My First Place: Ask A Style Expert


One of the perks of interning at Martha Stewart is the chance to seek advice from the creative people throughout the office as I’m preparing to move into my first apartment. Last week I sat down with Erin Rouse, from the style department, to hear her tips on decorating a first apartment. Erin gave me with some decorating guidelines as well as some awesome budget-friendly DIY ideas.

Erin pointed out that you should never try to furnish an apartment all at once. Instead, you should build it slowly. Your tastes will evolve over time and so should your apartment. Shop around at many places to build an atmosphere that reflects your personality. This is how Erin found her favorite piece in her apartment: a brass table from a yard sale.

Textiles and accessories can make a new place instantly feel homey–an eye-catching throw, linens, or tea towels add life and personality to even the most basic room. Hardware is an inexpensive and low-commitment way to update cabinets and bureaus. (Anthropologie has cute knobs and drawer pulls, and Ebay is a great resource as well.) Erin shared another simple decorating rule that adds complexity: every room should have something shiny, something wooden, and something fluffy.

Erin provided some examples from her own home, which can inspire anyone looking for creative ways to update a basic room or apartment:

Paint is a great way to make a piece of furniture more your style or to unite disparate elements in a room. Erin picked up a pair of rattan chairs with a great shape, but worn finish, and painted them a rich blue. It instantly made them feel like more sophisticated pieces.

Lastly, think about how you can use materials in a new way. Since she’s not allowed to paint or wallpaper her apartment, Erin used a textured black contact paper to faux-wallpaper her hallway, which will be a breeze to take down. In her kitchen, Erin took inspiration from Kate Spade and used foil seals from the office supply store to add a polka-dot motif to her cabinets.

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