5 Cheap and Creative Ways to Make Your Apartment Look Awesome

April 29, 2014

Your apartment is more than a street address the pizza delivery kid happens to know by heart; it's more than your safe space to frolic about naked with bongo drums; and it's more than the place your rest your percussion-weary head at night.

Your apartment is your home, and the way your home looks not only reflects your personality, but actually impacts how you feel about yourself.

So how can you quickly improve the look of your apartment without spending a fortune on new decorations, buying random trinkets that'll only add clutter to your life, or bringing in an interior decorator for hundreds of dollars per hour?

5 Cheap, Creative Ways to Make Your Apartment Look Amazing

Presented in order from quickest / easiest to requiring the most effort, here are five ways to completely transform the look and feel of your living space:

1. Add flowers to add life

But flowers are impermanent and expensive! Well, the very fact that flowers are impermanent is the point: they bring a freshness and vitality to your living space. And really, how hard is it to stop by your local florist or corner grocer to pick up a bouquet?

As for cost, at approximately $10 for a bouquet, flowers are actually one of the most affordable tricks for changing your apartment's feel on a regular basis.

2. Well-placed mirrors can make a cramped apartment with low ceilings feel spacious and warm

You don't have to be a swingin' bachelor or bachelorette to appreciate the effect of a well-placed mirror. Depending on the effect you'd like to achieve, here are a few suggestions on using mirrors to great effect while remaining super lazy about the whole thing:

  • "Double" your best window by placing a mirror across from it: This will give the psychological impression of there being an additional window, and the natural light from your actual window will bounce off the mirror and fill up your apartment -- giving the entire space a more open, airy feel.
  • Create coziness: position a mirror behind a lamp, a candle, or other soft light source to bathe your apartment in a glow of "warmth" that so many apartments in the city seem to lack.
  • Elongate a wall: take a lengthy, skinny mirror, turn it on its side, and place along any wall in your apartment. You should notice the wall-lengthening visual effect immediately.

3. Temporary wallpaper offers customization with no strings attached

So you're either a renter or just the commitment-phobic type. We can't help your relationship issues, but temporary wallpaper was created for you!

Once a niche product with little variety, the temporary wallpaper category has exploded with options. Today almost any color or pattern you could want is available. For a nice roundup of the options, see Apartment Therapy's temporary wallpaper roundup.

4. Garbage bags and The Container Store are your new friends

This one is pretty simple: city living is a lesson in cramped living, and clutter is the cruelest teacher of them all. Clear out some space and your apartment will feel renewed (plus, post-cleanup all the other suggestions in this list will see their positive effects boosted).

  • Begin by ruthlessly tossing out anything you don't believe you could reasonably sell
  • Take anything you believe you could sell and stop kidding yourself: bag it and take it to a shelter or goodwill, or else put it up on Craigslist to be given away for free (the time and mental anguish you'll save from getting rid of this stuff is more valuable than the few bucks you'll find yourself haggling over with random internet people).
  • Use modular bin systems (The Container Store!) to store away seasonal wear (winter coats, ski pants) under your bed.
  • Install some basic wall shelving to display any knick-knacks, items picked up during your South American adventure, etc. that you can't bear to give away but you can't figure out another place for in your apartment. (If you recoil at the thought of using basic tools, you can hire a handyman off Craigslist to bring their own tools and do a gorgeous shelf-mounting job for less than $50).

5. Pick up a paintbrush or roller

You knew this one was coming. But it's true: the fastest and most impactful way to transform the entire look and energy of your apartment -- short of buying new furniture or breaking up with your significant other -- is to paint your walls and major surface elements.

Nothing demonstrates this concept better than a set of before-and-after photos:

Ok, to be fair, these guys did replace their fridge -- but just look at the enormous change this kitchen experienced from simply painting over the walls and cupboards. There are more great before-and-afters on Oh Happy Day.


Boerum Hill, the new "IT" 'hood

April 27, 2014

For most New Yorkers, Brooklyn needs no introduction, but for the countless Manhattanites who have sought greener pastures across the river, the "better borough" has always delivered amazing activities, lush green space, and fun, family-oriented neighborhoods, from Fort Greene to Flatbush. Brooklyn has always prided itself on its creativity, its uniqueness, and above all, its support of the community, so it is no surprise that many people (celebrities and normal folk alike) are flocking to Boerum Hill.

