What I Learned in Copenhagen

copenhagen

I’m lucky enough to have recently gotten back from a trip to Europe, which is not somewhere I go very often. And this time I went somewhere I’ve never been before – the title is a dead giveaway, but it’s Copenhagen. I fell in love with Copenhagen and Danish culture almost immediately. I had a feeling I would like it, but I really didn’t know what else to expect and there was an almost immediate sense of belonging. It’s a beautiful old city of history, fairy tales (the home of Hans Christian Andersen), bicycles, and cozy spots to hunker down with a hot cup of coffee.

Copenhagen has a very comfortable vibe, and it’s no doubt with a culture that created their own culture of cozy, called hygge. “Hygge is a feeling you cannot translate” said one of the postcards I saw in town, but it roughly translates to a feeling of warmth, coziness, and comfort wherever you go. Many people have written about the Danish phenomenon of hygge, and Hyggehouse.com writes, “Hygge literally only requires consciousness, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present – but recognize and enjoy the present.” This is an idea embraced by a culture that spends part of the year in almost total darkness, when the sun is only out for a few hours in the coldest parts of winter. Even living in the southern United States, Seasonal Affective Disorder has a hold on a number of people, causing a seasonal bout of depression. While the idea of hygge cannot fix this, it’s a healthy mental state to adopt that can help with not only winter blues, but any day of the year.

I’d gladly go back to Copenhagen any day. The air was chilly, but the attitude was warm, nurturing, and exciting. It’s a city where outdoor cafes provide blankets on their chairs and nearly every building has a bicycle rack outside. If that’s not enough, beautiful modern Scandinavian design is everywhere and mixes seamlessly with the ornate traditional architecture of the buildings. If you ever have a chance, stop over in Denmark and see what it’s all about.

How to Survive Not Having a Dishwasher

dishwasher

I’ve previously written about how I’d basically live in a cardboard box before renting another apartment without a dishwasher. Well, as fate would have it, I have rented another spot without a dishwasher. Maybe I was being a bit dramatic about the life or death nature of the dishwasher, but I still maintain I’d much rather have one than not. Thankfully I’ve learned to live in harmony without the beloved kitchen appliance and I know you can too. So if you find yourself in a new spot where you’re the dishwasher you can keep these things in mind to help you cope:

  • Don’t let the dishes pile up If you wash the dishes every night before bed, you’ll thank yourself later. It only gets worse if you let it go. Not only does it make doing the dishes a much more time-consuming chore but things start to smell bad in there… better to nip this one in the bud.
  • Embrace the act of washing dishes If you give it a chance, washing dishes can be kind of a therapeutic, mindless activity. This is a great time to meditate or clear your mind while your hands do the dirty work. It’s similar to having time to think while in the shower, but in front of the sink instead.
  • Keep your sponge / wash rag clean Don’t walk away with smelly hands and dishes – keep your sponge fresh! There’s some debate currently as to whether or not it helps to run them through the dishwasher or microwave them. Some people recommend just replacing it every couple weeks. Or you can get a few of these bad boys and wash them regularly and cut down on the waste.
  • Cut down on how many dishes you use Reusing cups throughout the day and washing your plate for each meal will cut down on all the dishes piled up in the sink! Be conscious of how many dishes you’re using and it will keep you from stacking the dishes up a mile high.

Look Up! And Liberate Your Floor Space

floorspace

One of the great struggles of renting an apartment is figuring out how to fit everything on the ground in a small floor plan. The solution in apartments is the same as it is in city planning – build up, right? The question is whether or not you’re using your ceiling and wall space efficiently? What could you be hanging from the ceiling or on the walls instead of stationing on the floor? It could open up your apartment and help it feel airy and spacious.

Hanging side tables and shelves free up floor space and look super cool. Try DIY’ing a neat bedside table like this one, from website the Merrythought. You can find fun looking slabs of wood to work with on Etsy. This simple DIY allows you to put other storage underneath or just simply enjoy the minimalist and open look of the hanging table by itself.

