From shoebox to show home: 5 tips for decorating an apartment

When you first move into a shoebox apartment, it can be tricky to know exactly how to make the space shine so that it is as good as a show home. You will need to organise the rooms very carefully so that the spaces look roomy and airy. Achieving this can mean that you will always find these rooms welcoming, inviting you to spend time inside. 

With these five decorating ideas and interior design tips, you might just be tempted to say "apartment, sweet apartment" and fall in love with your ex-shoebox apartment. 

1) Install high floating shelves to draw the eye upwards

Not only will this help make the space feel less cluttered, it can make the room seem taller. Bonus tip: Arrange your books in colour coordinated stacks, to add to the neat and symmetrical feel of no clutter. You can also play with a colour wheel to see which order of colour coordinating will look best with the rest of your apartment decor. For example, creating a book-cover ombre by stacking them darkest to lightest can help craft a visual harmony in the room. 

2) Use a modern backless bookshelf as a room divider

A great way to make your apartment feel like it has an extra living area is simply to divide up the current spaces. Screens tend to make the area look cramped, because you can't see through them. Instead, placing a bookshelf with different shelving levels and shapes creates an open plan feel as you can glimpse through the negative spaces. Rather than crowding the shelves with books, treat this as a decorative feature and embrace minimalism in the way you style it. Put just a single ceramic vase on one shelf, and let it shine. Another shelf could use a candle stand, while the bottom levels can have a few potted plants to bring some nature to the room

3) Paint pops of colour to your heart's content 

If you are renting and aren't authorised to paint the walls, don't be afraid to paint your wooden furniture instead. Better Homes and Gardens rates this as a top tip for young professionals or renters, so that they can still bring some of their own personality to the apartment. A wide range of Resene paint colours are awaiting your perusal – simply consult the colour library for a glimpse into the hundreds of hues you could use. A great place to add such bright colour is your apartment kitchen, especially if it has a breakfast bar. Tuck stools underneath after coating them in food friendly, happy hues such as Resene Adrenalin and Resene Bright Lights. Both these colours have a neon feel to them, bringing a ray of sunshine to your new showhome-worthy apartment. 

4) Use large floor lamps 

The good thing about an apartment is that because the rooms are usually smaller, single large objects can really stand out and get the attention they deserve. Beautifully designed modern floor lamps are a great way to illuminate your spaces, adding an instant elegance and contemporary feel. Opt for lamps with a metallic finish, such as chrome or silver, as this will help reflect the light around the apartment even more. Place lamps that 'hang' or curve outward next to your sofa, taking inspiration from 1950s modern Californian homes. 

5) Create an entryway or foyer

Designating an area for a formal entryway can really help elevate your apartment to homely status. Most apartment doors open directly into the lounge, but adding a small shoe stand with a mirror hanging above can really craft out a space that screams 'foyer'. Seeing this homely, welcoming sight each time you or guests step inside can do wonders for your mood. 

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