Once you've gotten through the apartment hunting process, the real fun starts. Moving in and creating a cozy, happy home in an apartment comes with its own set of challenges. Should you paint those white walls? Will your landlord let you make small improvements or will you sacrifice your security deposit? And if you own your apartment, you may wonder which upgrades are really worth the investment.
Even if your stay is temporary, it's important to create a space you enjoy coming home to each and every night. Whether it's your first or fifth apartment, we enlisted the help of an expert designer to help you improve your home.
Meet the Expert
Sara Toufali is the creator of the lifestyle and interior design blog Black & Blooms.
If your apartment is, well, a little sterile, it's time to bring in the texture. "Soft shag rugs, lots of pillows, floor poufs, throw blankets, warm lighting from a lamp or string lights, beautifully scented candles, incense burning—all of this screams cozy to me," Toufali notes.
If your space is an awkward size, you may want to consider buying a rug you can resell if you move to a new place.
Try Vinyl Tile Stickers
Need to cover up the flooring in a rental? "One of my favorite rental hacks is vinyl tile stickers," Toufali explains. "You can use them on the floor, walls, backsplash, and more. They’re usually completely customizable so they fit over existing, ugly tiles."
Most peel and stick tiles are easily removable and won't damage your apartment when the time comes to move out.
Carve Out an Entryway
Want your apartment to feel a little more formal and grand? Spend some time creating an entryway, even if your space doesn't have a formal one. After all, it is the first thing your guests will see when they come in.
Add a narrow console table, some wall hooks, and a mirror next to your front door to give your guests a place to drop their things.
An entryway will not only provide extra storage, but can also help to delineate the living space from the front doorway, too.
Carve Out a Dining Area
Not every apartment has a formal dining room, but if you can, create a space to enjoy a meal. Sure, eating on the couch is comfortable, but even if you only have the room for a small breakfast bar or a cafe table for two, you will enjoy having a formal area for eating separately of your living room.
Become a Plant Parent
One consistent rule of thumb when creating a cozy, finished apartment? "No room is complete without plants," Toufali says. "Plants instantly make a space feel cozy, warm, and full of life."
Even if you don't have a green thumb, sprinkling in a few hard-to-kill houseplants can help turn an apartment into a welcoming home.
Embrace the Accent Wall
"Sometimes, just a fresh coat of paint can make a big difference," Toufali says. If your landlord allows, embrace the moody trend and create an eye-catching accent wall to help add a lot of charm and interest to a bedroom or living room.
Upgrade Your Hardware
Toufali says one easy way to upgrade a kitchen or a bathroom without investing the cost of a full renovation is to switch out the hardware. Rusty, outdated faucets or cabinet pulls can be quickly and cheaply swapped for a more modern look.
While this is a bit more of an investment aimed towards those who own, it's easy enough to replace the original hardware if you're a renter.
Keep Your Space Organized
Though an apartment may not have the same storage space as a single-family house, with a little strategic organization, you can keep it just as tidy. "Take advantage of wall space—hooks and shelves are your friends, especially if you’re low on closets," Toufali says.
Don’t forget about the prime real estate underneath your furniture. Beds and sofas are great places to store items when closet space is tight.
When you have a smaller space, it's easy to grow bored with your home, and want to splurge on new furniture frequently. Instead, Toufali says that shopping your own home and simply rearranging furniture and décor you already have "can completely refresh a space."
Don't Forget the Bathroom
Oftentimes, rental apartment bathrooms are a little sterile and bland. If yours is in need of a makeover, add a little personality by bringing in furniture, artwork, and plants to liven up the space.
New window treatments or a vintage rug as a bathmat can be easy ways to upgrade your bathroom without a renovation. Even an outdated bathroom can feel fresh with the right modern accents.
Short on floor space for standalone storage or a nightstand? Hang a custom wall shelf to store all your nicknacks in a place that is easy to reach. Here, an extra-long shelf acts as a perch for nighttime reading and looks incredibly stylish too.
Get the Lighting Right
Elegant, built-in lighting can make an apartment feel more put-together and modern. But, if you don't have built-in sconces or overhead lighting, you can fake the look with wired lighting in the perfect spot.
Instead of table lamps, hang a sconce next to your bed. This gives you more prime surface space on your nightstand and helps to create a more finished, custom look in your bedroom.
Decorate the Hallways
Apartments often have long, narrow hallways that can feel a little barren and cold. Liven them up with artwork or a mirror to help expand the space and create a more homey feel. If you have room, a narrow entryway table is perfect for a long, empty hallway wall where you could use a little perch for decor.
Splurge Where it Counts
Consider where you'll spend most of your time in your apartment and spend money there. If you are a cook, outfit the kitchen with the best appliances to fit your needs. If you love to binge-watch Netflix, invest in a cozy, beautiful couch that fits your space perfectly.