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interior redesign training, home staging training, furniture arrangement training
interior redesign training, home staging training, furniture arrangement training
interior redesign training, home staging training, furniture arrangement training

Your First Apartment -
What Now?

Use these seven guidelines to help make it your own space

You're on your own finally! Planning and decorating your first apartment can be a nightmare - there are so many choices, so little money. Apartments are often small, bland, sterile and architecturally deprived. But you can transform them into a personal, unique space. It's a time of personal challenge and fun if you look at it the right way. Don't be afraid.

The important key is to express your personality while staying within your budget.  Since you don't own the space, you're going to want to bring in decorating ideas that you are allowed to do and that you can take with you when you leave.

1. Look to Show Your Personality

First you need to decide what kind of "look" you want for your apartment. There are many styles to choose from, or you can always combine one or more together.  For a list of styles to consider, visit styles. Once you find your preference, try to stick to your theme throughout your apartment. This way you will create flow and rhythm, which will give your space a sense of harmony and balance.

But this is still "your space" and need to reflect who you are, so don't get too uptight. If you are going to mix styles, make sure you have a good mixture, but make sure one style dominates.  The odd accessory gives your place personality and should tell something about the person who dwells there—you, but one odd-ball can attract too much attention to itself, thus defeating your purpose. Just don't go overboard with too much going on. That will not only make the space feel overwhelming but it can make it appear smaller than it is.

2. Choose a Color Scheme

Select three or four of your favorite colors, and use them throughout your apartment, varying the amount of each. Let one color dominate, then use half that much as your second color and only a little bit of the third color. Change your proportions for a different room to get some variety without interrupting the flow and unity. Don't make the apartment feel chopped up and disjointed by using lots of different colors and patterns in every room.  

3.Scale is Very Important

Chances are your first apartment will be small and without much of a view. So it's really important to purchase furniture that is sized according to the space. Watch out for the impulse to purchase a huge overstuffed sofa or a giant screen TV that takes up a huge amount of space.

Measure your available space.  Cut out sections from the newspaper or butcher block paper and lay on the floor to make sure you have enough walk way (traffic pattern).  For more on traffic patterns, click here. In smaller rooms, one or two small pieces of upholstered or leather-covered furniture work well with plain traditional wood or modern chrome chairs. Sofas now come in all shapes and sizes so don't overlook an armless version to give a sense of open space, or a slightly curved design to lend shape to a boxy apartment.

Be sure to measure your doors and the building's elevator before purchasing furniture to make sure you can get it in. Many older buildings have smaller doors than the more modern apartments. You don't want to buy something you can't get in.

4. Look for Bargains

Don't use up your budget in one large purchase then have to live with an empty apartment for some time. You can generally save a lot of money at antique malls, church bazaars, junk shops and flea markets, and you can even find some real quality too? It it not unheard of to be able to completely furnish an entire room for under $500. A little effort expended could really save you a huge amount of money and if it is arranged properly (get my eBook, Decor Secrets Revealed) you'd be amazed at how terrific "old" furnishings can look.

Check out the "U.S. Flea Market Directory: A Guide to the Best Flea Markets in All 50 States" by Albert Lafarge. Its extensive listings of markets and dates will help you decide where to go. Look in your local Yellow Pages for a list of 2nd hand stores or thrift stores.  Some older communities have entire blocks lined with thrift stores.

5. Even Though Old, Value Quality First

Good news: Even though you are trying to stay budget-minded on your first foray into decorating territory, it is possible—and recommended—to find items of quality that are well-made and built to last. If you purchase a new but poorly crafted table or upholstered piece just because it comes at a bargain price, it's really no bargain at all. It will show wear early, perhaps lasting only a few years at best and then you'll have to replace it. Better to hunt for a chipped but solid old table and give it new life through a sanding and wax touch-up or can of paint.

6. Make Lists and Stay Focused

Don't let yourself get distracted. Stay focused. In the overwhelming midst of thousands of choices, chances are you'll purchase something that is less than ideal.  It's happened to all of us.  Or you'll pass up something you know you should have bought, only to find out later it was sold.

Always have your swatches with you - fabric, paint, wood. Some of the best purchases I have made happened with I least expected them. So always be prepared because you never know when you'll run across that "perfect item".  Refer to your list often so you remember what you need.

7. Sometimes More is More

The last thing you want to do is make your small space look cluttered and overdone. But by the same token, many decorating accessories look much better if placed in a small group rather than featured all alone. Instead of one bookcase, put three together against a big wall for a ready-made wall unit. Hang a series of six or eight prints together for a dramatic statement. Two identical potted floor plants on either side of a chair looks orderly and well-planned. Four thick, down pillows on your bed appear more inviting and "finished" than two thin ones, which might appear kind of lost and lonely.

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