As, I have mentioned previously, I recently moved into a new apartment and for the first time, am living alone (well besides the cat). Having so much space to myself was a first a little overwhelming. I’m used to shared living areas, keeping your personal decor to your bedroom and only adding a few things to the common space so it doesn’t clash horribly with your roommates. Now, in my own space, I was forced to reevaluate where center items went, what go hung where and how to use my small space as creatively as possible. Whether you have just moved, looking to re-arraign your space or never really did much at all because it can be so overwhelming, here are a few take aways I have from my decorating experience.
Make it yours: Pinterest is chock full of wall and picture collaging inspiration. This is great for ideas but it’s important to remember this is YOUR home and YOU will have to look at it everyday so make sure it holds some significance to YOU. In addition to some those cute pictures I scored for $2 second hand from Goodwill, I also have the flower crown I made with Julie during our workshop with Local Color Flowers. I worked really hard on that and I’m not about to tuck it away somewhere.
Take your time collecting: A home filled with meaningful decor is not going to happen overnight. It will take some patience but will ultimately be worth waiting to get everything up until you have all your pieces. You also don’t want to take the cheap way out and just Ikea your way through this one. Collect when you travel; If you are like me you feel compelled to purchase something to “remember your trip,” as if the memories are not enough. Keep this in mind when you do feel the urge to purchase on vacation and instead of cheesy t-shirts or trinkets, buy something you can hang up or add to a shelf. Save things people give you; Flower bouquets are easily dried out and hung upside down. I have a bouquet from a close girlfriend of mine that she gave me when we were first starting to hang out- it back great memories every time I look at it.
Don’t pass up the hand-me-downs: Some of the best items in my home were things given to me, rather than items I picked out myself. I have a vintage Singer sewing machine that was purchased by my grandmother not long after she moved to the United States. I don’t know how to use a sewing machine so I would have never purchased this for myself (even at an antique store) but it’s gorgeous and is a family heirloom now. Plus it makes a great addition to my entertainment center. Another great way to get cool pieces for your home is to troll the college towns right before move out. I have a great lamp and end table I picked up off the curb back when I still lived in an apartment complex of mostly college kids. They don’t want to haul it back home so you reap the benefits. I find that a lot of times the kids are giving up great unique items rather than their $50 Ikea bookcase – because when you are 19 you are more focused on how to smuggle a semester’s worth of booze back home rather than thinking about furnishing your 25 year-old-self’s ‘adult’ apartment.
Get creative: Hang up the unusual. I have a tortilla press hanging in my kitchen. I have never used it and probably never will, but I inherited it from someone who most likely did use it. It has a neat story, people ask about it all the time and it looks freaking cool on my wall. I also hung up a wok, that I very much use, in my wall collage. It helps break up the pictures and flowers, giving a little more creativity and uniqueness to the wall. Plus, it was a hand-me-down from my father, who always hangs his woks, so let’s call it a little family tradition. Hats can be hung this way too – it’s the easiest storage, you don’t have to worry about crushing them and it looks pretty damn cool (the internet is full of hats on the wall collages). I also recommend repurposing. I got handed down a small copper fire pit – super cool but very impractical for someone who lives in the city without a backyard. Not wanting to toss it during the move, I threw a rope light in it and made an indoor safe fire pit.
Lay it out first: Don’t start nailing until you have measured, laid out where everything will go, and then measure again! I have started to hang so many shelves or mirrors with the double hooks in the back, without measuring, only to get one side up and realize I needed the other nail to be about two centimeters to the right. Then I end up just massacring my poor walls and having to go back and patch over all the nail holes. Laying out your collage on the floor first gives you the option to play with composition and move pieces around before you grab the hammer. This is another reason to build your collection of decor over time. It’s harder to change the play if you want to add another player halfway through the game. Commit to the biggest and boldest pieces and build around them. It’s easier to add in that tiny picture you got on vacation, than the oddly shaped mirror you found on sale for $13 at Target and couldn’t pass up.
Commit to a theme: Part of a put-together home is having a general vibe to all you decor in order to keep it feeling cohesive. Decide on the feel you want for your home. Do you want minimal and clean lines? Are you big on bold graphics and prints? Do you like a bohemian feel to your home? Have a passion for antiques? Choose a color story and stick to varieties of those colors. I like my plants and my dried flowers. I have a lot of vintage amber glassware and ceramic pots and dishes. Most of my decorative items are gold or a neutral color. I’m still trying to commit to either light or dark finished wood but haven’t quite settled one way or the other.
If you are true to your personality and put thought into the items you buy, your home will come together in time. Don’t rush your art.