Ok, so you’ve just moved in and you have no idea where to start. Firstly, fill up the kettle with some water to make yourself a tea, grab a notebook, a measuring tape, and then relax. If you follow the steps below, planning out your apartment is going to be fun.

After multiple flat viewings, the endless search on rental websites and communications with sometimes flakey landlords, you’ve finally landed yourself an apartment that instinctually feels like you. You’ve just signed a fresh contract on a new lease, you’ve just received the keys, but now you’re not too sure on where to start. Which furniture warehouse should I go to first? Is Ikea really the only place I can go to? What colour scheme or “vibe” should I go for? How can I express myself through my apartment? These kinds of questions can go on forever.  Below step by step plan what to do:

Measure your space and draw a floor plan.

Measure your space. Think about the dimensions of the room, which corners to fill in and what kind of furniture is suitable for the space, whether it’s permanent or not. Getting the dimensions right is important before purchasing any furniture and accessories, and in this way, you can avoid the common mistake of buyer’s remorse. It’s always a good idea to draw out a floor plan, which can help you visualise how much space you will need for your options.

Think about your lifestyle and what it involves.

After spending some time doing a bit of research, it’s time to think about what kind of atmosphere you want to portray. What kind of lifestyle do you live? What are your hobbies, and how can you apply these things to your home? Think about objects that best represent you and your interests. For example, if you’re really into art, try collecting your favourite artworks and think about which wall best shows off the piece.

Dream big, what would you do if you had an open budget?

Dream big! Don’t worry about being too ambitious with your design choices. What kind of things have you always wanted to have in your space? A big industrial table? A hammock? Regardless of what your budget is like, making your ideas into a reality can start by picturing what you want first. This is a useful tip for making smarter decisions in the future, such as looking for affordable alternatives to your ideas. But if you catch yourself asking, “But, what if I don’t know what I want?”, then I strongly recommend spending some time doing research on online platforms such as Instagram or Pinterest, and collecting ideas from them. Gather up a collection of images over the course of a couple of weeks, and take it slow, since you might change your ideas or plans. Don’t think too much about having a definite plan and after a few weeks, go through your folder of inspirational images and you’ll be surprised about which design aesthetics you truly like because I can guarantee you that you’ll find similarities or patterns amongst all of the images you’ve gathered and what kind of spaces you’re mostly drawn to.

Evaluate the space you are moving to.

Evaluate your space and think about what you would like in your apartment. Are there any special features that are a part of the space already, such as pristine wooden floors, huge full-length windows or perhaps a sophisticated stucco on the ceiling? If yes, then these could be a great starting point for you. When designing your space, observe the interior fixtures closely. Think about what kind of objects or furnishings you want, and if these work harmoniously within your space. You should also look for negatives within the space, because there might be some aspects of your apartment that need to be hidden by smart design decisions.

Create furniture cutouts and rearrange them on floor plan and search for the best options.

Now that you’ve come to a full decision on what kind of furniture you would like, it’s now time to go shopping for them. You’ve picked out pieces that are perfect for your space because they’re practical, aesthetically pleasing and suits your needs. They arrive at your doorstep, and now you’re stuck with a bunch of furniture still wrapped up, waiting to be opened and arranged. Because you’ve already done the measurements of your floorplan, it’s now time to put things into action. Playing around with your furniture, shifting them in different locations around your apartment and figuring out how you’re going to move in your space takes some time, but it’ll be worth it. Ask yourself questions such as, “Should this couch be facing the balcony for maximum sunlight?” or “Does this dining table look better in the other room or close to the kitchen?”. It’s important to recognise how you’re going to use the furniture in your everyday life.

The first stages of designing your apartment can be overwhelming. Making the trip to the furniture department store is the first step, since there are so many possibilities and promotions for beautiful pieces you could want in your space. They all scream “Buy me!” but you’re not sure if you really need them. Early planning by following the steps mentioned above will definitely help clarify what you really want, and what kind of potential your space has. Don’t fret, designing your apartment is an exciting experience where you can get creative – plus it’s only the beginning!