It’s a conundrum we’ve seen a lot: renters don’t want to spend a lot of money tricking out their space, but they still want an apartment to feel like home. That’s why we’ve teamed with local interior designer Whitney Jones of Whitney J. Decor to get her expert advice on how to jazz up your apartment smartly and affordably – and with gorgeous results. In the first of our two-part series, we talk the basics of what to buy and how to rethink your approach to decorating. Stay tuned for our next post when we delve into specific DIY projects and the best places in New Orleans (and online) to find decorative accents, furniture, and more.
1st Lake Properties: Obviously, we’re proponents of renting, and we think it’s important that a rented space feels like home. We’ve taken great care to create beautiful landscaping, smart floor plans, and other welcoming details across our properties – how else can someone make a rental feel like home?
Whitney Jones: First, I always like to say that I think it’s a misconception that we wouldn’t spend money or we shouldn’t invest in home décor just because we rent. I believe that if you can afford to get quality pieces, you should invest in them because those pieces can move with you. Things that require custom fitting – like custom draperies or rugs – are things I wouldn’t suggest for a rented space because you don’t know if they’ll work in a home or in your next apartment, but there are other things you can purchase that can take your space to the next level.
1LP: What are some examples of the types of things renters can purchase that will make a big impact?
WJ: A quality sofa or quality artwork. They are something you should invest in because those pieces can move with you. And pillows! Pillows are a really good way to update a space and make an apartment look totally different without spending too much money.
1LP: Let’s say a renter has $500 they can use to ‘jazz up’ their space. How should they use it?
WJ: I just redecorated my own apartment! I’d say $500 would be a good budget to buy art, new pillows, and also draperies. I think one of the things for apartment renters that we forget altogether is drapery. It can be expensive if you get them custom, but if you purchase ready-made panels from a store like Target or JC Penney, you can really shape a window. Draperies really ground a room.
1LP: Draperies, really? We wouldn’t have guessed that!
WJ: They are a game-changer. As for solid or prints, I think personally, and especially in an apartment, prints are the best way to go. A lot of times you bring in interests by actually putting some pattern on the wall – most apartments come with mini blinds, so putting a plain curtain on top of it doesn’t really add a big effect. Even a colored panel just doesn’t do enough. Bringing in some pattern and texture allows for that big pop and serves as another work of art depending on the kind of curtain you use. It lets you show your personality and brightens things up while having a little bit of fun. Curtains already ground a space, and by having a pattern, it really brings a pop of interest to a small space, which is needed for apartments – sometimes they can all look the same! Curtains are an easy, beautiful way to differentiate yourself stylishly.
1LP: Should people consider hiring an interior designer even for a rented space?
WJ: I definitely think that it’s a lot better to work with a designer and decorator even if you rent, because you can save yourself a lot of money and a lot of headaches in the end. You give a designer a budget, and they can have your apartment laid out for you without you having to lift a finger. There’s a really big misconception that we’re super unaffordable but that’s not the case – a lot of designers work in relation to your budget. For me as a designer, anything you should buy should be something you buy to KEEP, and an interior designer can help you find those pieces that’ll move seamlessly with you as you transition from apartment to apartment.
Next week, we pick up the conversation with Whitney about DIY, how to plan for decorating, and how to avoid feeling “stuck” when it comes to revamping your space. Follow her on Instagram at @whitneyjdecor or visit whitneyjdecor.com.