5 Mistakes to Avoid When Decorating Your First Apartment

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Heather Jones
Heather Jones
I'm Heather, an author passionate about home improvements. My writing is your guide to making homes better. Let's explore easy ways to enhance your living spaces, from small fixes to exciting projects. Join me on a journey of making your house a cozy and stylish haven.

You are finally ready to strike out into the world. You are no longer living in your parents’ home or a dorm, but a real apartment that you get to make your own. Decorating an apartment is not exactly as easy as HGTV makes it look, however.

You do not have a television sized budget. You certainly do not have professional designers helping you. If you are moving to Chicago or a different new city you might not even have any friends to help you. 

Decorating your first apartment is a lot of fun if you know what not to do. You can make even the smallest space look cute, and original to you. Here are a few things to avoid while you try to decide how to decorate your first home.

Decorating first apartment

1. Ignoring the Lease Agreement

That piece of paper you signed is actually more than just something telling you how much you have to pay each month. It also says what you are not allowed to do in your apartment. It is very important to understand exactly what you agreed to

Some apartment buildings will say that you cannot create any permanent holes in the wall. Others will have rules about painting the walls or cabinets. There may even be rules about changing blinds and doorknobs. 

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Knowing what you are allowed to change and how to do the things you want without breaking your leasing terms is important. You do not want to lose your security deposit over something as silly as hanging a picture on a nail. So read your leasing agreement carefully before you start doing anything.

2. Going in Blind

An apartment is a small space to decorate. It is likely that your first apartment will be even smaller than a regular apartment. If you just start buying things and decorating without making a plan you are going to run into some problems.

Mainly space problems. It is very easy to make an apartment look overcrowded and cluttered. If you have a ton of pictures of friends and family that you want to hang up, you need to see how many you can hang without your walls feeling like they are closing in on you.

You would be amazed at how little furniture can make an apartment feel small. Measure every piece of furniture and exactly where you want it to go before you buy anything. It is going to be more important for you to be able to walk around your apartment than it is that you have a full-size couch. 

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3. Being Too Cheap

You aren’t exactly going to be dripping in money in your first apartment. Going for cheaper items is often more financially responsible. Especially when it is your first time buying furniture and decorations for yourself.

Having and sticking to a budget is important, but going the cheap route for every item is not always a great idea. Some items you might want to spring for to save money in the long run. Sometimes good furniture is an investment.

Buying a cheap lamp is probably fine. Buying a cheap mattress is not a good idea. Mattresses get a lot of use, and they need to be comfortable for you to get the best sleep possible. A good mattress is going to last you through several apartments. A bad mattress is wasting money and going to have to be replaced much sooner than is good for your bank account.

Being Too Cheap

4. Storing too Much

You are going to find lots of places and have lots of people telling you how important storage is in a small apartment. They are not wrong. Storage is absolutely your friend in an apartment.

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Overdoing storage, and filling your apartment with ugly containers is not the way you want to store your items. Buy a few cute storage options. A small amount of cute, functional storage containers is going to be much more useful than a ton of ugly storage.

A small, colorful container for your bathroom. Maybe a compact unit in your room for all the extra things you tend to collect. Even some hanging options in your kitchen. Just do not fill your whole apartment up with places to put things that just end up being an excuse to keep things you do not need around.

5. Buying Everything Immediately

It is very tempting to buy everything at once. You can go to one store and find just about everything you need. So you want to buy everything right then and start decorating. Shopping around is a much better idea.

If you buy everything in the first place you come across that has a few things you like you are at risk for overpaying. Price shopping for sets of furniture or individual items is usually a good way to make sure you get the best price. It is also a good way of seeing what else is out there.

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Buying everything at once might mean you miss out on something you really will want later. Being sure of what you are looking for and the price you want them at is a good way to go into buying anything. Getting over-excited and purchasing the first thing you like might lead to some serious purchase regret later.


Decorating your first apartment, or really any place that is all yours is super fun. It also requires quite a bit of planning and research. Starting with a budget and a plan is the best thing you can do for your home and wallet.


Make sure you price shop and plan for storage. Do not buy everything quickly and end up with a cluttered design you don’t love. Always measure to make sure your furniture will fit in the door and the space you want it in.

If you follow these tips you are much more likely to end up with an apartment you love. As well as a space that is not too cluttered or expensive. Your apartment should be a safe place for you to relax. So make it all yours. 

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