Home Decorating Tips for Beginners, Buy this Not That
This post is sponsored by Cortland; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
What makes a house a home? You may think it’s effortlessly done overnight like on those home décor TV shows but truth be told, I have always preferred to curate a story over time. Everyone has a budget so where would you spend the cash when shopping for furniture? What’s worth saving up for and what can you DIY yourself? Today, I am sharing simple decorating tips for any budget and my biggest interior design mistake.
When you are apartment living, experience and community make up the heart of the home. Not all rental properties are created equal. When you are looking for your next convenient space to make a home, think about the location, amenities and service you will receive. Cortland has more than 20 communities across the Dallas/Fort Worth area with thoughtfully designed floorplans to welcome you home. How amazing would it be to wake up to the fitness centers and take a dip in the pool? Cortland truly focuses on providing hospitality to their residents. They offer the only 48-Hour Service-Completion Guarantee in the apartment industry. If you experience any maintenance issue, no matter what day it is, a service member will fix it within 48 hours or you live rent free until they do!
Now that you’ve found the perfect apartment as your blank canvas, the hardest part is over! Let’s have some fun decorating it! Most importantly, decorating it with pieces that make sense for your style and budget.
1. Favorite places to score the best furniture deal
We saved up for the biggest pieces in our home and got really creative for the rest. In my opinion, couches, beds, dining table and statement pieces that last over 5 years are best in neutral tones. Focus on quality and dimensions (we’ll talk more about that in tip 4), when finding the pieces that speak to you! Loving a pink couch right now? Will you in 3 years? How about a light grey version and overlay a pink Moroccan blanket and blush pillows? You get the same modern feel but the couch can serve you for many more years to come.
My most asked about decor piece is a vintage peacock chair. I still get questions about it on Instagram every time I share it. My favorite way to add character to the home is by introducing vintage/antique pieces thoughtfully. Especially when you’re renting, pieces like this that really feel like they represent you make your space feel more like it’s always been yours.
I found my peacock chair on Craigslist. Another great resource is Facebook market place and resell groups. Look for pieces with solid wood, easy to refinish or paint to give a new life.
2. Only buy what brings you joy
Sounds simple, right? Ask yourself, do I really love it? It’s not that easy when it comes to designing a space with function and budget in mind. I have the perfect example for you. Our home was built when wood paneling was in fashion. We have every type of paneling humanly imaginable in every room of the house. Wainscoting in the living room, chair rail in the dining room, built in cabinetry and paneling in the office, you name it, we have it. These design elements are considered an upgrade and would normally add value to the home except they caused a design nightmare.
All the wooden features were brown, outdated and covered in a coat of varnish so thick, it would take several runs to strip. When we first moved in the house, we didn’t have the budget to professionally paint every paneled room. Instead, I decided to design around the elements I hated. I chose the wall color to accommodate the brown paneling. Once thing led to another, I basically made every furniture decision to compliment brown paneled walls. This is one of the biggest home design mistakes I’ve made. I ended up with deep, dark grey walls settling on furniture that matched the space but didn’t speak to my style. I knew something had to change when the space just did not bring me joy. That’s when I knew to design according to elements that make you happy, instead of trying to accommodate things that you hated. We ended up painting all the paneling white, which immediately made the space brighter and more inviting! So, lesson here, buy only things that make you happy and speak to your style. Another fun tip is to swap out the fixtures for more modern updates. I love the look and modern lines in the Hunter Ceiling Fan line and totally feel like they elevate the space.
Decor pieces I love from this post:
When you’re renting, you can avoid your own wood paneling nightmare by choosing a space that’s well designed and to your liking. Cortland has a team on in-house designers who design spaces for great living experiences – so don’t settle for an apartment home you don’t love!
3. Mirrors vs Art Piece
I have the biggest commitment issue when it comes to wall art. We did not decide on a piece of art until 5 years into living in our home. I’ve read so many interior decorating blogs and loved the suggestion of art because it adds a lot of life and color but I couldn’t commit. If you are like me, mirrors and textiles are a great alternative to vibrant art pieces that compliment only a particular color scheme. Investing in mirror of various shapes can really add a lot of visual interest to the space. You also want to be mindful of the placement of the mirrors because of their reflections. I love placing mirrors opposite of windows, sources or light or a beautiful vignette to reflect a lively element.
My 2 favorite mirror shapes are round and full length with rounded corners. The Gold Round Stop Watch Mirror is an investing piece from Varaluz. The Black rounded Full Length Mirror is by Holly and Martin. Mirrors are also a fantastic solution to bounce light and interest for smaller spaces. Take this office for example. I placed the Varaluz gold mirror opposite of the floor to ceiling windows to add interest to the long back wall. The full body Holly & Martin mirror is extremely functional for the dressing area. I decorated it with a Pothos vine plant to brighten up the heavy metal black frames.
4. Consider Dimensions and measure EVERYTHING!
Years ago, when I worked in the custom clothing business, we had a saying “measure twice, cut once.” Same holds true for interior design. In fact, it’s more like measure twice, tape it out, look at it for a week and then order. No matter what furniture piece you are considering, you should always reflect on the scale. Buy the piece that fits the size of the space, always. No matter how much you may like the design of another piece, if it’s the wrong size, take it out of your cart!
So much of furniture shopping is done online these days, it’s sometimes very difficult to figure out the scale of the pieces and envision it in your own space. Some retailers have invented AI apps that scans your space and allows you to see furniture pieces in your setting before making the commitment. If you don’t have access to these apps, the best way to determine the scale of the furniture in your space is to tape it out with painter’s tape. If you’re renting, you’re not going to damage the walls doing this, so tape everything! I was confident in the measurement of our couch for the living room because we used blue tape to mark out the outline of the couch and sat in the imaginary space for a week before deciding it was the one. For our office make over, I used the same trick to buy an office desk. I was deciding between 2 styles and chose the clear glass table because it was ultimately the ideal length and depth for the space. Another tip, if you are decorating a small space, consider glass, lucid furniture or thinner legs (for chairs, tables and couches), it will give the room an airy, less clunky feel.
For more attainable and practical renting and interior design tips, follow Cortland’s in-house design team, Cortland Design, on Instagram!