Our living room in the apartment. I think we thought by throwing a wagon wheel from The Christmas Trees Shop on the wall, it would give it that "rustic" look we wanted. We were obviously wrong.
It's funny that Ali's Cohabitable post this week was all about decorating an apartment, as this is something Eric and I have been trying to figure out for over two years. We live in a pretty big, 2 bedroom apartment on the second floor of a house. The kitchen is oddly big for an apartment, because all four rooms of ours were originally large bedrooms. In that way, we were lucky. The one thing we had the hardest time figuring out was what to do with the walls. As Ali mentioned about her near heart attack over wall color, it's hard to live with plain white walls! So, we have tried everything, every trick in the book, to spruce up our walls. Furthermore, I think the most important thing about decorating an apartment is realizing: it's not a house. It will never be a house. Even though it may be a tad difficult to decorate an apartment (and we obviously did some things right, our bedroom was featured on Sweet Home Style a while back--it's really the kitchen and living room we never could figure out), an apartment is a fantastic way for a young couple to start out, as Ali and I know, and like she mentioned, there are little ways to spruce things up...even if they are out of the box a bit.
  • Sometimes the best way to break up a white wall is to put a piece of art up...but art can be pricey. Our solution? We found a bunch of 2011 calendars that were on sale (we like Lang calendars, because we haven't given up on that "Early Americana Rustic" thing we have been striving for) and decided that we would cut them up, frame the pictures we liked, with wooden frames from Michaels, and hang them on the wall over that loveseat in the living room (above, the one currently with the giant and dark painting over it--that was a thrift store find for $20). By using calendars, we saved a ton of money! One calendar on Amazon is about $12, or if you wait until right after Christmas, it's less, so that's about $1 a picture. Get a cheap frame, and you can have your own little inexpensive, but beautiful artwork, gallery. 
  • When we first moved into the apartment, we went to Bobs and picked out some well-priced leather couches. However, when they tried to move them into the apartment, it just wasn't going to work. The space between our "front door" and the hallway wall was just too short. So, it was back to the drawing board and I found Home Reserve--the couches you build yourselves! We bought their "leather" couches and during one snowy weekend two years ago Eric built both the loveseat and the sofa. Why are these couches so cool? Well, for one, you can build them yourself, take them apart when you move, and then rebuild. Two, you can change arms, slipcovers, and styles of them very easily. Three, they have storage under each seat! Perfect for an apartment dweller. Are they super comfortable? Well, if you resign yourself to the fact that they simply aren't a leather couch, then they're okay. Will we be using them forever? No. Have they been fine to use for over two years? Yes. Have people slept on them? A ton of times. They're a great option for apartments, and, in terms of decorating, they offer a ton of fabric choices (and pet-friendly fabrics!) which could easily help to decorate a drab place. 
  • Shelves! Shelving is a fantastic, and cheap, way to decorate a blank wall. We got wooden shelves from Ikea, with black scroll-like braces, which we put around the perimeter of our kitchen. Just make sure to nail the shelves into studs, or use wall mounts (I don't know the technical term for these...Eric hung all the shelves). 
  • If you're like Ali or myself (our significant others are musicians) you could hang instruments on the wall! Have a giant blank white wall? Hang three ukuleles or banjos, and not only are they great decoration, but a conversation piece when people come over. 
  • And the cheapest decorating move: raid your parents and grandparents house. I went up to my grandmother's attic and took some paintings and old frames she wasn't using. My mother lent me a big farm (again, the rustic theme) painting for the kitchen. The paintings were already framed, and I borrowed them, so not a dime spent! 
  • However...don't forget about thrift shops! We bought the huge painting in our living room from a thrift shop on the south shore of LI; it was way up high on the wall in the shop, so we had to ask them to take it down, for but $20, it was worth it! (Tip: in flea markets and big thrift shops, look up! Often they have paintings high on the walls.)
Okay lovelies, I know many of you live in apartments? So...how do you decorate them? 


  1. It's always great to find time to decorate your apartment. The key is creativity and resourcefulness so you won't have to keep on buying stuff. Remember to work with what you have. If you can repaint something, then do so. If you want to add some sort of ornament you do not have, then acquire it from a thrift shop. Again, be creative!

  2. So true! I am eager to repaint my stuff and change out the hardware! Creativity is the key, you are right!