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Tips for Furnishing a Small Apartment

Turn a Rental Into "Home Sweet Home"

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Tips for Furnishing a Small Apartment

This small office space can close up for privacy.

Decorating a first, second, or tenth apartment can be a challenging process. For most renters, the question might be "why spend the time and effort on a space I’ll never own?"

There are many ways to "glam" up an apartment without investing a large sum of money. You can find wonderful, vintage pieces of furniture at secondhand stores and yard sales. Check out stores such as IKEA, Home Goods, and Cost Plus World Market. They offer great options for stylish décor and affordable furniture pieces. Be sure to choose pieces that reflect your personal style. Invest more in items that you can take with you and can be used in future homes.

To bring vibrancy to any room, rented or owned, introduce color. If allowed by your landlord, add an accent wall with paint. Be careful of the color you chose because colors are often associated with moods. For example, shades of green are a good choice for a bedroom because of this hue's calming influences. If you can't paint, you can add color through your bedding, window coverings, and artwork.

As you begin to select furnishings for your new, small, perhaps temporary home, think of the main ways you'll be using the space. Everyone's needs are different--to some extent. But everyone needs a place to sleep, to relax, to eat, to work, and to store things.

Regardless of your lifestyle, any home turf should to be ready to provide you with the main needs of living. Plan your space and purchases to meet those needs and fit the space available.

  • Bedroom
    Whether you "crash" or "escape" to your apartment, you'll need a bed. Choose the best bed you can afford and the largest one that will fit your space. Add a night stand or bedside table and lamp. If the space will allow, add a comfortable chair.
  • Living Room
    If your apartment is really small, this room will probably need to be multi-functional. You should find a chair or two or a loveseat or sofa. Add a television and sound system and you'll be ready to entertain guests and relax. Use either wall-mounted or free-standing shelving to store books and display knick knacks you may have. Add color and comfort with an area rug.

  • Kitchen
    Some small apartments have a closet-size kitchen and many apartments provide the appliances you'll need. In any case, you will need a safe place to cook and store food. A microwave, cook-top, and mini-frig would fit even the smallest space. A real luxury would be a small seating area that would hold a bistro table and pair of chairs.

  • Office
    I don't know many people who don't do at least some work at home. A desk would be a luxury in a really small apartment. But you'll need some place for your computer, a comfortable working chair, and storage for your office supplies and books.

  • Storage
    Try to be creative when it comes to storage. Every inch of a small apartment will be used for some necessary purpose. Hang a broom and mop from wall-hooks. Use under-bed boxes for cleaning supplies. Install shelving around the top of the walls for linens, tissue, out-of-season clothes, and extra bedding.

It may seem as though it would cost a lot of money to establish a comfortable, chic, and workable small apartment. But if you keep the basics at the top of your list, you’ll probably realize quickly that you don’t need a huge budget to accomplish your goal of a comfortable temporary home. Be patient. Don't try to get everything at one time. Buy as the need arises. Keep the big picture in mind.

Keep the main functions of your home in mind as you begin the process of transforming an apartment from a dull and boring space to one that's dazzling and chic.

Robin White contributed to this article.

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