Thursday, March 8, 2012

10 Apartment (or Dorm) Essentials

College is the first time most young adults live away from home or without family.

My first year, I lived in the dorms.

Ever heard the awesome story where you go to college, meet your roommate, he or she's the most awesome person ever and then later in life, he or she stands up in your wedding and gives the toast at the reception? Yeah, my experience is not any variation of that anecdote. 

Luckily I'm a social butterfly, so I made friends elsewhere.

My second year, three friends and I decided to get an apartment.

Since then, I've learned some essentials for apartment living and I wanted to share my top necessities.

1. Shower curtain with pockets
Bed Bath and Beyond
This is a godsend because most apartment bathtubs and showers have zero storage. This allows you to avoid lining up your products on the shower floor.

The curtain shown, from Bed Bath and Beyond, costs $20. I bought mine for $15 and it has more pockets. Shop around--you'll find a good deal.

2. Extension cords

Odds are you're going to live in an older apartment. Older apartments, like mine, aren't necessarily equipped with many or logically placed outlets. Buy extension cords. 

The biggest outlet problem I have is there aren't any in my bathroom. I blow dry and straighten my hair in my bedroom with an extension cord running across the floor because the outlets are illogically placed in there.

Make sure you buy cords with the grounding prong. Makes life much easier. They cost a little extra, but they're worth the investment. 

Also pick up a surge protector. This way your laptop, television, Blu-Ray and other expensive gadgets aren't fried during a power surge.

3. Folding chairs
Bed Bath and Beyond
Butterfly chairs, or any variation, are best because they're aesthetically pleasing and comfortable. Popular in dorms, but also great for apartments. They easily store in a closet or under the futon--that's where mine are stashed. There when you need them and able to be stashed when you don't.

There chairs aren't terribly expensive. You can get one for as little as $25. Mine cost around $30.

4. Lighting
My apartment has the worst lighting. It's so bad, there is an extra table or floor lamp (or two) in each room.

The most bang for your buck is the five-bulb floor lamp featured in most dorm rooms. Unfortunately, it's not as stylish as it is functional. If you want the best of both words, buy a single-bulb floor lamp with multiple light settings.

I have one that cost $5 and it's amazing. Last year, it lit my dorm room and this year it lights my kitchen. It also easily dissembles.

The above floor lamp cost a whopping $9.

5. Storage

Not only is storage about having places to stow things, it's also about stowing things conveniently and efficiently. Buy what will fit your needs best. Have a lot of open wall space? Investing in hanging shelves or a bookcase. Have space available under the hanging rod in your closet? Grab a few bins to stash there. Space under your bed (bed risers work wonders)? Slide a few drawers under there.

6. Command hooks
If you don't know what these are you've been living under a rock. Command hooks are an essential for any dorm or apartment. They allow you to hang things without putting holes in the walls and then having to pay for the damage.

Remember to read the weight restrictions. Not all hooks are created equally.

7. Swiffer mop
Swiffers are much better than traditional mops. Not only are they great space savers, but you get two mops for the price of one. You also save time--put on a cleaning pad, clean the floor and toss the nasty pad. Much easier than dealing with a bucket of water and wringing out a cumbersome traditional mop.

Of course, you have to buy the cloths, but with a traditional mop you'd have to buy soap, a bucket and possibly replacement mop heads.
Also, check out Swiffer dusters. Another convenient product.

8. Photos, posters, artwork, etc.

One of the best parts of living on your own is decorating your space. Once young adults leave home, personal items are packed away in boxes until they buy their first home. And living with others sometimes means one person's personal tastes can be forgotten or overshadowed.

Also, personal touches makes your space more homey and may help cure small homesick spells.

9. Electric kettle
This isn't a necessity unless you drink a lot of tea. Because I do, this is easily one of the best investments I've made for my apartment. Electric kettles boil water in under two minutes!

Of course the fancier the kettle, the more it will cost you. I bought mine for $20 and the Sunbeam kettles pictured above cost $20 - $26, depending on the color.

10. Desk
I took having a desk for granted when I lived in the dorms. Now that I'm in an apartment, I immensely miss it. I either do my homework on the floor, in my bed or at the kitchen table.

If you have a desk, you have a work space where you go leave your stuff out and come back to it. Your computer is safe from danger; my laptop sits on the floor in my room. You also have a designated place for office supplies--sometimes it's the little things.

What are your suggestions for apartment living?


Girls Under PRessure


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