From the discount futon and pinned-up Salvador Dali poster, to the loosely Eastern-themed bedroom, I have to admit I was pretty proud of my first post-dorm apartment. Looking back, it was kind of a disaster. If you’re just getting the keys to your first place, you don’t have to be like me. Designer Kyle Schuneman‘s book, The First Apartment Book: Cool Design for Small Spaces, shows you how people across the country created beautiful, functional spaces on a budget — and includes easy projects so you can live stylishly, too.
Designer Kyle Schuneman
The book gives you a peek inside 10 very different first apartments, from an art lover’s teeny-tiny NYC pad to a Bohemian attic apartment in Atlanta. Each makeover includes how-to projects to help you get the look, like wall stencils, DIY headboards and ridiculously cute succulent book planters.
Make Your Own: Get the Full How-To for the Succulent Book Planters
Succulent book planters from The First Apartment Book.
“I wanted to do this book because I’m fascinated by how people live,” Kyle says. “Sometimes people don’t want to invite designers over because they’re worried about us judging their spaces. I’d rather make a statement and have you not like it than be ho-hum about it, because I think that life is too short.” That’s why he filled his 700-square-foot first apartment slash office with carefully-curated pieces he loved, like a live-edge coffee table and textural, menswear-inspired accessories, all on a tiny budget. He also disguised what he didn’t love, like the heater hidden behind the faux bois wallpaper panel. Read on to get his tips on creating a space that speaks to your style — completely from scratch.
Kyle Schuneman's Los Angeles apartment living room.
Decking out your first apartment or dorm room—albeit in college or after graduation—is one part thrilling and all parts stressballish. While making something totally your own is one of the biggest joys in life, trying to fill a space stylishly and functionally on a ramen-noodles-and-tap-water budget can quickly take all the fun out of it. Hell, I’m living proof; my first apartment sure was purdy but since I spent every penny on making it look cool, all I could afford to do is eat in it and stare at the walls. Saltines topped with free packets of mustard scored from Burger King to be exact.
|The same goes for a teency-weency dorm room; filling a space functionally and decoratively costs a pretty penny and tons of not-so-pretty sweat equity. If it’s your first time at the rodeo of MyFirstPlaces, you’ll quickly notice how quick a run for Windex, a lampshade and new pillowcases results in a receipt with a $230 total. With students shelling out $165 for a single textbook and recent graduates dropping $400 for a decent interview outfit, the money pit gets deeper and deeper; saving is a must. Sure, we all know about the magical wonders of flea markets in reference to keeping things original and on budget; however, there are some less-known tricks out there which may make putting that first place together a bit easier. For example: How do you dress up concrete walls? How do you use 100 square feet of living space as a bedroom, living room and media area? What alternatives are there for people who love wallpaper and paint but can’t change their walls? Lucky for you, I’m out of college eight years now and have some my-first-apartment-life-experience to share with you. Unfortunately, the ramen noodle eating still goes on for a few years—but hey—there’s no reason your place shouldn’t look great while you scarf those noodles down!
Vinyl decals, have they been done to death? Yes, oh heavens yes. (So have posters tacked to walls with balls of putty. Save yourself with my post on buying art online.) Vinyl decals are an absolutely brilliant solution to dressing up a temporary space, especially those where painting is prohibited and color choices are dictated by an establishment. The key is staying away from the ones everybody’s seen two-hundred times: chandeliers, the Keep Calm And Carry On thing, and last but not least, overscale damask. SNORE. Decals like this robot from blik are fun and graphic; certain styles made for kid’s rooms are still cool enough for young adults. No DIY skills? No problem. All you need to put these babies up is a burnisher and a steady hand.
I was shopping for decorative paper at Paper Source this weekend when these colorful frames composed of pencils caught my eye.
I can see these working in a child’s room or the dorm room of a college art major. The bright colors make me smile. You, too?
Cupcakes and Cartwheels is a division of Two’s Company.
The thing that most people completely ignore when it comes to dorm life is the serious lack of square footage. I know this because I am getting ready to start my senior year of college, and I did just that. Even the most neat of neat freaks is bound to be late for that 8 AM class causing the unavoidable dispersal of random clothing articles, homework and towels strewn across the floor.
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