First Apartment Checklist

August 31, 2016

A young lifestyle blogger highlights the decor that works best in first apartments.

In between take-out boxes and hand-me-down furniture, first apartments can easily look less spiffy than we set out for them to be. But in modern times, it’s much easier to pull off a stylish look in spite of a small floor plan and budget. To get advice from someone who’s close to the subject, we turned to Atlanta-based blogger Kevin O’Gara of Thou Swell. A student at Cornell University’s Design and Environmental Analysis program, Kevin spends quite and bit of time and energy considering small-space living. Here, he shares a checklist with us of the items that every first apartment could use, broken down by room.

Living Room

1. Flexible seating
The key to mastering the art of small-space living is to think about how each piece can multi-function in your space. The easiest place to start is with seating— like using chairs in your living room that can easily pull up to the dining table when you want to entertain.

2. Throw pillows
While a nice sofa is a great piece to invest in from the start, they’re one of the most expensive pieces in the living room. If you just can’t budget for a new sofa, throw pillows are key to upgrading your space. Using a sophisticated mix of pillows will instantly transform your look, and bring some color and pattern to the room.

3. Mirrored furniture
Although everyone knows to use wall mirrors in small spaces, bringing the power of mirrored surfaces closer to the ground has an even greater impact. Using mirrored side tables can reflect light into corners and almost becomes invisible through its illusory powers!


4. Low bed
In small bedrooms, it’s helpful to use a low-lying platform bed to expand the room. This prevents a big visual block when you walk into the room, and gives the illusion of a taller ceiling. The trick to pulling off a lower bed is to keep the rest of the furniture in the room in scale—meaning low-lying side tables and dressers as well.

5. Luxe textiles
From bedding to curtains, textiles are the main focus in the bedroom. To create an extra-comfortable bed, use at least three layers of pillows including standard, euro, and throw pillows. Extend your ceiling height by using floor-to-ceiling curtains and choose lined curtains with a high-quality fabric to ensure a beautiful drape.


6. Shower curtain
The easiest way to upgrade a small or outdated bathroom is to add an interesting shower curtain, especially if you’d like to cover an unsightly shower or bathtub. In a small space, stick to a lighter, more simple palette.

7. Bath accessories
Bring some coordination to your bathroom with a matching set of accessories (such as a canister, soap disk, and toothbrush cup). Not only can you bring a luxe material like marble to the space, but they also add storage and organization to the room and prevent clutter.

8. Bathroom mirror
If you can change the mirror in your bathroom, it’s well worth the upgrade to bring a large focal point to the room. CB2’s selection includes many large wall mirrors and mirrored cabinets with clean lines that would work perfectly in any style bathroom.


9. Sleek stools
Counter-height seating is the most comfortable part of a kitchen, so it’s important to choose stools that bring a little sophistication to the space. Add some shine with metal stools or a luxe material like leather to upgrade the space.

10. Pendant lights
You’ll want to keep things pretty bright in the kitchen for an energizing space that’s easy to work in. If you’re lacking in the lighting department, pendant lights can easily be added for extra task lighting or more ambient lighting above the counter.

11. Kitchen cart
If you can squeeze a cart or rolling island into your kitchen, it adds a lot of functionality to the space including an extra workspace and shelves for easy-to-access storage space. A rolling cart can also function as a kitchen island or eating space when space is really tight.

Finishing Touches

12. Art and Wallpaper
Hanging art—framed prints, paintings, posters—in a small space instantly injects color and energy. Another easy way to add a lot of punch to the room is with a patterned wallpaper. If you’re worried about overwhelming the room, stick to a particular area like an accent wall or the backs of your cabinets/shelving.

13. Baskets and bins
Find ways to hide clutter with pretty baskets, bins, and canisters. They can make the most nitty gritty household items (paper waste, cleaning supplies) so much more visually appealing.

14. Accent lighting
Often at night it’s best to use accent lighting rather than overhead lights for a less harsh look. Sconces are perfect answer for casting a soft glow that will create a more soothing environment.


CATEGORIES: design lab