Please help me decorate my home like a grown-up for the first time! Tons of details inside.
I'm a 33-year-old professional guy. I've been wanting to escape the bachelor-pad lifestyle for years, but that's been hampered by a long series of roommates who brought home furniture from other people's trash, displayed their Star Wars toys in the kitchen, etc. Well, I just moved into a new apartment, and finally—for the first time in my life—I have the place entirely to myself.
I'm willing to invest some serious thought (and some semi-serious money) to make the place comfortable and attractive.
Difficulty: it's in an apartment complex. All of the walls are eggshell white, and the floors are covered with wall-to-wall beige carpet. The windows have Venetian blinds. It's clean and well maintained, but it feels a bit like a hotel room.
Painting the walls is out of the question. I'm not even supposed to put nails in the wall, and any changes to the windows will be subject to the complex's dumb rules (e.g.
, the exterior-facing part of all window treatments must be white). I'm willing to bend these rules to the extent that I can (1) get away with it, and (2) repair everything before I move out. However, I just got a notice that there will be a complex-wide inspection soon, so apparently they do occasional walk-throughs. (That seems invasive to me, but that's another story...)
On the plus side, all of the major rooms have large, west-facing windows (or, in the case of the living/dining area, a large sliding double door which opens onto the balcony.) The place is technically a two-bedroom, so it's a lot of space for one person—especially the living room. It has a galley kitchen, so there isn't much room (or need) to customize there.
In terms of furnishings, I've always preferred a very clean, modern, minimalist, even severe aesthetic. However, I think I'd like to warm that up a bit with a few more natural/rustic elements (unfinished or less-finished wood, stone, textiles), and a generally more cozy/welcoming and less cold/office-like vibe. Still within a clean, uncluttered framework, mind you.
I'll also be getting plenty of plants (I want to start an herb garden, which will live inside during the winter and on the balcony during the warmer months), and some original artwork from my artist friends.
I don't have a specific budget in mind, but I'm okay with dropping a few thousand US$ on this. (It will probably be a gradual process.)
I'd even consider making a few things myself. For example, this table
is roughly the kind of thing that appeals to me, but I'll be damned if I'm going to pay £296 (US$470) for a block of wood and four pieces of metal tubing.
Given the limitations I'm working with, I realize that my apartment is never going to look like the ones in the magazines. But I'd like to do what I can.
I'm really just looking for general advice—things to consider, approaches to try, items or retailers to check out, etc. But here are a couple of specific questions:
- Is there anything to be done about the carpets? Could I cover (some of) them with tatami mats, or something similar? Or is there a way to use area rugs that won't look cluttered?
- What about lighting? I can't install ceiling fixtures, obviously—which leaves table lamps, floor lamps, and (maybe?) the kind of cheap track lighting that plugs into the wall. I'm guessing that lots of smaller sources of indirect light are better for creating a cozy vibe than one or two bright, central sources, right? So—lots of table lamps, or what? Maybe rope lights hidden behind furniture and structural elements?
(I know about Apartment Therapy. The pictures are gorgeous, but it doesn't help me figure out what to do with my
space. However, sites which walk me through the actual thought processes would be welcome. I'm a computer programmer, so if there's anything that approaches this as an engineering problem, that'd probably help me enormously. Pictures of similar spaces that have been decorated toward similar ends would also be helpful.)
Sorry if this is all over the place. To summarize: how can I make this place look and feel modern, classy, and comfortable?