Your first apartment is an unforgettable landmark. There are so many memories made in this inaugural space – eating pizza on the floor, pinching pennies to pay rent, and of course decorating with hideous hand-me-down furniture. It’s all part of the adventure of striking out on your own. But in case you want to get a head start on that whole hideous furniture chapter and jump ahead to where you have a charming first apartment, look no further. Here are six tips for how to furnish your first apartment using creativity and, yes, a list of foolproof IKEA buys that have withstood the test of time to maximize space and minimize the budget.
1. Downsize Your Belongings
This sounds simple, but it’s actually very hard to part with your old trophies and team sweatshirts. But let’s face it – there isn’t much room to store those items in your teeny-tiny apartment. In her revelatory book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” Marie Kondo advises clients to assess each item in their home and pose the question, “Does it spark joy?” If it doesn’t spark joy for you anymore, she advises that you take a moment to thank the item for it’s service in your life and then get rid of it. I know, it sounds like an emotional task. What about those favorite childhood toys, old love letters, and college class notes? It’s time to say goodbye. So lay out your old items that no longer spark joy, snap a photo to savor the memory, and then consign, donate or throw away. This is the best way to downsize clothing, furnishings and nostalgic mementos.
2. Invest in Creative Shelving Units
Once you’ve downsized your belongings, it’s a lot easier to organize them in your apartment. Creative storage will be your best friend – beginning with shelving. Bookcases are good, but floating shelves are even better. The more items you can store vertically on shelves will maximize your space and keep it from looking (and being!) cluttered. Invest in storage shelving and uniform-looking baskets that fit on the shelves. Some of the cleanest-looking shelving options that are budget-friendly can be found at IKEA, like the EKBY HEMNES or EKBY JARPEN.
3. Capitalize on Mirrors
Using mirrors in an artistic way can cheat the eye into believing your apartment is larger than the square footage reveals. Mirrors reflect light, and light illuminates the space by causing it to appear big and bright. Hang a mirror in the usual places, such as vertically in the bedroom and above the vanity in the bathroom. But then look for opportunities to hang a mirror anywhere you would normally place art on the wall – over the fire place, in the entryway and above the dining room table. Round, geometric shapes are on-trend and will add an extra punch of class to your new space.
4. Employ Multi-Purpose Furniture
The best way to get the most bang for your buck is to invest in multi-purpose furniture that can be used for more than one function. A coffee table that is also a storage trunk is great place to stash extra blankets and pillows. A pullout sofa allows company to visit and sleep on the couch (which means no need for a guest bedroom!) and a dining table can also moonlight as an office desk if space is tight. IKEA offers some excellent considerations for all these multi-purpose furniture options, such as the HOLMSUND sofa-bed, the STALL shoe cabinet and RASKOG utility cart.
5. Add a Personal Touch
Now that you’ve covered the basics, you can take a moment to assess the areas of your home that could use a little “pop” of personality. This is where your personal style can be showcased with a colorful art print, a mesmerizing antique or an attention-grabbing light fixture.
These items shouldn’t take up any extra space – they should be hung or displayed in an uncluttered fashion. That is the only way you will be able to truly appreciate them in your clean, bright place. These items will be easily found along the way in your search for other items, such as the furniture, mirrors and shelves that you shop for. But remember – you need less décor than you think. Less is more. So make sure to choose your décor sparingly.
6. Find a Place for Everything
Once you’ve downsized your belongings, stored items vertically, increased your lighting with mirrors, added a personal touch and put multi-purpose furniture to work in your new pad, it’s time to put everything away. Find a place to store everything — your keys, your mail, your computer, your jewelry. Leave no pile unorganized. Once everything has a place that it “lives,” it will be much easier to keep your new apartment tidy, uncluttered, and organized.
These creative furnishing techniques are the surest way to maximize your new space while keeping a careful watch on your personal space and budget. Now if only you can get your new landlord to agree to pets…