The graduation caps have been flung into the air. For many recent grads, that means it’s time to find your first grownup job. Landing said job can often mean moving to a new city and securing an apartment of your own. Your first job after college likely won’t be the one you stick with forever, which means that new grads usually prefer the flexibility of renting.
Similarly, your very first apartment will not be the home you stay at permanently. When you’re just starting out, you may opt for a smaller or more inexpensive apartment that doesn’t necessarily align with your tastes since living there will be temporary. No matter what situation may apply to you, we’ve come up with a few tips to make your rented space feel homier.
Deck the walls
Consult your lease and your landlord to find out what adjustments you can make to your space and which are off limits. If you’re allowed to, consider painting the walls or putting up temporary wallpaper. You may have to paint the walls back to a neutral color before moving out, but this little bit of effort can make a huge difference when trying to personalize an apartment. Even just painting one wall – decorators would call it an accent wall – can liven up the place. Painting or hanging wallpaper is a small effort that can have huge benefits.
Not allowed to paint? No problem. Hang art or framed photos on your walls. Choose one wall and fill it with an arrangement that makes it look like an exhibit in a gallery. That makes it a different kind of accent wall and hides the bland white or tan paint jobs that most apartments feature.
Shed light on the situation
Let’s face it: Apartments often come with some pretty harsh light fixtures. To make your place feel less like a college dorm lit by one fluorescent light fixture and more like a home, invest in lamps. Add floor lamps and put lamps on end tables and nightstands to light your rented space in a softer, more preferable way.
If the lighting fixtures are eyesores and you’re allowed to make changes, switch them out for ones that are better aligned with your style. Even putting up your own light switch covers can make your apartment look more sophisticated.
One of the simplest things you can do to spruce up a rental space is to hang curtains. They can hide unsightly blinds while simultaneously adding a touch of class.
Personalize your kitchen by trading out the knobs on the cabinets. The custom additions will separate your apartment from the dozens of identical living quarters in your building.
Area rugs can be your most versatile addition to an apartment. Rugs can cover dingy carpets and imperfect wood floors. They can also be used to separate areas in smaller apartments – in a studio apartment, having one rug in the living area and a different one in the bedroom area can help to divide up your space. Plus, since your furniture in your first apartment might be an eclectic mix, rugs can really tie the room together.
Speaking of furniture…
You may not be planning to stay in your first apartment for long, but it’s a good idea to invest in furniture that will stand the test of time. Stick to neutral colors and dress them up with accents. For example, opt for a couch in a light color and decorate it with throw pillows and blankets.
Buying coffee and end tables in neutral colors usually bodes well, too. You can dress them up with bowls, fresh flowers, coasters, etc. to liven up your apartment. Your tastes may change, and it’s easier to buy new accessories than new tables.
And while you’re in a buying mood, consider a renters insurance policy. Renters policies are not expensive – the average cost in the U.S. is less than $16 a month. It can help replace your possessions if they’re stolen or damaged/destroyed by a covered peril such as fire or wind. Your landlord’s policy covers only the building. In addition, a standard renters policy can include liability insurance, which can help if someone is injured on your property (and you’re responsible).
Space can be tight in apartments. To make the space seem larger and increase the amount of storage, hang mirrors on your walls, add wall shelves, and invest in closet inserts. These are simple tricks to improve your rented space.
Good luck on your newest adventure and have a great time decorating your first apartment!