my apartment makes me want to kill myself
September 2, 2008 8:58 PM   Subscribe

My new apartment is a room. Like, one. The whole place is a dreary, yellowish mess, and I will go to absurd lengths to make this bat-cave a little more cheery. What should I do with it?

The first thing is probably the lights, which I swear to god are using those yellow bulbs that don't attract bugs. What kind of bulb should I replace them with?

The next is the walls, which are covered in something the color of mayonnaise. Like the nice, thick yellow kind. I can't afford a huge canvas or fancy tapestry, but I can pull off a few cans of paint. I like non-traditional color schemes, as long as they don't look like hangover vomit.

Oh please Mefi, won't you make my room sunnier?
posted by borkingchikapa to Home & Garden (25 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
People will be able to give better help if you can post pictures.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:18 PM on September 2, 2008

Play around with Kuler and find a four-color scheme that you like. Paint each of the walls a different color, probably with the darkest color behind your bed.

CFLBs have different kelvin temperatures. Lower ones make everything look warmer and a little red, while the brighter ones tend to make things look more sterile. You could try having the warmer ones on the "resting" side of the apartment and the brighter ones on the "working" side of the apartment. Or mix them to keep things bright but livable.

Plants help a lot, too.
posted by thecaddy at 9:19 PM on September 2, 2008

Are bugs a worry? If not I recommend getting some CFL bulbs installed, They make them in a range of colours.

How about hanging fabric on your walls? A great site in general for ideas is Apartment Therapy.
posted by gog at 9:21 PM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Opium den. Do it.

(By which I mean go for the opium den aesthetic, not an actual opium den.)
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:23 PM on September 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

Paint everything White....It will make your space look bigger. Bring color in with everything else, the rug, drapes,table cloth,bed cover. A big Mirror will give make you feel like you have a bigger space as well. Get rid of the yellow bulbs. Soft white bulbs....even 100 watt will brighten up the space.
Get a bunch of fresh flowers. They will really lift your spirits.
I have friends that use ton's of white candles as their only light at night and it really transforms their small apt. and gives the same space a totally different feel in the evening hours.
Play some good music.
Have some good scents in the air.
Make it a relaxing place that you will want to come home to.
posted by blast at 9:24 PM on September 2, 2008

My best suggestion on color is to GO FOR IT! I have painted rooms various colors including limey green and pretty sky-ish blue (cat not included) and both made me so ... happy!
posted by radioamy at 9:30 PM on September 2, 2008

2nding the paint theme. I've had good luck with going to Walmart, of all places.

Paint the thing. Paint it the brightest color that you love.

Then work on getting a variety of lights. The torchieres do a great job of sunnying a room up, and then add spot lighting for whatever you need to do. Add hanging lamps, if you've a mind to.

You've just got a kindof blah studio. Not the end of the world.
posted by msamye at 9:39 PM on September 2, 2008

I wouldn't recommend white, an off set of that limey green and skyish blue radioamy posted. I'm also going to recommend putting pictures/posters on the wall. it makes everything that much more cozy.
posted by saxamo at 10:09 PM on September 2, 2008

One wall in my living room is a rich, burnt pumpkin shade of orange. It makes me very happy, it's bright but warm and rich. Plus, it makes everyone's skin tone look lovely and rested. I've been thinking about doing a pale bamboo green on the other three walls.

I chose orange because it's a color that I wear a lot. I find that people often paint their homes in colors that look good on them, so that's something to think about.
posted by mostlymartha at 10:29 PM on September 2, 2008

I just moved out of my one room apartment. I would suggest defining each corner of your room - and using things for only one or two purposes. Don't let stuff grow and flow randomly all over. Keep your place tidy, open the window often and buy a few warm lamps.

It can be survived but you have to try and make it seem like less of a 'room' and more of an actual apartment.
posted by wingless_angel at 10:37 PM on September 2, 2008

Reveal lightbulbs. Can't recommend them enough- I am extremely sensitive to bad lighting for some reason, and Reveals give off beautiful, white-not-yellow light.

Upon moving into a similar cave, I got Reveals, ditched the overhead lighting and went with a bunch of floor lamps. HUUGE difference. My nice clean white light bounces off the ceiling and gently lights the room, instead of the track lighting blinding me and not giving me enough light both at once. I also painted 3 shades of brown and one of blue. I love my place now.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:57 PM on September 2, 2008

You might consider making the room a cozy den, too, if the bright doesn't work out. We've had a master bedroom painted a deep, rich red which was wonderful, and a dining room painted a dark blue.

Otherwise, I like the suggestion of a neutral color on three walls, perhaps a warm beige or taupe, plus one wall painted a really vibrant color, like the orange mentioned or even something like a shocking apple green. If you have a much loved piece of upholstered furniture you could play with any colors you find there--for example, a blue couch would look stunning against an orange wall of similar saturation.

Start by painting fairly decent sized patches of wall in your least two by two feet. Live with it a few days, see if you like it. Nothing is as disheartening as painting only to discover you hate the color.

I recommend a matte for dark colors, but something with just a hint of gloss for lighter colors.
posted by maxwelton at 12:49 AM on September 3, 2008

Oh, seconding drjimmy11 about the Reveals. I want to love fluorescent, but I've got to admit, not even the best one I've ever used even comes close to the lovely quality of light from the Reveal bulbs.
posted by mostlymartha at 12:59 AM on September 3, 2008

This may seem obvious, but have you flipped through an IKEA catalogue? There are lots of lighting and color suggestions for small spaces.
posted by DefendBrooklyn at 3:29 AM on September 3, 2008

I notice you're in Japan now, so I just want to say:
1) this is the way lots and lots of apartments are in Japan: anonymous, dreary, and tempting for suicidal thoughts.
2) make absolutely sure that you're not going to create an international incident if you try to paint anything.

