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25 Tips to Upgrade Your Apartment

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Transforming your home doesn’t have to turn into a costly and time-consuming renovation project. In fact, to upgrade your apartment look, you can simply swap out a few high-impact decor and furniture pieces.

A new coffee table, for example, and a few bold throw pillows will instantly freshen up your living room. Sometimes, the smallest of items can make the biggest difference, especially in undersized spaces.

If you need small apartment design ideas, think strategically. Quality always beats quantity, and a successful decor makeover doesn’t have to drain your bank account. All you need is some apartment inspiration and a few well-thought-out designs.

Whether you’re trying to upgrade the look of your entire first apartment, or just redo a room or two, keep reading for 25 tips that will turn your home into a stylish oasis.

Apartment Decorating Ideas & Inspiration

Before you dive into the minutiae of decorating, focus on the big picture and start with the basics. Let’s take a look at some common apartment upgrade goals. These broad strokes will help you love the final outcome.

Maximize Storage

Lack of storage space is the number one problem most people face, especially in small apartments. Before you start shopping for new bins, trays or racks, measure your closets. Maximizing storage is all about using every inch wisely.

Invest in furniture pieces that double as storage, such as ottomans and coffee and side tables. Also, rattan baskets are the gift that keeps on giving. Whether you use them to keep extra towels in the bathroom or store magazines and toys in the living room, hand-woven baskets are a chic and practical storage solution.

Style Surfaces

Messy shelves and tabletops can make your apartment look cluttered and untidy. So take the time to style them intentionally. Arrange family photos, plants, candles and stacks of books thoughtfully for a visually-appealing feel. Display smaller decorative objects on a table. Larger pieces such as vases or oversized bowls look attractive on a dresser or the fireplace mantel. Don’t overstuff bookshelves — leave “breathing” room. And when you group objects on shelves, go for an uneven number of items such as three or five.

Keep it Simple

The secret to a successful apartment decor upgrade is not to fill the space with new furniture. In fact, less is more. Be practical and don’t invest in items you won’t use regularly. Even if you’re not a fan of Scandinavian minimalism, this pared-down aesthetic can help you curate a beautiful and functional selection of objects for your home. Your reward will be modern apartment decor that wows your guests with its simplicity and elegance.

Apartment Bedroom Ideas & Inspiration

Upgrade your apartment bedroom into a stylish sleeping sanctuary with these easy and budget-friendly decor ideas.

Use Real Plants

Remove and avoid fake plants, and go for the real thing. Real houseplants add a boost to both your health and apartment decor. Adding greenery can boost your mood, reduce stress levels and act as an air-filtration system. Aesthetically, plants bring a more organic feel to a room and add a variety of colors and textures.

Instead of filling up empty bedroom corners with furniture, grace them with floor plants. Lower plants make great small apartment decor, while tall ones sit well in lofts and spaces with higher ceilings. Succulents and cacti are easy to care for, and their architectural look pairs well with various apartment styles such as contemporary, boho and industrial.  

Swap Out Old Bedsheets for New Linen

The easiest way to achieve an effortlessly chic bedroom look is to style your bed with high-quality linen. The fabric’s naturally-rumpled appeal radiates comfort and airiness.

Opt for an earthy palette if you’re after an organic look. You can add a touch of drama to your bedroom decor with a linen set in charcoal or olive green. In small bedrooms, go for bedding in white, off-white or light grey. White adds the illusion of roominess to undersized rooms. You can find more tips on how to decorate with white in our blog post How to Design and Style a White Bedroom.

Upgrade Your Pillowcases

Do you feel like your bedroom can use some color, but you don’t have time to repaint the walls? Pillows can add a pop of color and freshen up a monochrome appearance. You can read more about how to choose the best options for your bedroom in our Pillowcase & Sham Guide.

Introduce a New Color Scheme

Colors play an essential role in upgrading your apartment look. You can create an entirely new mood just by swapping out old bedding for a new color palette.

Want to bring about that 5-star luxury hotel aesthetic? Opt for bedsheets in stylish percale. Or add a touch of glamour with a set in silky sateen.

Put a little TLC into your top-of-bedding options, too. A cozy blanket in rich raspberry or an elegant rose-clay linen loft quilt can add the finishing touch to your new bedroom upgrade. Read all about bedding covers in our post Guide to Quilts, Blankets and Coverlets: A Modern Take on Traditional Covers.

