Since we got the keys to our apartment at the beginning of March, we had endless discussions about how to furnish it. We shared ideas, looked for inspiration and advice and tried to merge two visions into one.
Furnishing an apartment is not an easy task, nor is it cheap. We would like to do it once and do it right. We wanted to be sure we know what we want our space to look like beforehand, search for pieces accordingly, shop wisely and put it all together and have a lovely apartment at the end.
For every project, you need a plan. And if you do something for the first time, you also need an inspiration, advice, help to clarify your style and guidance on how to start. I spent hours reading blogs, scrolling through Instagram accounts and listening to podcasts to get all that. I shared my favorite sources of inspiration in home design here in case you are looking for some inspiration yourself.
As I was gathering the information I learned several things:
You are furnishing a given space
No matter what you ideas, preferences, and dreams are, you should start with apartment’s dimensions, floor plan, light conditions, etc. For example, I like big kitchens with kitchen island, and I’m sure that with my love for cooking I could use the full potential of such kitchen. But in this apartment, it’s impossible to have a kitchen island because of the dimensions we are working with. Or, I like dark wood floors, but because of this apartment’s floor plan, rather small windows and its location on the first floor, dark floors would make it look like a dungeon.
It’s also good to look for inspiration images with similar spaces. If you are furnishing a house, search for houses. If you are working with a small apartment look for ideas for small apartments. It seems like a no-brainer, but when you are scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest, it’s easy to forget that your space is maybe half the size of the ones you are loving and pinning.
Start with the big things
Things like a sofa, kitchen cabinets or built-in closets and libraries are things that are burdensome and costly to change later. It’s better to start with deciding on the bigger, more expensive items, making sure they go work well in your space and together. To put the room together, you finish with smaller items, like pillows, blankets, curtains, decorations, etc.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about the small things. It’s always a good idea to have a clear picture of how you would like your room to look like at the end but over the course of doing your design project, things can change, and it’s easier to adjust the small things. One non-obvious “small” thing is paint color. It’s easier to paint an empty room, but at the end, you might realize the paint color looks different when you have furniture in the room. It’s easier to have things in and then select a perfect color and paint the room.
Styled vs. lived-in
It’s easy to envy someone else’s apartment, or house, or room when you see it on Pinterest or Instagram. But the thing is, all these spaces are styled to look good. All the non-picture-perfect items are removed before a photo shoot, and only nice decoration is sparingly displayed.
It’s good to think about your space in the context of everyday life. You should think about how many things you have, what things you want to display, what you use every day vs. once in a while, how many people lives in etc. It will help you determine how much storage space you need, whether open shelves would work for you etc. You want your apartment to look good, not only on a day when it’s freshly finished but every single day you live there.
Keep in mind who lives there
Whether you are doing or redoing you own space or someone else’s don’t forget to consider who lives there. Everyone has different needs and want’s. Some people don’t cook so they don’t need a big kitchen even if space permits it. Some prefer cooler color, some warmer. There are people who like a minimalistic and modern style, others prefer traditional and rustical design. Older people have different needs than a family with young children or young couple.
There are design styles and styling tips for everyone. Don’t conform to a trend only because it’s in, and it seems like everyone likes it. First and the most important thing is for people who live in an apartment, house or room to feel at home there, to have it designed, furnished, and styled to their preferences.
In the process of looking for inspiration, I found many images of beautiful spaces that helped me find the style I prefer, clarify what I would like our apartment to look like, what kind of furniture to look for and what colors I like to look at. Here are some those pictures: