Surefire Ways to Get Your Security Deposit Back

deposit

More often than not, security deposits are equal to one month’s rent at your apartment, which can be a significant amount of money. The thought of throwing that sum of money out the window may be nauseating, but all too frequently renters forget to take precautionary measures to ensure they receive their full refund (or as much as possible) when they are ready to move. There are some simple steps to take which will help you get your security deposit back.

 

 

 

  1. Know your lease like the back of your hand. Understand the terms for renewal and how much notice has to be given before moving in order to not break the lease.

 

  1. Fill out a move-in checklist noting all damages or potential problems in the apartment and document with photos. Then, have the landlord sign off on this documentation and date it. When you move out, do a move-out checklist and take photos which can be compared with the originals. This way there can be minimal ambiguity over who is responsible for damages.

 

  1. Do basic maintenance and repairs before you move out, such as: patching nail/tack holes in the wall, touch up or repaint the walls, repair any damages you are responsible for, etc.

 

  1. Talk with your landlord and ask questions. If you have any concerns, ask your landlord about them. When you are ready to give notice, make sure to provide verbal and written notice. You may even want to ask for a signed notification that notice was received so there are no miscommunications.

 

 

 

4 Free Things to Do In Gainesville Before School Starts

bike

There’s the better part of one month left before classes begin at the University of Florida and there’s still time to squeeze in some fun before the buckling down starts once again. You may have already taken a vacation or gone on a road trip this summer, but there are plenty of free and entertaining things to do around town while you have the free time!

Visit the Harn Museum of Art

Though donations are accepted, the Harn Museum at UF has free admission to its exhibits and even some of its programs. Currently showing is an exhibition of portraits of famous painter Frida Kahlo as well as highlights from various permanent collections. You can also spend some time outside the museum enjoying the gardens on the museum grounds. The museum features a cafe as well, so you can stop for a cup of coffee with a friend and walk the museum for an afternoon.

Free Fridays at the Bo Diddley Plaza

Each Friday evening in downtown Gainesville is a free concert in a series lasting all summer long and into the fall. Head downtown for a fun-filled evening in the city. Pack some snacks and enjoy some great live music with friends!

Florida Museum of Natural History

This science museum features many exhibits relating to the local flora and fauna of central Florida in addition to your normal array of exhibits. General admission is free, but additional exhibits, like the butterfly rainforest, can be visited with an admission fee. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10-5 and then Sunday from 12-5.

Walk or Cycle on the Gainesville Hawthorne Trail

If you’re an outdoorsy type, the 16 mile Gainesville Hawthorne Trail is a great place to spend a day hiking or cycling. The trail runs through state park land where there are places to stop and have a picnic or even fish at the Prairie and Lochloosa Creeks. Grab your bike for a fun day out in scenic Florida wetlands.

Get That Mid-Century Mod

chair

If you’re drawn to the minimalist, sleek, modern beauty of mid-century modern design, you are certainly not alone. It’s been one of the most prolific design trends in this century as well as the last. Its popularity picked back up partly due to the AMC show, Mad Men, which featured breathtaking Madison Avenue offices in the 1960’s with perfectly mod interiors. Mid-Century designs are stylish and chic and add a touch of glamour to any space.

Finding original mid-century furniture is generally very expensive, but there are many companies producing similar styles at affordable prices. If you want to adopt some of the mod style in your apartment, here are the styles to keep an eye out for:

The Eames Dining Chair

This iconic cafe chair has been copied over and over throughout the years and similar products can be easily found with a minimal amount of searching. Tapered legs and the single piece of plastic creating the seat are very much in the 1950’s style. World Market has a set of 2 for $140 here.

Tables with Hairpin Legs

The hairpin leg is telling of mid-century style. It gives a sleek, clean look to any side or coffee table. There are a multitude of tables in this style available in stores or online. You can also order just the hairpin legs and add them to a tabletop or other material of your choice to create your own unique piece, like this dining room table from A Beautiful Mess.

Sleek and Low Loveseat

Organic shaped sofas and loveseats that are low to the ground, with short tapered feet/legs are perfect for cultivating a mid-century mod style in your apartment. Effortlessly stylish, one of these sofas can immediately pull the room’s style together. This one from Overstock is affordable as well as good-looking.

Boomerang / Organic Shaped Side Tables

Nothing says mid-century like a funky shaped table. This was the point in interior design where furniture lost its square edges and moved into more free-flowing forms. This little IKEA side table is inexpensive and captures the flair of the 50’s and 60’s.

Tulip Tables

Another quintessential design from the mid-century mod era was the tulip table, which was introduced in the late 1950’s. It eliminates the three or four legs most tables have, streamlining the design down to one central stem beneath the table top. Its gorgeous silhouette is still very popular today. Apartment Therapy provides a list of ones to choose from here.

Sunburst Wall Clock

No mid-century space is complete without one of these funky wall clocks. They scream 1950’s and can add a great deal of flair to your walls. Numerous types of these clocks are all over the internet and in stores, even discount places like TJ Maxx or Marshall’s. Take a look around… if you’re thrifting you may even find the real deal at a good price.