I love those very 1970’s hanging fruit baskets in the kitchen, a la this right here. It’s likely that counter space comes at a premium in your apartment and freeing up any of that golden space is a welcome idea. Plus if you’re into the retro thing, this style of basket is right up your alley.

Another way to maximize the space in your place via the hanging method is to add hooks underneath shelves all over – you can do this in any room. For example, you can use hooks underneath a shelf in your kitchen for utensils or mugs. In your bedroom, hooks under a shelf make a great jewelry hanger for necklaces or for hanging sweaters from.

More cool than practical, the hanging chair fad is upon us – hang a hammock or fun rattan chair from the ceiling (check with your landlord first) and prepare to receive all the compliments. Because, how cool is this? Ok that one is a little pricey, but the hanging chairs thing is becoming popular again so there are some more affordable options out there!

What Makes An Apartment Feel Like Home?

home

I think it takes a little more than organizing all your stuff in an apartment to make it feel like home. So if it’s not just your stuff, what’s the secret? What exactly is it that we define as the feeling of home?

I’m sure a lot of it comes down to nostalgia and our childhood, but certainly not all of it. However, I do think you can break down the feeling into sense-based categories:

Sight – What colors calm you? Is there a certain style you really identify with? Embrace that style and use colors that make you feel comfortable. Lighting is an integral part of mood and comfort too. I use a lot of ambient lighting which calms me when I walk into a room. Plants also make a room feel homey and they come with the added bonus of cleaning the air for you, too.

Sound – Does the gentle sound of a fan sound like home? What about music? My ideal room (and often my real room) has an old record playing, preferably something soft and romantic like Billie Holiday. To me, that’s comfort. Sound can have quite an impact on our feelings of stress or comfort and white noise and music both can help you feel at home.

Smell – What does your apartment smell like? Is it a smell that makes you happy or is it something that needs to be addressed? When you walk into your apartment, do you recognize an old familiar smell? I like opening the door and smelling coffee or even spices from a meal I’ve cooked. Some scents are not as identifiable- a combination of how we smell as people and the things we use every day. Try and identify what it is you like to smell when you walk in the door and accentuate it.

Touch – There’s nothing like walking barefoot on a soft rug. Texture plays an important role in comfort, too so don’t skip this aspect. Find some throw pillows that are cozy to lounge on or a blanket that’s extra soft to the touch.

What’s On Your List?

list

Everybody has one when shopping for apartments. THE list- it gets more and more specific the more places you’ve rented, the more things you’ve encountered and learned from. I’m not talking price range or amenities included. I mean the details. What are those things that really make your place comfortable and feel like home? Is there an aesthetic you’re looking for? Or is it the fact that you really want to live in a certain neighborhood? Whatever it is, it can usually be narrowed down to about 5 things. My list is as follows:

  • Needs a balcony or patio. This is an absolute must because outdoor space is a big deal to me!
  • Must have a washing machine or a laundry room because I am never doing the laundromat thing again if I can help it.
  • I really, really like old buildings – historic buildings tend to have such beautiful charm and character that I love. Please don’t ask me about the cons of old buildings…
  • Good windows are an absolute necessity. Natural light is a great mood elevator and I don’t handle the lack of light well, so it’s essential to me. It’s also good for houseplants and cats (life’s other necessities).
  • A walkable neighborhood – I like to go places on foot and on a bike, so location is pretty important when it comes to what’s near my apartment.

These are things that while I could do without, I’ve decided I really don’t want to do without. After some time apartment hunting, you can tell pretty quickly what suits your criteria and what doesn’t. It may take a few apartments to really figure it out but eventually it will become obvious.

It’s good to know what your list is when you’re looking for a spot so you can keep track of which places really make you feel at home. You might be surprised just how much of a difference this can make in the long run!

An Ode to Being a Renter

renter

More people my age (that infamous group known as Millennials…) are renting apartments over buying houses more than ever before. What was once thought of as a college age phenomenon is now the norm for individuals well into their 30’s. Renting has become more appealing over the years and seems to suit not only single individuals, but is popular for couples too.

There are a number of reasons why this is happening and why many find it preferable to rent over owning a spot. The overwhelming factor is the freedom; having a lease, typically for a year, provides flexibility to renters that homeowners just don’t have. This is particularly appealing to those who do freelance work or are still figuring out a career path, but can be just as attractive to anyone. In this way renting is liberating, especially if other areas of your life are less predictable than you’d like. With that being said, desiring flexibility does not mean you haven’t “gotten it all figured out yet” but sometimes is solely a comfortable way to live without feeling trapped in one place.

Another reason to be thankful to rent is the lack of liability. Owning a home is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a heavy financial burden. With renter’s insurance, renting comes with very little financial liability. Having a surprise plumbing leak or AC trouble is typically going to fall under your landlord’s responsibilities or will possibly be covered by renter’s insurance. This means less financial responsibility for you and more money in the bank for other things.

So whenever you feel less than ecstatic about being in a renting situation, remember that there are some great reasons to be a renter. With the growing number of renters, there are more resources than ever, too. Say hello to the new age of renting!

Perfect Apps for Renters to Have on Hand

renter-apps

All types of living spaces bring challenges to inhabitants, but renting a space comes with its own unique set of challenges. So when you realize that there are a number of apps out there that help with some of renting an apartment’s little struggles, it is a joyous occasion indeed. From moving to learning about your community, living comfortably and conveniently in an apartment can be as quick as downloading an app.

One of the all-around most useful of these apps is TaskRabbit, which has gained a lot of popularity recently. TaskRabbit is designed to help renters and homeowners find people to hire for their odd jobs and handyman needs. The app gives you a selection of tasks to choose from and then helps match you with an available individual for the job. So if you need help moving or putting furniture together or even just cleaning, TaskRabbit is a great tool to match you with the help you need.

Sortly is an app that can help you keep all your belongings in order when you’re in the middle of a move. Snap photos of your things and then organize them in the app according to which box they’re in. You can even print out QR code labels for your boxes so you can scan them later and know exactly what you’ll find in there. No more missing objects or digging through boxes to find that one item!

If you’re interested in sustainable living in your apartment, JouleBug is a fun, social way to help you stay on track. The app helps you keep tabs on your behaviors and energy usage, which both helps you live more sustainably and also possibly save money on your electric bill. You can even compete with your friends on Facebook to see who’s doing the best job.

When moving to a new location, you’ll want to know what the neighborhood’s like. This is the purpose for Next Door, which is a social app to help you to get to know your community. It’s a great tool for staying safe in your neighborhood and just knowing what’s happening on a regular basis.

5 Back to School Items Urban Outfitters Got Right

school-items

Is your apartment ready for the upcoming semester? It’s ok if you’re still getting some back to school shopping done; there’s still time to get things how you want them before the first day of classes! But if you want to really get something awesome for your money, you might be spending some time perusing around online instead of just at the mall.

Urban Outfitters is not just for clothes – it’s one spot that seems to always have amazing collections of things that are perfect for apartments and small spaces. Not only do they curate some really great apartment-friendly furniture and decor, but they make it look pretty darn cool, too (hint hint, check out their borderline annoyingly cool Instagram posts for room arranging inspiration).

Here are my top 5 picks for UO’s fall apartment line:

Leaning Clothing Rack This is one brilliant clothing rack. If you’re short on closet space and want something attractive to keep your clothes on, this gorgeously minimalist clothes rack is perfect. The sleek design, functionality, and a surprisingly reasonable price tag are the trifecta of wardrobe storage. $69

  1. Louisa Desk One of the many ways to save space in a smaller apartment is to have furniture designed specifically for small spaces – the Louisa desk is a dream for small spaces in that way. It takes up little floor space while still providing an excellent space to work on homework or projects. To top it all off, the Louisa desk is modern and visually appealing and would make a stylish addition to any apartment. $219
  2. Elise Convertible Mirror Take your vanity or bathroom to the next level with a versatile mirror. The Elise mirror can unfold to provide a stand for itself or fold up and be stored while not in use or hung on the wall. I’m always a fan of apartment goods that can be easily stored or collapsed when not in use and this mirror is a prime example of how that should be. As always is the case with UO, it’s also aesthetically pleasing. $29
  3. Leni Leaning Mirror You might ask why there are two mirrors on the list, but hear me out: this mirror isn’t just for your vanity or bathroom, it’s a full length mirror, plus The Leni Leaning Mirror has racks for towels or for draping clothes over, hooks at the top, and takes up a miniscule amount of floor space! $139
  4. Aila Earring Organizer All of you with pierced ears, listen up. This earring organizer is the bomb. It’s so lovely looking and holds all your stud earrings! I’m constantly trying to keep up with those tiny things and losing them left and right, but this baby makes organizing into a beautiful breeze. $19

