Back when I was single, I used to dream of a reality where I could decorate my own apartment with my future husband however I want, and make it our own place. Fast forward to a few months ago, my husband and I were slowly moving into our new apartment together and I was SO excited for that dream to become reality. I set off to make our first apartment together feel like OUR apartment. Since then, I've had several people ask me for design tips, and how to create a space that suits both of you. I decided to create a post that shares some of my own tips and tricks that have helped us! (Disclaimer: I am not saying this is the absolute only way to decorate. You create a space YOU love. Everyone is different and has a different style, and that's what makes your home feel like home!)
1. Realize you're not living in your all girls college apartment anymore.
I had a newly married friend recently tell me that the struggle she's had with decorating is that she feels like her apartment is, "too girly". One of the biggest struggles I think that a lot of people have is transitioning from all pinks, glitter, and floral, to a more gender neutral decor/colors. My personal taste is a lot of neutral colors, as you can see in a bunch of photos from my Pinterest board:
You may not have the same style as me, but you can kinda see what I'm getting at. A lot of these colors/patterns/ pieces feel very, "this is our place" instead of, "this is what my college apartment looked like before we got married" or, "this is how I would have decorated my apartment like before we got married if it was up to me". Don't get me wrong, I think florals and pinks and stuff are super cute, but they don't represent the two of us, which brings me to tip # dos.
2. Make your apartment represent the TWO of you.
Many of you may be like me, and have wonderful husbands who could care less about the decor of the apartment. It's super nice that way, but at the same time, its so easy to fall back into creating the space that's all about you and your womanly-ness. My husband is a film maker, and a huge part of our lives are movies. We watch movies almost every single day, and are always going to the movies (not kidding, ask me about almost any movie that's out right now, I dare you). Movies have become something that represents the two of us, but I'm not going to go hang movie posters all over the wall (although I'm sure he'd be more than happy to do that). Since I'm a graphic designer, I've fallen in LOVE with minimalist movie posters. I found a bunch of them on Pinterest, and hung them on our picture ledge, like this:
On our picture ledges (IKEA for like 10.00 each), I put the movie posters, and then also collected other things that represent both of us.
Zion postcard- where we went on our honeymoon
Family history painting- it's a passion of mine
War Is Over!- The Beatles have been my favorite my whole life, and let's face it, I'm slightly a hippie
Various movie and tv posters, pictures, etc- A bunch of the movies and tv shows that we both love
Find things that matter to the two of you. Chances are, if you two are together, there's gotta be common interests and things that represent both of you. For example:
- Hang a quote painting of the lyrics of your first dance
- Cool pictures of the places you want to go, or places you've been
- Pictures of the two of you (of course) because it's all about the two of you!
3. Don't act like it's your place temporarily.
My husband and I signed for our apartment knowing that since this is my husbands last semester, there's a pretty good chance we won't stay here for long. I'm talking like less than a year in our apartment. As most newlyweds, it's hard to decorate and hang a bunch of stuff up knowing that we will have to pack it all up again in the near future and move it. Even though I hate packing and moving, I still decided I wanted our first apartment to feel like home together, no matter how long we were going to be here. There's plenty of rental friendly things you can do to lessen your bare walls, and create a feeling of coziness. For example, we were lucky enough to be able to drill holes in the walls to hang the picture shelves up, but some land lords don't want drilled holes, or hardly any holes at all. My favorite place to get frames is IKEA, because they have lightweight and cheap frames that look nice. Most of them you can hang with just a tack or command strip! Majority of the frames on the picture ledge were from IKEA, just to make sure the weight of all the frames wouldn't press down on the ledges too much since they weren't screwed into anchors (oops). Make sure to include rugs (esalerugs.com has the best sales), accents like plants and small decor items, and pictures!
4. Your first apartment doesn't have to feel like the Taj Mahal.
My dream couch would be either a grey, or a muted navy blue sectional. I would love to be able to stretch out on a sectional every night while we're watching movies, and it would look so much cuter than the brown couches we bought from the previous owners of our apartment. I realized, you don't have to spend a million bucks on your first apartment. In fact, it's probably wise not to. If it's your first apartment together, more than likely you will move to a new place or buy a home to raise your family in. Whether it's in the same city, or a different state, you will have to pay for the moving costs of the $800 sectional you bought, and the $300 coffee table you just had to have. Most of the time, the moving costs are so high, it's worth it just to sell the furniture, and just buy new furniture when you get there. IKEA is a wonderful place to buy temporary, affordable furniture (you'd think I was getting paid for promoting them so much by now), or even look on the Facebook marketplace! Most of our furniture was bought on there, and I was careful to get furniture that goes together. Try to stay away from getting a bunch of mismatched furniture, just because they're the first things you see that are cheap. Chances are, the matching color of side table to your coffee table will show up on the marketplace in just a couple of days. You're not always going to find exactly the same pieces that go together, but pick a color and just go with it. Like we decided on a white coffee table, side table, nightstand tables and bookshelf, but have a black desk in our bedroom that still matches. They might not be in the 100% best condition, but it's nice that we know we're not tied down to them because we spent a million bucks on them. We will have our dream house, and dream furniture someday.
5. Realize your first apartment won't be perfect.
My husband and I have the worst hard water on the face of the earth in our apartment. It brings me almost to tears every time I spend 30 minutes trying to detangle my hair. We don't have a dishwasher, and every time we want to do laundry, we have to go to my in-law's or a laundromat. Our apartment is tiny, and has it's flaws, but we love it. All these things we know we will look back on with fondness because it was our first apartment, together. We're able to save money now that we will help us in the future, when we do actually buy a house. Create lots of memories, and have lots of fun. Don't dwell on what your apartment isn't, and turn it into something you love in the moment. It doesn't matter if Suzie, your high school arch nemesis has a nicer living room than you on Instagram. Your first apartment together should be a special place for the two of you. Make it a special place! And that special place doesn't have to cost you your entire savings to furnish and decorate. Save your money for the future, and one day you'll be able to afford that nice sectional and you can say. "now this, this belongs on Pinterest".