Everything I Got Wrong When Decorating My Apartment

Tips for Decorating Your First Apartment

It’s been four months since I moved into my West London apartment, and it’s now fully furnished (for the most part, at least). I was really looking forward to putting my own stamp on the place, but decorating has definitely come with its ups and downs. And I want to share the key mistakes I made, because it’s so easy to get caught-up in the Instagram bubble of #interiorgoals.

By seeing everything I got wrong when furnishing my new home, hopefully you’ll pick up some tips for decorating your first apartment, if you’re about to move. Read on for my somewhat embarrassing confessions…

Mistake #1: Failing to Consider the Dimensions

The biggest error I made throughout the furnishing process is so easily avoidable, I actually feel ashamed admitting this… But I consistently ordered items without accurately checking the dimensions first.

A fold-out dining table that I assumed would comfortably sit 2-4 people arrived and was actually designed for a party of 6-8 (naturally it had to be returned). A “full-length” mirror showed up and was half the size I expected. Storage baskets were too big to slide into the corners I’d allocated for them. And – most hilarious of all – I accidentally purchased kitchen weighing scales so small I now have to measure ingredients out in instalments.

In my defence I do read the product dimensions before ordering items online. But instead of getting out a tape measure for an accurate gauge of size, I just think, “Hmmm 60 x 32 x 60 seems about right…”

As you may have guessed, nine times out of ten what seems “about right” is not. So always take accurate measurements before placing an order.

Tips for Moving Into Your First Home

Mistake #2: Using Too Much White

Because my apartment is quite small, I painted all of the walls white so that the rooms would always feel bright and spacious. And I also purchased a lot of white furniture, as it seemed like the easiest way to make sure everything matched. But I think I might have pushed the minimalist colour palette a little bit too far, and I definitely could have been more daring in certain areas.

My white walls and furniture act as a solid foundation for colour and texture. So my priority now is to introduce bursts of colour to make the space more homely and inviting. I’ve already ordered a pink velvet pouffe, and I’m also eyeing up some bright artwork and patterned throws for my sofa.

Mistake #3: Avoiding “Clutter” at All Costs

My third mishap goes hand-in-hand with using too much white. I hate clutter and wanted my apartment to have a clean, peaceful vibe. But in my quest to keep my possessions down to a minimum I avoided purchasing some essential items.

The perfect example: I didn’t even own a vacuum cleaner during the first month-and-a-half in my apartment. I have wooden floors, and felt like a bulky vacuum would take up too much space. So instead I tried to make-do with a broom.

Big mistake. Huge. I was forever picking up dust balls, and when I eventually relented and got a small vacuum it made my life so much easier.

So whilst it’s wise to avoid actual clutter, don’t sacrifice practical, everyday items just because they fail to match the aesthetic of your home. Instead invest in smart, stylish storage so you’re able to hide unsightly cleaning supplies, etc.

Tips for Decorating Your First Apartment

Mistake #4: Relying Too Heavily on IKEA

Moving house is expensive. And in an effort to cut costs I relied a little too heavily on IKEA. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore IKEA. In fact, on the day I got my GCSE results my mum asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate and I answered, “Go to IKEA”. So I’m not here to hate on interior super-store.

However, I’ve learnt that it isn’t the answer to everything.

As soon as I got the keys to my apartment I visited my local IKEA, arriving with a shopping list as long as my arm. I purchased some great items (including this brilliant storage cabinet and the famous Kallax shelves). However, once I was in the store I realised I didn’t love a lot of the products I’d bookmarked online. They just ticked the box because they were the right style and/or price.

IKEA provides fantastic design and great value, as we all know. But if you have too much of their furniture in one room it starts to look a little clinical, and void of personality. So I limited my IKEA purchases to the pieces I truly connected with, and either spent a little bit more on designs I absolutely adored (like my West Elm desk), or decided to wait until the right item comes along (I’m still searching for the perfect coffee table).

What are your top tips for decorating your first apartment? Did you make any big mistakes along the way? I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below…

P.S. 7 affordable ways to add colour to your home


  1. I’m the same with not measuring things for my flat. I also have a hope for the best attitude hehe! The worst for me was putting up coving. Oh my word, no matter how many videos I watched showing me how to do it, I found the entire ordeal impossible. I think I ended up with more glue stuff on myself and the floor rather than the coving. I relented and asked my stepdad to help.

  2. Louise R says:

    I found that when I bought my flat, I loved the big dining table that the previous owner had had in the kitchen, so I bought an almost identical one. A year later, I’d used the table about 3 times – I just didn’t have 6 people at a time round for dinner. I sold the table, bought a much smaller one and now the dining part of my kitchen is a cosier nook that’s more like a living area. It’s think it shows it’s worth waiting a while before making bigger purchases, so you can furnish a home according to what works for your lifestyle!

    Love the home posts on here!

    • cocos_tea_party says:

      Totally! It’s hard to know exactly how you’re going to use the space until you actually move in. So pleased you’re enjoying the home posts xxx

  3. cocos_tea_party says:

    That’s a great tip! I’ll remember that for next time!

  4. cocos_tea_party says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one to do this haha x

  5. cocos_tea_party says:

    It must be an easy mistake to make when you’re furnishing your first place though. Hopefully you’ll get that new fridge very soon xxx

  6. Flic says:

    This was super refreshing to read! We got so much stuff wrong when we moved into our house – wrong size curtains, curtains without blackout lining in a bedroon…! All a learning process of course 😉

    Flic x


    • cocos_tea_party says:

      It definitely is a HUGE learning process. Today’s podcast episode is also about moving house funnily enough xx

  7. Emilie Hall says:

    Brilliant, and definitely relatable!


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