Trade in Shades for Curtains

Most renters install shades as a privacy feature. But shades aren’t always pleasing to the eye. They can be especially limiting if you’re aiming for a casual, boho vibe.

Airy curtains, on the other hand, add an effortlessly-elegant vibe to your bedroom. A set of washed linen curtains will make your space more inviting. Look for options with a cotton lining for extra privacy. Choosing neutral shades will help your selection match any decor style. At the same time, curtains in neutral colors add a cozy, lived-in feel.

Create a Focal Point

Sometimes it can feel like your apartment decor lacks creativity. Establish a focal point to tie your decor elements together and immediately draw the eye.

A bold piece of art hung on the wall behind your bed is a great example. An oversized black-and-white photograph beautifully complements modern apartment decor. A handmade macrame wall hanging can work wonders to bring about a chic, relaxed feel.

Embrace Dark Colors

Black and charcoal grey aren’t everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to apartment design. But dark colors pack a visual punch, and there’s no better place to use them than the bedroom. Dark hues add a modern, sophisticated touch while promoting restful sleep.

Contrary to popular belief, moody shades can also make a small bedroom feel more expansive. The trick is to pair them with high-contrast furniture. You can also add a few dark accents by styling your bed in black sheets. Or invest in a couple of ebony bedside tables.  

Upgrade Your Mirrors

Mirrors are powerful decor multitaskers. They’re also an easy way to make a room look brighter and larger. There are countless ways to decorate with mirrors. Adding an oversized floor mirror in your bedroom will instantly upgrade your apartment look. Hang two identical mirrors side by side to add symmetry. Or install mirrored doors to your closet for an eclectic style.

Upgrade Light Fixtures

Lighting is an important element in decorating because it sets the tone in a room. One tip with upgrading apartment bedroom lighting is to keep it on the moody side.

A boldly-designed floor lamp can serve as a focal point in your bedroom. Alternately, install a couple of wall sconces to highlight a piece of art. Or make a statement by adding a modern chandelier above your bed.

Apartment Bathroom Ideas & Inspiration

Here are a few easy and affordable upgrades that can transform your apartment bathroom into your personal wellness oasis.

Cover Bland Flooring with Cozy Bath Rugs

While you probably can’t update your flooring, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it. Hide chipped tiles or unfortunate floor materials with bath mats. While they soak up excess water after a shower, mats also make your bathroom look and feel cozier. If you’d like a bolder look, opt for a bath rug in a colorful print. The bath mats and rugs you’ll find at Parachute are made from premium Turkish cotton. Choose one that matches your towels to create a modern mood. For a spa-inspired accent, add a cedar wood mat in front of your bathtub.

You can learn more about the value in using bath mats or rugs in our Bath Mat vs Bath Rugs Guide.

Update Your Shower Curtain

Don’t underestimate the visual impact of a shower curtain. In smaller bathrooms, a shower curtain can take up almost half of the visual space. So to upgrade your bathroom look, select one that best evokes the apartment style you’re going for. You can create a relaxing, zen vibe with a cotton curtain in a neutral shade. Or give your space a summer update with a white-and-navy striped shower curtain.

The shower curtains you’ll discover at Parachute are easy to style and can help your apartment feel more luxurious.

Display and Fold Your Towels Like a Hotel

Sloppily-folded towels take up more space and make your bathroom look poorly-decorated. But you don’t need Marie Kondo-level skills to fold your towels like a hotel. The easiest folding technique is to fold in thirds. Lay down your towel and fold it horizontally about two-thirds of the way. Then fold the remaining side over and smooth it out. Repeat the process, this time vertically. Display the towel with the folded edge outward.

Using high-quality towels in your bathroom is essential to pulling off that luxury vibe.

Maximize Wall Space

Savvy apartment decorators spend time thinking about how to make the most of their wall space. Add floating shelves for visually-appealing extra storage. You can style them with extra towels, small potted plants and candles. Another smart piece of modern apartment decor is a decorative ladder. Some renters use one to display both clean and in-use towels.

Upgrade Your Bathroom Vanity

Vanities are often a bathroom’s focal point. Swapping the old one for a more modern version will revolutionize your space. If you’re not ready to make that investment, repainting your current vanity can work a miracle. Done right, a fresh coat of paint can make a bathroom feel brand new. Alternately, go antique shopping and repurpose a vintage vanity for a new look. Elevate the effect by styling it with luxury toiletries and bath accessories.