Back to School Checklist for Your Apartment

abck-to-school

The summer heat isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but the beginning of the academic year looms in the not-so-distant future. Are you ready for it? Is your apartment ready for it? During the summer months, desks and workspaces get covered up, supplies distributed here and there, and for the most part it gets shoved into a corner somewhere and forgotten for the summer months. If you’re prepping for the school year ahead, there are some helpful ways for you to get your apartment ready, as well as your state of mind.

  1. Carve out a good work space Put a good desk or table near some outlets in your room or in a space that’s not too close to the TV or soundsystem. Have a nice chair ready so when you’re poring over books you’re not feeling uncomfortable. Organize your desk so that it’s ready for the year ahead by clearing off old papers and grouping tools and utensils in caddies or bins. Keep your electronic cables in order with cable clips on the wall or a cable organizer you can get at the office supply store. I also like to have a calendar, bulletin board, or chalkboard up on the wall behind the desk along with some inspiring pictures to help keep me focused and inspired.
  2. Clear out the landing strip Make a nice clean space for you to stop and unload when you get in the door. You’ll want to drop your stuff wherever, but you’ll stay more organized if the mail is in a place you can remember and your backpack isn’t in the middle of the floor for you or someone else to trip over. Using a small table with an organizer on it and a chair or stool helps to keep things in their correct places near the door.
  3. Organize your bookshelves You’re most likely going to have some new books and it might be time to get rid of the old ones, possibly by selling them at the local used bookstore or online. Clear a good sized space for your new textbooks so you don’t have to scramble after you get them.
  4. Clean out the refrigerator Kind of like spring cleaning, back to school is a good time to just weed out all the junk around. Clean out all the old and questionable food from the fridge and prepare for having less time to do tedious tasks like this. It might also be a good time to stock up on essentials that are non perishable or that keep for a long time. Basically, do things that take time while you have time!

Have a great school year!

Awesome Bike Accessories to Help You Do Everything

bike

Cycling is experiencing a huge spike in interest for many college students. They’re opting to bike instead of driving to school and around town because it’s both cheaper in the long run and easier to find parking. This is great both for your wallet and for the environment!

So if you’re an avid biker, you might need things that help you do what those car folks have easy. Here are some accessories that make biking around a little more convenient than before.

Grocery Basket A quick trip to the store can easily be accommodated by this front-mounted grocery basket, which is inexpensive at $30 and fits most bikes. I used to use a backpack, but depending on how heavy your groceries are and how hot it outside, that can get uncomfortable pretty quickly. If you need extra storage for food, consider a rear-mounted platform or basket as well.

U-Lock Holder You might need one of these if you have a big clunky u-lock to lock your bike up with when you park it. U-locks are definitely the preferred way to keep your bicycle safe while you’re inside, but they are heavy and trust me, you don’t want to hang it on the handlebars while you ride. This lock holder is pretty cool – handmade from Oopsmark on Etsy, it mounts your U-lock behind your seat and is made from attractive vegetable-tanned leather. This brings us to the next one…

Wine Bottle Carrier From the same company on Etsy, there is an awesome wine bottle carrier so you can transport that bottle of wine to your friend’s without any hassle. This is also made from the same high grade leather as the u-lock holder and looks spectacular.

Bike Storage Owning a bike and living in an apartment can be tricky, even though the two circumstances often coincide. This bike rack is beautifully minimalist and fits almost any bike so you can mount it on the wall and get it off of your much-needed floor space.