready to move in. How to decorate your first apartment is the next issue. You obviously want something as stylish and modern as your new apartment, but you also want it to feel comfortable and essentially, like you.

You have also just spent possibly one of the most considerable sums of money in your life in buying the apartment, so are here to ensure that you master apartment decorating on a budget, without leaving out any of the essentials.

There are many apartment decorating styles to help provide inspiration in case you don't know what you want your space to look like, but the important thing to remember is that your apartment does not need to be fully furnished the second you move in. Take your time, collect pieces that you love and build your design over time to a point where it brings you joy. You will likely tweak and change it as you go anyway, so treat it as a fun activity rather than letting it bring you stress.

Start with the entryway

How to Decorate Your First Apartment

Decorating a space from scratch with modern apartment decor is easier when broken down into sections. Since we will walk through the entryway first, and it's one of the smaller spaces, let's start there.

Before you start, you may benefit from a design or Pinterest board that collates elements or designs that you like along with a list of prices to help you budget. If you are buying larger pieces, you may want to order them ahead of time to allow for shipping. Smaller pieces, like storage and lighting, can be left until a little later.

The entryway is the first impression people will have of your place, and if you are trying to figure out how to decorate a one-bedroom apartment, this area is crucial. The best approach for the entry is ensuring that it is organised and welcoming, complete with some element of storage. 

This can be a multipurpose coat rack or some kind of tray where you sit your keys and wallet, or whatever else you need to have on you before heading out. For this reason, and if you have room, you may want to include a table or bench, topped off with a small runner. Lighting, mirrors, a range of plants and art are added after the essentials to bring a sense of personality and design into the space.

Making the most of your kitchen

How to Decorate Your First Apartment

Many couples first apartment decorating ideas are hindered by size, and the kitchen is one area that takes a big hit. This is mainly because it's unavoidable to have many things that need to be stored in the kitchen, from pots and pans to crockery and food. The best, and cheapest way, to effectively upgrade a kitchen is with hardware and paint. 

You can add a small dining table and include plenty of storage containers to increase the amount of storage you have. Elements like art and herb planters will help to give the area a little more zest, but for the most part, you need to declutter as much as possible to ensure that this is a practical and functional space.

Kitchen storage is crucial. Look for ways to make the most out of the storage spaces you have available, along with any opportunities to create more. Remember, in an apartment when you can't go out, go up. Plus shelves above windows and add cupboards higher up for items that won't need to be accessed regularly.

Comfort in the bedroom

How to Decorate Your First Apartment

In case you were considering it, apartment living does not mean your mattress should sit on the floor. You will need something that creates a bed frame, and those on a budget may wish to consider a DIY solution using old (but clean) pallets. 

The next crucial element is some kind of window treatment to not only offer privacy but also to create darkness. Remember than when designing the layout of your bedroom, this is the space where you need to be most comfortable so you can rest. Third on the list will likely be a nightstand or two if you have the space, followed by new bedding, lighting, and you will increase the comfort levels and visual appeal of the area with a rug.

You will also need to consider storage options if your apartment does not have built-in robes, and while having some clothing items on open hangers can create a good look, you don't want to overplay this design strategy as things will end up looking and being, cluttered.

Fun in the bathroom

How to Decorate Your First Apartment

Many people miss the opportunity to have a little more fun when decorating the bathroom. Keep in mind this room is rarely seen by other people, so if you want to get a little crazier by painting one of the walls bright pink, have at it.

Before you get to that, however, remember that you will need to worry about some pretty important items for your bathroom, including bath linens, something that offers wall storage, and a vanity mirror. Things like bath products and accessories can be added later to spruce things up, but the essential daily items should be top of the list.

You can then add plants and if room some artwork, just be aware that the space will get wet so ensure all art is framed instead of block mounted. Try not to go overboard as this handy apartment decorating guide is very against clutter. The minimalist aesthetic is modern, stylish, and far more accessible when it comes time for a spring clean.

The living room

How to Decorate Your First Apartment

Considering the fact that the living room is probably where you'll spend the bulk of your time, it should also be where you allow the most budget. Split the large purchases over multiple months if necessary and never put yourself into financial strain purely for your dream apartment fit-out. You've already spent a fair bit on your first home as it is.

The crucial elements of the living room are:

  • A place to sit

  • A small coffee table

  • A light source

We left a TV or record player off the crucial list as these are subjective, but you will likely have some sort of entertainment source in the living room, it could even be a significant bookshelf.

Once the crucial elements of the living room are in place, you can add rugs and pillows, artwork and plants, and space permitting, some kind of accent chair. Just always remember that the fun little things should come after the important big things.

Apartment decorating on a budget

How to Decorate Your First Apartment

We live in an age where creating a stylish, comfortable, and modern apartment fit out doesn't need to cost the earth. You may even have more fun if you look to antique stores and flea markets for vintage items to repurpose, which will not only help with recycling but give your apartment a more unique look.

The key is not to overcommit to too many purchases for the sake of having your whole apartment ready to go when you first move in. Take your time, and prioritise the essential items first. Then, ensure you are spending your money on things that you love, and remember that it is YOUR apartment, you can bring out your personality with the design and create a space that is truly home.


Laura van Rens

Laura van Rens

Laura is in’s PR & Media team. When she’s not outreaching for new content opportunities, Laura enjoys writing about the intersection between societal changes and property development and how it impacts the urban landscape.


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