Change Up the Bathroom Backsplash

Backsplashes protect from water damage while they add character to a bathroom. From classic subway tiles to more elaborate patterns, there are hundreds of design options that are easy to install. Some renters choose a backsplash that accentuates their vanity. Others create an accent wall behind their bathtub for a magazine-worthy look. Either way, backsplashes are a foolproof way to transform any bathroom.

Add a Pop of Color with Towels

If you’re trying to update your bathroom’s monochrome palette, adding a splash of color is essential. The fastest way is to invest in a new set of boldly-hued towels. Display them on hooks on both sides of your vanity, or install a couple of floating shelves and arrange several folded towels there. To add an ordered feel, arrange them from largest to smallest.

Plush towels are a nice treat in bathroom decor accessories that can make an apartment feel more welcoming. To ensure a high-end, uniform look that supports your budget, shop for towel bundles that include bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths.

Apartment Living Room Ideas & Inspiration

The living room is often the center of our waking lives. But a modern and stylish upgrade doesn’t have to change out everything from the couch to end tables. The key to a successful living room upgrade is switching out or adding just a few key pieces.  

Upgrade Your Area Rug

Upgrade Your Area Rug

There are so many benefits to having an area rug in your living room. A rug adds texture, defines an area and ties all the decor together. There’s an endless selection of designs, materials and shapes available on the market, so it’s not hard to zero in on the look you want. A bold-patterned rug can serve as your focal point in the living room. For a unique statement, a beautiful area rug on the wall can serve as a work of art.

It’s a good idea to switch up your area rugs every winter and summer. Winter rugs tend to be thicker and have a cozier appearance. Summer rugs have a flat construction perfect for warm weather.

For tips on prolonging the life of your area rugs, read How to Keep Your Rugs Looking Their Best.

Upgrade Your Wall Art

Your walls dominate your field of vision, so whatever you hang on them will significantly impact your living room decor. Adding even a couple works of art will immediately change the feel and look of any space.

Create an accent wall of your favorite photos, prints and paintings. Stick to a symmetrical look if you’re going for a contemporary vibe. For a more casual and arty feel, group several different-sized frames together.

Upgrade Your Sofa by Adding Decorative Throw Pillows

One of the smartest budget small apartment living room ideas is to accessorize your current sofa with throw pillows. They’re a small, affordable way to add a bit of color to your lounge space. Of course, it also helps that they come in an abundance of colors and designs.

The secret to styling throw pillows is to select the right size for your sofa. Choose pillows on the larger side, but take care that they don’t overtake your sitting space. Don’t be afraid to mix and match prints, colors and textures — variety adds character and interest.

Upgrade Your Coffee Table

Coffee tables usually take center stage in living rooms. A new coffee table can revamp the look of your lounge area. Pay special attention to height and width, and choose a style that pairs well with your existing furniture, especially your sofa.

For small apartments, try a coffee table with drawers or an ottoman with storage. You can also opt for two nesting tables to add flexibility.

Upgrade Your Dinnerware and Tabletop Style

Many apartments have open floor plans, making the kitchen table visible from everywhere. Use this to your advantage as you upgrade your apartment look. The simple step of switching to new table linen can add flexibility and transform the feeling of your space.

Next, add a fruit bowl, a vase full of fresh flowers or candles for added color. Invest in new dinnerware to elevate the feel of your next dinner party.

Trade in Bulky Seats for Stools

One of the most affordable small apartment living room ideas is the creative use of stools. Stools do double and triple-duty as side tables, seating and plant stands. Invest in a couple of good-quality, raw wood stools for a comfy, natural vibe. Place them on both sides of your sofa instead of end tables. Colorful stools turn into accent pieces, enhancing your living room decor. You can also repurpose them in the bathroom if you need additional storage space for towels or toiletries.

In Summary

Upgrading your apartment look — or even just a single room — is no easy task. If you need some inspiration or decorating ideas, book a complimentary styling consultation with one of Parachute’s experts. Whether you need advice on the right bedding fabric for your first apartment, or would like to talk to someone about modern apartment decor, our expert stylists will give you the best design tips for your space.