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Many of us do, or have lived in, an apartment at one time or another. Maybe it’s your own perfect corner of the world— a low-maintenance abode where you can lock the door, live your busy life, and come home to minimum work requirements. And in other cases, it’s a nightmare of dated flooring, grungy walls, aging appliances and windows, and bland walls. Because 9 times out of 10 you’re renting your apartment, you don’t want to invest any major funds in changing the structure and most of the time your lease won’t allow it anyways, so what do you do to make it your own?
Magic Mirror on the Wall
Mirrors are an easy way to create the illusion of more space, and they reflect light, which makes the whole room feel brighter and airier. Because in most apartments you only have windows on one side, mirrors are a great way to bring natural light into places it otherwise wouldn’t reach. There are so many different sizes, shapes and styles of mirrors to choose from now that they can also play a significant role in your décor, but don’t dominate a space the way a large piece of art might.
Grab a Paintbrush, Picasso
Read your lease and speak to your landlord first, but you’ll probably find that you’re allowed to paint your walls as long as you return them back to builder’s white (or whichever colour they were before) when you move out. Many places even give you the option to pay a fee of $75.00 or so when you leave, and they’ll take care of painting out the walls for you.
Some apartments have really bland walls, so adding some colour livens the space up or brightens it if there’s not a lot of light. Other places are already sporting a nice colour, but if can be fun to paint an accent wall if you want to add some dimension or unexpected vibrancy without major expense, work or fuss.
Wallpaper without the Commitment
While you may be allowed to paint your walls, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a landlord who is okay with you wallpapering your apartment. It can be difficult to remove and wallpaper designs tend to be quite subjective. Enter removable wall paper! Yes, that’s really a thing now, and it’s an awesome way to create a unique accent wall or to personalize a room. I wouldn’t recommend using it through your entire apartment as that can be a lot of pattern or design for the space to pull-off, but with all of the gorgeous colour and style options, you are sure to find an option you love.
A great trick for adding the feeling of higher ceilings to your apartment is to wallpaper the parameter of a room to about waist-high, then to paint the walls above it (or alternatively to choose a wallpaper that compliments the existing wall colour). This faux-panelling is a great and easy way to add colour or a bold design without overwhelming the space, and by breaking up the walls, it makes the room feel taller.
In the same vein as removable wallpaper, you can also get lovely repositionable decals and borders. These offer a unique new way to add personality to your walls but are easy to install and uninstall.
Sweep It Under a Rug
Flooring can be a tricky opponent, because unless the floor is damaged or ready for replacing, odds are it will stay whether you like it or not. If you’re not a fan of your apartment floors, rugs are your new bestie. You can use them to hide whatever flooring it is that has you cringing, and they add a terrific design element as well. Even if you’re happy with your apartment’s floors, rugs can be a handy way for creating designated spaces by breaking a room up a little, or even just for injecting some personality!
Smart Storage Solutions
StorageClutter is never your friend, but in a smaller space it can quickly make everything feel a bit congested and claustrophobic. Finding clever ways to store things is especially handy when it comes to apartment-living. It’s a great way to recognize storage options that you may otherwise not consider.
Look around—are there places you could be keeping things? Places like under your bed, above your kitchen counters, or even in your furniture (a chest coffee table or an ottoman that opens) all offer ample storage. Being smart about how you store things is also a good trick. For example, suitcases, which can take up a lot of room, can go inside of each other or even hold other items within them.
Closet organizers and removable shelving options, such as shoe racks, are also your friend. Anything that maximizes what you can keep in a closet or cupboard is going to be helpful. You want to make sure that your storage systems are easy to use, and for belongings you require with more frequency, they need to be accessible, otherwise you won’t put things away and pretty soon your apartment will look like you’re getting ready to film an episode of “Hoarders”.
Keep Things in Proportion
It can be easy to forget when you’re looking at furniture that the way it fits in a store or showroom is very different from how it will look in your apartment. It’s always smart to measure your rooms before furniture shopping so that you know how much space you have to work with, and can better visualize how a piece will fit into your home. You can still pull-off larger pieces, but you have to be smart about how they are working in a room. For example, if you have a larger couch, you don’t want to then have a huge love seat or massive chairs to go with it—this is too much for almost every apartment. Usually the room sizes are perfect for having one large anchor piece, then medium-sized companions for it.
Balconies Are Not Just for Romeo
If you’re fortunate enough to have a balcony, make sure you use it! Whether it’s home to your small barbecue or you’ve created an outdoor seating area, it gives you a whole added room to enjoy. Because they tend to be smaller, they’re the perfect spot to let your creativity run wild.
Have some potted plants and flowers; string some fairy lights; create a really cozy reading nook with some outdoor pillows and cushions; add a bright outdoor rug; the more inviting you make your outdoor space, the more apt you are to actually utilize it. The only warning I would interject is that you will have to store anything that lives on your balcony during the warmer months but needs a new location when the snow comes. Most outdoor furniture can be tarped, but keep this in mind so that when November comes you aren’t suddenly trying to shove a rooms-worth of stuff into your already-full spare closet.
Whether you chose your apartment for location, rent price, out of desperation or because it was love at first sight, you can transform it into your home with some easy, inexpensive tricks and consistent TLC. It’s about giving a space personality, and making it into a place you are happy to spend your time in. What are some ways that you personalize your apartment?

Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald


Alexandra Kelter

Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.