14 steps to making your brand-new apartment feel like home

14 steps to making your brand-new apartment feel like home
Olivia RoundJune 3, 2019

As more Australians opt for apartment-living in the wake of the current housing shortage, the shift to more condensed urban living may be a stark contrast from those shifting from a detached dwelling.

On Urban, we currently have over 1000 off-the-plan apartments listed for sale across the country, and more in the construction and planning stages. 

If you're looking at buying a brand new off-the-plan apartment, here are 14 ways to turn your new house into a cosy place you feel happy coming home to.


14 steps to making your brand-new apartment feel like home

There’s no denying minimalism is what many of us strive for, but selecting items which add sentimental value to a home can make a room feel more ‘homely’. In order to choose appropriate pieces and avoid hoarding clutter, home tidying guru Marie Kondo explains that you must feel a strong attachment to the item and fill your home with possessions which bring you happiness. 

“Imagine yourself living in a space that only contains things that spark joy.”

- Marie Kondo


14 steps to making your brand-new apartment feel like home

Modern apartments are beautiful – but often off-the-plan buyers are only given a couple of customisation options and a dark or light colour palate to work with. Make your home unique by expressing your personal style. Draw on inspiration from your favourite places, rummage through op shops for one-off gems and design each room so that it makes you happy when you walk into it.

Award-winning blogger Helen Edwards gave an analogy where she compared home style trends to fashion:

“…But how can we all like the same things? Imagine an event where 25 women turn up in the same outfit! Tragedy! So why would we all buy the same items to furnish and decorate our homes? Why would we all want the same colours, textures and fittings? Finding one off, locally designed and handmade pieces, making things yourself, or buying second-hand pieces, means that you choose the item because it speaks to you. Something about it says yes, this is for me.”


14 steps to making your brand-new apartment feel like home

New apartments with flexible configurations are on the rise due to demand for more customisation options. If you regularly work from home, find an area with plenty of natural light and create your own home office. A clean, curated and ergonomic space designed for work is far more likely to encourage productivity and focus than working from the couch or breakfast bar.

If creativity is important to you, you might like to consider creating an in-house studio. Display your own work, mood boards and leave your equipment in a visible place to encourage you to create more regularly.

Laila Residences (pictured) is a great example of a new apartment which provides this kind of flexibility. Each configuration offers an additional space which can be turned into a nursery, study or butler's pantry depending on the buyer requirements.


14 steps to making your brand-new apartment feel like home

Regularly open your external windows/doors as stimulating air-flow throughout your apartment is good for air quality, happiness levels and cleanliness. Often new apartments feature cross ventilation systems which are great for creating proper air-flow. Look for floor plans which contain windows in the bathroom if possible, and keep humidity levels in check (dust mites love humidity). Another way to improve your air quality is by using green cleaning products, as well as avoiding synthetic air fresheners and candles.

“In the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities.” 

- United States Environmental Protection Agency


14 steps to making your brand-new apartment feel like home

Off-the-plan apartments often follow a neutral colour scheme to allow the buyer to add their own personal touches and colour choices. If you want to create a calming space, opt for muted blues or greens. Some colour theorists believe that there is psychology behind the colours we see on a daily basis and that this should influence our decisions for our homes.

"Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions." 

- Pablo Picasso


14 steps to making your brand-new apartment feel like home

Similar to the way painted walls can evoke emotion, displaying art can have the same effect. The Artwork Archive shared 7 important reasons why we need art in our homes:

1. Art makes a home more human

2. Art lets you express yourself and encourages dialogue

3. Art helps us validate and recognize our emotion

4. Art stretches our boundaries and encourages growth

5. Art reminds us of what is possible

6. Art encourages us to be brave

7. Art breathes life into a home


14 steps to making your brand-new apartment feel like home

One of the greatest things about owning your own home is the ability to adjust and modify your house to your taste. According to AMP.Natsem Income and Wealth Report, Australians spend just under one-fifth of their day doing domestic chores, so it's important to create a home environment that you enjoy spending time in. Upgrade your appliances, search Pinterest for DIY ideas, remove your breakfast bar to fit a larger dining table etc.


