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Moving into a new space is one of the most exciting parts of getting older. Being able to personalize your apartment, even if you are renting, is the first step to making your house feel like a home. Young renters can get carried away and either spend too much or make mistakes that cost money when they move out. As a manager of rental properties up and down the West Coast, Pete Evering at Utopia Management has seen it all when it comes to apartment décor, and shares these tips to smartly create that sanctuary you need from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

DO ask your landlord:  Before making any large changes to the space, such as painting or installing shelves, check your lease to see what your landlord’s policies are. Alternatives to painting, which may seem like a fun project at first but can quickly become a daunting task, are hanging a wall tapestry or large poster to brighten or add personality to an empty space.

DO hang things around: There is no quicker fix to a boring space than some art or inspirational quote. Pushpins or small screwless nails are best because they leave behind little evidence and do not require patching up when you are ready to move out. DON’T use huge anchors or nails that leave holes behind. If you want to hang lots of posters, we recommend hanging a long string of ribbon or rope and using clothes pins to attach posters to the string. This takes less time to set up, makes it easier to rearrange, and leaves virtually no trace when removed.

DON’T people please: Your home is your sanctuary and it is so important to stay true to yourself. Friends and family may have different ideas than you, and their input and help is extremely valuable, but your vision is what you should focus on.

DO deep clean your space. Keep in mind that upholstered items found in thrift or secondhand stores are incredibly unique but may also be uncleanly. If you fall in love with that 70s era plaid green loveseat, take it home, but it is well worth your while to give such items a professional cleaning.

DO soft lighting: An easy way to transform a room is to add soft lighting such as fairy string lights, a lava lamp, or even just a reading light beside your bed. This will keep your apartment feeling cozy when the sun goes down. Having light that is less harsh on your eyes will help you transition your space from day to night, and even save you money as these lights require less energy than most standard light fixtures.

DON’T do the most: Decorating can quickly turn into cluttering if a space is crammed to the limit with items. There is a line between hanging all your favorite posters on one wall and covering every surface head to toe. You want to feel at home and comfortable in your space, so give yourself room to breathe. Instead, DO utilize an accent wall to show off your style but keep the other walls fairly plain to open the space. Having too much clutter in your bedroom or living space can create unnecessary stress to your life.

DO accent furniture: When searching for that perfect bedside table or ottoman, look for pieces that double as storage. Some tables and chairs will have secret drawers or space underneath to place boxes. This is so convenient for those looking to conserve space but still have that flair of individuality. DON’T buy furniture that barely fits, before you go shopping make sure you have the dimensions of your space with you to ensure the apartment does not become overcrowded with that cute couch you just couldn’t go home without.

DON’T try to be the repairman: Before purchasing equipment that would require hefty installation, check your lease to see what your landlord policy is. In most cases, there is someone working for your landlord that is responsible and more equipped to handle such tasks. If you notice something needing repair DO contact your landlord about the issue. If you would like to install something that was not previously there, such as a fan or extra lock on the door, DO ask your landlord first. Chances are you need to go through them to make any major changes to your space.

DO incorporate seasonality: If you live somewhere where it snows, it is almost crucial to have a rug between your toes and the floor on those chilly winter mornings. Using a throw rug can completely change the look and feel of a space and can easily be rolled up and stored under your bed during the summer. Curtains in the window can also accentuate your charm while saving you money by lowering your electric bill as it serves as an insulator.