Please don’t buy everything all at once.
5 Things You Should Do When Furnishing a Small Apartment
Please don’t buy everything all at once.
Last year, I moved into my first solo apartment, a one-bedder in North Bondi that I knew I wanted to live in from the moment I stepped into it. After always living with housemates, I wanted a fresh start with my décor and furniture. It ended up taking me four (very long) months to sell all the home pieces I no longer wanted and move in all that I did.
Now, I couldn’t be happier with my setup, and looking back, I think this can be directly attributed to a few reasons, which I’m sharing below. While some are specific to my apartment’s features (or lack thereof), and the décor aesthetic I wanted (to feel like you’ve taken a giant exhale as soon as you walk in), they’re worth considering if you too are moving into a new (small!) place and you want it to feel styled but uncluttered.
1. I made sure I had enough storage
As soon as I moved into my apartment, I realised I didn’t have any closets or storage areas. I knew I needed to have enough storage so everything I owned had a place. So I bought a bed with a mattress frame that lifts to reveal storage underneath. I also bought a tall cabinet that I put in my kitchen to use for towels, bedding and my vacuum. And I use a TV unit I already had for gifts, candles and anything I need for dinner parties, such as tablecloths, napkins and place mats.
Whenever I have guests over, they always comment on how airy and orderly my space seems – with no idea everything’s stashed away, out of sight.
2. I started with a neutral base
Another thing that contributed to my satisfaction with my setup is that I started my home’s décor with a neutral base. Most of my furniture is either light wood or white, to give myself space to evolve my style over time.
I love colour and naturally gravitate towards colourful décor, so this neutral base allowed me to inject it in without ever looking like “too much” and feeling cluttered, which can easily happen in a small apartment. I’m not saying to not go for statement, colourful furniture or big homewares pieces –but if you’re going for a breezy feel at home, and know you love colour (and continually adding to your home), think about starting with a neutral base.
3. I didn’t buy too much stuff
You know when you go into a boutique designer store and the clothes are all on wooden hangers, evenly spaced? You end up treating the pieces with so much more care and appreciating them so much more than if they were on plastic hangers, all crammed together on a rack.
I kept this “boutique designer store” mentality in mind when I furnished my apartment. I tried to make each piece of furniture and homewares I brought in deliberate – thinking about it if I really needed it, where I’d place it in my home and if I’d still love it in a years’ time. I still do this now with everything I bring in. This way, each piece in my home has more visual impact and the whole space feels curated.
4. I performed regular culls (and still do)
What if you already have too much stuff? Do like I did and cull! Or, in other words, edit your home. One of the smartest things I did before I moved into my apartment was to do a big cull, donating what I hadn’t worn or used in a year to friends and charity. I continue to do culls regularly, mostly from my closet, forever striving for that “boutique designer store” feel. A good motto for small apartment dwellers to live by is “one thing in, one thing out”. I’m not as precise as that and will usually do batch culls. Also, as a regular cull-er, I can promise you: 99.9% of the time, you’ll never want again, let alone think about, whatever it is you’ve gotten rid of.
5. I didn’t buy everything all at once
If you’re wanting to create a home space that feels and looks like “you”, this right here is my biggest tip: don’t buy everything for it all at once. There are three benefits of doing this, in my opinion: 1) with more time on your hands, you can often save by getting pieces on sale or second-hand, 2) you can build a space filled with items you truly love, and 3) you’ll understand what your space needs because you’ve had a chance to live in it.
It was only after living in my place for a couple months that I realised I needed more food preparation space, so I bought a kitchen island. It was only after having dinner parties in my lounge room with the harsh room light did I discover I needed a floor lamp. If I’d bought everything I thought I needed for my apartment right off the bat, I doubt I would’ve gotten it right.
While it was painful to not have my home looking exactly how I wanted it right after I moved in, I’m glad I took the time to put some thought into my space. In fact, it’s something I think every time I walk in and feel that metaphorical giant exhale – exactly as I’d imagined.