14 Simple Ways to Make an Apartment a Home

by Mikey Rox on 19 March 2014 0 comments

Have you moved into a new apartment recently? Are you having trouble making it feel like it's yours? Check out these cheap decorating and design ideas that will turn your space from cold and drab to cozy and fab so you can feel at home again. (See also: Live Large in a Small Space)

1. Drape a Handmade Blanket on the Back of the Couch

Add personality to your couch by draping a hand-knitted blanket or afghan over the back of it. You can knit it yourself if you have the skills, enlist a family member who likes to crochet, or find one that suits your style on a site like Etsy. The blanket will add a little more life to your living room (so long as you don't choose something bland and boring), and it'll comfort you when you're ready to cuddle up with a good book or when you're watching TV. If you get a really good afghan, it might even serve as a focal point in your room a la "Roseanne." Remember that one?

2. Hang Curtains Instead of Blinds

Blinds are easy to manage, but they don't have the same hominess that curtains do. You can pick up curtains from all kinds of places, but I personally recommend thrift shops (where you can sometimes find really cool vintage ones) or the fabric shop. Granted, the latter doesn't sell ready-made curtains, but you can find all kinds of patterns and styles that you can turn into one-of-a-kind curtains if you're handy with scissors and a sewing machine. Curtains are versatile for sure, but the best part is that they can be changed, unlike blinds. You can switch them out seasonally, for the holidays, or whenever you want to update the space. (See also: Cheap Home Decorating Ideas)

3. Add Ambience and Scent With Candles

Candlelight in a room instantly gives it a certain depth of ambience, whether the candles are on a windowsill, a coffee table, or as the centerpiece on your dining room table. The scent provided from the candles (if you like scented candles) will help you relax, and eventually you'll start associating your home with those nice feelings that your favorite scent gives you.

4. Use Lamps Instead of Overhead Lighting

Like candles, lamps provide a more relaxing kind of light than the large overhead lights you use to brighten up the whole room, helping you feel more at home when you're ready to kick back for the evening. There's also an aesthetic component to the lamps too, which allows you to infuse some of your personality throughout the house a bit more, and you can change or switch shades whenever you want to do something new. While lamps can be expensive, you can find lots of stylish, modern lamps at discounted prices at stores like Marshalls and HomeGoods. (See also: Finding the Best Stuff at HomeGoods)

5. Put a Tablecloth and Place Settings on the Table

There's nothing special about a bare table, but it's instantly transformed into an inviting place to share a meal with family and friends with the addition of a tablecloth and centerpiece. You can take it a step further by setting the places with plates, cutlery, and folded napkins — even if you're not expecting company. Looking at those place settings every day will make you feel like people belong in your home, and you might even be motivated to invite them over more often. (See also: 15 Easy Dinner Party Dishes)

6. Create an Original Piece of Art (Think Outside the Canvas)

There are very few things you can do to your apartment that will scream "you" aside from creating your own artwork. I have several of my own pieces hanging in my apartment, and they absolutely make me feel like this space is mine. Canvases are relatively cheap to pick up from the craft store, but you don't have to stick to that medium when creating your own personal masterpiece.

7. Place Plants in Bare Nooks and Crannies

Feel like a room needs something but you just don't know what? Try putting a plant in that space and see what happens. I've found that plants in the nooks and crannies of my apartment help fill the void, but they also add color, texture, and shape. Be smart about the type of plants you choose, however. If your apartment receives a lot of light, real plants may be ideal for you. Otherwise, you may want to invest in fake plants. They'll never grow, of course, but they won't die either — which is both a letdown and a hit on your wallet as plants can be pricey. (See also: Garden Ideas for Small Spaces)

8. Rearrange Your Furniture to Make Your Layout Cozier

Sometimes it's not what you add to the apartment that makes it feel like home but rather how you position what you already have. If a room doesn't feel comfortable to you for whatever reason, try rearranging your furniture to form a different layout. You might surprise yourself by what you come up with.

9. Pick Up a Can of Paint and Freshen Up a Room

It never ceases to amaze me by what paint can do to a room. Color can transform a space completely, giving you a whole new outlook on your apartment — and perhaps even more decorating and design inspiration. You can paint a whole room or an accent wall, or you can create a design with paint using tape laid out in a particular pattern. The possibilities are nearly endless with paint, and it's a relatively inexpensive solution that provides a big payoff.

10. Switch Up the Hardware on Your Cabinets, Drawers, and Dressers

Just because your cabinets, drawers, and dressers come with hardware doesn't mean you have to keep it. In fact, changing out hardware is a cheap design trick that allows you to add small pieces of your personality throughout the apartment without making major changes that could cost you your security deposit in the long run. Take a trip to any home improvement store to browse the selection of standard hardware, or hit up a local joint that specializes in more unique designs.

11. Line Your Counter With Containers and Appliances That Suit You

If you like to cook and bake, a great way to give your apartment a homier feel is to buy appliances and other kitchen items that speak to your style. These days it's easy to find toasters, coffee makers, tea kettles, storage containers, and everything else in fun colors, patterns, and prints that'll make you want to spend more time making the delicious dishes you love to eat and share. (See also: Learn to Love Cooking With These Kitchen Tricks)

12. Choose an Accent Wall to Wallpaper

Like paint, wallpaper can completely change a room, but I wouldn't recommend papering an entire room. Instead, choose one wall to accent with wallpaper. I personally prefer to paper a wall behind a piece of furniture — like my bed or couch — but it's ultimately your choice. Many home improvement stores have stopped selling wallpaper because of its waning popularity, but it's possible to find really dynamic paper online, including wallpaper that's easily removable. 

13. Lay Area Rugs Underneath Tables and on Large Bare Floors

Area rugs are another great way to bring a room together, add some of your personality, and create a focal point that draws visitors' eyes to an area that you want them to see and away from other areas you may not. IKEA has a great selection of fun, modern rugs at relatively affordable prices, but you also can find area rugs at discount stores like Target or Walmart.

14. Have Your Mother Visit and Criticize Your Cleaning Skills

Have you done everything on this list to make your apartment feel like home, but you still don't feel like you're there yet? It's time to call mom. Ten minutes into her visit she'll start rearranging your kitchen cabinets, judging your laundry-folding skills, and criticizing your cleaning habits. It's the only surefire way to get that at-home feeling without spending a single cent — not counting that bottle of wine you'll need, of course.

How do you make your place feel more like your home? Please share in comments!

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