Take-Along Appliances Worth Investing In

cloffee

When you move into an apartment, generally all your basic appliances are covered – refrigerator, oven, possibly a dishwasher, if you’re lucky a washer and dryer is thrown in the mix. Aside from that, it’s up to you. Some things are easy enough to just find the cheapest rendition of at Wally World and lug it home immediately. Others can be lifetime pals you’ll carry from apartment to apartment are totally worth pinching pennies for.

Espresso Machine – Quality makes a tremendous difference. I have a standard issue Krups machine which can get the job done, but hardly excites a true coffee fanatic (or in other terms, addict). Investing in a nice espresso maker can mean shelling out a lot up front, but the difference in taste is remarkable. If your palate is excited by fine espresso, try a Breville or DeLonghi machine, which will make a great shot and last you a number of years.

Food Processor – Don’t skimp on this workhorse of an appliance. Picking a nice food processor, which is a great multi-tasker in the kitchen, will save you hassle later. I didn’t believe in the extraordinary powers of the food processor for many years, but I’m coming to terms with how impressive they really are. They slice, they dice… but no really, a three blade food processor can help you accomplish a lot of prep work in a minuscule amount of time. For a great long-haul food processor it doesn’t get much better than the Cuisinart food processors, which tend to top the charts. DeLonghi and Breville also make appearances in this category with impressive (though expensive) machines. Kitchen Aid food processors are not as expensive, but are still a worthwhile investment with good ratings.

Stand Mixer – If you do a lot of baking, you need a stand mixer. There’s simply no substitute for its power and mostly hands-free operation. The great news is if you choose to invest in a good stand mixer, they last about as long as you do. My mother’s stand mixer was a wedding gift in the 70’s and is still going strong with regular weekly use. Kitchen Aid is widely regarded as one of the go-to brands for a great quality stand mixer. They come in a couple sizes and with a variety of attachments if you need them. Hamilton Beach and Sunbeam also make good and slightly less expensive stand mixers.

 

Light it Up!

lights.

Neon and bright marquee lights have been around for a long time, lighting up American streets and creating a classic all-American culture found in movies, books, and television. We’ve all experienced the alluring and pleasing glow of a neon sign in a shop window at night.

These fun light-up signs are becoming a trend for personal spaces, too. They’re incredibly retro, reminiscent of vintage Vegas nights and funky downtown areas nationwide and now they’re becoming a cool addition to apartments all over. They add character, color, and most of all, ambience to any space. Once they were rare flea market finds, but now many companies are making affordable and easily obtained signs that are safe for indoor use. Add a sign above your couch or bed to instantly change the overall appearance of your room.

Neon

Neon signs are iconic and alluring, but real neon signs tend to be expensive. Thankfully there are some LED versions that look just as good.

Neon Heart Light by Oh Joy! From Target, $50

For a little more, you can get the real deal, too!

Neon “Stay Wild” Light from Urban Outfitters, $198

Create Your Own Neon Sign from Not on the High Street, $68

 

Marquee Style

With interchangeable letters, this marquee style light fixture allows you to express yourself while creating a vintage ambient glow in your apartment.

Cinema Box LED Light from Urban Outfitters, $59

Large bulbs that wind around the outline of letters, shapes, and arrows make for awesome vintage style signs

 

Marquee Style Arrow Light from Wayfair, $128

 

Marquee Style Ampersand from Target, $30

 

 

How to Divide Space in a Small Studio Apartment

studio

If you’re renting a studio apartment, it can be one of the trickiest types of spaces to work with. Everything must fit in a single room – living room, bedroom, dining room, kitchen… that’s a lot going on in one space! Despite the fact that it is a big challenge, people worldwide make beautiful, comfortable living spaces out of studio style apartments without feeling like sardines packed in a can at the end of the day.

Having a harmonious small studio space comes down to the flow of traffic and the division of usable space. Since there are no walls to divvy up space in your apartment for each section of the room, other methods have to be utilized.

Open shelving Using open shelves (backless) as room dividers keeps things airy and open while still creating an imaginary line between areas within the room, such as between the bedroom and the living room. Using this type of shelving doubles as not only a room divider, but as storage space for books, bins, or anything you can fit on there. The simple modern design is also pleasing to the eye. A good example of this kind of storage is IKEA’s Kallax system which is available in a number of colors and configurations for any kind of space.

Screen Dividers Slightly less efficient than the open shelving since they don’t double as storage, but still very practical in the sense of breaking up space in a room. Folding screens come in a multitude of styles and double as places to drape clothing, jewelry, or to hang towels. I like both the aesthetic of a folding screen as well as the ability to easily move or store it. If you want to rearrange it is easily done by simply folding it up and moving it.

