Maybe you’ve just moved into your very first post-college apartment. Maybe you’re starting over after a few less than ideal living experiences or relationships. Whatever the reason, you find yourself staring at a new living space and thinking “Mine! ALL MINE! I can do whatever I want with this space! ….wait. What do I want to do with this space?”
Creating a cozy home that is all your own is going to take time but if you don’t want to find yourself still sitting on a passel of boxes a year into your lease, here are some tips that you can use to start building a space that is totally and completely your own.
1. Be You
I know one woman who, after her divorce, went crazy with the color pink. “I had to spend the last eight years living in a man cave of black, chrome and corduroy!” She said. “I’m making this my girl cave!” And to be sure she had a pink flowered bedspread, pink throw pillows and blankets in the living room and pink rugs on her hardwood floors (and a pink bathmat in the bathroom).
If you have a color or design element you love, go for it. It’s your space. Let yourself go crazy with it.
2. Good Lighting
You need to have good lighting in your space if you are going to enjoy living there. This means you shouldn’t force yourself to make do with whatever junky overhead lighting or light fixtures are already there. You can put better bulbs in your overhead lights and swap out the cover for something cuter (store the one that came with the apartment, though! You want your deposit back when you move out).
Alternatively, you can forego the overhead lights altogether and switch to floor or table lamps instead. This will allow you to pool your light where you want it.
Tip: Use LED bulbs. They’re more expensive now but they’ll save you tons on utilities and costs later (and they last longer than CFLs).
3. Fun Lighting
Just because you’re not living in a dorm doesn’t mean you can’t have fun lighting in your home. Get some fun accent lamps with cute colored shades. String up some café string lights from PartyLights.com to add some funk and personality to your space. String lights and rope lights in particular are great because they add ambiance for those nights when romance is in the air.
On a more practical note, they allow you to have at least some light in the room while you watch movies, which makes watching movies in a dark room easier for your eyes.
Once you’re on your own, tacking or taping posters up on your walls just feels…wrong. Get cute frames for the pieces you want to put up and on display. You can get super cute (and cheap) frames at places like IKEA or your local art supply store.
In terms of what to display, that’s really up to you. The only piece of advice I can give you is to go slowly. Your instinct is going to be to throw a bunch of cash at the first few pieces of art that strike your fancy, just to get something up on the walls. Resist this urge! Go slowly and save up so that you can choose art that moves you as you find it. This way you’ll build a home that truly says you and not simply “this was on sale.”
Good luck! Have fun!