Be the Best Host!

Summer is such a great time to travel and is equally great for entertaining out of town guests in your apartment! Once you’ve worked out the logistical issues (Where will your guest sleep? Will you be sharing a bathroom?), there are some important hosting points to keep in mind. Try to remember that being a guest can be a very uncomfortable experience if the host is not in tune with the guest’s needs.

When your guest first arrives, show them in and around, then provide time and space for your guest to get comfortable and possibly freshen up. This is especially considerate if your guest has had a long drive there. A few minutes to clean up and decompress can really help their comfort levels.

Always ensure there are plenty of fresh linens and adequate pillows available, and that your guest knows where to find them. Ask if they need any additional toiletries or anything else for a comfortable stay.

Once your guest starts getting settled in, offer him or her a drink and a chance to catch up. Talk about their plans while they will be staying with you and how long they plan to stay.

Keep these questions in mind when preparing for your next guest:

Do they have allergies?

What do they enjoy spending their time doing?

Will you be away at work while they are there?

 

Simply do your best to make them feel at home. Happy hosting!

Make Cheap Furniture Look Fab!

Budgeting puts a real cramp on your style when you have a new apartment to furnish and you want an attractive space to live and entertain in. Plenty of stores (like Ikea and Target) offer inexpensive, and often flat-packed, furniture solutions for your budget. However, many of these cheap furniture options also tend to look cheap. Consider these ways to improve on your budget furniture purchases!

  1. Replace or add furniture legs – You just won’t believe how much of a difference interchanging furniture legs can make! With such a simple trick, you can completely transform a piece and elevate its style. Try metal “hairpin” legs for a trendy, mid-century mod look.
  2. Paint – This may be a very obvious solution, but it really can make a big difference. It’s easy to make a bland piece of furniture into a statement piece this way with a bright pop of color. It works especially well on unfinished furniture, but you can always sand down painted furniture before you go over it. Metallic gold spray paint might be your new best friend- it can make just about anything look a little bit fancier. Don’t be afraid to completely copy those colorful pieces in the expensive catalogs!
  3. Switch or add hardware – Cheap furniture comes with cheap hardware. Go figure! Adding slightly upgraded hardware instantly improves the appeal of a piece.   A great place to look for fun hardware is Anthropologie, whose home department is always stocks funky, eclectic knobs and drawer pulls.
  4. Get creative – Just because a piece of furniture is made for one thing, does not mean it would not be even better in your space used for something different. Try and visualize all the ways you can use a particular piece of furniture. For example, floating kitchen cabinets can be used as a media console or a small side table can be transformed into a bar cart simply by adding casters. You may be surprised at what you figure out!

Planning Ahead: Moving Day

The new academic year is fast approaching and there’s a good possibility you’re gearing up to move into your new apartment. Moving is probably my least favorite thing in the world, but there are some ways to ease the moving pain! And trust me, you’ll want to ease it as much as possible.

Hiring movers is expensive, but it may be the best way to go. It lessens your stress on the actual moving day (which will already be stressful enough without the heavy lifting) and professional movers will get you in your new place incredibly quickly. They may also provide services like reusable containers so you can skip the cardboard box nightmare.

Set up your new utilities ahead of time! Before the chaos of moving, you can call the utility companies and set a start date for your new spot. Then you don’t have to worry about it later.

If you’re moving nearby, stock bath and kitchen necessities before you officially move so they will be available first thing and not have to be unpacked. Toilet paper, soap, pajamas, and a toothbrush are all good things to have out and ready.

Use up the food in your refrigerator and freezer as best as you can before the move! Less food means less to move.

Most importantly, don’t leave all the packing to the last minute!

Everyday Essential Oils

There is nothing new about using essential oils to help heal the mind and body. The use of essential oils spans back throughout history for medicinal purposes. However, it fell out of style for a number of years and is now making a big comeback. In an age when overmedication is common, essential oils offer a safe, homeopathic method of healing. Here are some uses for commonly found essential oils:

Lavender: One of the most readily available essential oils, lavender naturally calms and relaxes making it a great aid for sleep or to help ease anxiety. It has some antiseptic properties, so it can be applied to clean cuts and bruises as a healing agent. It can be rubbed on sore muscles to help alleviate soreness and it also can help rejuvenate your hair.

