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Apartment Decorating Tips

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Your Dallas apartment locator at J. Ellis has helped you find the perfect townhome, loft or apartment in Grapevine, Lewisville, Plano, Irving, Las Colinas, Bedford, downtown Dallas, uptown Dallas, or somewhere else in the DFW metropolis. You have moved in. Now what? How can you make your new home more “you”? It is probably just a blank, empty box with white walls at the moment. How can you add more spice to your space? Where do you start?

When you open the door to your apartment, what room do you see first? Is it the living room? The dining room? Usually the first thing you see is what you, and visitors, will base their opinion on of the entire apartment. So, this is a good place to start. Here are some common problems that people hate about their apartment and want to address, along with some suggestions on how to improve each challenge:

1. CLUTTER- You can live in the most beautiful rental community and occupy an amazing space with the most luxurious finishings and open floor plan, but if you fill that awesome space with clutter, then suddenly you feel like you are in a very cheap, run down garbage dump. Getting rid of clutter is the single most important thing you can do to improve the look of your apartment, townhome or loft. Less is definitely more.

Start with the obvious....make sure that you do not have too much furniture for your room. Too many mis-matched pieces adds to a feeling of clutter as well. Too many mismatched pillows or throws on the couch also contributes to the problem. Allow for as many open spaces as possible when spacing out your furniture. Unless your room is very large, try to avoid dividing off part of the room by putting a couch or any other piece of furniture, in the middle of the room. Keep the room as open as possible by putting furniture against the walls instead of placing them at right angles in the middle of the room. This adds to a feeling of spaciousness and avoids creating a tight, cramped space.

The only exception to this rule is if you have a very large room, such as an industrial warehouse loft, where there are no walls and you have one completely open floorplan. In that case, you can use furniture to divide off spaces in place of the walls.

Next, do not over clutter the walls. One nice painting on a wall of average size is enough. Or perhaps a grouping of a few smaller pictures. Once again, too many mis-matched frames and unrelated pictures will add to the sense of clutter.

Finally, use knick knacks sparingly. If you have a large collection, consider getting a curio cabinet, and put them all in the cabinet. One or two nice things on a coffee table, or on an end table, for instance, is usually enough. Don't over clutter the fireplace mantel with knick knacks. Again, only a few items is generally enough. If those items are solid color (for example, a solid white stone sculpture or a glass clock), then you can get away with a little more. But if the items are “busy”, then have fewer of them.

Another important action to take is to organize and hide away as many books, dvds, blurays, cds, or other miscellaneous loose stuff as you can. Use an entertainment center with doors that will hide this clutter. Some coffee tables and end tables even have drawers that are very useful for hiding this stuff. If your entertainment center doesn't have specific doors for this use, but it has shelves, then put the items in baskets or storage boxes and slide them onto the shelf. Or if you have PLENTY of floor space, you might consider getting one of the many ottomans or footstools on the market today that open up to allow for hidden storage.


2. MY APARTMENT IS TOO EMPTY- Perhaps you have the opposite problem of clutter. You have too many empty spaces because you don't have enough furniture or decorations. Perhaps you haven't acquired them yet. It's better to be in this position, starting with a blank slate, then to be faced with the challenge above where you have too many things and have to consider what to get rid of and how to arrange your things better.


There are basically two recommended ways to get started. One method allows you to start by shopping for a really great painting or print that you can foresee hanging over a couch in the middle of your living room. Since pictures and paintings are usually colorful and somewhat busy, you would want a couch that is solid colored. For example, lets say that you find a painting at a local store that you really love, and it is an impressionistic scene of a field of red flowers. The colors in the painting are white, red, and light green with a little yellow. You decide to look for a couch (either fake leather or real leather) that is a neutral color of black. Once you find the couch, you buy a few toss pillows that are red and yellow.

The second method is to start with the couch and build around it, rather than starting with the painting. Go shopping for a couch that you really love. Once you have one, THEN shop for the artwork to hang above it. If you are an artist, paint something yourself. Otherwise, you have to invest some time shopping.

