By Danielle Wolfrom, Elle INTRS
Moving into a new Center City apartment is so exciting. It means a blank canvas, a fresh start, and, for some people, not having a clue how to make this space feel like home instead of just four walls with stuff strewn about. Here are five design tips and tricks I use to make my clients’ spaces feel like their own.
1. Curated not coordinated: A great way to instantly make a space feel like your own is to surround yourself with objects that have a memory attached to them. It can be something you brought back from a trip or a gallery wall of photos that you took of your dog or cat. Curating a space means that things don’t match perfectly but there is a very obvious theme that connects everything. Mixing wood tones, metals, and patterns that speak to you are a great way to achieve a curated look that doesn’t look like it was bought all at once.
2. Make it multifunctional: When space is at a premium, the best way to make every inch work for you is to look for multifunctional furniture pieces. I often use a dining room table as a desk so that when it’s time to entertain you can just clear it off and voila, you have a place to eat with your friends. A vintage chest is storage, a coffee table, and a bench (put some throw pillows on it so that it’s more comfortable to sit on). Get creative and you’ll be surprised how many different uses you can find for your furniture pieces.
3. Bring it to life with lighting: I always, always, always stress the importance of lighting in any space. It can make or break the way you feel when you’re there. Even if your apartment has recessed or overhead lighting in all of the rooms, you need table and floor lamps, especially in your living room and bedroom. These additions not only let you set a mood but also act as task lighting for reading your texts and scrolling through Instagram. The other part of this important element is what bulb you put in your lamp. All your bulbs should have the same light temperature or kelvin (Google it). I recommend that number be around 3000k. This gives you a nice warm light that won’t put a strain on your eyes.
4. Curtains are key: Most apartments come with plane white metal blinds. If you’re lucky they’ll be the white faux wood blinds, which is absolutely an upgrade. A relatively inexpensive (check out IKEA) upgrade is to add curtains on top of those standard blinds. Not only will it add color and softness to your walls, it also gives you another layer of light control and privacy. Make sure your curtains go from floor to ceiling and the ends of your rod are at least twelve inches from the edge of the window on each side.
5. Art, art, and more art: A lot of landlords cringe when a tenant brings up the topic of paint. I always cringe at the thought of having to paint it back when move-out time comes around. There are a ton of “removable” products out there and some are better than others. While I have a number of clients go that route, I ALWAYS recommend having a hair dryer on hand when removing. Another option that I find works just as well is framed art. Pick a few places around your apartment where a cluster of pictures and paintings would bring some life. If you’re going for a clean and simple look, pick one or two large-scale pieces to bring color and interest to focal walls. Either way, try to pick a common theme—color, subject, technique, etc.—to your art and don’t be afraid to curate your frames.
—Danielle Wolfrom of Elle Intrs in Philadelphia recently provided design services for a new resident at the Old Quaker Building. For more information on her services, visit www.elleintrs.com.