How to Give Your Apartment a Modern Feel

So, you just moved into your new apartment. The price is great, and it’s in your favorite part of the city. There’s just one problem—the place hasn’t been updated in decades.

Since you’re renting, you don’t have unlimited freedom to remodel your new spot. You may not even be able to paint, depending on the terms of your lease.

No worries, there are still a lot of things you can do to update your space and make it appear trendier and more modern. When you move into a new space, you can sometimes feel uncomfortable or out of place. Your new surroundings don’t always immediately feel like home.

Fortunately, some minor changes to your décor and furnishings will help transform your new residence into a place you’re happy to call home.

Here are ten easy ways to modernize any traditional space:

  1. Hang Contemporary Art

Contemporary art plays quite well with the astute architecture of traditional spaces. Bold, modern artwork can highlight the intricate details of the existing structure.  Add modern artwork to your apartment with colors that complement the furniture and fixtures you already have.

Even the addition of one or two great pieces can really bring your space into the modern age. Be sure not to go too wild with your artwork choices. Stay away from loud, busy, and gaudy art that will subtract from the building’s natural beauty. The goal is to accent what’s already there, not drown it out.

  1. Arrange Your Books

Typically, books are arranged vertically in libraries and in most peoples’ home collections. Try switching it up by horizontally stacking your books. This simple touch quickly gives any room an updated look. To take this a step further, build several stacks of books with a few inches of space in between each stack. A mix of both vertical and horizontal book arrangements also makes for an intriguing aesthetic.

Don’t have any books lying around? (It is the age of the Internet, after all) Stop by your local flea market or second-hand shop and pick up a box of cheap books. They don’t even have to be good books if you intend to use them for decorating, rather than reading!

  1. Marble Countertops

Old or damaged countertops can be a serious bummer. They make your kitchen appear outdated and sloppy. There are several different options for adding marble countertops to your kitchen. Some of them may require landlord approval, while others are more temporary changes—perfect for rental properties.

Marble countertops are desirable for kitchen with good reason—they look amazing. They will make your kitchen look more modern and people will think your rent is much higher than it really is! For a truly modern looking kitchen, you should consider upgrading to marble countertops. There’s a variety of marble countertops available regardless of the person’s sense of style and budget. Each one is unique based on its design and texture. Before adding marble countertops in your home you should find out how to properly care for them. They regularly need to be sealed so they don’t get scratched or crack. However, they’re considered low maintenance and will add a lot of appeal to your kitchen.

  1. Lighten Up

No, we don’t mean your attitude—we’re talking about brightening up your space! One of the easiest ways to spruce up your place is to add splashes of bright color. You can get creative with this idea, but here are a few bright color suggestions:

  • Canary yellow: This color is incredibly modern and is sure to draw the attention (in a good way!) of anyone who enters your space.
  • Mint green: A bright, yet soft, mint green is a twist on the more traditional green hues. Mint green will add a youthful appeal to your apartment.
  • Klein blue: This color has gained major popularity amongst designers. It’s extremely modern, and just the right balance of bold and chic.
  1. Be Clear

Transparency is one of the keys to modernizing your furniture. A glass tabletop or bar cart, or even an acrylic chandelier will go a long way in adding an avant-garde appeal. Clear accents lighten up the denseness of dark wood often found in classical homes. The best part? Clear matches anything, so it’s super simple to throw in a transparent piece for an instant visual upgrade.

  1. Diversify

Older homes tend to come with American, Chinese, or European furniture. To shake things up a bit, try infusing some African, South American, or Asian décor. Experiment with different pieces, but be conscious of maintaining a sense of collectiveness.

If you happen to have visited other countries, put some of your “souvenirs” on display. Nothing beats authenticity! Vintage tiles or aged urns add a cosmopolitan flair to any room.

  1. Stay Solid

Similar to the artwork, you should keep your color schemes tame. Intricate patterns can be dizzying, and often reminiscent of grandma’s house. Sticking with solid colors is a surefire way to stay modern.

Using solid colors doesn’t mean you have to be boring, though. Rather than using a ton of funky color patterns, incorporate different textures into your space. Look for mixed metals with different finishes or uniquely shaped furniture. It’s best to layer your uniqueness and creativity on top of a neutral base.

  1. Do Something Unexpected

Think about things that you would typically expect to see in most living spaces. For instance, a small, ornamental table or a mirror at the bottom of a staircase wouldn’t be that surprising, right? There are interior decorating guidelines and habits that we tend to see throughout many homes.

Imagine if you replaced the table and mirror at the foot of the stairs with a pair of chairs. That’s unusual. Or what about a low bench propping up a leaning piece of artwork? Dare to be different! A lot of traditional decorating rules are outdated and a bit drab. Play with unexpected arrangements and pairings to see what interesting, surprising combinations you can create.

  1. Break Layout Laws

A lot of bedrooms and living rooms are arranged in a fairly standard way. When you walk into a home, you expect to see a couch in one place, and a television in another. In a bedroom, you expect to see a bed against one wall and a dresser against another. Well, it’s time to flip things around!

Try floating a daybed in the center of a small room. This isn’t a layout that most people follow, though it is a trick of some interior designers. It will give you loads of space to move around the room, and it just feels extra cozy. When it comes to designing the layout of your rooms, listen to your instincts—and then ignore what you hear. Go with the flow and let your imagination unfold. You’ll love the results.

  1. Scale Up

A fun way to make a statement with your furnishings is to switch up the traditional scale. Disregard rational proportions and opt for bigger pieces than necessary. While the piece may not need to be huge in order to function, its size will make it memorable. This is another great way to push the boundaries of traditional decorating rules and be uncommon.

Here are a few ideas for extra-large statement pieces:

  • Chandelier
  • Oversized graphic art
  • Mirror credenza
  • Upholstered chair
  • Metal wall accent
  • Oversized lamp
  • Area rug
  • Large mirror

You’re going to be spending a lot of time in your apartment. It’s where you’ll eat, sleep, entertain guests, and reflect. Your space should inspire and motivate you every day. It’s not just a place to live—it’s your masterpiece.

Photo by Leonas Garbačauskas

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