In Defense of the Color Gray

gray

I get the feeling that gray has a bad rap- it’s probably not anybody’s “favorite” color, when asked. Because of this, I see surprisingly few interiors painted gray and very little gray furniture. But I’m here to say that I think it’s high time gray got the attention it deserves.

Having a background in art, I spent a lot of time with color theory. Grays were an important part of painting, I learned. If you paint with only bright colors, straight from the tube, you rely only on chromatic contrast (warm vs cool colors). However, if you neutralize certain colors, you provide more contrast between colors through using grays. Gray can make a brighter color look intensely brighter. Give it a try for yourself: put an object that is blue next to an object of another color (not gray). Then set the same blue object next to the gray one. Which brings out the blue more? The gray will provide a neutral for the blue to really pop on.

So this theory applied to decorating works the same. And grays come in a multitude of hues, so it’s not all just gray. Grays can be warm or cool, dark, light, etc. which gives you a lot of options. I’m highly in favor of gray walls. I think they emit coziness and make your other decor come to life. Gray can be very light and airy as well, less moody than its darker counterparts. So when you’re thinking about paint colors or larger pieces of furniture, consider this less-loved favorite in the color palette.

For a little inspiration, check out these gray interiors here…

Fun + Rustic Apartment Picks for Fall and Winter

plaid

Embrace the plaid, for fall is in full swing and hurtling straight into winter. The media says it’s time to prepare for Christmas and we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet! Typical. So if you want to slow down a little and soak in the pumpkin spice [everything] and woodsy atmosphere a little longer before dragging out the Christmas decorations, here’s how you can embrace the cabin vibe in your own apartment…and even do it on a student budget.

Light it up

Throw these fairy lights into a mason jar for some inexpensive, but seriously cool mood lighting to make your apartment glow $8

Deck the walls

These cardboard animal heads are too funny to resist, and while not super cheap, make for a really interesting bit of city design meets country life decor. $30

Get Comfy

Cozy up with some plaid (basically required) with this inexpensive chenille throw from Target $20

Upgrade your coffee table

Use these tree slices that you can find at most craft stores as coasters to give your place a totally rustic feel. $15 for 10

Stargaze in the autumn sky without leaving the apartment with this heat activated constellation mug…is it just me or are the heat changing mugs the coolest or what?! I’m a fan. $15

So remember, there’s no hurry to rush into the holiday season. Take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy fall for what it is!

Good Deeds: Something Nice To Do This Thanksgiving

pumpkin

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful holiday full of family, friends, warmth, and good food. Thanksgiving travel, on the other hand, can be a complete nightmare. And for that very reason, many people do not go home this time of year to be with their friends and families. So when you’re planning your Thanksgiving celebration, try to embrace “the more, the merrier!” motto and extend an invitation or two.

If you’re lucky enough to be close to home for Thanksgiving, or to be hosting, think about your friends and what their plans are. If you have a friend or neighbor who can’t make it home for Thanksgiving this year, invite them to yours. This is the beginning of the holiday season and it can be trying for those who have to spend it alone and don’t want to, especially for those who have just lost loved ones or have recently gotten out of serious relationships.

If you’re stranded at college with a group of others not returning home for Turkey Day, try out “Friendsgiving” instead. Round up all your friends not traveling home for the holiday and do Thanksgiving potluck style. That way it is fun and affordable for everyone attending. Throw in some football or games for the day and it’s the perfect way to kick back and enjoy taking a break from school on your Thanksgiving break.

One Simple Trick For a Cleaner Kitchen

kitchen

One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to sharing an apartment with a roommate is going to wash the dishes and the sponge stinks. I am borderline obsessive when it comes to wringing the water out of the sponge after use and moving it to a good location for drying. In my eyes there is little worse than washing the dishes and afterwards realizing your hands stink. Ok, can you see the fire blazing in my eyes and smoke coming out my ears yet?

Instead of constantly replacing nasty sponges, they can be regularly sanitized to remove bacteria and subsequently removing the icky smell. Hooray! There are several ways to go about this process and all of them remove about 99% of germs. According to Good Housekeeping, their study showed that soaking the sponge in ¾ cups of bleach mixed in a gallon of water for 5 minutes killed nearly all bacteria. The next method (which is usually what I do) is to put the sponge in the dishwasher when you run a load. You can also soak the sponge in water and put it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, but it’s good to watch it while it’s in there in case it gets too hot. Also important: do NOT touch the sponge for several minutes after you microwave it! It’s very hot! Trust me, I didn’t realize that the first time and it’s wasn’t too much fun.

With regular weekly cleaning, your sponges will smell fresher and keep your kitchen cleaner and prevent the spread of germs. It’s recommended that you replace your sponge every one to two months depending on how dirty it gets.

Craft Your Apartment For the Ideal Night In

cat

With the fall season in full swing, we seem to naturally slow down and retreat inside more often, even if the weather is still pretty darn nice outside. It’s ritualistic – the shift in activities, the wardrobe, etc. So what’s your ideal night in? And how do you outfit your apartment for that perfect night of fun or relaxation? Not to mention on a budget? Choose your own adventure!:

Movie Night

You want to gather up your best friends and watch a favorite flick from your younger days (the one you can recite the entire screenplay of by heart), or maybe you want to binge watch a new favorite like Stranger Things on Netflix. Either way you need a cozy and cool spot to do this.

