Since I can remember, I have dreamed of living in Manhattan. I went to sleep each night dreaming of flying away, dreaming that when I woke up, I’d be surrounded by skyscrapers and people from all walks of life following their dreams too. I often find myself walking the streets at night, seeing all the lit up windows and thinking that each of those windows holds another person with another story. It never ceases to amaze me!
One thing that I love about living in NYC is that it is ever-changing. Trends change, circumstances change (*cough* COVID *cough*), jobs and schedules change, and our moods change! Because of this, we are always switching up our home decor, recycling old furniture, re-hanging art, and always looking for new DIY projects to spruce up our living space. Buying used city furniture (“pre-loved,” if you will) can sometimes be a little sketchy, but I love the idea that our pieces of furniture have memories of their own. No matter how small, each one of these changes has transformed our apartment into an oasis that I love coming home to!
I lived on the Upper East Side of NYC (an adorable little neighborhood called Yorkville) for about 5 years, and just recently took the plunge and moved to an apartment complex in a brand new neighborhood! I’m now living with my best friend (since high school) and her toy poodle puppy (my dog-nephew, Colson) in Murray Hill (midtown NYC). This was the first time I have had a blank canvas of an apartment to decorate, and we went above and beyond–I’m so excited to share it with you all!
After living in the city for so long, I’ve narrowed down a few specific things that can turn any space into a home that you love. TikTok and Pinterest helped me discover some of these awesome hacks and ideas to help elevate my apartment, making it sophisticated and cozy…but more importantly, didn’t break the bank! Especially in a big city, a few of these things are essential, while a few are special home decor touches to make the space your own on any budget.
Enjoy these home decor and home styling tips, and keep an eye out for Part 2, which will feature small apartment organization hacks and tips!
This may seem like an obvious one (and a lame one to start with, but you know me, I can’t resist alphabetical order), but candles and candle holders make SUCH a difference in any home. Not only with aesthetic and smell, but also with the vibe they create. There’s nothing better than a nice Self-Care Sunday surrounded by candles. I discovered my love of candles during quarantine, when I made lighting a candle part of my daily morning routine. There’s something calming about the vibes they create, they smell great, and are a gorgeous addition to any room.
Set of 3 Tapers Cast Aluminum Candle Holder
Voluspa Panjore Lychee Large Embossed Glass Jar Candle
Diptyque Baies/berries Scented Candle
Pink Purple And White Palm Pillar Candle
Coffee Table Books & Decor
Keep in mind that this is coming from a super-duper book nerd, but books can add both beauty and sophistication to any space! And, they can go anywhere- the coffee table, the bathroom, bedroom, on shelves, anywhere. You can organize coffee table book stacks by color, topic, or shape/size. And, if you’re having trouble with coffee table decor styling, check out pre-stacked book sets like the ones below. If you find yourself needing your coffee table surface for drinks, food, laptops, etc. consider a two-tiered glass coffee table like this one! That way, your coffee table decor is on display without sacrificing table surface area (which is essential for a small apartment).
Check out my Coffee Table Inspo Pinterest board for some coffee table book inspiration!
Here are some other things you can use to up your coffee table decor game:
Shop Coffee Table Books & Decor:
Glam Decor Luxurious Book Stack
Amazon Farmhouse Beads 58in
Anthropologie Agate Crystal Bookends
Target Round Wood and Wire Tray
Target Decorative Teak Wood Chain Figurine
Hallows Eve 6in Skull Head
Anthropologie Agate Coaster
Bookshelf decoration, coffee table books
There are all kinds of lights (reflections off buildings during the day, car headlights at night) and noises (car horns all day, hooligans at night) to block out in New York City. So, black-out curtains are a great idea, especially for apartments on the first few floors of an apartment complex. I sacrificed comfort for beauty this time around–I love my curtain rods and ruffled curtains and the way the sun shines through them! However, I also decided that I wanted the option to block out a little light for naptime, so I installed some roller shades behind the curtains as well. Curtain tie backs are also a must-have to pull back your curtains in a stylish way, and catch that view of the New York City skyline (if you are so lucky).
Anthropologie Curtain Speckled Tieback
Amazon CHICOLOGY Roller Shades
Amazon ColorBird Striped Semi-Blackout Window Curtains
Walmart 2pc White Solid Sheer Voile Window Curtain Set
My roommate and I are huge art lovers, so we have an exorbitant amount of artwork, with not a ton of wall space for wall art decor. A gallery wall is great solution for this problem. With a gallery wall, you can not only fit more wall decor on a smaller wall, but the art can help set the theme for the whole room. For our living room, we wanted to go with Boho decor with gold/silver accents for a touch of glam. You can also use shelving and other art pieces within your gallery wall to add some dimension. If you’re not sure how to set up a gallery wall with your wall decor, the combinations of gallery wall ideas out there are endless and a gallery wall template is easy to find. Check out my Gallery Wall Pinterest board for some inspiration and gallery wall layout ideas.
If you have frames, but want to refresh and update your artwork, consider purchasing prints. Etsy has a lot of digital artwork that you can download and print yourself or send to a printer like Staples or CVS, and many times, you can buy prints in a gallery wall art set to easily create the perfect wall. Another great idea is framing things like shopping bags, postcards or posters–a shadowbox can hold just about anything to make it look professionally framed and aesthetically pleasing. Check out my Wall Decor Pinterest board for some inspiration!
