Happy MLK Day! I hope some of you are enjoying a day off on this sunny – albeit freezing – day on the east coast.

I might as well just get right into it. I’m frustrated with the decorating options in my apartment. And do you know what’s even more frustrating than not liking how your apartment is decorated? Living with someone who, if he didn’t live with you, would probably be sleeping on a mattress on a floor with some blankets piled on top. Sigh. He can’t help it, I was born with the unfortunate fortune of having an interior decorator mother and a photographer father. Growing up my house was always styled, symmetrical and gorgeously laid out. Living in a one-bedroom apartment in Hoboken ain’t got nuffin on my parents four bedroom colonial in Mendham.

If you’re renting you know the issues that come with decorating – limits on how and where you can paint, questionable flooring, limited light, small spaces. Recently while bargaining to have the living room and hallway painted in our apartment, I thought I was going to have an aneurysm explaining to my land lady why I needed my walls to be French Grey and not the 20 years + old wallpaper that was peeling off onto the floor. Thankfully Dan got the hint and managed to get everything worked out without the requisite hospital stay.

There are plenty of other ways that I’ve thought up to bring cohesion to the place that won’t elevate my blood pressure. Here are a few I’ve done successfully already and a few I’m planning and working on in the next few weeks:
  • A new lease on life: We all have some ugly piece of furniture in our place. In my case it’s a bookcase that Dan bought from Target. It’s glaring white and made of particleboard. Shudder. Anyway, instead of “putting it in storage” a.k.a. hiding it from sight until we forget that it exists, I decided to turn it into a much-needed pantry for the kitchen. I measured a piece of fabric to the length and width of the open side of the case. Then I took some shiny brass tacks (the kind you would use on a bulletin board) and tacked the fabric over the opening. Ta-da! Now I have snazzy pantry hidden behind some fabric. I’m going a step further too. I’m going to hem the fabric and give it a more polished edge. I’ve also bought contact paper and I’m going to line the shelves with a pop of color!
  • Accessorize: Sometimes it just takes the right amount of accessories to personalize and warm up a space. I personally love roaming HomeGoods when I’m home visiting my parents. Lots of affordable rugs, candles and kitchen goodies to make your space shine. I also spend a good deal of time on OneKingsLane. It’s a little pricier, but sometimes you can get some crazy good deals on books, art, furniture and more! Don’t be afraid to accessorize ladies and gents! Your place becomes so much more personal with flair.
  • Paint makes everything new again: Similar to the first point, if there is something old and tired – say that chest of drawers you lugged with you from home, to graduate school, back home to two more apartments? Don’t get rid of it just yet! Paint it to match your new décor. This is especially worthwhile if the item is wood. Wood can get expensive! First sand the item down. Then if the original color if dark, paint a primer white all over. Make sure to paint the interiors of the drawers. You will see these parts. Let sit and when the primer is dry give the piece two good coats of a paint of your choice. Be fun with it! If you have a dark room, paint your bureau pink and add some fun drawer pulls.

These are just a couple of suggestions. Sometimes all you need to freshen up a look are some new throw pillows or a new coffee table book.

I’d love to hear any suggestions that you have in the comments!

Cohabitable is written by Ali Plante, you can find her on twitter:  @cohabitable


  1. I've been trying to do the same thing this year! Would love to see some before and after pics!

    Also, this look has been amazing inspiration! http://sweetlifealacarte.com/2012/01/03/new-years-resolutions/

  2. that was a lot of exclamation points....lol

  3. One King's Lane is great - I have been enjoying perusing. Recent favorites of mine are homedecorators.com (thanks to apt therapy, I now know you can get a legit stylish couch for under $1,000 - unheard of!) and World Market which is like if HomeGoods and Pier 1 Imports (minus the ubiquitous damask pillows and overscented candles) had a love child in which you can actually shop online! xo