At a recent outing to my local bookstore, I found no fewer than 15 home design magazines on the shelf. Pick one up and it’ll tell you the latest trend is European-inspired minimalist; another will tell you Mid-century Modern is the be-all, end-all. How are you supposed to know where to turn as you make interior design decisions about your apartment home?
We’ve scoured some resources and found a few immutable laws of design to help you out. Follow these basic “musts” and at the very least you can be sure you’re not making any big mistakes!
1. Be Careful When Mixing Scale and Style (unless you know what you’re doing)
A big overstuffed sofa looks really silly next to a dainty metal end table; a sleek contemporary entertainment center looks out-of-place next to chairs upholstered in country-ish quilty fabric. Think of the main pieces in your room as a family; you want them to get along nicely. You don’t want to get too “matchy matchy,” either, but in general the pieces should feel similar in style and weight. Some professional decorators can pull off mixing styles and scale, but it’s a skill and a talent most of us don’t have.
2. Don’t Create a Sea of Beige
Your mother probably told you that beige and other earth tones go with everything and don’t offend anyone. That’s somewhat true but, on the other hand, they don’t make a statement, either. Too much beige is bland and boring. Find a color you love and incorporate it – either in lots of small ways, like accent pillows, or in a couple anchor pieces, like the sofa or two arm chairs.
3. Don’t Go For “Safe”
No one ever died because they bought a cow-skin ottoman (at least we don’t think so). Don’t be afraid to try new things; what matters most is that you really, really like the pieces you put in your home. If it still scares you to buy a floor lamp made out of an old gas pump, just make sure you don’t spend too much, and enjoy it for as long as you can.
4. Don’t Dive Headfirst Into a Trend
During the 1950s, bathroom faucets that looked like rockets were all the rage. If you saw one today (unless you’re a Midcentury Modern aficionado), you’d wonder what the heck people were thinking. Be aware of the relative newness of the style you’re buying and ask if you can see yourself still loving it in 10 years. If yes, buy it. If not, take a pass.
5. Don’t Buy It If You Don’t Love It
If that sofa or cocktail table doesn’t grab you – if you have to convince yourself it could work – then the minute you get it home you’ll be disappointed every time you look at it. It might take you 3 months to find the right piece of furniture, but once you do, you’ll be happy you spent the time looking.
6. Don’t Shy Away From Big-ticket Items
If you have some wiggle room in your monthly budget and you like the idea of beginning to accumulate nice furnishings, then make buying them part of your budget. A $650 bureau you love and will be with you for 20 years is a better investment than a $180 bureau that’s going to fall apart – or willingly get left behind in your next move.
7. Don’t Forget The Walls
You have a lovely suite of living room furniture: sofa, chair, end tables, coffee table and lamps. But without something on the walls to tie into, your room is going to be very bottom heavy. You need to “attach” the items that are on your floor to the walls with pieces of art that feature colors complementary to those in your upholstery or accent pillows.
8. Don’t Overdo Any One Style
So you like weathered barn board, do you? Well, limit your collection to one or two pieces. Once you have multiple throughout the home it begins to feel like a showroom and forces you to tie everything else into those pieces. Plus, once you tire of barn board (and you will), you’ll be getting rid of half your belongings, not just one or two pieces.
You don’t have to be a professional decorator to make your apartment a cozy, classy, comfortable space. Just stick to these tips and buy things you’re going to love being around for a long time, and you’re on the right track!
Did we miss any design tips that you’ve relied on to create just the right ambiance in your apartment home? We’d love to hear what you have to say!