Sometimes this method of decorating is a little bit more challenging because you can always take your picture with you from furniture store to furniture store and hold it up to various couches until you find one that matches and looks great with the painting. But you can't carry your sofa around with you when you are shopping for the artwork. So some people prefer to start with the artwork rather than starting with the sofa. If you happen to find the sofa first, though, then here are some suggestions when you go shopping for the painting:

Some new sofas come with a little scrap of extra material attached to the bottom of the couch. You can pull it off and use it to take with you to compare and find artwork and accessories that match. Sometimes the furniture store can give you a scrap of matching material. Otherwise, take a picture, in as bright a light as possible, of your couch. Hold up the resulting picture. Are the colors of your couch in the picture a true representation? If so, then use the picture to bring with you when you shop for artwork. Finally, another suggestion is to do your shopping for artwork Online at home while looking at your couch. Hold up your tablet or laptop to the couch when considering a piece of art to buy, and see if it would look good with your furniture. There is one risk in shopping this way....the colors of the painting portrayed on your electronic device may not be exactly how they will appear in person. There is the possibility that the artwork will arrive and the color will look different in person. In which case you may have to send it back and start over if it does not match correctly.

Once you have your primary piece of artwork, and you have your couch, then you can shop for matching pillows (not too many and preferably not mismatched). It's okay to have pillows in 2 contrasting colors that match the artwork. For instance, a set of one red pillow and one yellow pillow on each end of the couch would be more than enough for an average sized couch. Any more than that would be too much. Or, just one red pillow on each end, in this example, would be sufficient. But avoid a red pillow on one end and a white pillow on the other end. This would be imbalanced. You could have 3 of the same color pillows- one on each end and one in the middle. Or you could have 3 pillows- one on each end that are the same color, and one in the middle that is a different color.

Once you have your pillows, couch and artwork, next you need an entertainment center. You can look Online for something used, or go to a store such as Ikea where they have inexpensive options. You might even try a raw wood store where you buy the furniture at a discount and then stain and finish it yourself. Look for furniture that will help you keep your items out of sight...with drawers and doors.

If you also want to get a coffee table, or end tables, match the color of wood to the entertainment center so that you don't have a bunch of mismatched pieces of furniture. For example, if you get the entertainment center in dark red cherry, don't buy a coffee table in a light pine colored wood.

Coffee tables or end tables that are glass have one advantage in that they minimize the feeling of clutter and being too cramped in your room (as long as you don't load them up with knick knacks). One downside, however, is that you constantly will find it necessary to clean the table from fingerprints and smudges. Glass Cleaners will become your friend. There also is another disadvantage. Most of the glass coffee tables and end tables do not have drawers and cabinets that provide valuable storage spaces.

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If you decide not to have a coffee table, or it isn't in your budget, then one option for filling the space between your couch and the entertainment center is to buy a nice floor rug and then put an ottoman in front of the couch. Look for an ottoman that opens up and has hidden storage inside- an added bonus. These types of ottomans can typically be found for $40-$100.

If you do decide to get a floor rug, there is a word of caution to keep in mind. A floor rug with a pattern that takes up ALL or almost all of the space in the living room floor will make the room cluttered and cramped feeling. Only use a floor rug if, after putting it down, you have at least 6 feet of floor left over surrounding the rug all the way around. If you don't, then perhaps opt for a smaller floor rug, or don't use one at all.

If you do have enough room for a floor rug, and you decide to buy one, another word of caution is to be careful when choosing the colors and patterns. Get one that matches the couch and the painting. Of course, your couch should be solid colored, and not a pattern. So, the rug can have a pattern to it, but it must match the painting hanging above your couch, and the pillows. The painting, couch, pillows, and floor rug must be considered as ONE unit, and everything has to be in harmony with one another. Another possibility is to look for a floor rug that is a solid color. That would certainly be easier to match to the other components. A white shag rug is one popular option.

Finally, plants are also a great and inexpensive way to fill up empty spaces when you don't have much furniture. A nice ficus tree or tall floor plant adds a lot to a room and helps clean the air. If you have pets, you may opt for a fake plant. You can sometimes find these used Online. If you're looking for a real plant, you may even ask around your friends and let them know you are looking for one. Sometimes people can no longer take care of their plants and don't know what to do with them (they hate to throw away a perfectly good plant) and would LOVE the opportunity to pass it on to a new home.