  1. A cheap workaround to a Roku or Gaming System to stream movies to your TV – if you have a laptop with HDMI input, you can cheaply and easily connect your computer to your TV for streaming to a group. HDMI cable for the win, only $7 from Amazon
  2. Giant fluffy pillows – Comfort is key for movie night! Try fuzzy oversized pillows like this one from Target.
  3. Food / Drink tray for snacks – It’s not movie night without snacks. This IKEA tray goes with pretty much anyone’s decorating style and it’s less than 8 bucks (!!).

Girls Night

  1. Tunes – You’ll need some good jams for hanging with your lady gang, so why not splurge a little on this beauty – a wireless speaker from Crosley that’s not only really nice to look at, but is bluetooth compatible, has an aux in jack, headphone jack, USB, and DC in.
  2. Glass markers – whether you’re splitting some punch or a bottle of wine, keep your glasses straight with these fun glass markers. Pick your character for the night and suction cup it onto the side of your glass for clear identification.
  3. Cards Against Humanity – a college student’s favorite, this game gets more fun the better you know your group of friends. Get it on Amazon here.

Reading By Yourself Night

  1. Mood lighting – string lighting creates a soft glow, which relaxes your mood and helps you have a chill night in to yourself. These star string lights are super Scandi and perfect for the season.
  2. Perfect side table for your drink – because a good book isn’t as good as it can be without a hot cup of something tasty. And you’ll need somewhere to set it while you’re engrossed in a new story. This chic little table is considered a “laptop stand,” but it’s a great little side table that takes up a small amount of space and is the correct height for your drink and book.
  3. A good cozy throw – Ensure you’ll never want to leave the apartment again by completing this third part of reading night – the cozy throw blanket. I like a lightweight one like this – and luckily it comes in 6 attractive colors.

How to Tidy Up Your Shirt Drawer

shirts

Working retail taught me many things. Aside from teaching me that people shopping for clothes can be difficult and needy (I would never…) it taught me how to keep a stack of clothing pristine looking and uniform no matter what size the shirt was or what style. Perhaps not the most valuable of life skills, but when you’re doing laundry in your apartment and open your shirt drawer to find an absolute disaster it’s not such a terrible thing to know.

Where I worked, we used a folding board to do the trick. You can make your own from cardboard or wood (just make sure the wooden edges are sanded very smooth to prevent snagging) or you can use a clipboard, which is what we did half the time anyway. Use this quick video to show you how you can quickly fold all your shirts to a uniform size, free of wrinkles.

If you don’t like the folding board trick, you can try out Kon Mari which integrates a more mindful approach to caring for your clothing and subsequently makes it easy to store and attractive looking. You can use this video here to see how.

One Lesson I Learned from Taiwan

taiwan

I’m currently two thirds of the way through a vacation to central Taiwan. I’m lucky to have family from the area and was invited to visit – and needless to say, I jumped at the chance! I’ve always loved traveling and I knew this would be a unique experience to say the least. In case you’re not familiar with Taiwan, it is a small island nation off the east coast of China.

It should come as no surprise that everyday life is strikingly different here from the southern United States. Although the weather is remarkably similar to parts of Florida – hot and steamy! So I’ve traded my southern girl habits for three weeks and adopted those of the Taiwanese (for the most part). While staying in an apartment in Taichung I’ve learned a great cultural habit to adopt back home in the states. Some in the US already practice it, but it’s not ingrained in the culture like it is here: the removal of shoes upon entering an apartment.

Removing your shoes is not really an option here. If you walk into someone’s home, you immediately take your shoes, covered in dirt from the city, off and put clean indoor slippers on. It’s not just a sign of respect in another’s home, but in your own apartment it helps keep things so much cleaner! It’s fantastic how something requiring so little effort can save so much effort in the long run. It may not sound like great words of wisdom, but trust me. I’ve seen the rewards from this simple little apartment habit! At least here, an added bonus is you get to choose from some really hilariously adorable slippers to wear at home – Hello Kitty, Doremon (a Japanese cartoon cat if you’re not familiar with him), among other cartoon-character-adorned shoes.

Avoiding College Weight Gain

pizza

Losing weight is not something I typically harp about – love your body and yourself and be healthy. But I understand when you attend school on a college campus and adjust to a more studious lifestyle it can have negative affects on your eating habits and amount of exercise. I was my heaviest when I was going through undergrad. It was just easier to eat fast food for every meal, sit around more than I was used to while doing schoolwork or hanging out with friends, and snacking was a regular practice. Now I’m more aware of my eating habits and I’ve learned to make healthier choices. These are the things I was missing when I was in school:

° Limit fast food/pizza intake to once a week if possible. It’s difficult while you’re on the go, but plan snacks and lunches out in advance to help prevent greasy carb-heavy meals. And ordering pizza late at night is a lot of fun, but too often and it can make you feel sluggish and bad.

° Consider not getting a meal plan on campus. I found that it was easier to regulate my food intake and plan healthier meals if I was limited to what I had from the grocery store.

° Walk more, bike more. College campuses are great for getting exercise! Take a nightly walk or bike ride. Not only will it help you burn calories, but it will also help you clear your head and eliminate some stress.

° Cut back on drinking. Empty calories and it takes a real toll on your health and appearance.

° Don’t skip breakfast. Rolling into your first class without eating happens sometimes, but if you eat soon after you wake up, even if it’s a small breakfast, it will kickstart your metabolism and you will burn calories faster the rest of the day.

° Combat your stress. Stress can make you want to eat more and subsequently put on the pounds. There are a million other reasons to fight stress, too, not just because of the weight gain. Give yourself time to relax every day and consider meditation, a relaxing bath, or just some me time.