More on topic, I have to second the comments above about dividing the room up and using bright colors. Even if you decide to do just one wall. A friend a few years back painted one wall orange, one purple, one red, and one yellow. I had my doubts, but man, it looked great in the end.

Also, consider leaving your curtains open as much as possible. I know it's tough when the sun comes up at 5 in the morning like it does now, but it will bring immediate improvements to the apartment and your mood.
posted by whatzit at 4:15 AM on September 3, 2008

Mirrors, lots of them. I lived in small room with at least 7 mirrors, of all shapes and sizes. The thing is only one was placed where you might conventionally find it. But stuck in a dark corner, half hidden by furniture or at the back of a shelf they all bounced light and the room and opened up unexpected spaces and views. I never had to pay for them, they seem to be something you can always find on the side of the street.

(and seconding that lime green colour, I've used it too).
posted by tallus at 4:27 AM on September 3, 2008

Vinyl wall decals!
posted by prefpara at 4:39 AM on September 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Change the position of your furniture so that you have a nice flow through the apartment that points to the windows. If it really is just a one room cube, have you thought about separating your space with light-walls? Ikea has super cheap Orgel half-walls that really divide a space while offering a nice side-lighting option.

Also, if you can't lighten it up, you could always take it the complete opposite direction and make it as cozy as possible - lots of bookcases, thick rugs, big poofy furniture, etc.
posted by banannafish at 5:28 AM on September 3, 2008

Cool lamps with different colored lightbulbs.
posted by ian1977 at 5:33 AM on September 3, 2008

It's not the done thing to repaint rental rooms over here, but if I owned a place (this and getting a cat are my main motivations to get On The Property Ladder) I would go with Blik as Prefpara posted above, but what I would really like to do would be to paint one wall white and stencil spots over it like a Damien Hirst spot painting. Bridget Riley stripes would be cool too, if a little harder to live with. I've nearly always lived with white walls, when living with parents or renting, and I'd love a beautiful sky blue or toning greens. I had a small single room when I first moved to London which was painted yellow and that was cheery. Make sure it's buttercup, though, not that weird neon-y yellow.

I think bright bedlinen makes a difference. They make me happy and having a bed you like is always good.
posted by mippy at 5:40 AM on September 3, 2008

Paint everything White....It will make your space look bigger.

White makes already big, empty spaces look bigger. And emptier. And more depressing. White walls can't magically transform a tiny room stuffed with all your earthly possessions into a palace. Then again, if you enjoy stays in hospital, white might be your colour.

With something small, you can basically go two ways: Airy and cheerful, or warm and cozy (i.e. "opium den" or, you know, a regular den). The cozy den is generally darker, earthier, and more "masculine," but since you used the word "cheery" in your question, you'll probably want to go with something like radioamy's colour schemes. It wouldn't have to be blue or lime green, but something in that light--but not washed out--tonal range, with white used as an accent.

And, yes, putting some (framed) pictures on the wall will definitely make a cube feel more like a home. Anything to break up a blank, flat wall will reduce the oppressive feel.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:41 AM on September 3, 2008

As a more temporary, arguably easier alternative to paint, you could find some fabric in a solid color or print that you like and do something like this, either in pieces as demonstrated or over a whole wall like wallpaper. You can find some awesome plain weave cotton for cheap. Combine fabrics on different walls! Put some on the ceiling! I've done it, and it's fun.
posted by doift at 7:08 AM on September 3, 2008

Plants like philodendron are great in low light or under fluorescent lights (these are the long, viney plants you often see at your local Greek restaurant, etc) You may want to read up about them, I have the traditional houseplant heart-shaped one. They can be toxic to pets, so read up if you have a cat, etc.

Another option is growing orchids under grow-lights or fluorescent lamps. The lamps themselves will help brighten up the place and give you some "sunshine" and orchids are a lot of fun and not that hard to care for. To grow plants under lights, you don't need a special bulb (the incandescent ones supposedly don't work) -- I've just grown seed starts under two fluorescent bulbs, one "hot" and one "cool" in the wavelengths of light they emit. Anyways, there is a lot on the internet out there about growing plants under lamps, especially certain "fun" plants, nudge nudge wink wink.
posted by sararah at 7:35 AM on September 3, 2008

I've only lived in studio apartments, and I agree with those who say to separate your space. I've used an entertainment unit placed perpendicular to a wall to sort of divide the apartment in half. In front of the unit is the "living room," and behind it is the "bedroom." I cover the back of the unit with a pretty piece of cloth, so I'm not looking at the ugly back of an entertainment unit when I'm in my bedroom. Since the unit is only about chest high and only juts out from the wall about 3 feet, you still get the feeling of space (such as it is), and air and light are unimpeded. Same effect could be had with a shelf or similarly sized piece of furniture. Room dividers are neat, but I like the utilitarian aspect of using a piece of needed furniture to create the separation.
posted by Mavri at 7:47 AM on September 3, 2008

If it's a rental and you can't paint it (or don't feel like it), find some really bright, sunny, happy fabric that pleases you and stretch it on canvas stretcher frames -- one staple gun later, you're in business. Bonuses: you can easily hang them (or prop them against) any wall, you can swap out fabric if you like (that orange wasn't a good idea? switch it!), and the cost of the fabric/frames/a staple gun might be equivalent or even less than some decent paint. Pull the fabrics you use into other elements of the room -- simple pillows, for example -- and it will look really nice. MeMail me if you need help on sources or how-to!
posted by at 8:47 AM on September 3, 2008

« Older Low light photo tips   |   How can I create a qualitative assessment of... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.