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Furnishing an apartment: a beginners guide

Honor Kennedy Honor Kennedy
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So you've landed a new apartment, a blank canvas for you to imprint a little of your own decorating and design nous upon. But where does one begin? Planning, designing, and decorating an apartment can be a tricky task, and a common conundrum is how to consolidate all of your ideas into a workable and feasible concept. Welcome to homify’s ‘furnishing your apartment: 101’. 

Decorating an apartment is a highly personal experience, and you may find that you have many thoughts that need to be united and fused before you embark on the actual transformation of your new apartment space. Contrariwise, you may find yourself lacking ideas and inspiration, awash in a sea of advice without any concrete plan or decorating concept. Never fear! Today we will be looking at a few simple elements that will help you to modify and decorate your space. Easy and simple guidelines that will form the basis of your new apartment interior, and assist in clearing any design blockages you may have. Considering the entrance, living room furniture, dining room table, kitchen, bed, bathroom, and balcony will be our focus, and while there are numerous aspects to contemplate, these fundamentals will help to get you on your way.

If you’d like some helpful hints, handy tips, and stylishly inspirational examples, check out the images below, and begin planning your refurbished or refreshed home with confidence and motivation.

The entrance

 Corridor, hallway by Studio Duggan
Studio Duggan

Hallway Console Table

Studio Duggan

The entrance – the gateway to your new abode, and an area of your home that imparts a huge first impression on guests and visitors alike. You want your entry to look fabulous, while also acting in a practical and versatile manner. If your entrance is shabby, dull or dreary, then it is likely to drastically affect the rest of your apartment.

Key item: console table

If you are going to purchase just one piece of furniture for your entry consider the console table. A console table exudes class, sophistication, and is sure to give your entrance that extra degree of style it desperately needs. In fact, you can get away with very little in your entry, with a console table working as a multi-functional decorative shelf and practical storage space.

The living room

Generally apartments follow a very similar layout and floorplan. The flow of an apartment space usually starts with an entrance foyer or living room, and moves into the dining room, kitchen, and then the bedrooms. As previously mentioned, the entry is a crucial element to ensuring your home has a good flow and makes a stylish first impression; next up we have the living room.

The living room is your go-to relaxation and socialising space. It will undoubtedly be a place where you host friends if they come to visit, and an area that you use to rest in during the evening.

Key item: the sofa

Within a living room, the sofa is your standout item. A feature seat will completely change the ambience of a room, and can be used to evoke many different styles and designs. If you are looking for comfort choose something overstuffed and sumptuous, conversely (or if your space is compact) choose something contemporary, colourful, or sleek, as a centrepiece for the room.

The dining room

 Dining room by dwarf

Next up we have the dining room. Larger apartments will have a separate dining space, but many average sized or compact condos will utilise a combination living/dining space. If you are lucky enough to have an individual dining room, you will be blessed with a range of stylistic options including the ability to add console tables, bar trolleys, and a larger dining set. However, if you have an open plan living/dining room you might want to differentiate and segment the spaces. Lighting is a great way to achieve this. Employ suspended lights over your dining table to differentiate the area, and provide an atmospheric area to eat and host dinners.

Key item: the dinner table

The dinner table is the key item to consider when furnishing your new apartment. It’s the workhorse of your eating space and will provide a suitable surface to host dinner parties, romantic get-togethers, and a simple meal for one. Invest in your dining table and you will ensure your room is versatile, practical, and age-defiant.

The kitchen

The kitchen is the central hub of the home. Whether you reside in a large villa or a compact apartment, the kitchen will almost undoubtedly become a gathering point for friends, family and guests. For this reason it is important to consider the layout and décor of this important space. Think about implementing energy efficient and eco-friendly solutions to reduce energy usage and create a greener home for yourself and the environment. Joinery is a key concern when designing or furnishing an apartment. Many apartments will come with a kitchen already installed, and many others will have a blank canvas for you to design and decorate.

Key item: appliances

Appliances are a top priority when you consider your new apartment kitchen. Even if you inherit a second-hand kitchen, you will want to ensure your appliances (oven, fridge, cooktop, and extractor fan) are up to the task. By implementing new appliances you will ensure your cook space lasts the test of time, while functioning efficiently and practically. If you need some assistance designing and fitting your kitchen with new appliances, be sure to chat to a professional and get the job done properly. 

The bedroom

 Bedroom by Stefano Ferrando
Stefano Ferrando

La camera da letto

Stefano Ferrando

Bedrooms are the snug havens of one’s abode, places where you rest, refresh, and renew yourself in preparation to face the world. It makes practical sense to ensure these rooms are well decorated in a comfortable and exciting scheme. As well as the main furniture items such as mirrors and mirrored furniture can help to create a sense of spaciousness and refract light within the area.

Key item: the bed

The bed is undeniably the centrepiece of a bedroom. Providing a comfy place to rest after a long day (or an ideal theatre for your next Netflix marathon), you should invest in an ergonomic, well-constructed bed. Place your bed in a central area, preferably not facing an open door. Additionally, the bed should not be located under a window if you wish to maximise positive feng shui vibes, as well as ease of movement within the room.

The bathroom

One of the main concerns when residing in an apartment is ensuring that everything has enough room within the often compact floorplan. Bathrooms unfortunately tend to accumulate unnecessary clutter and mess, sometimes leading to a chaotic and uncomfortable wash space. Above all, consider the storage for your new apartment’s bathroom.

Key item: storage

Storage can include laundry baskets, cabinets, or extra containers to keep necessary accessories and appurtenances. Keeping a bathroom clean, tidy, and mess-free is the first step towards smart decorating. If you are on a budget check out some local thrift shops and second-hand stores for shabby chic bargains that are sure to look unique and intriguing.

The balcony

 Garden by STUDIO [D] TALE
STUDIO [D] TALE

Peponi House

STUDIO [D] TALE

Last, but certainly not least we arrive outside on the balcony. Not every apartment will be lucky enough to have a balcony, but those that do will want to ensure they are pleasant spaces to enjoy a little time outside of the apartment’s four walls. Optimise your balcony and you will increase your living space, and add a space ready for socialising, rest, relaxation, and plenty more.

Key item: greenery

The inclusion of plants is definitely a win/win scenario for the apartment dweller. When you live in a city or an area filled with condominiums, the outdoors is a fabulous place to grasp a breath of fresh air. Complete your space with balcony planters, pots, and add plenty of lush greenery. Your external area will become a comfortable frondescent haven away from the confining interior of your home.

If you would like some additional apartment decorating information, check out our other Ideabook: How to re-decorate your apartment in one weekend?

Do you have any tips for first-time apartment decorators? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
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