8 Apartment Mistakes Millennials Make — Without Even Realizing It

Erica Gannett.
First apartments are exciting, exhausting, and more often than not, tinged with defeat. You love the bedroom, but the kitchen sink is in the living room (what how?). You love the kitchen, but someone died in the bedroom. And so on.

We try to overcome these small injustices with easy and affordable design solutions, of which the internet seems to offer up so many. But damn if it isn't all too easy to make a few mistakes along the way. Here, a few of the most common decorating errors people make in their first apartment (and a few ways to fix them).
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
1. You decorate like it's your childhood bedroom.

We're living post-Lemonade. We don't do Destiny's Child-era Beyoncé here; your bedroom can't be the spatial equivalent of Michelle's third attempt at a successful gospel album. Get decor that can do both: Entice someone to bed and entice that person back up out of your life.
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Photographed by Rus Anson.
If high-femme boho is your style, think more Florence Welch, less Princess Bride. Antiques and vintage finds are your friends. Go kooky and eclectic; it couldn't hurt to have a kimono or two draped across the arm of a tattered chair.
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Photographed by Maia Harms.
2. You think that just because it's on a bookshelf, it's not clutter.

This is sadly not true. Helping your shit achieve off-the-floor status is only considered next-level in the bro bible of decorating. (Next-next-level: recycling your bong water. Actually not a bad idea!)
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Photographed by Julia Robbs.
To really make a difference, turn to your Pinboards and teach yourself the three magic words: edit, edit, edit.

Remember that a bookshelf is as much for display as storage, and if you're going to set something there (even if it's literally just books), it should look good. If it doesn't, dedicate a bottom shelf to a pair of covered baskets where you can stash your stash.
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Photographed by Mindy Best.
3. You indulge in generic-ass wall art.

Like, we get it. I love you, too, keep calm and carry on, like forever. But wouldn't something a little more...personal be nice?
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Even if it's kind of totally random and looks like it might have been scrawled by a serial killer?
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
4. You hang all art like it's a Monet.

From a distance, it looks alright, but up close, it's a total mess.
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
Might we suggest Ikea frames and a little bit of ingenuity? Spend a weekend making prints and patterns, et voilà! An easy-breezy gallery wall that feels like home.
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Photographed by Mindy Best.
5. You leave the entire space a blank canvas.

Renters have a tendency to avoid one of the easiest home upgrades in the book: paint! Yes, it'll take a bit of elbow grease (or a dedicated search on TaskRabbit), but the impact far outweighs the input.
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile.
Whether you lean towards brights or subtler shades, your apartment will feel like your apartment after a few coats of color. Plus, the added coordination factor will make accessorizing that much more fun.
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Photographed by Erica Gannett.
6. You go sans window treatments.

Big mistake. Dressing your windows — especially in a rental — is an easy and affordable upgrade that makes a huge difference. If you're worried about making holes in the wall, here are two magic words for you: tension rod.
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Photographed by Michelle Drews.
Even sheers can make a measurable difference by diffusing natural light and drawing the eye upwards, making your room feel larger.
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Photographed by Erica Gannett.
7. You leave shit out on the counter.

You know damn well nobody wants to see your calcium supplements and Triscuits. Also, are you my grandmother?
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Photographed by Julia Stotz.
An ugly kitchen is the burden of many a renter — and maybe the biggest one, at that.

While we obviously can't suggest you rip the whole thing out in the middle of the night and see what your landlord says (but give it a shot!), taking a few pointers from the more polished cooking situations of renovation-empowered homeowners can't hurt. Keep things tidy with shelving, canisters, jars, knife strips, you name it.

If you can't make it pretty, put it away!
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Photographed by Erica Gannett.
8. Your let your closet turn into a dumping ground.

Closets are a bit of a red herring. Because people think they're "out of sight, out of mind," there's a tendency to let them get out of control. But if you treat your closet like a dumping ground, you're basically harvesting demons that will haunt you in the depths of night.
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Photographed by Amelia Alpaugh.
The solution is simple enough: everything in its place, and a place for everything. If you can't install shelving, find a way to use inexpensive storage solutions from Muji or Ikea in unexpected ways. Repurpose nice packaging to store smaller items, like a collection of sunglasses, and put a few nails in the wall to hang your hats.