How to Keep Your Couch Nice and Clean

couch

How often do you think about cleaning your sofa? Probably not very often, possibly even never. But when you think about it, it’s one of the central pieces in your apartment and you probably use it every day. You wouldn’t go for months on end without changing your bed sheets, right? Let’s hope not! So there’s a good solid chance your sofa could use a little bit of cleaning.

First you’ll want to identify what materials the covering on your couch is made from. The tag will probably denote materials and cleaning methods like this:

W means water is fine to clean with

S means use only solvent based cleaners

SW means both water and solvent based cleaners are suitable

X vacuum only

Hopefully your couch is made from natural materials and you can clean it with water based products. If this is the case, you can use these steps to give your sofa its much-needed cleaning:

Using a (white, non-colored to prevent color transmitting) dry cloth or a bristle brush, wipe down all the surfaces to remove any loose dirt and debris

  1. Lightly dust the couch in baking soda which will absorb odors. Let set for 15 minutes and then use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner to suck up all the baking soda, loose stuff between and underneath cushions, pet hair, and dust.
  2. Spot treat any stains with some gentle carpet cleaner and a white washcloth

Simple enough, right? For couches upholstered with materials other than cotton, use this comprehensive guide to find your perfect sofa cleaning instructions!

Redecorate…Using Stuff You Already Own!

bed

I am a habitual furniture-mover-arounder and every time I go through this process it amazes me at the versatility of the things I own. It goes to show that you don’t have to buy new things to redecorate your apartment, which is great news for those of us who like to pinch our pennies (so there’s more money for important things like ice cream and shoes!). I actually just rearranged my bedroom furniture last night and even the minimal shifting I did has made a huge difference by opening up the room in a way I didn’t realize I could have before. So if you’re feeling blah with your current arrangement and you want to liven things up for summer, here are some simple ways to redo your space without spending a dime.

Orient your bed differently Beds tend to take up the bulk of an apartment bedroom and have the most weight on the overall layout. By reorienting the bed, you can significantly change the flow of movement in the room and the general feel.

Trade organizational spaces Maybe you’ve been storing your books in one place and your office supplies in another, but did you ever consider swapping? Trade spaces and you may find that certain shelves or carts work better for something different than you originally intended. It may involve some trial and error, but it also may pay off better in the end!

Rotate wall art Just because you hung a painting when you moved in doesn’t mean you have to keep that same painting there indefinitely. Move wall art around to keep your space fresh. One trick to keep yourself constantly changing your art is to use a picture hanging system like this or use two level nails in the wall, a string between them, and some clothespins to hang photos, postcards, and posters. Switching them out is as easy as squeezing a clothespin.

Repurpose your things Get creative with how you use your stuff – maybe that collection of glass jars in your kitchen would make great organizers for your toiletries in the bathroom. An old cup or mug could become a new succulent planter for your desk. There are countless ways to use the things you own!

Make a Generic Apartment Uniquely Yours

It may be the simple staple pieces from Target and IKEA that keep my apartment in running order, but when it comes to decoration I like to stray from the ordinary. Especially if it’s your first apartment, you may feel like you have to go to HomeGoods for everything you need to make your apartment feel like home. But if you truly want your place to reflect your own personal style, you may want to try some alternative methods to picking and choosing from the mass-produced collection of stuff at a chain store. Also, know that putting together a unique looking space doesn’t mean it’s expensive or difficult to do.

Pick a theme – This part isn’t absolutely necessary, but it makes things easier if you’re struggling with how to throw things together. Maybe mid-century mod is your jam (think Mad Men) or possibly you’re really into the Great Gatsby and love everything Art Deco. So if you’re drawn to the Palm Springs style, add some big tropical plants, cacti, and focus on a warm, pastel color scheme. Whatever suits your style, use that as a theme and orient your interior style accordingly!

Go Antiquing – The most interesting pieces in a home are often found off the beaten path and are more one of a kind. Scour antique malls for something that catches your eye. Or if you’re me you scour the antique mall and come home with an entire room full of new things. Don’t be afraid to buy something a little beaten up- it just gives it character. My collection of favorite antique pieces: my dad’s old family apple crate, beautiful antique books, milk glass flower vase, and my pink wingback sitting chair. Embrace old school design!

Collect your friends’ artwork – I have a penchant for letterpress and know a fair few printers so I collect postcards, greeting cards, tidbits of printed stuff that makes for good wall art. A frame instantly adds polish to any print. If you have any creative friends, know that they get rid of a lot of awesome stuff all the time because it doesn’t quite meet their personal standards. Take advantage of this for some original wall art!

Show your interests – I love music and like to decorate with favorite album covers. How can you use your hobbies and interests to decorate? Pull from within and you’ll have a unique looking spot in no time.

Monogram – Your name is unique to you, so personalize your things for additional pizzazz!

