Decorate my apartment for me, please!
January 25, 2011 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Decorate my apartment for me, please!

Intro: I make a good living now, but soon I'll be going to med school, and thus will be broke. Within the next month or two, I want to move into a small (studio/1 bedroom apartment) here in Charleston, SC, and I am aiming for something cheap, since I'll want to be able to afford it for the next few years.

My question: What's the cheapest way to get someone to tell me what furniture to buy, etc.? In short, can I find a cheap designer?

My initial thought is there should be someone online that takes your floorplan and a bunch of photos of the place and just says, "Go to IKEA and buy X, Y and Z" for a small fee.

I don't really own any furniture now, so it's no problem buying all new stuff, and since I make a comfortable living now, I'm not afraid to spend money. I just want a cool, well thought-out apartment and I really don't want to wrack my brain trying to figure it all out myself.
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Apartment Therapy for great ideas. They also have a feature where you can send in pics or floor plans of your apartment and ask for decorating suggestions.
posted by Pineapplicious at 11:19 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Kelly + Olive do something like this.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:19 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Specifically, you could have them do a moodboard, and then you could use that to help source items.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:21 AM on January 25, 2011

Maybe post an ad for an architecture or art student at the local university? Less shady than posting something on Craigslist, and you'll be helping a student.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:30 AM on January 25, 2011

Look at Young House Love. They do this for a reasonable fee, and are very good about sticking to a small budget.
posted by questionsandanchors at 11:40 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Odd question to ask anonymously.

Even better, post an ad for an Interior Design student -- yes, that exists. I've benefited from the near-free services of an ID student looking to bulk up her portfolio.
posted by me3dia at 11:41 AM on January 25, 2011

If you're really looking to save money, I'd skip the designer entirely. Go to Ikea, find one of their small room examples, and buy everything in it. The sofa, the coffee table, the art on the walls, etc. They have room examples for studio apartments, too.

Just take some general measurements of your place so you're sure things'll fit.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:41 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Design Sponge is another good blog for this sort of thing. They does this "Living in..." feature where they group together several items picked out of movies. This often includes clothing, too, but it's a good way to get a feel for one specific look or mood, and even if you're not interested in the specific items pictured, you can see the color palette.
posted by katillathehun at 11:48 AM on January 25, 2011

I'd do what BlahLaLa said, for any catalog and get the furniture that way. I'd avoid West Elm for furniture, though they have nice accessories. Pick some art from a website or a museum you go to. Maybe pick another catalog or website for rugs and accessories. Easy-breezey.
posted by jgirl at 12:13 PM on January 25, 2011

Unfortunately, no matter who does it, there are some things you will still need to think about:
1. What's your budget?
2. What do you absolutely, positively need? (Lots of storage? A place to work? A bubblegum pink princess canopy bed?)
3. What sort of look are you going for?
4. Are you going to have to move all this stuff eventually?
5. Are you allowed/able to paint and/or screw stuff into the walls?
6. How do you feel about self-assembly? Do you mind spending a month putting stuff together with an allen key?
7. How big are all the doors leading to your place? Is there an elevator (how big is it?), or a lot of stairs? Is it going to be easy to get a couch in there? Are you sure?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:43 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Morgan at The Brick House does this, as well, and she's currently out of work and can use the money (at least, I think she's still out of work, trying to build up her own business). She runs towards the modern/simple end of the interior design spectrum, but I dig what she does. She's also budget-mindful.
posted by scarykarrey at 12:55 PM on January 25, 2011

You don't really need an interior designer.

An interior designer doesn't do what you want - for the most part, the purpose of hiring a designer is A) so that they can do the leg work of sourcing and shopping from a lot of different places and wind up with a cohesively decorated space, and B) so that they can get you "to the trade" discounts at fancy non-retail stores that only work with designers. They also do a lot of design work coordinating colors and textures, as well as dealing with things you've never thought about before like textiles and lighting.

The vast majority of certified interior designers are going to scoff at shopping places like Ikea, especially if your instructions are, "let's just go to Ikea and pick out everything there - I can only spend $200 on a couch." If you can afford a designer, you can afford quality furniture and a space that looks like you hired a designer.

If you are at the level of getting most of your stuff from places like Ikea, and you are OK with your stuff all coming from one place and being ersatz semi-disposable and shoddily designed, this is something you can do yourself.

One way to do it easily is to take a day to go to Ikea and only browse through the showrooms. Go into their sample rooms and see what they pair together and how that would work in your space. You can totally just buy everything in the showroom, right there, in one fell swoop, and bring it back to your place.

If you want a little more creativity and something that is tailored more to your individual circumstances, this stuff is easy to do yourself as well. Just make a list of all the furniture you'll need, flip through the Ikea catalogue*, pick out stuff you like, and bing bang boom you're done. This can involve more or less research as your situation indicates - I'm really particular about my space, so I might spend a week figuring out which specific model of nightstand I want, but other people who don't have an eye for design just go to the store, decide they like the Lekvik line of bedroom furniture, grab one of everything, and go.

You also might want to check out this book, which is a very useful introduction to thinking about living spaces as a designer would.

*You can do this at other furniture/decor stores, as well. I've had great luck with West Elm. Ikea is best if you're totally clueless and want to just look at a completed room, say, "yes, this" pull the SKU numbers, get the furniture, and go.
posted by Sara C. at 1:15 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you're trying to furnish your apartment, not decorate it... If only you weren't "anonymous", maybe we could have gotten some clarification!

Anyway, I was recently in the same situation as you. I furnished my apartment largely with IKEA whatnotery (bedframe, nightstands, dresser, desk, TV stand, lamps). And then I went to a few other places for other things: La-Z-Boy for a couch (loveseat, actually); Macy's for an endtable (they happened to have an awesome one on clearance); TJMaxx/Marshalls for some other lamps; some local, cheap carpet place for an area rug, BestBuy for an oven, Amazon for a TV, etc.

IMO, furnishing really isn't that bad. Just figure out what you use daily and find the things you'd need to do that: a bed for sleeping, a dresser for clothes, a desk for a computer, a shelf for books, etc. Just make sure every piece of furniture you get has a practical purpose! Don't buy it just because it looks cool! (Luckily, I was able to have one of those Papasan chairs in college, so I found out then just how badly they suck. Also luckily, I had a cheap (~$50) dual-recliner loveseat during college and determined that I loved it.) Just figure out what you like and find the function with form you.

This will take a lot of time/effort, but if you are infact furnishing (which I would have to imagine you are, seeing as you will have a small apartment instead of a house with both an eat-in kitchen and a dinning room, a family room and a living room, more than one bedroom/bathroom, etc.), then you will want things you enjoy using more than you enjoy looking at.

TL;DR - You probably will make at least one purchase you aren't 100% totally happy with. Deal with it. Making mistakes is the fastest way to learn. But, not having furniture sucks!!! (I had nothing but a desk chair to sit in for ~3 weeks and it was the worst! However, I had my bed the day before I officially moved in ^_^)

Now, if you really do want to decorate, then maybe you should try and find an interior design student looking for a fun little project...
posted by StarmanDXE at 1:18 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ikea always has at least one spread in the catalogue that will be a full room with a breakdown of everything in the room and a price tag. So for example they will have a living room which will be seven items totalling $375 and you can just go and say 'I want everything on that page.'
posted by JoannaC at 4:25 PM on January 25, 2011

« Older How do you spell relief?   |   Thoughts on software team status updates Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.