Hey you all, Ajai here, and I’m back with some pretty big news! After seven long months of living with my parents, we’ve moved out! To make a very long story short, because of such uncertain times (me being pregnant during a pandemic and now flu season) our OB/GYN wants Jack (our sweet baby boy) to only be around mommy and daddy during his vaccination period, so my husband and I had to bite the bullet and sign an apartment lease. We were able to save a fair amount while living with my parents, and selling our previous home also helped. However, we’ll use this time in our apartment to adjust to parenthood and take our time to look for the perfect home for us. But this doesn’t mean we won’t make this apartment feel like home in the meantime.
Along with driving back to my parent’s home during the weekends to complete the projects we started there, we’ve lined up some apartment-friendly design and decor updates for our new space as well. Again, our goal was to make our apartment feel like a home. But the big question is, how exactly do you do that? Especially with the apartment being a new-build (just built at the end of 2018). This will be Jack’s first home, so it’s important for us to make it as relaxing and cozy as possible. Moreover, it’s important for us to make it feel like a place with character, and one that reminds him of comfort and love. We needed to tackle our main bedroom first, so we established a few guidelines to achieve this homey-feeling. Below are seven principles we established to help with adding character and coziness through decor.
BUY KEY BEDROOM PIECES AND UNPACK ASAP
My husband and I did our best not to fall into the trap of living amongst boxes. We tackled those moving boxes ASAP, because we know the dangers of “leaving them and getting around to unpacking another time.” Living amongst boxes can be a constant reminder that we are not at home. Thus, instead of grabbing our things from boxes on a daily basis, we purchased a dresser and hangers immediately to get our clothes organized in closets, and put away neatly in our dresser. We also made it a priority to build our bed instead of sleeping on the floor. Nothing like a blowup mattress or sleeping bag to remind you that you’re not at home.
CHOOSE COMFY (AND BEAUTIFUL) BEDDING
I cannot urge enough how important it is to have good sheets and bedding. Our main bedroom is our sanctuary and good sleep can really aid in our recovery from a long and chaotic day. Something you should know about me; there’s the Ajai who had a good night’s sleep, and the Ajai who had a not-so-good night’s sleep (you’d enjoy the first one much more). So to make sure I’m my smiley, enjoyable, and upbeat self, I do my best to source comfy sheets. The sheets we have on our bed now are like sleeping in between fluffy clouds. We got our bed bundle from The Citizenry. I was on the hunt for the perfect neutral linen sheets and had been eyeing their stonewashed sand stripe set for quite some time. These sheets are so soft, extremely light, and beyond cozy. They actually make it hard to get out of bed and get things going, but I’m sure our newborn will act as our built in alarm to remedy that.
SHOWCASE YOUR SENTIMENTALS
I’m big on minimalism, but bare walls and empty nooks in an apartment can be so daunting. That said, I go the hygge route to remedy the feeling of emptiness. I need our place to always feel like home and cozy, so I put out sentimental things to trigger nostalgia and memories of family and fun times. I printed and framed a picture from our wedding day, and added it to a little vignette on our dresser. This picture reminds me of our journey and just how far we’ve come as husband and wife (we met eight years ago, got married in 2016, and now we are going to be a mommy and daddy – I can’t believe it). I also added a glass photo album filled with our wedding photos to the vignette too. The throw-blanket on our bed came from our home in Atlanta (I remember us cozying up into it as it snowed last winter).
TREAT YOURSELF WITH WINDOW TREATMENTS
The windows are the eyes of your space. Some prefer a bare eyelid and don’t mind going out into the world without mascara and eyeliner. My husband doesn’t care much for my no-drapes approach, but I am this way sometimes. I want all of the windows open with light bursting through. However, there are plenty of days where I’m feeling fancy and love to line my eyes and put on mascara. That said, it’s very important to choose good window rods and panels in these cases. Here’s a trick I learned; the window rods and drapes really set the tone of a room, so if you splurge a bit here, you can get thrifty with other pieces of furniture. To make a real statement with the windows, I added brass curtain rods and curtain rings with clips. Because the apartment came with blinds, I added white linen panels for an open and airy feel.
GET RID OF HARSH LIGHTING AND ADD LAMPS AND SCONCES
For me, lighting is the jewelry of a space (can you see the trend here?? I typically think of dressing a room like I’d dress myself. I picked up this approach to designing interiors from Emily H.). That said, I received gorgeous sconces from a collaboration with Mitzi and Hudson Valley Lighting Group (the ones featured in the mood board from my last blog post) that I adore. They were originally to be used in my mom and dad’s home (we even hired an electrician to wire them), but I really wanted to show them in my current design. (Don’t worry mom, I’ll be unmounting and returning the lights to you soon, as promised). Adding sconces and lamps allow for you to dress your room thus, adding character, and providing warmer and less harsh lighting.
TRY ARTIFICIAL CANDLES
It’s important that we abide by our rental agreement and play it safe when it comes to candles. I know how cozy and at home candles can truly make a room feel, and I’m very into warm lighting, but with apartments this can get a bit tricky. To avoid burning down the building, we just purchased rental insurance (HA I’m kidding, though we do have renter’s insurance). In actuality, we added artificial candles to warm up the space (figuratively speaking).
LET YOUR FURNITURE ALSO FUNCTION AS ART
Being able to actually utilize art in my home is a big one for me. I do my best to find beautiful pieces that actually serve a purpose. For instance the nightstands I just had to have in this space. These bedside tables took real patience, and boy was I okay with waiting for them. I visited my local store almost every weekend and called everyday to see if they’d finally made it on the shipping truck. The shape on them is smooth and minimal, yet make such a bold statement. To me they whisper, “I’m beautiful, use me.” I keep our current reads stored in these beauties, and place my tea on them while we cuddle up and watch our nightly shows (with coasters of course). They also give me a place to store and hide not-so-good-looking remote controls, phone chargers, and earphones.
I should also mention how obsessed I am with vintage rugs. They are hands down one of my favorite decor items. They are essentially like having unique art on the floor. Area rugs are the focal piece of a room and I believe they should call to us, just like wall art. You can even layer them to make a room feel cozy. I used a jute rug for the first layer and the top rug I chose for our bedroom is a vintage wool rug, sent all the way to me from Turkey (Via a truly amazing girl on Etsy). This rug is one of a kind and it makes my feet quite happy, every step of the way. I love choosing pillows covers to act as functional art as well, and the pillows I chose are also vintage textiles (compliments of Marigold Interiors).
Of course when the baby comes, we have a spot in our bedroom where I’ll have his bassinet (so I can be nearby to check on him during the first months) but did I mention another great thing about this apartment is that we have an extra room?? That extra room will serve as his nursery so the three of us don’t have to be squished into one room AND it means we have extra storage for baby clothes and a changing station. What a dream!
In the meantime, we are driving to my parents home next weekend to finish up the living and dining rooms and I’ll be sharing my mom’s living room gone girl-cave next time around! See you then!
Design and Photos by Ajai Guyot of True Home