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#066: Making the Most of Your Apartment Space with Emma Glubiak

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Today we are diving into tips for apartment decor and giving you everything you need to make your space feel like your own. Decorating your apartment comes with unique challenges like small spaces, things needing to be renter-friendly, and certain decor elements needing to be temporary for just the time you live there.

Today I have the Senior Social Media Manager from The Spruce. Emma Glubiak is here to weigh in on apartment decor strategies that you can use to make the space feel like your own. 

You can download this episode from Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsStitcher, and Spotify – or listen to it below!

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in this episode:

[02:13] Emma’s story and her role at The Spruce

[03:43] Making your space your own

[05:51] Tips for small spaces

[13:17] Using vertical space

[17:10] Splurge vs. save with apartment decor

[23:34] How to undo the decor when it is time to move out

[27:20] Larger and permanent projects

[29:01] Strategies for decorating your apartment

[31:09] Color trends

[34:32] Apartment friendly outdoor trends 

[37:09] Outdoor storage strategies 

[41:20] Fun home design trends

[02:13] Emma’s story and her role at The Spruce

I like to say I have the most fun job in the world because I spend all day looking at beautiful homes and interacting with designers and creators in the home and interior space. I actually started out at Apartment Therapy Media, which is what really got me into interiors and home. Then I moved into my role at The Spruce, which has been really exciting. I get to work across all the major social media platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and more. Just curating content and making sure everything looks beautiful. One of my favorite parts is working with creators and getting to see their spaces, getting their tips, and just learning all about different spaces.

[03:43] Making your space your own

If the last few years in the pandemic have taught us anything, it’s that having a really comfortable welcoming home can make all the difference in terms of your mental health and just your general happiness. Even if you’re a renter, you can make your space feel customized to your needs and your style. First, we always say you want to come into any task at home with a plan. The biggest plan you have to have as a renter is of course how you’re going to change everything back to what it was if you eventually have to move out. But other than that, you can pretty much do whatever you want. I think a lot of people put limits on themselves when it comes to rentals and you really don’t have to limit yourself. The only real thing you need to think about is how you’re going to change your space back to what it was when you moved in.

[05:51] Tips for small spaces

I’m all about creating zones, which is something you hear a lot in interior design, but I think it’s especially important in small spaces. So that basically means thinking through the function of every area that you’re creating, whether you’re looking to create a small dining area or an open concept living room kitchen. Just think about how every spot in a room or in an apartment functions, and think through each space differently. One tip I have for that is using area rugs to really clearly define each zone. Rugs can really like visually offset everything and help kind of dedicate spaces to particular uses. Lighting is something that maybe is a little less approachable to renters but switching out your light fixtures or even adding light fixtures like floor lamps or table lamps in different areas can make your zones feel very separate.

[13:17] Using vertical space

I have friends who live in rentals or small studios that are always asking me, How can I create more space? I always say, look up, because a lot of people forget about the space up there. One of my favorite tips is using the space above your kitchen cabinets. No matter how thin it is, you can either buy baskets or bins that can fit into that space and that’s a really good storage area for items you maybe don’t use every day. You definitely don’t want to be climbing up there every day to grab those but it’s good for seasonal decor or maybe if you bake occasionally, but don’t bake super often. It’s a good spot to store those more specialized cooking or baking utensils.

[17:10] Splurge vs. save with apartment decor

This is one of the trickiest things about being a renter because when you move into a new space, it can feel so tempting to just buy everything fresh to fit the new space. That’s obviously not sustainable either, both for the earth and your wallet. Right. So it is important when you’re thinking through a new space to think about what items you already have and how they’ll fit the new space. Letting your furniture function in different spaces than maybe you originally imagined it in is important. 

When it comes to splurging or saving, I always try to think sustainably and not necessarily buy from fast furniture places. It’s okay to purchase from maybe less sustainable stores if you’re being intentional about it and you’re intending to keep that item for a long time. The way to do that is by having a really clear idea of your style. Because if you have that clear idea of your style, you’re probably going to want to take those items to your new place anyway. winded answer. But I think it is so important when coming into any space rented or not to understand what your style is and what speaks to you in your home.