Quotes – Put up a chalkboard or message board to write your favorite thoughts, ideas, and quotes. Not only will you enjoy seeing it, but it’s a way for you to express your personality to visitors.

Pre-Vacation Apartment Checklist

van

Summer break is here and it’s finally time to relax, kick back, and consider taking a trip somewhere! I love to travel and I usually try to squeeze in as many little trips each year as possible, even if they are just short overnight ones. With Gainesville being such a short distance from the Florida coast, it’s easy to make a weekend trip to the beach this summer. Or maybe you’re planning something more extended, like a trip overseas. Either way, it’s said that planning is really half the fun – picking where to go, buying new clothes, and planning what you’ll do on vacation. One of the most important parts of your preparation is making sure your apartment is ready to be unoccupied for the duration of your trip.

  • Close and lock all of your windows
  • Notify your landlord or property manager that you will be out of town and inform them of the dates
  • Turn your thermostat to an energy saving temperature while you’re away
  • Clean out your refrigerator
  • Take out the trash
  • Wash the dishes
  • Do laundry
  • Close the blinds or curtains
  • Unplug any electronics that could be damaged by a power surge
  • Don’t forget to lock the door!

Keepin’ It Fresh

window

Don’t you love it when you walk inside somewhere and you experience a pleasant aroma? It’s no surprise if you do- marketing analysts spend quite a lot of money on research involving customer responses to scent in stores and how it affects buying. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy the smell of freshly baked bread or aromatic flowers?

However, if you notice any kind of smell when you walk in your apartment door and you’re not a fan of what you’re experiencing, there are some easy ways to help eliminate that problem.

  1. If the weather is nice, open the windows. Get some fresh air in! You may want to leave the screen closed to keep all the nasty bugs out, though.
  2. Clean pet supplies on a regular basis. Wash your critters’ bedding frequently and clean up pet hair by vacuuming often. Clean kitty litter boxes daily and empty and wash relatively often to help keep the odor down.
  3. Take out the trash often. Don’t let things sit around too long! If you have discarded bits from cooking like meat or vegetables, put in a plastic bag in the freezer until trash day to reduce the smell in the trash can.
  4. Don’t smoke inside…seems like a no-brainer if you want a nice smelling apartment, but smoke smells really do stick to everything. Plus, if you have pets it’s better not to subject them to second-hand smoke as well.
  5. Baking soda absorbs odors so you can leave a box open to soak up as much as possible or just put some in your trash can or near the cat box.
  6. You can use essential oil diffusers to help perfume the air – this is a slightly healthier and safer alternative to scented candles.
  7. Invest in a nice air purifier. This is a little more expensive, but you may find that it dramatically reduces odors in your apartment and helps you breathe a little more easily.
  8. Plants! Plants are natural air purifiers. They also liven up a space visually, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Not To Buy at IKEA

 

IKEA, IKEA, IKEA…I barely ever stop rambling about the beloved Scandinavian do-it-yourself superstore and fate has it that I’ll be stalking some new goodies for my place there today. So I thought what better time than the present to go over what may not be this particular store’s strong suit.

Mattresses – IKEA is known for convenience, great design, and affordability. Mattresses need to be comfortable and high quality because you’re going to spend every night recharging your batteries on it. It MUST be comfortable and good for your health. IKEA mattresses are decent, but not necessarily worth the investment which could be put into a much better and higher quality product.

Built-in cabinets – They offer complete kitchen renovations and while they look nice, it will be worth your while to go with a higher grade cabinet. When you think of how often you want to do a kitchen renovation I’m going to guess it’s not very often. Longevity is not necessarily a word I immediately associate with IKEA.

Couches – Beware the IKEA couch. It looks so nice and stylish, but don’t buy without trying it out! They tend to be tough and not as competitive on the price. That’s ok, you don’t have to get everything in your apartment there.

Any other furniture you want to cherish for years to come – I’ve had plenty of IKEA stuff go for years and be spectacular, but the bottom line is that it’s not hard wood, it’s most likely made of sawdust and glue, and therefore it will not last a lifetime. If you’re looking for a bargain dresser or vanity, check out flea markets and yard sales and you may be able to get a higher quality piece of furniture at a reasonable price.

It would be unfair if this article was completely negative so to list a few things that are always a good idea to buy at IKEA:

Decorative objects

Candles

Lamps and light fixtures

Textiles – rugs, throw pillows, blankets

Garden accessories

Shelves

Kitchen stuff – dishes, utensils, organizational containers

Mirrors

Picture frames

Clothes hangers

Unconventional, Useful, Beautiful: Ladders as Apartment Decor

When you live in a small apartment, wasting usable space is no longer an option! You become intensely aware of how little floor space you have and notice your walls are not just for hanging art anymore. For the same reason large cities have skyscrapers and build up and not out, you have to work your way up the walls in a small apartment to get the usable space you need.