Boerum Hill offers trendy restaurants, shopping, high-end delis (yay Mile end!), walking distance from Barclays Center and access to pretty much every subway line.  Also recently launched is The Boerum which offers support and space to local artists, designers and craftsman. 

As a recent transplant to Cobble Hill on Smith Street, just walking across puts me in the "Boerum Hill" section which is slightly more relaxed with hidden restaurants and coffee shops on tree-lined streets.

My favorite hidden gem: Ruccola - amazing Italian food but also free wi-fi and excellent cappucinos for during the day.

As for pricing rental and sales have steadily climbed over the past ten years - the two-bedroom rental prices have had the biggest jump averaging $45.00 per square foot. 

Boerum Hill Apartment Rental Prices: July Average

  • One-bedroom: $2350
  • Two-bedroom; $3650

Boerum Hill Apartment Sales Prices: 2013-2014 Average of Closed Homes

  • One-bedroom: $800/per square foot, $575,000
  • Two-bedroom: $860/per square foot, $850,000




The Decade-Long Transformation of NYC's Busiest Streets in One Video

April 21, 2014

Recall with us, if you will, a simpler time: Times Square, Herald Square, Union Square, and other of New York City's (often tourist-filled) pedestrian wonderlands of today were taxi-clogged demolition derby zones where bicycles and bipedal organisms alike feared to tread.

See how much it all changed in the space of a decade with this amazing series of before-and-after clips:

credit: NYC Streets Metamorphosis by StreetFilms.

New York City before-and-afters captured in the video above:

  • Times Square (2005 vs. 2012)
  • Kent Avenue (2002 vs. 2009)
  • Madison Square (2007 vs. 2013)
  • Sands Street (2006 vs. 2013)
  • Herald Square (2005 vs. 2011)
  • Queensboro Bridge (2008 vs. 2011)
  • 9th Avenue (2007 vs. 2013)
  • Also featured: Clinton Street, Corona Plaza, 78th Play Street, Allen Street, and Union Square

GFI Group responsible for Ace and NoMad Hotels add The Beekman to portfolio

April 20, 2014

If asked, some people might say modern is better than classic and vis-a-versa, but they would all agree that modern and classic are the best. We dare say that opposites attract and when these two collide, they form one extremely attractive brain child. Its name is The Beekman, and its creator is GFI Capital Resources Group who has also developed the masterpieces Ace and NoMad hotel. Hidden behind its nine stories of Victorian-esque brick and terracotta walls is a treasure box full of history and beauty.  Originally built in the 1800s, this classic piece of art had withstood the constantly changing horizons of the Financial District of Lower Manhattan. The development team had decided that it was time The Beekman make its comeback as one of the most gorgeous works of art to have ever graced the bustling streets of New York City.  Featuring a 287 room deluxe hotel with exclusive amenities such as a rooftop terrace, multiple event spaces, two restaurants and an ambient lounge, the timeless building is making history of its own. 

Right next door is The Beekman Residences which features a total of 68 luxury condominiums available to those who crave the exclusive view from the sky-light at The Beekman every night of the year.  Embellished with gold brackets which are sculpted to look like dragons, leaf patterned metal grilles and walls with peeling paint to give it a vintage look, The Beekman does not hold back when it delivers valuable reminders of what classic luxury and beauty really looks like.  It was once viewed as an exclusive space in which only lawyers with the greatest of reputations may enter through its arched doors, but soon it will become a major hot spot for Manhattanites looking to spend their time with great company surrounded by beautiful historic artifacts.

NYC's Bazbaz Development

March 19, 2014

Bazbaz Development has been making quite a name for itself in New York City the last few years.  The firm, which has created 184 Kent, 515 East 72nd Street, 101 West 87th Street, and the eagerly anticipated Warren Lofts in New York, has been making its mark across the country, with everything from luxury apartment buildings to unique hotel properties. Helmed by President and Founder Sonny Bazbaz, Bazbaz Development is creating a new breed of architectural elegance across the country, from New York to Nevada, and people are certainly taking notice. From the company's luxurious New York developments all the way to Sin City, very few developers do luxury on a large scale like Bazbaz. Perhaps the best example of the company's limitless largesse is Las Vegas' Cosmopolitan Hotel, a gaming facility and boutique hotel, which has quickly earned a reputation as a game-changer on the strip, earning the admiration of both high rollers and the Hollywood elite. From hotels to homes, Sin City to NYC, Bazbaz Development delivers when it comes to luxury real estate.