The Intentional Apartment: A Modern But Affordable Living Room

The Intentional Apartment: A Modern But Affordable Living Room
A completely designed living room for the modern man. Created with affordable and easily orderable decor picks.

Learning how to dress yourself is one thing. Figuring out how to dress your place is a completely different skill set.

Sure, it sounds simple. Acquire couch, chairs, and coffee table. Arrange in room. (Advanced users: add plant.) Done. But if you’ve ever tried this and ended up with something that looked incomplete or mismatched, you know that putting together a cohesive, sophisticated space takes practice.

The good news: there’s no “decorating gene” that some people have and some people (read: you) were born without.

The better news: Primer is here to help you take your living room from haphazard to handsome.

Many lifestyle magazines rely on designer (translation: expensive) pieces to create rooms with that wow factor. But in the vein of our budget-friendly Getups, we’re offering style inspiration from brands that you’re familiar and comfortable with, like Amazon and IKEA. (We also have a guide to the best affordable home decor stores, if you want even more inspiration.)

We’re also including a DIY project, just to make this as personal to you as possible.

After all, this is your place.

Make it your home.

living room inspiration

Couch side:

rivet aiden sofa intentional apartment

Aiden Mid-Century Sofa

Amazon, $895

Navy blue is a neutral that’s versatile without being basic–it anchors the room and balances the lighter rug and other pieces. The minimalist mid-century silhouette works well with a variety of decor styles.

rivet jaime accent chair intentional apartment

Rivet Leather Low Arm Accent Chair

Amazon, $429

A leather chair is a great piece to invest in; it’s both durable and timeless. This one features distinctive low, slanted arms and tapered hardwood legs, one of the hallmarks of mid-century design.

white mountain print set intentional apartment

Mountain Triptych

Etsy, $13 (plus cost of printing)

This serene, beautiful print helps add dimensionality and a sense of depth to your place.

jute rug intentional apartment

nuLoom Jute Rug

Amazon, $163

Made from sustainable jute fibers, this rug has a cool, airy look that’s sophisticated without being fussy. The woven fibers add texture without altering the color composition of the room, and the neutral palette is easy to pair with other furniture, should you choose to redecorate.

hammered metal coffee table intentional apartment

Kate & Laurel Hammered Metal Coffee Table

Amazon, $130

The dark gold surface of this table contrasts handsomely against the navy sofa, and the hammered detail echoes the rug’s texture in a way that feels very deliberate and–of course–intentional.

rivet 3 arm floor lamp intentional apartment

Modern Three Arm Floor Lamp

Amazon, $189

Don’t overlook lighting. A basic need (visibility) can be solved with a piece that’s both functional and decorative. The contrast between brass and cast iron finishes has an appealingly retro-modern feel.

august planter intentional apartment

August Ceramic Planter Pot

The Sill, $29

clear end table intentiional apartment

Clear End Table

Amazon, $145

This might start to feel like a lot of “stuff”. That’s the beauty of an acrylic end table. Not only is it modern, its barely-there presence is useful without cluttering up the room. You can even nest complementary sizes, and expand them for large gatherings.

zz plant intentional apartment

ZZ Plant

The Sill, $18

A little greenery goes a long way toward making your space look and feel cleaner and more lively. See how one of our readers keeps more than 50 plants happy and thriving in an LA apartment (including a ZZ Plant).

tobacco spice vanilla candle intentional apartment

Tobacco, Spice & Vanilla Candle

Amazon, $15

This candle has an old school and minimalist look that appears as a decoration, not clutter.

If you’ve got pets, a messy roommate, or just live in a city (with all the odors that entails), a candle can improve things quickly when you don’t have time for a detailed deep-clean.

stone and beam patterned pillow intentional apartment

Stone & Beam Geometric Pattern Pillow

Amazon, $40

Many guys seem to be suspicious of pillows that aren’t explicitly for sleeping, but decorative cushions are great for putting the finishing touches on a room. They’re small, they’re easy to swap out, and you can find great styles that aren’t too pricey. This one has a variety of colors, patterns, and textures, so it really stands out against the solid blue sofa.

TV Side:

besta tv unit intentional apartment


IKEA, $209

This cabinet’s clean white lines neatly contain all the devices, game systems, remotes, headphones, etc., that seem to multiply in living rooms and dens across the country. Its minimalist style has a Scandinavian vibe to it and helps add a modern balance to some of the other rustic or vintage-inspired elements.

costa farms palm tree intentional apartment

Indoor Palm Tree

Amazon, $63

A friend to keep your ZZ plant from getting lonely, this larger palm fills empty space and balances out this side of the room.

space poster print intentional apartment

Solar System Poster

Amazon poster, $10

Hanger DIY on Primer

This bold graphic print is both eye-catching and a conversation starter–are you team Pluto? Or not? Defend your opinion.

floating wall shelf intentional apartment

Floating Wall Shelves – Set of 3

Amazon, $22

Similar to the acrylic table, floating shelves provide storage and room to display your favorite decorative items without making the room feel too cluttered or busy.

cement incense holder intentional apartment

Cement Incense Holder

Amazon, $15

If you want something stronger than a candle, try incense. There’s a reason it’s often used in meditation–there’s something pleasing about the smooth silhouette of this holder, and the ritual of burning incense can be quite relaxing.

metal dog statue intentional apartment

Dog Statuette

Amazon, $38

Rendered in brass, this version of man’s best friend can’t fetch your slippers, but his noble good looks add warmth and personality to your place.

pepparkorn vase intentional apartment

Finished Glass Vase

IKEA, $8

The sculptural, squared-off shape of this modern glass vase looks great as a standalone piece, or holding a simple arrangement.

What are some of your decor must-haves? Share them with us in the comments!

Ali grew up in New York and currently lives in Philadelphia, where she works as a copywriter. She enjoys cooking, playing the guitar, and powerlifting, and has a brown belt in Krav Maga. You can find her collected articles on health, fitness, and other lifestyle topics at Instagram: @alibzagat