Tips for Moving and Decorating a new Apartment in Less Than A Month

I think it’s safe to say that no one likes to move.

I know life is all about enjoying the process rather than the result (thanks Sartre), but when it comes to moving, I'd be happy to skip the chaos of a big move. With that said, I needed a system: what's the fastest and most efficient way to move into an apartment? I gave myself less than a month to move everything in, and have the place look like it could be featured on Apartamento Magazine. Hopefully this will serve useful to anyone planning to move apartments (apologies in advance for any NYC specific recommendations.)

1. Marie Kondo Your Old Apartment

The basis of Kondo's philosophy is about asking, "Does this spark joy?" when deciding whether or not to keep or discard a piece of clothing, furniture, or any other possession. If you have the time, I strongly recommend selling anything that isn't absolutely necessary to you. Trust me, the cash you'll make will probably cover your moving costs, and you'll have less to deal with in your new place, and on top of that, emotionally you'll feel light as a feather. I moved right around the Persian New Year, and a big tradition is spring cleaning as well as wearing completely brand new clothing (I might have gone a little overboard and decided I needed everything new from bedding to furniture.) I ended up selling practically my entire apartment via Craigslist and eBay, a good tip for anyone attempting the same is to really utilize keywords in your description, having trendy words like 'Mid Century Modern' or 'Scandinavian' really helped with my listings. Oh and if you can add a VSCO or Priime filter to your images, that helps too.

FYI, if you haven't read Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, I strongly recommend it (and so does passerby Deepica Mutyala).


2. Pack Smart

I can't recommend this enough, and reusable and eco-friendly plastic moving boxes are a must. It's half of the cost of traditional cardboard boxes (and don't even consider used ones, bedbugs being a big reason why not to), they deliver and pick up the crates for you at your convenience, and most importantly, it's good for the environment. I used BungoBox and was extremely happy with them; they came promptly, boxes were clean, it did what it advertised (as a reference of how many boxes you might need, I lived in a 1.5 bedroom with my husband and ordered about 35 boxes for a total of $118.67). They give you labels which is extremely practical after the fact, so I would invest in those extra seconds of labeling each boxes. For the bigger pieces in the apartment, I went with a moving company called Get There Moving, after getting quotes from competitors that were out of my budget. I ended up paying $320 with them and honestly, they were so professional, handled our stuff with extreme care and efficiency. Obviously if you have friends that are down to help you move, go with that option.

3. Buy Furniture In Advance (Or As Close To Your Move In Date)

I had the luxury to ship new furniture ahead of my move to the new place. Conveniently, I run a recommendation website so it wasn't too hard to find furniture. Still keeping Marie Kondo in mind, I focused on necessities. For the bedroom, I got myself a Leesa mattress as recommended in Where To Buy The Best Mattress and motivated by the consistent back pains I got from my droopy old Ikea Mattress. All I can say is I'm not mad at the passersby that recommended it - I've not gone to one acupuncture session since getting it. I also upgraded to a king-size with The Floyd Platform Bed, which I've been plotting on getting since our event together at the Passerbuys Lounge, An Idle AfternoonI kid you not, it takes longer to post an image on Instagram than to build a Floyd bed. Also Eva Goicochea and Fariha Roisin has one, you don't need to convince me further. Completed the bedroom with some Parachute bedding as recommended in Where To Buy The Best Bedding, specifically the Percale Sheet Set and Duvet Covert Set in White and their Down Alternative Duvet and two side tables from YAMAZAKI on Amazon, which I also recommend browsing through, they've got some sweet minimalistic storage solutions that look real good. For the living room, I was on the hunt for a sectional because I want to be as cozy as possible, and just want to have movie nights everyday forever (if only my friends entertained it). Research here took a little longer, as it's really an investment (who knew sofas were so expensive!) I considered Article but a friend warned me that they aren't actually comfortable and had to go as far as return it, I briefly checked out Capsule Home, Restoration Hardware (their Belgian Classic is probably the most comfortable thing the world), semi-considered a Design Within Reach search on Craigslist, but then went with a recommendation from passerby Yael Raviv, and tested out Interior Define. After a store visit that probably lasted 2 hours of me sitting on everything and anything (the sales assistant won't judge you), I found the one: 100" Sloan Sectional with a left chaise in Natural with legs in Natural Oak Tapered Round Wood. Since moving in, I've had 3 girlfriends who sat down and instantaneously took a nap. For the rest, Overstock has been good to me, I needed a narrow table that could fit 6 people, weirdly it was almost impossible to find, but since I'm obsessive, I landed on this gem, Emerald Home Simplicity Natural Rectangular Dining Table in Oak, and it fits perfectly in our tiny one bedroom apartment. 

4. Move In As Early As Possible

Moving day is no time for beauty sleep. Aim for a 7 or 8 am move so that you get the morning and the afternoon to unpack. If you can/want, arrive before your movers and sage your new apartment (I totally forgot to do this and did it once the apartment was fully moved in, hopefully that's good vibes too). Wear your most comfortable outfit, stay hydrated and grab an RXBAR (the Coconut Chocolate is the best flavor).