Loveseat / Couch Couches are hard to fit in a studio apartment unless it’s a larger open floor plan, but loveseats and some smaller couches make excellent room dividers. The back of the couch creates a visual divider between spaces within your apartment to differentiate individual spaces. Orienting other furniture toward the front of the couch and adding a rug or a coffee table in the middle solidifies the appearance of a “living room”.

Paint If you are brave enough to paint and your landlord allows it, you can actually use paint to section off a part of your room. If you have a small workspace or if you want the dining area, etc. to have a different feel, paint a section of the wall a different color and it will instantly break up the space.

Tools Every Apartment Dweller Needs To Have Around

tools

You may not fancy yourself a do-it-yourselfer or a handyman of any kind, but having a few basic things to rely on can help alleviate the stress of small home related issues. I’ve been collecting tools for years, which may not be something every girl brags about. I lug them around in a hand-me-down metal toolbox, now adorned with stickers which have gradually covered most of its surface area. Having some tools on hand can really be a lifesaver in a tight pinch or when a job is a little bit too small to call your landlord over. Simple little issues can be solved with ease, like hanging pictures, measuring rooms for square footage, putting together flat-packed furniture items or taking something apart, etc. The more home improvement or DIY projects you do, the more extensive your toolbox will need to be. For starters, these are the things I would always keep on hand:

  • Hammer with a good weight and claw head
  • Screwdrivers – both Phillips and flathead in several sizes, but most importantly #2
  • Pliers – adjustable and needle nose
  • Electric drill and drill bit set
  • Level
  • Putty knife / paint scraper
  • Utility knife
  • Wire cutters
  • Tape Measure

With these various tools at your disposal, you should be able to take care of basic level maintenance and make slight improvements in your apartment. Plus, it makes you feel good to be the person someone can come to if they need a hand or a tool for a project (so long as you get your precious tools back afterwards). Remember to always check with your landlord before you start drilling into walls or going to town on any crazy improvement projects!

 

A Collection of Free Printable Art for Your Apartment

frames

Decorating on a budget can mean working with whatever you can find at a reasonable rate, subjecting you to other people’s taste and ideas of what you should have in your apartment. Thanks to the wild and wonderful Internet, if you’re itching to find some things to put up in your place, there are a number of websites which provide attractive and completely free designs to spice up your living space with. There are a number of online bloggers who are more than happy to share their designs at no charge to users.

If you own a printer, then the whole project remains nearly free, minus the cost of ink and paper. However if you don’t own a printer, then the price goes up nominally because you have to have it printed somewhere else. Thankfully this still only drives the cost up by one or several dollars at a place like Staples or Kinko’s which may charge about $1 for a color print. Still keeping the cost low, you can spruce it up even more by adding an inexpensive frame. If you don’t find the color frame you want, craft paint can fix that at a super low cost (especially if you have those Michael’s or JoAnn’s coupons they send out each week!). Places like the dollar stores and IKEA also sell super affordable picture frames. So here’s the roundup of fun, free, printable apartment art:

Inspirational, [not necessarily strictly so but labeled as] #girlboss printables from The Crafted Life

Blog Make and Tell has TONS of awesome printable projects, but this colorful apple print is one of my favorites

Paper N’ Stitch’s “Happy Happy Happy” printable art, which is both dreamy and heavy on the typographic side

And if you’re into typographic prints, Homey Oh My has a nice one here (and you get to pick which letter you want to print)

A summer toned cactus print to remind you to keep on keepin’ on from Gold Standard Workshop

If you’re more on the technical, not so girly side of things, the “engineer’s guide to drinks” set of prints are attractive, gender neutral, and entertaining

A Gentle Reminder to Keep it Real

bed

We live in a world of staged Instagram moments, unrealistic facades which only project a skewed and limited piece of everyday life. While the Insta photos and Facebook timelines provide us with access to people who have great talent for photography and staging, it can be exhausting once you start looking and comparing the color coordinated lifestyles to your own. But rest assured, not everybody’s apartment looks like the ones we draw our inspiration from. In fact, I think it may just be slightly unnatural to dedicate such an astounding amount of time to showing off (I swear I’m not grumpy, but there’s no way that’s what real life looks like).

With that being said, I am an individual who likes neither extreme end of the spectrum, so of course I love the task of decorating and culminating aesthetic appeal as well as I like also not worrying about said decor and appeal. So I’m writing today to let you know that it really is ok to not worry about it all and to embrace some realistic ideals. Breathe deeply and repeat after me….

It’s ok to clean 15 minutes before company shows up – a little dust never hurt anyone…unless they have bad allergies. Master the art of the “once over”.

It’s ok not to spend a ton of money on housewares – start small and as you go, all your friends will begin to move around and give you things because they’d rather not move them. If all else fails, the coolest stuff I’ve found has been at the thrift store.

It’s ok to not follow every #$*! Trend on the internet – they will be out of style in 20 minutes anyway.

It’s ok if your apartment doesn’t look like an Instagram account – are you happy? Does it feel like home? Perfect. Nobody needs to be impressed but you.