[23:34] How to undo the decor when it is time to move out

Have your plan going in. It’s important especially if you’re going to stay in a place for longer than a year to just literally write down the changes you’re making or take photos to remember what you’re doing. When I made changes to my space, I literally wrote everything down so that before our lease is up, I’m not scrambling to find things and remember the changes we made. 

[27:20] Larger and permanent projects

For most of these larger projects, you probably want to talk to your landlord first anyway, even if it’s not something they’re gonna want to keep just to make sure. A lot of leases have stipulations that you can’t make certain changes without permission. It’s definitely always good to cover your bases and check. I personally have never spoken to my landlord about bigger changes, but I think it’s definitely something I’ve seen other creators doing especially with light fixtures and then occasionally with appliances. The only thing to be cautious about there is then you’re investing in a space that you’re not going to stay in because if they keep the light fixtures, then that’s something that you’ve bought and invested in and you’re not getting to keep the light fixture. It’s definitely a trade-off, where you have to think about if you’re staying somewhere for five years, it might be worth it. But if you’re staying just for one year, it might not be.

[29:01] Strategies for decorating your apartment

Aside from using your vertical space, also think about the space underneath your furniture. I mentioned that I hid my cabinet door under my bed. I think if you’re not using your under-bed storage, then that’s like a treasure trove of space that you’re really not utilizing. You can also hide things under your sofa depending on how low your sofa is to the ground. It’s a good spot to store seasonal art prints or if you like flatter decor. Think about the vertical space but also think about behind or under furniture where you can sneak in some extra storage.

[31:09] Color trends

We’re definitely seeing brighter or deeper colors instead of the kind of muted pale like burnt oranges. We’re seeing people move into more jewel tones, or even just brighter oranges. Green is huge right now which is a lot of fun because people are starting to get a little, a little bored with the mustards and the burnt oranges. Not that those colors aren’t lovely as well but people are moving into the more saturated tones, which can be maybe a little unapproachable especially if you don’t have those tones in your space already. An easy way to start incorporating them would be with smaller items. So like getting an emerald green throw pillow or a brighter orange vase that has some colors in it. You don’t have to commit to changing out your whole bedspread to be in a brighter color or getting a different sofa or chair but it is fun to keep on top of color trends with your smaller items.

[34:32] Apartment friendly outdoor trends

We’re definitely seeing apartment-friendly outdoor trends largely because of the pandemic on The Spruce. We saw a huge increase of people being interested in outdoor entertaining ideas or products like heat lamps or outdoor patio furniture. I think it’s because people were trying to entertain outside because of COVID but I think that’s still continuing and in an apartment that can be a little trickier, especially If your apartment doesn’t have a balcony or a yard. One fun thing is to have either furniture or small items that you can store away for picnics. We’ve just seen a huge rise in people entertaining via picnics in public spaces. You can also host picnics yourself just by having either folding chairs or blankets and kind of cheaper place settings. The picnic idea is a lot of fun if you live in an apartment because you can always have a picnic at a park.

[37:09] Outdoor storage strategies 

I’m a big fan of the folding chair and I think those have come a long way in terms of style. Folding chairs are great just for entertaining in general because a lot of people realized over the past few years that they don’t necessarily need to have a lot of space. You can have items that are multifunctional or that you can pull out just when you have people over since you’re probably not going to have people over that often. It makes sense to have your space set up for how you use it the most often. Folding chairs are a great way to do that and most of them just fold up pretty flat so you can store them under your sofa or in the corner of a closet. They don’t have to be like the ugly metal folding chairs or like the camping chairs there are a lot of nicer patterns or colors that you can get those in now.

[41:20] Fun home design trends

People are looking for items that can function in multiple ways. One thing I was looking for when I was moving into my new apartment was a coffee table that you can lift up to be a table. Being able to lift up the coffee table makes it much easier to entertain. Here’s a ton of multifunctional furniture you can get for a home office. Now there are a lot more high quality or high design options that are super, super functional and we have a lot more options for really stylish storage now than ever before.

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