If you´ve recently moved to a new place and are wondering how to make an apartment feel like home, these five practical tips are for you.
Three years ago we bought an apartment. It´s 82 square meter big with four rooms + a kitchen, a bathroom and a balcony. We moved to our new condo in November. The first two years in our apartment I spent decorating to make it feel like home home.
Before we moved I had a vision of how I wanted it to look. We didn´t have a big budget for furnishing, but we did have many antique furniture from my husband´s grandma´s recently sold house to recycle. So we became creative in styling and furnishing our new place.
The first thing that attracted me to this apartment were the big south-facing windows that made the place look warm and bright. I love big, bright windows because I tend to feel depressed in winter. When it´s bright, I`m not depressed. That´s why I love spring and summer!
This is how our living room looked right after we moved in. It was very basic.
We brought with us our six-year-old sofa. To my surprise, the big Persian rug that we inherited from my husband´s Oma, matched with our big, ballerina art. This was the first time that I put them together in the same room.
Now that I´ve given you the first sight of our new apartment, let´s dive in on how to make an apartment feel like home. It doesn´t matter if your apartment is owned or rented, there are always simple ways to make it feel cozy and homey.
1. It´s about the gorgeous rug.
As I´ve mentioned above, I inherited a beautiful persian rug from my grandmother-in-law. It quickly created a cozy and homey vibe to the otherwise sterile-looking white wall. Not don´t get me wrong, I love white walls because it allows me to be creative with my rugs and wall decors.
Also, the gorgeous colors and patterns of my persian rug really popped against the white background.
But persian rugs are super expensive, right? Well, if you have the time and patience to score for a second hand persian rug, you can get one from secondhand stores, facebook martketplace, eBay or craigslist for a fraction of the price. So if you want a beautiful persian rug but doesn´t have the budget for a brand new one, go ahead and start hunting!
Now I know that not everybody loves persian rugs. Many modern minimalist prefer simple themed rugs to keep that scandinavian look in their apartment. There are many beige or earthy toned rugs and carpets in the market nowadays, and if you´re into bohomeian style you can even opt for jute rugs.
Before I started adding pieces into the room, I laid down my Persian rug first. Since it´s printed, it dictates the colors and prints that could be added to the room. It set the overall ambiance for the room.
2. To save floor space, mount the TV to the wall.
We mounted the TV to the wall to save floor space but really, to keep it away from our very curious toddler. I also asked my husband to install a floating shelf on top of the TV for my plants. As you can see in this picture, the receiver was still sitting on top of my antique chest of drawers. Eventually my husband would add a second floating shelf for it, giving me more space for more plants. Yay!
Mounting the TV on the wal doesn´t only sace space, it also makes watching TV more comfortable because you´re able to position it at exactly your vision level.
3 How to make an apartment feel like home: Add plants.
My original plan was to hang curtains on the windows. But as I decorated the place, I discovered my growing obsession for indoor plants. So I thought, why block the light? Instead of curtains, I use plants to decorate the windows.
Indoor plants are a great way to add colors to the room. They also quickly add style and elegance to the room. Choosing the right pots, baskets or planters to use for your plants is integral to the overall look of the room. Using terracotta pots will give you a rusty, earthy feel. Using seagrass basket pots will create a boho look.
For me, I opted for white (preferably textured) pots to allow my plants to standout. They look greener and fresher in white pots, although I also accented them with seagrass baskets and exotic-looking pots.
When my friends came to visit and saw my plants, they not loved it, in fact, they adored it. But their first question was, “how hard is it to maintain?”. Not hard, actually. Most of my plants are cactus and succulents. They don´t need regular watering. In winter, I water them once a month. In summer, once in two or three weeks.
I have a handful of palms. I water them only when their top one inch soil is dry. That´s about every 1.5 to 2 weeks in summer. It will probably be every three to four weeks in winter, depending on the type of palm.
4. Use mirrors.
I discovered the magic of mirrors and how they can brighten and widen the place. They also add luxury and sophistication. They reflect light, especially if they´re facing a window, and they make the space appear bigger. Choose framed mirrors that resonate with your style.
As you can see from the pictures, I have two round white baroque mirrors placed on each side of the TV. The reason for this is symmetry. The gold rimmed mirror matched my two antique arts, which also allows to accentuate my antique cabinet.
5. How to make an apartment feel like home: Mix modern and antique furniture.
Mixing antique furnitures with modern furtunitures is my number one secret in making our apartment feel like home. I saved, repaired and refurnished old furnitures from my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law, and mixed them with the affordable, modern looking furnitures from Ikea or furniture stores.
It´s like having a place where the past meets the present and the future. Decorating your place with pieces that have a past and story really prevents your place from making it look like an Ikea display room. There´s so much richness and happiness in your place.
I love mixing old and new pieces — whether it´s furniture or décor — for a more personal, exciting result. You can see that the pieces in my house are curated. Not straight from IKEA or straight from a catalog.
However, if you overload your place with everything antique, it can also easily look dated. Like a blast from the past. So make sure to find the happy balance of old and new.
I noticed that if you put antique pieces together, the room look heavy and dark. But if you mix them with white (or modern) furniture, they stand out. I also find that accenting antique furniture with gold is the best approach to decorate. For example, a gold-rimmed mirror or a gorgeous painting with gold-accented frame will look stunning atop an antique cabinet or a chest of drawer. But then again, white baroque pieces also do a good job.
This is our foyer. On the right wall is a long horizontal mirror. The light it reflects from the south windows in the living and the office room help brighten the foyer. (You know one of the things I dislike? A dark foyer!)
In my son´s bedroom is another antique chest of drawers (my husband owned it for a really long time, a legacy from his grandparents) which I decorated with plants!
I took this picture of our antique mirror in our bedroom when we first moved in. I´ve done several changes in the room but I am yet to make new pictures.
These table and chair are restored antique pieces. They were damaged and dirty; so my only option was to sand the antique varnish off and paint them white. Otherwise I would have kept them in their original antique color. I´ve restored two more antique chairs.
This is my husband´s fifteen-year-old bonsai. I found the perfect basket for a boho look.
Lessons for how to make an apartment feel like home
What I learned from this experience is: in decorating a place — whether it´s a house, a condo or an apartment — take it as a journey. You don´t have to furnish everything at once. If you do that, you´ll end up buying things that you´ll find out later you actually don´t need.
Ideas will not come all at once. But they will come. It´s important that you know how you want to feel in your home — is it casual and relaxed, bold and eclectic, simple and minimalist, or sophisticated and elegant?
If you know what you want, then you can start to envision it. Gather inspirations from magazines, pinterest, instagram and youtube. Go to thrift stores and flea markets to hunt for treasures. Use your finds to accent the pieces you bought from stores.
At this point I`m almost done with decorating (I will feature my bedroom and kitchen in separate posts).
If I`m not watering the plants, repotting them into bigger pots, taking care of my husband and my son, or writing long blog posts such as this, I`m enjoying my cozy abode. Come winter and I have no reason to get depressed. I`ll be busy caring for my huge flock of plants!
I`m humbled to say that together with my husband and son, we´ve created a place that make us happy to just stay at home and enjoy our apartment that actually feels like home.