Tea Tree: If you have trouble with acne, tea tree oil is an excellent way to calm it. Tea tree oil also has anti-fungal properties and can help treat things like ringworm and athlete’s foot. It can be used on cuts, bruises, and can help calm razor burn. Always dilute tea tree oil before applying!

Chammomile: Most commonly found in tea, chammomile has a soothing effect. In essential oil form, a few drops can be added to a bath or to your pillowcase to help you relax before bed.

Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil is a great aid for those who are suffering from congestion. A drop or two can be added to a drink to help loosen a cough and calm the throat and sinuses. It can also be used in a diffuser to help these symptoms. This is another essential oil which should always be diluted before use.

Succulent Garden Obsession!

Apartment living can mean severely limiting your ability to garden. Not all apartments get the best amount of sunlight and very few have the extra square footage for a garden, so if you love plants it can be a rude awakening. Succulent gardens are a great way to keep the green in your apartment!

Succulents require very little maintenance due to their ability to retain water and live in a small quantity of soil and rocks. This makes them ideal for apartments! Transparent glass hanging planters, vertical garden fixtures, and small tabletop dishes are perfect for the little plants. They come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors as well, making them beautiful decorations.

Since these plants store so much water, it’s important to remember to provide the right type of soil. A soil mixed with gravel or small rocks is ideal for drainage. Some succulent lovers also use what is called diatomaceous earth which helps the plant drain extra water while retaining a very small amount. Terra cotta pots are good choices to plant in since the material wicks away extra moisture from the succulents. Remember that just because they need little water and like it dry, does not mean they always enjoy full Florida sun all day!

For succulent garden inspiration, look here.

Furnishing Your Apartment – Where to Invest and Where to Save

If you’re not a veteran apartment dweller, you may find yourself with one of many furniture-related problems. If it’s your first apartment, you may not have much furniture at all. If you’re moving from one place to the next, you may have the wrong kind of furniture for your new apartment. Whatever the reason is, it’s important to know what to really invest in and what you can scrape by on with minimal spending.

Let’s start with the big investments. A mattress is one of the most important things to really invest in. Your health and well-being is at stake here, so take care to research and test mattresses to find the right one for your best night’s sleep. It will be worth it when you wake up refreshed in the morning! The next important splurge is good seating. Where will you be spending your time in the apartment when you’re relaxing after work or school? A good sofa, love seat, or armchair is integral to your comfort at home. Invest in one which is both cozy and inviting, as well as one which embodies your style and possibly makes a statement.

Thankfully there are plenty of items you can get away with spending a lot less on. Area rugs and light fixtures can be found inexpensively at larger stores like Target or Ikea. Sheets can easily be bought online at a discounted price as well. Thrift stores and antique malls are perfect for filling in with side tables, accent pieces, and decorative art at an affordable price. An added bonus of thrifting is the character and visual appeal furniture or accessories acquire with age.

For more inspiration, read here.

Don’t Break the Bank: Summer Fun on a Budget!

With gorgeous weather outside comes more on the social calendar, and inevitably more pressure on your wallet. Festivals, concerts, and all those meals on the restaurant patio can quickly drain those hard-earned funds of yours. While it’s perfectly fine to splurge on a vacation, don’t let the time around town strain you too much.

Take the time to do a little research: You can find great summer deals such as daily specials at restaurants and movie theaters by planning ahead. Most restaurants offer a happy hour with reduced rates on certain meals and drinks, which can add up over the time you spend out with friends. If there is a festival or concert on your radar, oftentimes tickets are much cheaper when bought in advance, so plan ahead!

Think local: Less money spent on gas means more saving for you. Find information on local activities and events. You can save on travel expenses and you may learn more about your area in the process!

