Putting together your first apartment is no easy task. You're probably limited on space, and your budget is likely even tighter. With bare walls to decorate and empty rooms to fill, it's hard to know where to begin. I did what any recent college grad would do—I furnished my first apartment with all the cheapest furniture I could find from IKEA. That didn't go over so well, because within a year, I'd thrown most of it away.
Now, four years after graduation, I've managed to pull together a high-low vibe (I still use an IKEA dresser that's been serving me well!). I swear by Wayfair.com for furniture that looks high end but doesn't cost a fortune, and am a Target addict when it comes to accent pieces like lamps and decor. But I'm a ~real adult~ now—it was about time I elevate my post-college digs to something a little more sophisticated. I'm no interior design expert—the only person who's ever complimented me on my home design skills is a 16-year-old sibling (I mean, I'll take it)—so I knew I needed professional help. That's where Homee, an app that makes home design as easy as texting with a friend, comes in.
Chatting with an interior designer on Homee is free, and the entire process from start to finish hardly takes more than a few days. Most users of the app don't end up spending more than $1,500 on their complete rooms; I was hoping to keep the total under $1,000. After I downloaded the app and answered a few questions about my budget, what vibe I was going for and what specific pieces I was hoping to buy, I was connected with Beverly Hills-based designer Yarden, a FIDM grad. I sent over a floor plan and photos of my bedroom; right away, Yarden was on the same page as I was and began offering suggestions she knew I'd love.
The process was so incredibly easy—as Yarden and I discussed the space, she would send me a series of options for me to choose from. In a Pinterest-meets-Tinder sort of way, I would go through each of these pieces of furniture and indicate whether it was something I liked or not. Anything I liked ended up in my "Favorites" tab, which ended up looking like a mood board for my new room. I loved being able to visualize all my picks in one place—it helped me see whether these were items that actually worked together or not.
Within days, Yarden had completely recreated my room from post-grad dump to real adult digs. She put together a render using a real photo of my room, which helped me visualize the new furniture in my *actual* space.
I mean, how good does this look?? Having put together a core vision, I checked back in with Homee CMO Madeline Fraser for some tips on how to bring it to life even more. Obvi, I wanted to know what's trending these days. "The boho look with layered textures and materials (i.e fur)," Madeline told me. "Pastel colors are also very hot right now." Fortunately, I already had a faux fur body pillow and a faux fur throw I could repurpose for this space; and I had Yarden pull some textured duvet covers for me to consider. I settled on this crinkled white one, which gave me the all-white look I was going for without being boring.
Though I'm not huge on color (so the pastels were out), I did want to add some more personality to this palette. "Accessorize!" Madeline says of making a room look more high-end without spending too much. "New blankets, pillows, and an area rug can do wonders to freshen up a space. They're not big commitment or big ticket items, and they can be changed out as easily as your mood changes." Sounds good to me—my taste does evolve so I don't want to spend $$$ on putting together a room I'll love right now, but not necessarily in a few years. Society6, a site that supports independent artists from all around the world, is my go-to for decor accents. I picked out some artwork, a decorative pillow and other knick knacks to add to the room.
I really fell in love with these framed prints by The Aestate—with my cat and the kittens I foster running around my apartment, I tend to keep my space free of plants that can be toxic to them, so these prints are the next best thing. They add a bit of color to the room and keep it feeling fresh.
Once you're ready to order from the Homee app, the process is quick and easy. You can scroll through everything under your Favorites tab and pick and choose what to add to your cart. Keeping budget in mind, I asked Madeline what her tips are when it comes to deciding what to splurge on. "You should think about splurging on anything that deeply affects your lifestyle and comfort," she recommends. "A sofa, a bed, or a desk are items you are going to use every day. Go for comfort and style. A good night's sleep, or a desk at absolutely the perfect height are items that are likely going to affect your productivity and happiness." So I decided to make my bed the priority—and also placed orders for matching nightstands and lamps, and that crinkly duvet. The total came to just over $700, which is pretty incredible for making over an entire room. Here's the before and after:
While Yarden's rendering was absolutely spot-on, actually seeing the final product in person completely exceeded all my expectations. When I first started the design process, I did have doubts cross my mind—was it really possible for an interior decorator to understand my aesthetic and the sort of space my room offered just through a couple of photos and my description? Though I made some personal changes to the design once I had all the furniture in place—moving the bench to the side of the room rather than to the end of my bed, which worked better in the space—the overall design was exactly as Yarden had pictured it. I can't even begin to describe how excited I was to see everything come together; once it was done, I poured myself and drink and went out for ice cream in celebration, because what else does a day of building furniture call for, anyway?
I'm still making some final touches to my room, but I already want to use Homee to redo the rest of my apartment (I know, I'm getting a little ahead of myself). My biggest problem is filling my room with unecessary additions—so Madeline's advice, which is especially practical, is to "think about building up instead of out." She recommends a floor-length mirror to help make small spaces look larger, and suggests creating extra storage space, particularly in an apartment or a dorm room. "Shelves and literally any piece of furniture that can double as storage are ideal," she adds.
And her final (and best) piece of advice? "Only bring and buy items you love," she says. "Surround yourself with practical, stylish items that also make you happy." YES.
What I absolutely love about Homee is how flexible and easy the design process was. It's an app you can use even if you're in a dorm room filled with all that dorm furniture—your designer can help you rearrange the room and add in pieces like lamps, wall art, accessories and more to turn those four white walls into something special. Or, you can use the app to furnish an empty apartment from start to finish, no matter how big or small your budget. Or, if you're like me, it's the perfect way to update any space using a combination of furniture you already have and new pieces to give it a fresh look. So if you're looking for a new accent chair or rug, or need to furnish an entire room, give Homee a shot—you'll have an expertly-designed space within a matter of days, and it's no more difficult than texting a friend.