I know that title sounds strange, but just to explain: I’ve always had “immature” spaces. It wasn’t that they were particularly childish or that there was a rocking horse in every room; I just never had very put-together spaces. I would sort of match my decor to my bedspread, which was usually not particularly pretty (I’m cheap and when moving, usually don’t search far), and I’d always have posters up all over the walls. It was an all right set-up, but it definitely screamed, “I’M TWENTY AND DON’T KNOW HOW TO DECORATE… OR COOK… OR DO TAXES.”
Over the past couple years, I’ve not only started doing my own taxes and cooking beyond a microwave + toaster, but also began picking up some tips on things that almost always make living spaces look more developed and well thought-out, so here are a few of them!
1. If your walls are pure white and you don’t want all your decor, furniture included, to be white, change 1 or more wall colors.
I know many of us live in apartments or simply don’t feel like painting, but there are tons of ways to change the color of your wall without having to paint it back later! As Lindsay said it her incredibly helpful DIY apartment post, you can use paint chips or fabric to decorate a wall. You can hang a large tapestry over one whole wall or simply use decals to alter your space. Having plain white walls almost always looks boring and “meh,” so making one exciting diverts attention and looks lovely. A friend of mine simply put a cascade of Christmas lights on one wall, which looked amazing and very similarly to this:
2. Frame things.
Last year, I bought an ex-boyfriend three really amazing Fantastic Mr. Fox prints by an artist and framed them for him in similar (though not identical) frames, which looked really wonderful on his wall. After he put them up, I realized how much more put-together the room instantly looked. While they would’ve been pretty if they hadn’t been framed, it really made them look more fantastic and fun.
If you can’t do this for monetary reasons (which, believe me, I totally understand not wanting to spend your money on constructed square pieces of wood), try doing a more modern type of framing, such as surrounding a poster with two sheets of plastic and mounting it on a wall or using a square piece of solid (or even patterned, if desired) fabric, placing it behind the art and using that as a “frame.”
Also, by no means do you have to exclusively frame posters, paintings and other flat art. You can also create your own amazing pieces using anything from floral keepsakes to jam jars.
3. Use your daily beauty (or otherwise!) products as decor.
If you have a vanity, then take advantage of how lovely it looks and make your routine quicker by setting out some of your products on it. Or, if you’re looking for a Mad Men feel, you can also set out a couple glasses and your favorite bottle of nice liquor or wine. My friend Bry has an adorable little apartment on the beach and, to go along with her relaxed vintage beach set-up, she has an array of pretty bottles and glasses that our whole fraternity was excited by when we held an event there.
If you like the idea of a prettily organized grouping of lovely items, you can use this idea on just about anything, whether it’s booze, makeup, vintage dolls, art tools, candles, books with colorful covers… there are plenty of great ways to set up a nice melange of your stuff. You’ll be able to access it easily and it’ll make a unique decor statement.
4. Have awesome curtains.
This sounds really obvious, I know, but myself and tons of people I know just kinda left their apartment windows with the blinds they were given. You don’t need to do that! You can add your own curtains and frame your windows with some lovely colors, patterns and textures. With the last house I lived in, all I did was cut sheets of white lace and hang them over each window, which let in light and was extraordinarily cheap (like, less than $8 cheap). You can also re-use old/pretty sheets or go to the Salvation Army and look for an XXL dress with a cool pattern, then use that. There are tons of inexpensive, fun options and it’ll make your windows more than just light letters.
I personally love floor-to-ceiling curtains, so if you have the windows to do this with, go for it! Sure, drapes like these might seem a little whimsical, but because they make a dramatic statement with their billowing shape and beautiful length, it looks polished, too.
5. Coordinate colors, don’t match them.
Looking like your entire set up was purchased from the same aisle of the same store is boring and reminiscent of Target ads for dorm rooms. I, for one, had tons of cheap, plastic, brightly-colored things that all were bought simultaneously (or at least meant to match) and scattered them about my room. Instead of looking put-together, my space just seemed hasty and lifeless.
Instead, try choosing a pair or family of colors. If you like cooler tones, go with navy, indigo and cornflower. If you want cooler tones but prefer a slightly warmer feel to them, then opt for aquas, turquoises and violets instead. My own current room is a medium yellow, so I chose pink curtains and quilts and some white wicker and yellow furniture to keep the space bright.
If you want some drama, try statement colors that contrast. My old housemate had an entirely white room with the wall her bed was attached to painted scarlet, then made all her accents white, red and black. It was gorgeous and no matter what she added to the room in those colors, it worked.
Lovelies, would you use any of these ideas for your own apartment? What ideas do you have to make spaces look more “adult” (in a non-porn way, that is)? And be sure to check out the gallery for some more fun ideas and beautiful examples!
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