This is why I think ladders are such a useful tool for apartment dwellers. The lattice-like structure of a ladder is perfect for hanging towels, jewelry, magazines, or even for hanging a simple light as seen in this Homey Oh My! post here (I love the way this one is two-toned natural wood and black paint, which would be easy to replicate a DIY version of). And not only are they functional, but they can add visual interest to an otherwise blank space.

These ideas extend beyond your standard a-frame too, although there are some great ideas for a-frames like these right here. While you can utilize an old thrifted or hand-me-down ladder, you don’t necessarily need one to create this fabulous organizational system. There’s a great DIY using copper pipes you can buy at your local home improvement store, right here. This one is a really nice dressed up version of the original wooden variety and would add sophistication to any room.

If you’re not necessarily the DIY kind of person, there’s a clever little chair from IKEA, the Rågrund, which utilizes the ladder idea in place of a traditional chair back.

Apartments IRL: Personal Reflections on Apartment Priorities

I’m going to offer a little glimpse into the recent adjustments in my existence as a renter. Circumstance had it that I moved into a subletting situation in a different part of town than I used to live in. With the move have come some interesting experiences and fresh realizations.

I now call an apartment home which is located near the local university. Believe me, it looks and feels like a college apartment and I’ve already been there, done that, gotten a t-shirt, but nonetheless here I am again. Having grown up in a quiet suburban neighborhood and gradually moved to more urban spaces, this one definitely is the most urban yet. I’m two blocks away from one of the main streets through town and there is a steady flow of foot traffic around the building. My parking space is in the alley directly behind the apartment building, next to a dumpster and an assortment of broken glass and garbage which didn’t quite make it into that dumpster. The back fence has the word, “camera” spraypainted on it with an arrow pointing up at an imaginary camera (there really is no camera), but perhaps it thwarts petty crime in some small and slightly humorous way. Thankfully the back gate has a number pad lock, but less fortunately the fence is not very high and is made of half-inch thick lumber from Lowe’s.

About a week after I began my sublet, I asked my new roommate if he had checked the mail that day, to which he replied, “No…” and gave me an odd look. So I responded with, “Well, I assumed you had the only mail key, so I thought I would ask.” He laughed and said, “You don’t need a key, the entire section of mailboxes opens without one.” This, I’m almost positive, is not intentional, but has morphed into a mailbox free-for-all over the years. Remind me not to have anything expensive delivered.

The floors are thin and creaky, some of the moulding is coming loose, one of the kitchen cabinet doors is missing a hinge, the eyes on the electric stove are warped so things only cook on one side of the frying pan…and so forth. At this point, you’re likely wondering why on earth I live there.

But it just so happens that I absolutely love this apartment. It has a washer and dryer in the unit and they BOTH work! It also has a full sized dishwasher, which ALSO WORKS and does not leak water all over the floor like at my last apartment. There are large windows which let in beautiful natural light all over the apartment and lovely high ceilings. I have a grade A view of the city from my third floor location. I’m located within walking distance to a whole new collection of local shops and restaurants which I’m finding are really fantastic.

This whole experience underscores the fact that nothing is ever perfect and circumstances can throw you into an adventure which you’re not completely comfortable with or at all prepared for. However, you may come out of it with a whole new perspective and see that no matter where you are, there are silver linings.

Reasons to Fall in Love With Small Spaces

small spaces

If you like a good challenge, there may be no better one than trying to fit your crazy, hectic everyday life into a 650 square foot studio apartment. Even larger apartments can be their own unique challenges depending on the layout and amount of storage space. But it’s not all bad, right? Over the years I’ve learned a few things about the bright side of downsizing and apartment problem solving:

  1. You will realize you need less than you thought you did. I’ve really gone extreme with this one lately and I can personally say it’s incredibly liberating. After moving all my junk (I’m essentially a magpie when it comes to collecting odds and ends) as many times as I have and trying to figure out how to squeeze it all into a different apartment each time, I’ve learned that it’s better to simply own less. Another great reason to own less is it costs you less. Maximalists beware: you may find yourself converting sooner than later.
  2. Small spaces encourage you to go outside. Don’t have enough room in your apartment for what you want to do? Great! Go outside! There’s plenty of room out there.
  3. Tiny apartments force you to be a creative problem solver and that’s good exercise for your brain. With a little inspiration, research, and planning you can turn a heap of a mess into an efficiently organized space. You’d be amazed at how great you are at playing organizational tetris!
  4. Small spaces are already “cozy” so you barely have to work to get yours to feel comfortable. Lazy people, rejoice!
  5. There’s less to clean! If you’re in a tiny apartment, that means it comes with tiny floors and tiny windows that take way less time to clean. Excellent.