Posted Apr 29, 2015

7 Decorating Apartment Hacks Every 20 Something Should Know

Your 20s are when you really start to establish who you are, not just in terms of your personality, beliefs and passions, but also when it comes to your tastes. Your fashion sense has probably changed since college (I no longer wear my bright yellow jeans), so the same stands to reason for your interior decorating.

Seven Decorating Apartment Hacks That Every 20 Something Should Know

As you enjoy your time as a renter, you get to experiment with what decor you like and what you can leave by the dumpster during your next move. So, from one 20 something to another, here are some apartment decorating hacks you should learn before you settle down:

1. Frames Fix Everything

OK, they can’t really repair a broken window or anything crazy, but frames will fix your college decor. For the most part, you can hang onto the posters you so diligently tacked to your walls and give them a more adult look– that’s right, you’re an adult now!

Seven Decorating Apartment Hacks That Every 20 Something Should Know - Frames Fix Everything

A simple black frame can make your Audrey Hepburn poster or movie advertisement more sophisticated. My boyfriend even framed a picture his friend drew for him, and it looks great! Whatever art you hang should be framed. This decor hack can get pricey, so look for sales when you head to craft stores.

2. Buy Big Rugs

You may have had a couple of rugs in college to hide that old dorm laminate or act as a door mat. But these little rugs won’t cut it in an apartment. Instead, spring for a large area rug that goes with your decor. Small products seem out of place and can make your room look smaller and unbalanced. 

7 Decorating Apartment Hacks That Every 20 Something Should Know - Buy Big Rugs

As a rule of thumb, your area rug should fall into one of these categories in terms of size:

  • Your furniture fits within the rug
  • The front legs of your furniture fit on the rug
  • The rug extends to be only a few inches away from the walls 

Your rugs don’t have to meet all of these criteria, just one.

3. Accept Hand-Me-Downs

Your family may try to pawn old sofas and chairs off on you, and your response should be, “yes please!” In your 20s, your tastes may still change while you’re renting. Lots of moving plus fluctuating style means the old sofa you get now might not be the one you keep forever.

7 Decorating Apartment Hacks That Every 20 Something Should Know - Accept Hand Me Downs

Until you’re settled and making enough money to furnish your place yourself, take the free pieces. You can always update them with a slipcover and some new throw pillows, which certainly aren’t as costly as the actual sofa.

4. Refurbish Furniture

In addition to upgrading hand-me-downs, you can also spruce up thrift store finds. Repaint an end table or decorate the inside of a bookshelf with wallpaper. Because these pieces were inexpensive to purchase, you won’t have to worry about ruining them during a crafting spree.

7 Decorating Apartment Hacks That Every 20 Something Should Know - Refurbish Furniture

Additionally, you can reupholster furniture either by hand or by hiring someone. Paying a professional to change the fabric can be costly though, so consider doing the work yourself or buying a slipcover first.

5. Think Design, Not Likes

In college, your room was probably covered in posters of things you liked. Aragorn from “The Lord of the Rings” looked down on my bed in my dorm, and pictures of my favorite games lined the walls. At the time, I thought only of comfort and expressing my individuality. 

7 Decorating Apartment Hacks That Every 20 Something Should Know - Think Design, Not Likes

However, I wouldn’t want any of those features in my apartment now. Instead, I’ve tried to incorporate the things I like with more subtlety. For instance, I proudly display my DVD and game collection on a well-coordinated bookshelf.

As you plan your apartment decor, try to coordinate various elements using design techniques (think color scheme and repetition). This too can display your personal style and individuality. Plus, your interests can manifest in books on your coffee table or subtle motifs.

6. Splurge With Discernment

While purchasing gently used furniture can save you a decent chunk of change, you will inevitably find that sofa or table that’s brand new that you must have (I’m still waiting for my moment). At that point, you might consider taking the financial hit to invest in a quality piece.

7 Decorating Apartment Hacks That Every 20 Something Should Know - Splurge with Discernment

However, you should consider a few things first. If the item has these qualities, it’s worth the dough: 

  • It has sound construction
  • It’s made with quality materials
  • The style is timeless (you’re confident you’ll love it in 10 years)
  • It will match other pieces even as you change color schemes
  • The piece is comfortable

Remember, only splurge on furniture you intent to have for years to come. Placeholder furniture, or pieces you’re just buying until you plan to “actually” decorate, are a waste of money.

7. Hide Your Cords

No one wants to see your Ethernet cable, phone charger or TV cords strewn about– they aren’t an art piece, they’re just clutter. Now that you’re in your 20s, you can start finding savvy ways to conceal your cords and still ensure they reach the outlet. Cord boxes and wire channels help organize your space and prevent electrical clutter.

7 Decorating Apartment Hacks That Every 20 Something Should Know - Hide Your Cords

These apartment hacks should help you figure out your design tastes. Who knows: By the time you’re a 30 something, you may have this whole apartment decorating thing down!

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7 Decorating Apartment Hacks that Every 20 Something Should Know

Jen Jackowski


Jen Jackowski is a graduate of Illinois State University, where she studied theater and English. Her experiences in the theatrical arts left her with a love for storytelling that she breathes into her writing. She’s also passionate about art, gaming, sustainability and fashion. Her work has been published in the literary magazine, Euphemism.

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One response to “7 Decorating Apartment Hacks Every 20 Something Should Know”

  1. HK says:

    It may be tricky to come up with ways to decorate an apartment, but the above examples show how easily it can be done. Thanks Jen

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