3. TOO MANY WHITE WALLS- Most apartments come with standard white walls. Are they are driving you crazy? What can you do? Many apartments, townhomes, or lofts will allow you to paint the walls if you agree to paint them back to the original white whenever you leave. Ask your Leasing Office. If they wont allow you to paint the entire apartment, what about an accent wall at least? They may very well allow you to paint ONE accent wall in the apartment, usually the dining room wall, or perhaps one living room wall, whatever color you like. Again, you will have to probably paint it back to white when you leave. Be sure to check with your Leasing Office first, if getting your deposit back is a concern whenever you move out.

Another option is to hang paintings to add interest to your walls. We discussed above choosing artwork to hang above the couch, because this is usually the main wall in the home. But if you have other walls of sufficient size, such as in the dining room, then hang one nice big painting or interesting clock there as well. When you move out, be sure to fill the nail holes for all of your artwork, as many apartments will subtract a penalty from your deposit if they see holes in the walls.

Another idea is to use vinyl art decals. These decals stick to your wall and look like you used a stencil to paint them there. Yet, when you are ready to remove them, they can peel away without damaging your walls. There are many different designs available. Check Online for options.

Keep in mind that you don't want to fill EVERY blank space of wall that you have, or else you run into problem number 1 discussed in this article...clutter. Don't over-do the decorating or think that you have to fill every space of the floor or walls. Open space is a GOOD thing! Your apartment will be larger, more relaxing, more inviting, and more open if you just use a few carefully selected pieces, whether it be artwork, furniture, or decorations.


4. MY APARTMENT IS DEPRESSING- One of the easiest ways to cheer up a home of any kind is to let in more natural light! Nothing is more depressing than a dark apartment. So, open those blinds and curtains every day and let in that natural sunshine. Consider hanging a mirror on the wall opposite of a window to amplify the light coming in.

Another way to cheer up your apartment is to use colors. Are there any happy, bright colors in your living room? Can you add more color by replacing your current sofa throw pillows with some that are more brightly colored, and perhaps replacing a dull picture with a bright one to hang over the couch?

You can also treat the “depressing apartment syndrome” by bringing the outdoors inside. Nature has a way of making us smile. A beautiful flower arrangement on your dining room table or a small one on your coffee table, can do wonders. Even a few pretty plants, either real or imitation, instantly make a space look more homey. Window treatments, such as drapes or curtains, also can go a long way to make a space look more like a home. If you are looking to minimize the amount of holes that you make in the walls, you can always use stick on hooks on each side of the window, and sheer window scarves draped across.

What is most important is that you keep your Dallas loft, townhome or apartment clean, well organized, and interesting. You don't have to spend a ridiculous amount of money to do that.

No one wants to see a littered desk, piles of dirty dishes, or an open cat litter box. Keep your desk top bare except for one or few attractive items. Keep your dining room table cleared, except for what is suppose to be on the dining room table- perhaps place mats, charger plates, and a centerpiece. Don't allow these pieces of furniture, or ANY piece of furniture in your Dallas loft, apartment or townhome to become a “catch all” where you throw your items.

As for the open cat litter box left in plain view, this is a big “No-No”! Never should the litter box be viewable to guests, even in the guest bathroom. No one wants to see the litter box, especially if there are pieces of cat poop sitting on top of the litter. Keeping the litter box out of sight is actually not that difficult to accomplish. Buy an enclosed cover for the litter box and either: move it to the master bedroom where visitors are not likely to see it, tuck it away behind a piece of furniture where no one can see it, or another option is to place the covered litter box in the bathtub of the guest bathroom, and close the shower curtain. Usually cats have no problem hopping into the bathtub and climbing in their litter box to do their “business”. In fact, they may actually appreciate the privacy. Regardless of where you keep the litter box, it should be COVERED, out of sight, odor free and always clean. Your cat will appreciate this as much as your guests.

Everyone, regardless of their budget, can keep their home clean, organized, smelling good, clutter-free, and interesting. Without these basic fundamentals, even the most expensive luxury apartments in Dallas TX will be be undesirable.

J. Ellis, your premier Dallas Apartment Locator, is dedicated to helping you find that perfect loft, townhome or apartment in Dallas, Grapevine, Bedford, Valley Ranch, Las Colinas, Lewisville, Plano, or any area of DFW. Whether you are looking for an uptown Dallas apartment, a downtown Dallas loft, or you want to search for luxury apartments in Dallas TX, J. Ellis is the best apartment locating company for professional custom apartment locating expertise.

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