5. Unpack The Bedroom First

In an ideal world, I'd be able to unpack and store everything in one day, but that's unrealistic, so my compromise is to have my bedroom done up before going to bed. Like I mentioned, it's going to be a process, but if the place you go to rest and relax isn't chaotic, it will help with your sanity, and if that's putting everything into another room in the meantime, that's fine. For me that meant, building my Floyd Platform Bed, unwrapping my Leesa mattress, setting my YAMAZAK side tables and my Venta Humidifier and Air Purifier

6. Organize

I needed some heavy inspiration and guidance to get my place in order. Pinterest and Apartment Therapy wasn't cutting it, there's just too much information there, but then I discovered  Remodelista: The Organized Home: Simple, Stylish Storage Ideas for All Over the House and this was pretty much my bible for the rest of the move. It's a must-have if you're moving into a small space. The Container Store is also excellent (which gets recommended in the book). My main takeaway from the book was to invest in storage bins and trays, hunt for unused spaces overhead, hook things (I didn't have a place for my laundry canvas bag and just used 2 hooks on the bathroom towel bar) and to decant everything. I have an open kitchen and barely any storage space, so using mason jars helped the kitchen look less cluttered, and grouping things on bins (I used these white compact plastic bins) like cooking oils, or spices, really gives this illusion of things being tidy. For those with deep drawers, these bamboo drawer organizers were super helpful in separating utensils, appliances and food storage containers. Another tip are woven baskets - they are great for both storage and decoration (i.e I used one to store blankets in the living room.) 

7. Be Strategic With Your Closet Space

My previous apartment had a bigger closet, so this was a big issue for me, considering I had to split a small closet with my husband. I basically decided to make this Container Store's problem and had them design my closet courtesy their elfa system. It was probably the easiest part of this whole move, you send them your closet dimensions, then a designer comes back with some options of how to set up your closet, you approve then they send someone to install. I recommend adding their birch decor, not only did it match my Floyd bed, but it made the closet look much more professional. Here I used some bins to store bags and swimsuits, drawer organizers for underwear and socks (this really helped save space), a scarf organizer (who knew there was such a thing) and an over the door shoe bag to store our sneakers. This might be an obvious tip, but get rid of any bulky hangers you might have (yes even though those wooden hangers look so good) and invest in super thin hangers - this is the only way you can make a closet work for a couple, I used Joy Mangano Ivory Huggable Hangers, and they're solid. If it's summer, store your winter clothes in your suitcase (it's empty anyways right?) and vice versa, that should make some extra room.

8. Show Your Books

There's nothing I love more than a house filled with books, and I know I'm not alone just by looking at all the related bookshelf content or hashtags on the internet. This part was kind of adventure, initially I couldn't figure out what I could have in the living room that would a. not block the light, and b. not take too much floor space considering I had now a huge sectional and a dining table for 6. Wall shelves was the obvious solution and I thought if I had them high enough as well as not deep, my problem would be solved. I got Ikea's Algot system as I wasn't entirely sure on how many shelves I would need, and it offers you that flexibility - I think it cost me about $300 to cover the entire living room wall. However, I hadn't considered the installation cost as I'm far from handy. I got quoted another $300 (because books are heavy and you don't want your wall to fall off) and then thought, why am I investing so much on shelves when, a. I'd be damaging the walls, and b. I'm renting. 3 Ikea trips later and the stress of having 200+ books lying on the floor for 2 weeks, I found a super narrow and low (that solves my light problem) white bookshelf on sale at Ikea: BILLY bookcase. It would have been much easier if I had just gone with that in the first place, but hey, I got to meet some great people at Ikea's Returns Department. Apparently there are a lot of hacks you can do with the bookcase, I personally didn't add a back to it so that more light could go through. I used the surface for art, objects and a mini bar that lies on a wooden tray. I got my wish of covering a whole wall with books, not cluttering the space and spending under $200 for it.

9. Get Plants

Before investing in objects and art, get some plants as that will cover 50% of your decoration. I got at Bird of Paradise at Crest Hardware, but I also like Fiddle-leaf fig (as cliché as they are). I recommend browsing through some of the profiles on here, most of the women we've interviewed have some great home plants, so there's a lot of inspiration to be found here. If you're in New York City, our Where To Shop The Best House Plants In NYC post might be helpful to you.

10. Decorate With A Mood-board

I'm no interior designer so I found the act of decorating quite frustrating, what should I put on top of the bookshelf? Does pine wood go with dark wood? Pinterest was super helpful here, I created a board and searched through my apartment's constraints for some solutions and inspiration (I actually found out about Ikea's BILLY bookshelf through this mood board.) With a base, I visited a few vintage stores as well as Etsy to recreate some of the looks. I found my Marcel Breuer Cesca chairs at a vintage store in Greenpoint called Dream Fishing Tackle along with some interesting objects, I got my Mario Barbaglia/Marco Colombo "Dove" Lamp at Bi-Rite Studio (they have some really good design pieces that are friendlier priced than Design Within Reach, for example I got the lamp for $250 instead of $2500), I got most of my bowls and platters from Junk in Williamsburg (you'll find most things under $19) and that concrete side table above, I got that at Souda via Craiglist (you can buy faulty pieces at a super discount.) There's also some really good Instagram account for home goods, @remixgallerydesign, @comingsoonny, @losobjects, @casa__shop, @homeunion and @re.ixue.

Of course moving into a one bedroom is not the same as moving into a bigger place, you'll have more to work with, but trying make a small space work can be as challenging. My way to this move was to get things out of sight as soon as possible, once I got my main pieces in, all that was left was decorating which I accepted would be a process (embrace it!) and not a thing that had to be completed on a deadline. I've kept the decoration in my place to a bare minimum and have been casually adding character pieces rather than going in with a totally defined exceptions. 

If I missed anything or if you're looking for any specific recommendations with an upcoming move, feel free to reach out and I'll try my best to be helpful! And if you're interested in any of the outfits, you can shop the looks at Maimoun.


Words by Clémence Polès & Photography by Maimoun