Monday, May 24, 2010

Apartment Therapy

I've been on a sort of apartment makeover kick for the past month. I feel like I have such a beautiful, special Victorian apartment here in the city, but I haven't given it much justice when it comes to decorating it the way I want it to look.
I brought it to my boyfriend's attention a few weeks ago that most of our furniture were free hand-me-downs that looked like free hand-me-downs. All of which were pieces that my boyfriend (a hoarder mild pack rat) couldn't let people throw out. In his eyes, he is doing his part to fight against our culture of waste. To me, it's an excuse and he just can't let anything go.
So while he's gone on a week long trip in LA, I've come up with some apartment makeover rules to follow.

1. Spring cleaning.
I'm sure the thought of me throwing anything out makes my boyfriend very nervous, but I think he will come to appreciate that I took initiative in organizing/throwing out all the clutter in his life (why do men hoard empty deodorant sticks and old underwear?).
A cool place is a well edited place. I wrote about cleaning out my closet a while back, but the rest of your home should also loose some weight. Your apartment should be clutter-free, cute and clean. It doesn't mean you have to be a 50's housewife all of a sudden. It just means you have to put in the effort to make you home as rad as your fabulous wardrobe.
Apartment Therapy has been the best resource on spring cleaning and organizing, like here, here and here.

2. Invest.
This means both time, money and energy. Even if you don't make a lot of money doesn't mean that you can't have an awesome pad. Craigslist, thrift stores and your own creative two hands can be all you need.
People who have good taste are people who are patient enough to wait for that perfect piece, instead of spend spend spending on whatever is cool at the time, whether it's waiting to find that perfect APC coat or being patient when it comes to finding a great vintage couch. If you have tons of Ikea and Target furniture, then you probably don't want to put in the effort. But if you care, be patient and save up for that special piece that you love or keep checking on craigslist for that Victorian fainting couch you always wanted. It's worth the wait.

3. You have cool stuff. Make use.
My boyfriend collects beautiful Mexican folk art from some famous artists down south and makes his own pieces too. I myself have collected some interesting nic-knacks and vintage books from flea markets and thrift stores since I was a teen. So why is everything in a box?
I used to think that his stuff and mine clashed too much and that's why we don't bother to unpack lots of it. I like things that have a vintage, old worldliness to it. He likes, what he calls, "stuff that should be in a tiki bar." That doesn't sound very good together does it? But, we can still make it work, like keeping most of the mexican art in the living room or keeping my vintage animal chotchkies in the bedroom.
If you stick with themes or common ideas in one room, another room can be dedicated to something else. If you live in a studio, then try to keep it as minimal as possible.
You are surrounded by great stuff so use it and get creative!
4. Welcome to the jungle.
I don't have a green thumb, but I'm sure glad my boyfriend does! I think one thing we have going for our place besides massive record collections is our plants. If you can't afford new furniture, then just get a couple of plants. You'll notice that your place looks infinitely better with some green additions to your home.
It can be extremely cheap (you can get a plant at a 99 cent store that can last you ten years like some of ours), you can get plants for all weather conditions and they are beneficial to the air quality of your place.
It really doesn't take much to care for certain plants too. If you can handle pets, then you can handle a fern. If you are still that lazy, get a cactus or invest in fresh flowers every few weeks to brighten up your pad (I get tulips every two weeks during the spring/summer seasons).
Here are some recommended plants for city dwellers.
5. Personality.
Above is my friend Paul's house. Besides having great taste, Paul's apartment has his personality all over it, from the Victorian busts to the taxidermy and vintage belljars. That's why I think it is such a cool looking apartment.
The worst thing you could do is make it look too much like a Crate and Barrel catalog. There is no personality in your home if you bought everything straight from the catalog. It's like when people buy whole outfits at one store. No personality. No personal style.
You live there. Make it seem like you do. It makes a place far more interesting.

Here are some homes that I love to inspire you (and me) to make a stylish home:

images via apartment therapy, the selby and my homie Paul

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