My passion for interior decorating has been simmering below the surface for most of my life. From my first decorating scheme of red roses everywhere to a tropical beach theme, I’ve experimented a lot (thanks to some very nice parents). It has definitely taken me some time to find my own style. When I finally had the opportunity to decorate an entire apartment, I was so excited. I think it ultimately came out OK for a first place. I did, however, learn a few things that I’m taking with me as we prepare to revamp our new rental here in Berlin. Check out my biggest takeaways below and let me know what your biggest lessons have been in your interior decorating journey in the comments below!
FIND YOUR STYLE
This is probably the biggest takeaway from all that exploring – find YOUR style and you’ll be much happier in your space.
When my husband and I moved into our first place in 2016, I was so excited to finally get to decorate a place almost from scratch (given that we only had bedroom furniture). We moved into a brand new, luxury style building in Brooklyn, and because of that I chose to decorate in a very clean, modern style. Some of the pieces we picked I absolutely loved while others were much less exciting to me.
Part of what I loved about Brooklyn (and also now Berlin) is the industrial, funky, artsy vibe of the area. When I first started thinking about decorating our new place, I explored places nearby including the Brooklyn Flea Market. I loved old metal signs, like these from The Muse Paint Bar, and I think both of us had envisioned a more loft style apartment.
Unfortunately, we didn’t live in a funky, cool loft so we felt these kinds of pieces wouldn’t fit. This was, I think, our first mistake. Sure, it may have taken more work to give our “white box” style apartment the loft look we wanted, but had we taken the time to do that I think we would have loved the end result. Instead, we tried to fit the decor style to the apartment. While it turned out OK, we ended up with a lot of pieces I wasn’t sad to part with when we moved (which I guess was a good thing). Looking ahead to our new place, we’re going with the style we love and working to make the apartment what we envision, rather than the other way around.
This is the second biggest thing I’m thinking about as we prepare to move to our new place. When I decorated our last place, I gave minimal thought to how we would use the space and what we really needed. I took my inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest posts that were probably from staged homes. While the furniture meshed well and looked good, it wasn’t always that functional.
For example, we went with a clean black TV stand, with no bells or whistles and it looked good in the space. However, it ended up being a dusty mess of cords and random stuff we didn’t know what to do with. Knowing this, I’ve decided that for our next TV stand, I want something with cabinets where all that mess can be hidden away. I know it’s unrealistic to expect that area to stay clean and organized, so why fight it?
This is a lesson I’m taking with me throughout the new apartment. For every space, before we buy furniture, I’m considering what we use the space for and how can we best style the space while maintaining functionality.
A beautifully decorated room does nothing for you if you can’t use it well.
SCALE (AND DEPTH)
Finally, something I didn’t love about our last living room that I’m working to resolve this time around is scale. For the most part, I think the room flowed well, but the coffee table is clearly too small for the space. I loved that it was geometric and simple and matched the rug well, but it looks a little off in the room. A larger table would have filled the space better and probably made the room feel more complete.
Additionally, the gallery wall needed a few bigger pieces to really fill out the space. I’m very particular about the art we use in our home, so this made things a little more difficult. I like everything to be personal and have some connection to our lives. We are constantly adding to our collection, however, so hopefully we’ll get there someday.
This wasn’t a huge issue in the old apartment and would have been easy to fix, but it is definitely a mistake I hope not to make in the new apartment. I’m ready to take some risks with larger furniture and artwork this time around!
Finally, we kept the walls completely white in our last place, which resulted in a complete lack of depth. This can be challenging with a rental, but nowadays there are so many options for removable wallpaper that even renters can change things up! Having even one accent wall really creates interest and gives the room more dimension. We’ve already added some color to our new place and we have big plans for all the rooms.
OK, so those are the 3 main lessons I learned from decorating our first apartment! Hopefully the pictures will improve in the coming weeks – thanks for hanging in there, anyone who’s reading this. 🙂
I’d love to hear what you think and what you’ve learned as well! Comment below!