Potluck: If you are thinking of hosting a gathering, consider having it potluck style. There is nothing wrong with asking guests to contribute a side dish, dessert, or drink as long as you provide an entree and space for the party. An added bonus is the wonderful variety your gathering will have from bringing a number of different styles together.

Save on beach expenses: When you arrive at the beach, try to find street parking to avoid paying to park in lots that can charge up to $20 a day. If there is little street parking available, consider going to the beach in the late afternoon after the lots stop charging. Also, pack your drinks and lunch in a cooler, reducing the number of meals and snacks you buy out.

Click here for more summer money savers.

What’s the Best Housewarming Gift? (The Apartment Edition)

So your friend just moved into a new apartment and you would like to give him or her a special gift to celebrate. Now, what is the best gift for someone living in a small space? A housewarming gift should ideally be something thoughtful, useful, and possibly something the recipient is not willing to buy for themselves on a tight budget.

  1.  Small potted houseplants – Plants liven up any space and produce that oh-so-necessary oxygen we all love. Pick an easy to care for variety, like African Violets or succulents so you’re not putting too much pressure on your friend. If the plant is housed in a lovely little ceramic pot and the plant dies, the pot can be used for something else and doesn’t go to waste.
  2. Tea Towels – They don’t sound very exciting, but these multi-purpose cloths can be a life saver. Dry dishes, wipe your hands, clean up spills, or even decorate with them. Pick a pattern or color that reflects your recipient’s style. Even if your friend already has some, more is always better; they don’t take up much space and who doesn’t love to do laundry a little less frequently?
  3. Eco-Friendly Cleaning Supplies – With the cost of moving hanging over your head, it’s difficult to splurge on the more environmentally friendly cleaning products which tend to be more expensive. That’s why they make such a great gift! A basket of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day or Method cleaning products are the ideal useful housewarming gift.
  4. Custom Address Stamp – For less than $20, you can get your pal a fancy stamp with his or her new address on it. It is a great time saver if the recipient still pays bills via check or enjoys mailing cards. Plus, it takes a while to remember your address, so this little stamp makes life easier!
  5. A Bottle of Wine – Okay, this one is less practical and more fun, but who doesn’t love a little celebratory vino? Classic.

A Warm Welcome

With the summer months being conducive to entertaining, you may end up with more than the usual number of guests in and out of your apartment. Captivate your friends and relatives at the front door by adding welcoming decor. Your apartment’s threshold will stand out with one of these attractive and affordable door mats.

welcomehome-(1)

 

  1. Hedgehog door mat, crateandbarrel.com $39.95
  2. Nice Shoes door mat, urbanoutfitters.com $29
  3. Juliana door mat, worldmarket.com $16.99
  4. Heart Shaped door mat, etsy.com $34

Cool Your Apartment and Save Electricity!

The summer months in Florida can be stiflingly hot and humid. Keeping your apartment cool is a top priority, but can become expensive very quickly. Here are some tips to help you stay cool without breaking the bank:

Sunlight coming into your apartment during the hot hours of the day can really heat an apartment up. Covering your windows with blinds or curtains during the day, especially if you’re not home, will dramatically reduce the amount of heat building up and that means less for you to spend electricity on cooling.

Ceiling fans are an efficient way to cool a room you’re using. Keep them running while you’re in the room, but turn them off when you change rooms or leave the house.

If you have a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature to be at your most comfortable level during the day, but program it to rise slightly at night to use less energy while you sleep. Resetting the thermostat to cool less while you’re away from your apartment will also save electricity.

Use your oven less in the hot summer months! An oven puts off a significant amount of heat, which counters your cooling efforts. Try cooking more frequently in the microwave or on a small grill if you have a patio.

Keep your air conditioner clean and efficient. Clean air filters keep your AC unit running well without wasting electricity, so check and change them at the beginning of the season. If you have a window unit and it is outdated, it may be worth considering buying a newer, more energy-efficient unit to replace it with. The investment will pay off, saving you money on future electric bills.

 For more summer cooling tips click here.