How to make your tiny, old apartment feel more like home and less like a matchbox

In case you hadn’t read before, I have moved to Amsterdam one year ago. After living in two beautiful short-term lets (and two not so beautiful ones), we finally have a long-term rental agreement. The problem? You get a lot more bang for your buck with short-term sweet deals. Generally, landlords/ladies who are off to travel the world for a few months are more concerned with someone properly looking after their everyday home, than they are about making a profit. So, ultimately my budget got me a place that could do with a LOT of TLC but still has a bit of charm and character. And a stray cat that comes and visits us every now and then for a cuddle and a tin of tuna.

Consequently, I do not know when I will be moving out of this apartment, and I feel reluctant to put too much time and money into soft furnishings when the place isn’t fully ours to keep forever. The apartment is furnished with a lot of dark wood and red (eugh) something that is quite jarring with my preference for light, Scandi-style accents. However, after some serious consideration I think I have a few tricks up my sleeve for making your apartment feel a little less is tiny cosy and I would like to impart this knowledge to you:

Don’t compare your place to other people’s :

In the modern world, Instagram and social media are now part of our daily routine. We have never had such insight into how others live, most importantly how people with a lot more dosh than us live. It can be pretty discouraging trawling through pages of beautifully decorated spacious and light houses and seeing the rose-tinted view of an “influencer’s” home. Unless you are looking for inspiration, switch the phone off and start concentrating on how you can make your place look a bit better.

Pick a theme that will work for your home: 

For instance, trying to make the dark wood in my apartment work with a modern white-wash theme is not realistic. I cannot afford to change the green coloured curtains or put in a nice new pink velvet sofa. Instead, work with what you do have. I have covered the sofa in a lighter throw, giving it a more comfortable, less-worn look and have used lots of mirrors on the walls to maximise space. I have bought a few very nice velvet cushion covers (I found them for a reasonable price in H&M home). Look around locally, I picked up a great cabinet for 20 euros from around the corner on Marktplaz (Dutch version of ebay)


cushion 2.jpg

Maximise your storage

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris.

We have hardly any storage, and although I only came over to the Netherlands with a big suitcase and hang-luggage, working for a fashion brand means I do seem to have accumulated a lot of stuff, particularly as I cannot see anything go to waste. I need to use every ounce of storage I have to make my clothes fit. Put shoes in sensible places (we have a rule of only having 2 pairs out each) and use space wisely (fold re-ogranise and don’t forget to have a good clear out of the things you do not need). However, do not make things look overfilled, overstuffed ( I like to have all my surfaces clear with a few plants/ frames on them) to give the illusion of space. Look on Pintrest for some good ideas about how to save space and try to be creative.

Invest in prints and frames and pot plants:

Even better, create plant pots out of old teapots, fancy chopped tomato tins or anything else that would fit into your apartment. For me, green plants really set a room off, if you have a corner that needs filling putting a big banana tree in it can give a great sense of space and colour, and you can pick them up for a reasonable price, just make sure you take care of them. I have also bought a set of frames from a flea market in the summer and I am slowly filling them with some great prints, one of my favourite newly discovered artists is Margo in Margate who is from an area very close to my hometown. Decide carefully about the types of art/ print you choose. Pick something with meaning to you, not just an impulse buy from something you saw on Instagram and you will probably love it for a lot longer.



Treat yourself to some nice bedding

Okay, I think I am officially a grown-up. I splashed out on some beautiful bed linen and a bed-throw and some big pillows (what have I become?) and it has made me feel SO much better about the whole place. My justification was that we spend one third of our life asleep, and dammit let’s treat ourselves once in a while. Bedding will last and is something you will use forever and it makes my whole room look SO much more cosy.

I would love to hear about your tips and tricks for making your place feel a bit more like home.



Leave a Reply