14 steps to making your brand-new apartment feel like home

Although the common conception that plants act as a significant home air purifier was debunked by an American horticulture professor in 2009, adding indoor greenery has been proven to calm the sympathetic nervous system, reduce stress and even raise levels of happiness. If you had a garden previously, propagate your favourite plants to grow in your apartment, and create your own custom plant pots by attending a local pottery class.


14 steps to making your brand-new apartment feel like home

It's always a good idea to give your home (even brand new apartments) a thorough clean before settling in. Unpacking your possessions can mean dust is dispersed into the air, and starting with a clean slate will set a benchmark for the overall cleanliness of your home in future. 

“When you live in a messy home, you are subconsciously reminded of work that needs to be finished and visually, your eyes do not have a place to rest.”

Dr. Rian Rowles, a psychiatrist affiliated with Advocate Christ Medical Center


14 steps to making your brand-new apartment feel like home

The temperature of light used indoors can range from 2000K to 6500K – higher colour temperatures, mean the colder the light. To create a warm living area and kitchen, opt for warm bulbs, while bathrooms and offices are often best fit with cooler bulbs.

"Not only the function of space determines the choice between hot and cold light, but also the emotion of the people living, working or passing in or through it. Thus, warm light creates a romantic atmosphere, because it recreates the same elements as candlelight. On the other hand, using cold light, which is closest to daylight, makes people happier and more energized."

- Kreon Blog, warm versus cold light: how color temperature can have its influence on your interior


14 steps to making your brand-new apartment feel like home

Adding pillows, rugs and mats to your home is probably one of the easiest ways to make your apartment feel instantly homely. Creating an environment that feels comfortable will entice you to spend more time in the room. Find items which are made from good quality materials such as wool, cotton and linen – they will last longer and look more luxurious. As the old adage says, "buy nice or buy twice".


14 steps to making your brand-new apartment feel like home

Music in the home has an incredible power to strike emotions and alter people's moods. Smart speaker manufacturer Sonos, Apple Music, and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music, recently partnered to conduct a survey of 30,000 listeners about how music affects them. For one week these 30 families were told to listen to no music out loud. Findings discovered that people felt 12% less jittery, 24% less irritable, 80% of survey respondents said chores are easier with music playing, 25% are more inspired and households averaged a 160% increase in time spent together in the dining rooms.


14 steps to making your brand-new apartment feel like home
Christie Anthony and Joost den Hartog and Pedro the Groodle at their new coffee shop The Pear Cafe at the Alberton train station. Photo: AAP Image/ Morgan Sette

Immersing yourself in the local community by finding a regular coffee spot or grocer, will provide you with a sense of familiarity and inclusiveness. Community-minded South Australian locals Christie Anthoney and Joost den Hartog saw the potential to create a community hub when they discovered a disused space with fantastic public transport access and great potential. The pair teamed up with aged care provider ECH to open The Pear Café which now operates as a community-centric hub for locals to meet their neighbours, attend classes and workshops, or just relax.

“When people have a welcoming meeting location in their neighbourhood, they are more likely to connect with each other, feel part of their community and live more fulfilling lives.”

- David Panter, Aged care provider ECH Chief Executive Officer (CEO) 


14 steps to making your brand-new apartment feel like home

Last, but certainly not least, you'll want to get to know who you're living with. Surprising research last year found that one in four Australians do not speak to their neighbours, and 19% only recognise their neighbours by sight but have not spoken to them. Thankfully a stronger focus on building community and placemaking is on the rise, due to the growth and demand for new developments such as the likes of Nightingale Village. The Nightingale Village project aims to deliver a solution to the rising population in Melbourne – while also cultivating a strong sense of community through shared facilities such as communal dining, laundry, garden and car sharing, where residents can interact with one another and build relationships with their neighbours.

“We can begin by doing small things at the local level, like planting community gardens or looking out for our neighbours. That is how change takes place in living systems, not from above but from within, from many location actions occurring simultaneously.”

- Grace Lee Boggs, American Author and social activist

Olivia Round

Olivia Round is the Features Editor of urban.com.au. Olivia specialises in news reporting, in-depth editorial content and video + podcast interviews with industry experts.

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