September 28, 2005


You finally have a place to call your own. A crib. A pad. A love nest. You're not sure what to call it, but it's better than your parents' house, and it's all yours. The only problem is, it's kind of empty. And you want to fill it with stuff so you can, like, have a party and impress your friends.But you're no Martha Stewart (thank God), you don't have a lot of money, and you're also kind of busy.Let me help you.

Since many first apartments are smaller than closets and darker than Beyonce's roots, it helps to know how to play down your apartment's bad points. Then take a look around your new surroundings and make a list of its aesthetic pros and cons. Does it have big windows but low ceilings? Great wood floors but a boxy, square feel? While emphasizing positive qualities takes little or no effort, counteracting undesirable elements is a bit harder. Here's some help:

One-room living (studios and dorm rooms)
You eat there, you sleep there, you read my blogs there - all in that one, single, solitary room. While studios and dorm rooms can be a bit claustrophobic, they suck a lot less if they're pleasing to the eye and well arranged. With single-room living spaces, you have two options. You can either keep the room as spacious and open as possible, or you can divide it into areas of activity by using screens and/or large pieces of furniture that appear to "section off" one area from the next.Stores from Pier 1 to Ikea sell these room dividers and the cost depends on the size and material. Depending on the size of your place, the decor you choose and your lifestyle (whether or not you'll be doing a lot of work there, entertaining often, etc.), you can decide which option is better for you. Either way, be sure to keep it simple. Limit your color palette, and avoid clutter and excess furniture. Consider getting a two-in-one piece like a sofa bed or a futon to save space.

If your place looks like that dungeon from Silence of The Lambs or you don't know what time of day it is until you go outside? Well, brighten up dark rooms with light-colored walls, sheer curtains and plenty of plants. Mirrors also help by reflecting light and limiting the appearance of shadows. Opt for blinds instead of shades on your windows, and choose minimal lampshades with a translucent effect.

Tiny Rooms
I have never lived in a small house before,sorry I'm rich,but I've seen pics of them. If you are living in a less than average sized apt. go with pale, cool colors, and fill the space with as little furniture as possible. Instead of a free-standing bookcase, for instance, try a shelf that's mounted to the wall with brackets. Also, if your room is really small, avoid busy patterns on items like curtains, tablecloths and bedspreads.

Low Ceilings
Feel like the sky is falling? Raise the roof by using up-tilting lamps to cast as much light on it as possible. Paint the ceiling a shimmery, satiny, pale color, and do the walls one or two shades darker. Draw attention to the bottom half of the room with floor cushions, interesting rugs and low-to-the-ground seating. Makes sense huh?

Even though your first apartment probably won't look like it jumped off the pages of Architectual Digest, there's no reason it can't have a cohesive theme that says something about your tastes and makes the most of what you have to work with. By combining hand-me-downs from friends and relatives with the right supplementary pieces, you can create a convincing version of one of the following styles. Really, you can! First find out what you can scam for free, and then figure out how these items can be incorporated into your look of choice. Here's a few styles to consider:
Eclectic - Also known as the "thrift shop" look, eclectic is a popular choice for many first-time apartment dwellers. It mixes the vintage with the new, the ugly with the stylish, the practical with the weird. Your end tables don't match? No problem. Your sofa is paisley and your pillows are striped? That's fine. Eclectic can look kind of hip and bohemian if it's done right, and awful if it's done wrong. Either you're born with the talent for it, or you're not. If you don't want to take the risk, move on.
Traditional - The traditional style is just what you think it would be - matching wood furniture, a comfy plaid couch, and colorful, coordinating accessories. Smart, functional and straightforward, apartments done in this style tend to look friendly and pulled-together. And your mom would like it.
Minimalist - If you're a sucker for all things sleek, consider the minimalist look. Picture this: A black leather couch, a postmodern painting on the wall, and a glass coffee table holding nothing but an empty vase. Knickknacks? No way. Curtains? Just vertical blinds, please. The minimalist look is chic and clean, but can also appear kind of cold and unhomey.Sounds like my last boyfriend.

As soon as you've evaluated your apartment and settled on a style, you should choose a color scheme that both complements the space and suits your personal preferences. By understanding the qualities of primary and secondary colors, you'll get a better idea of what shades will work best.

((Primary colors: Red, Yellow, and Blue.))
Secondary colors: Orange, Green, and Violet

Red - Bright and bold, red suggests vitality and aggressiveness. It's a great accent color, making cold, open rooms seem more inviting and intimate. Deep, subtle shades of red such as burgundy and maroon are perfect for living rooms.
Complementary color: Green
Yellow - Stimulating, sunny and cheerful, yellow is associated with intellect, power and creative energy. Bright yellows bring warmth and light into dark rooms, and pale yellows make small rooms seem larger. It's also a great kitchen color.
Complementary color: Violet
Blue - Blue denotes harmony, peace, steadfastness and loyalty. While it's appropriate for any room, blue is an excellent bedroom color because it makes one feel comforted and serene. It can also soften rooms that are over-bright.
Complementary color: Orange
Orange - Orange combines the energy of red with the intellectual associations of yellow. Dominant and lively, it's a fun choice for bathrooms and work areas. Peachy oranges have a delicate effect, while brownish oranges (like terra cotta) give off warm, cozy vibes.
Green - The color of nature, green is refreshing and pleasing to the eye. It makes dim apartments seem more vibrant by bringing a garden-like atmosphere indoors. With its varying shades, green works in just about any room.
To balance out the splashy colors above, add neutral earth tones and strong, sleek shades of black and gray. Another universal color is white, which, in its various incarnations (off-white, beige, and eggshell), provides a can't-go-wrong foundation for any room.
If you're lucky enough to have more than one room, try doing a different color scheme for each (e.g., a forest green and burgundy living room, a baby blue and white bathroom, a violet and gray bedroom, etc.).

Deep "warm" colors give a room an intimate, cozy feel. They are: red-violet, red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, and yellow.
Light "cool" colors make a room seem more spacious and elegant. They are: green, blue-green, blue, and blue-violet. White also has this effect.
Even if you have all-white walls (many landlords and dorm managers won't allow residents to paint), you can easily convey color schemes through curtains, pillows, lamps, candles, blankets, area rugs, etc.

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