The best apartment decor for every type of city dweller

Under the Arch

The best apartment decor for every type of city dweller


Your apartment is your home and haven in the chaos of college and the city, so we rounded up some fun and functional decor to help you make the space truly your own.


Juliana Guarracino, Sara Sharma and Andrea Lui | April, 25, 2024

With spackled nail holes, painted-over outlets and stark white walls, an apartment is a blank canvas for any NYU student trying to explore their identity. Moving into a new space can be a daunting task, which is why we’ve put together a guide to personalizing your first apartment. With these tips, you can transform your empty rooms into magnificent displays of memorabilia in no time.

For the chronically late

Whether you can read an analog clock or not, a funky timepiece is a great way to fill a blank wall instead of hanging another painting and poster. Plus, you can find a bunch of unique ones on online marketplaces, like Etsy and eBay. If your vibe is vintage, opt for a charming grandfather or a retro, art-deco clock. For a more modern look, aim for a sleek, geometric clock. For those with an eclectic aesthetic, a timepiece can easily bring even more interest to your room — think a clock that looks like a vinyl or a fruit slice. Though it may be an investment, it’s guaranteed to make a statement in your apartment.

For the bathroom hog

If you spend close to an hour in your bathroom between showering and doing your skin care routine, your in-house spa should have some pizzazz. For a small apartment bathroom with minimal surface area, the easiest way to include some color and personality is with a decorative shower curtain. Instead of a plain color, go for a curtain that is bright or patterned, like flowers or fruit. You can even use it as a theme for the bathroom if you want to match it to a bath mat or toothbrush cup.

For the sentimentalist

Mementos, keepsakes, souvenirs — whatever you want to call them — you should always keep a collection of the things you love most in life. No, this does not mean you should hoard your hundreds of Littlest Pet Shop figurines from when you were little. Rather, create a display of knickknacks that are not only characteristic of but relevant to who you are today. Whether you’re a Texan with a wall full of cowboy hats or an avid theater kid with an impressive stack of Playbills, your space deserves a sentimental touch, especially if it’s going to be the place you call home for a few years.

For the amateur photographer

Fujifilm photos are their own basic aesthetic at this point — but we’re not judging. For those who love flexing a disposable camera any change they get, it’s time to put it to use and get your film developed. Once you have your film stack, pick a blank wall and get creative with the layout, arranging the photos in the shape of a heart, hexagon, dinosaur or whatever shape you want! A photo wall acts as a great conversation piece when friends come over, especially if you’re a natural introvert who struggles to come up with things to talk about.

For the plant parent

If you like to think you’re a pretty responsible person, try putting that to the test by maintaining a plant collection. Take it a step further than just putting the bouquet of Trader Joe’s flowers you got from that one date in a vase — we’re talking about cacti, heartleaf philodendrons and aloe vera galore! Plants not only add a pop of green to your space but also breathe life into your apartment — something we all need more of as stressed college students. But if you think they might die after a week because you forget to water them, opt for plastic ones instead.

For the college mixologist

This is a refined coming-of-age investment from hoarding Smirnoff bottles atop your fridge. Purchasing a compact bar cart adds character and style to your apartment. You not only get to boast your favorite selections of liquor in neat rows, you also have reasons to invest in bar accessories like a shaker and a muddler. Adorn your cart with cute trinkets like mini succulents or a mixologist book to truly elevate your cart from a piece of furniture to an artistic ornament in your home.

For the vintage collector

Record players have long been a hallmark of vintage-loving New Yorkers’ homes. Not only can record players elevate your listening experience with old-timey charm, they also add plenty of character to your home and give you an excuse to visit the many vinyl shops around the city.

For the fridge accessorizer

Nostalgic reminders are what makes a house a home. Whether it’s your fifth-grade drawing of a sun and mountains, certificates or pictures of friends and family — a decorated fridge is what makes your living space complete. From random grocery items scribbled on sticky notes to funky souvenir fridge magnets, having pieces of you and the ones you love in places you can see every day can help make an often lonely city and school feel much homier.

Contact Juliana Guarracino, Sara Sharma and Andrea Lui at [email protected]