Tips on How to Decorate Your High-rise Apartment

A large percentage of downtown Chicago apartments are in high-rise buildings. These are buildings that have 12 or more stories of residential apartments and generally come with every amenity a renter could need from gym, to dog run, to pool. For this convenience, high-rise apartments are more desirable than ever in today’s Chicago rental market. So, how do you personalize that cookie-cutter apartment to reflect your character and personality?

  • Vision 
    • Vision is key. Remember when viewing any apartment, you can make the space your own with some forethought and a little effort.
  • Views
    • What’s the difference between decorating a highrise apartment versus other apartments? The bird’s eye view. Take advantage of it.
  • Symmetry
    • What do you want to look at? The window, the fireplace, the T.V.? Once you’ve established your focal point, base the layout of your furniture off that.
  • Staples
    • You want to create visual interest that reflects your personality in the apartment. Bring on the rugs, mirrors, throw pillows, lamps, houseplants, and art.
Bringing table and floor lamps into your space is the easiest way to make a new apartment feel like home. The key is to make sure to get the correct bulb, a warmer LED – about 2700k. The overhead lights in apartments tend to be too cool and can feel clinical.
-Rebecca Liddy, Project Manager, Kuklinski + Rappe Architects

Our Starter Guide

  • Tip #1– Make a list of your furniture pieces and figure out the layout from the outset. This will save you crazy amounts of time and effort on move-in day.
    • Make sure to measure your furniture beforehand so you can check to see if it will fit in the elevator and through the door of the unit…not to mention the unit itself.
    • Arrange a move-in time with the building manager for use of the freight elevator.
  • Tip #2– When starting to move your items in, begin with the rug. If you are moving into an apartment with wall-to-wall carpet, don’t let that freak you out.
    • Layer rugs on top of the carpet. Really, it works!
    • If your apartment has an open floor plan, don’t be afraid to break one big space up into 2-3 smaller spaces using different rugs as the base point.
      • These different zones give dimension to big rooms.
  • Tip #3– Accentuate the windows. The view is usually a good focal point to start with.
    • Hang the curtains all the way up to the ceiling, even if the windows aren’t so high. This will draw the eye up, showcasing the height of the room and can make a small, squat room feel much larger.
    • If your bedroom window faces east, consider getting a heavier curtain.
  • Tip #4– Make your furniture work for you.
    • Can your desk double as a buffet for hosting? That could come in handy when you have guests.
    • Look for an ottoman that has storage built inside.
    • Galley kitchen? Use a portable island in the kitchen to roll out when you need it.
  • Tip #5– Tie it all together.
    • One of the easiest ways to create flow in your apartment is by incorporating similar pops of color throughout each room, even if the styling is entirely different.
      • For example, if your living room is grey and yellow, and your bedroom is blue and white…put a vase of yellow tulips on on a table or dresser to help incorporate the spaces into each other.

Often people are very concerned about their items matching a particular style or color story.  If you surround yourself with stuff you love, your space will all come together and quickly feel like home. -Liddy

Moving into a new, high-rise apartment, or revamping the one you’re already in, really can be a fun adventure (I promise.) Don’t settle for an average apartment. You should have the apartment that reflects who you are. And, if that sounds weird and you are having trouble figuring out “who you are,” reach out to us. We can help with the right questions to ask and narrow down some great options, helping you find that perfect high-rise downtown Chicago apartment.

Bonus: Here are a few of my favorite websites for tips on decorating and utilizing the most of small spaces. 

Apartment Therapy


Real Simple