Apartment listings

If you’re apartment hunting, odds are you’re also thinking about how to furnish and decorate your new home. But before you go nuts on Pinterest, here are three apartment decor fads that aren’t as unique as you may think:

  1. Mason Jars:
    These jars, once seen as functional pieces used primarily for preserving and storing foods, are now scattered in apartments across the country in an effort to make living spaces seem relaxed and effortlessly chic. The maker of Ball mason jars, Jarden Home Brands, has said that 2013 was its most successful sales year ever—and they’ve been making the jars for 130 years. Mason jars can be an affordable and multi-purpose decorating tool (a 12-count package costs just over $15 most places) suitable for everything from drinking glasses to flower vases, but use them sparingly if you want to really be unique.
  2. Globes and Maps:
    Globes and maps have become popular to lend an old-world feel to cookie-cutter apartment living, especially for those who can’t afford apartment furniture from Restoration Hardware. And since genuine antique maps are expensive, numerous craft-minded people have figured out how to make new maps look old. Searching “DIY old maps” on Google returns no fewer than 20 million results. If that’s the look you want, go right ahead. But know you’re not the only one.
  3. Old Stuff:
    It’s easy to see how this trend gains momentum: When you’re apartment hunting and staring at sterile, empty rooms, it’s tempting to pop over to the local thrift shop and spend $20. Maybe some kitschy porcelain cats recently cleaned out of a grandma’s living room, or a so-ugly-it’s-funny groovy lamp from the ’70s, are valiant attempts to make your new place feel lived in. But while thrift stores can be an excellent resource, especially if you’re already apartment hunting on a budget, curating a bunch of stuff that had sentimental value for someone else doesn’t add unique character to your home.

Especially if you’re renting, you may want to keep it simple. Renting offers many benefits, among them the lower maintenance and the ability to relocate frequently for your career or any other reason—there’s a reason an estimated 35% of American adults rent, rather than own. But those moves will become a lot less pleasant if you’re wrapping up dozens of whatever the knick-knack-of-the-moment is. Keep that in mind as you browse results on your favorite apartment locator. Great references here.