Are you living in a glorified storage locker with plumbing? A lot of apartments can feel that way with their bland walls, boring floors and generic venetian blinds. Your furniture and belongings can look more like they’re being stored in this beige space, than occupying a room in a home.
The trick is creating a cohesive decor that brings everything together using color and style. Whether you want to go Minimalist, Romantic, or Rock ‘n’ Roll, it can be hard to make a home from a rental space especially when your landlord won’t even let you paint. However, it can still be done!
Pick a Design Scheme
A design scheme can be an era, like Victorian or Art Deco; it can be a theme, like a 1950’s Diner, or woodsy cabin; or it can simply be a visual aesthetic, like “only black and white and harsh angles”, or “pinks and greys with lots of soft furnishings”. Whatever you pick, ruthless, especially if you have a small space. Put anything that doesn’t match into a closet or otherwise out of sight. It doesn’t take a lot of mismatched clutter to defeat the harmony of a design scheme.
Picking a design scheme works best if you can find some kind of common ground between your possessions and your space. If you live in a newish, bland apartment block with white walls and you have a lot of put-it-together-yourself Swedish furniture, “Modern and Sleek” will be easier and cheaper to do than “High Gothic Victorian”!
Tie Together the Colors You Can’t Change with Colors You Like
You’re stuck with the ceiling, the walls the floor, and kitchen countertops. My first apartment had an insipid beige ceiling and walls, an industrial grey/blue carpet that looked like it came out of an insurance office and worn laminate Counters printed with a phoney woodgrain pattern.
Nice! The trick here is to find or make slip covers, throw rugs, cushions and drapes that use these insipid colors-but as subtle accents in a pattern to create the impression that you chose the beige walls and the industrial carpet and well, maybe not the Countertops! No good at picking colors that go together? Never fear, you don’t have to!
First you need good examples of the colors in your space. For the wall color, pick up a large selection of paint sampler cards in whites and beiges, for example, from your local paint seller and take them home to compare to the walls. Mark the color that matches and keep this sample in your purse or wallet to reference on shopping trips.
For the flooring, look for a hidden area where there is excess carpet or vinyl you can trim off without defacing the apartment. In my case, lifting the heat register grates revealed several centimeters of excess material I Could trim off. Armed with these samples, your shopping can begin! The manufacturers of fabric and wall paper pay very talented designers to create patterns using colors hat harmonize.
Make those artists work for you! Look for a patterned fabric that uses your wall color and your carpet color in small doses. Remember to keep your design scheme in mind when you choose your pattern. What other colors are in the pattern? Make sure you like them as you’ll be using this pattern as your “palette of colors” from now on!
You know these colors will “go” with your carpet and walls because the designer chose them to work together in this fabric. Now that you know your colors it’s time to start dressing the room. If you like a lot of pattern, choose one large item and make it from the patterned fabric. It might be the sofa or a set of full-length drapes, but only choose one thing.
If you discover an area-rug that has all the colors you want, use that instead as your large patterned item. If you aren’t really fond of pattern, choose something small, like a lampshade or a throw cushion. There should be something in the room, even something small, tat as all the colors combined to tie everything together and serve as a reference. Once you’ve chosen your patterned item, make everything el se solid colors chosen from that fabric. If your sofa is now a multi-colored floral, pick the green from the floral for your drapes, use the burgundy of the roses for your armchair, your area-rig can be the navy-blue of the tulips and so on. Now the flooring looks like one more solid colored item inspired by the colors in the patterned fabric.