Shop Gallery Wall Decor:
Target Gallery Wall Floating Picture Frame Set
Target Image Frame Alabaster Oak
Muzilife 8×8 Shadow Box Picture Frames
Desert Wall Art Southwestern Decor Set of 3 Prints
When I first moved to the city, our apartment was pretty much a smattering of whatever extra kitchenware we could get for free. Items in the kitchen tend to get old and dirty pretty quickly, so moving in to this new apartment was a great excuse to upgrade our kitchen appliances, kitchenware, and dishware! (Plus, our kitchen and living room are in the same area, so we wanted to make sure it looked presentable.) My roommate has a beautiful SMEG Espresso Machine and SMEG Electric Kettle, both in pastel green, so we decided to center our color scheme & kitchen decor around them! This is super easy to do with so many brands offering pre-matched kitchenware collections (see below). We quickly added a few pots/pans, cooking utensils, dish towels and dishware to the collection to finalize our kitchen, making it look sophisticated, organized and visually appealing.
As for kitchen wall decor, displaying your beautiful (CLEAN) cookware or tools is a great way to “decorate” when you might not have much storage space.
Rachael Ray Create Delicious 10pc Hard Anodized Cookware Set
Honey-Can-Do Bamboo Jar Storage Set
Porcelain Plates Sets with Space-Saving Racks
Target 5pc Stainless Steel Izon Mirror Flatware Set
First, who doesn’t love to stare at themselves every once in a while (or all the time)? Colson the poodle certainly does… Second, whether it’s a floor length mirror or a wall mirror, it makes the apartment appear bigger than it actually is! Strategic placement can really open up any small spaces. Third, having a mirror by the door is a must-have. Everyone needs a quick hair-check and lipstick touch-up before walking out the door. Plus… they’re pretty! And, they are neutral and will look good with whatever color scheme and style you’ve got goin’ on. Same goes for mirrored furniture!
When it comes to a vanity mirror, consider beauty and functionality. A vanity mirror with lights (like the one below) can be really great alternative for lighting up the room in addition to lighting up your face for makeup time.
Sarah Bartholomew Octagonal Rattan Mirror
Metal Frame Mirror Arched Floor
H&M Mirror with Rattan Frame
Decorative Round Leaf Wall Mirror
I’ll be the first to admit that I am completely incapable of keeping flowers or plants alive. I’ve always felt like the maintenance and mess isn’t worth the aesthetic. So, let’s talk artificial plants. Upon deciding that we wanted our living area to be filled with Boho decor, we knew that we wanted some artificial green plants paired with some macramé plant hangers, plus some pampas grass. Not only do plant hangers make gorgeous and effortless wall decor, but they help keep your table tops clear, which can be difficult in smaller apartments. For those who want a one-step solution, consider an all-in-one bundle that comes with plants and pots. For those who would rather customize their plants, hangers, and pots, this is possible as well. Check out these shopping options below.
For those with more floor space and less tabletop/wall space, consider a plant stand with larger plants like a snake plant or spider plant.
Additionally, I was happy to find that Amazon had a plethora of faux peonies. They are my favorite flower, but they’re only in season about two months out of the year, so this was the perfect solution!
Shop Plants, Hangers & Vases
6ft Silk Eucalyptus Full/Thick Garland
Macrame Handmade Pot Holder Plant Hanger
Artificial String of Pearls Succulent
Jade Colored Glass Vases
Pillows & Blankets
Cute and comfortable! Pillow throws and throw blankets are an easy way to increase comfort while adding a personal touch (like the personalized one below) to your apartment. Whether they are placed on the bed or the couch, pillow throws can add a pop of color, personality, or texture. Another great thing about pillow throws is if you buy pillow inserts, you can then change up the pillow covers whenever you’d like, and replace the inserts if they get lumpy! I’ve never been a huge fan of accent pillows when it comes to bedroom decor ideas, but I decided to invest in the velvet champagne ones below, and I have to admit, they really add a new level of sophistication to my bedroom! Any pillows that are large enough to “chop” at the top (like the ones below) look really beautiful anywhere in the house.
Faye Linen Textured Pillow Cover
Chunky Hand-Knit Throw
Nordstrom In the Wild Throw Blanket
36″X16″ FORMA PILLOW WITH DOWN-ALTERNATIVE INSERT
Walking into our empty apartment for the first time and seeing the white walls, I knew right away that we needed some aesthetic wallpaper. Decorating walls is particularly difficult when you are renting, but Etsy has SO many great options for peel and stick wallpaper (scroll down to shop) which won’t damage your walls and can be taken down before you move! I was a little nervous about doing the wallpaper application myself, but after getting the hang of it with the first panel, it ended up being so easy. If you don’t want to spend a ton of money, consider an accent wall! Don’t be fooled by the low prices when you start shopping–these are usually per square foot, and can begin to add up.
Order more wallpaper than you think is necessary. It’s better to have left over wallpaper than not enough. You can always use the left overs to cover other surfaces–I used some of my extra peel and stick wallpaper to cover up the window of the “flex” wall in my bedroom!
Here are a few things to keep in mind when doing your own peel-and-stick wallpaper:
Shop Peel & Stick Wallpaper:
RoomMates Herringbone Faux Board Peel & Stick Wallpaper
Sky Blue & White Mod Chevron Self-Adhesive Wallpaper
Removable Wallpaper Mural Peel & Stick Tropical Leaves
Peony Flowers Toile Wallpaper
I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini tour of my new apartment and the home decor that went into making it home! Be sure to keep an eye out for Part 2, which will feature small apartment organization hacks and tips! Subscribe with your email address below to get it sent to you as soon as it’s published! Happy decorating!