100 Awesome Apartment Hacks for Recent College Grads

October 10th, 2005

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Now that the degree is out of the way, it is time to start thinking where to work and where to live. But graduates more used to dorm or sorority/fraternity house life may not know exactly what to do when it comes time to rent an apartment. The following tips, tricks, and hacks help ease the transition and teach readers how to rent, secure, and decorate their living spaces without breaking the bank or compromising on quality.

1. Set up a TV and a PC together : Streamline the media experience by personally or professionally blending television and computer use together.

2. Try keyless entry. : If the landlord approves, set up keyless entry for both ease of use as well as safety.

3. Look for a complex with its own laundry facilities. : Apartments with in-unit washer and dryers are usually preferable, but ones that at least have them on-site save time and money at a laundromat.

4. Go vertical : Nearly every interior designer would recommend that individuals and families living in apartments or other small, compressed spaces should focus on more vertically-aligned storage and furniture to preserve the limited area.

5. Invest in multiuse furniture.: End tables or ottomans that double as storage spaces or lamps that double as shelves, for example, help save preciously limited space.

6. Do laundry at night. : If living in an apartment in a relatively safe area, try getting laundry done at night in order to avoid crowds.

7. Invest in a hanging sponge basket. : These handy devices save space around the sink by storing sponges and allowing wet, used ones to drip into the basin instead of pooling in a depression.

8. Make a homemade doorstop. : If pressed for time when it comes to finding a suitable doorstop, consider one of the suggestions on this informative page. It involves the creative use of a wire coat hanger.

9. Consider a loft bed. : For those not afraid of heights, a loft bed frees up plenty of space for a desk or storage units.

10. Buy multitasking kitchen devices. : Save room in and better organize cabinets by taking advantage of cooking tools suitable for multiple functions.

11. Get new locks installed. : Unless an apartment complex is entirely new and the units never experienced previous owners, it is a wise idea to ask the landlord to change out the locks prior to moving in for safety reasons.

12. Check message boards for great deals. : Colleges and universities frequently host physical and online bulletin boards for students and former students to network and find anything and everything needed for the home. Craigslist works as well, though it reaches a broader community.

13. If possible, paint an accent wall. : Whether or not tenants can paint their walls varies from apartment complex to apartment complex, and each of them that allow for it have different policies in place. But for those that do, an accent wall adds a nice splash of color and character to a room and gives a unit some life.

14. Consider panels. : Find creative ways to use panels and screens in order to create the illusion of more rooms and better privacy.

15. Control everything with a computer, if possible. : One member of the Metafilter community makes some excellent suggestions on wiring appliances together for efficient, easy use.

16. Invest in an air mattress. : Let drunken revelers or other visitors pass the night away on air mattresses, which fold away to conserve valuable floor space.

17. Invest in a magnetic knife strip. : Magnetic knife strips make for one convenient method of maximizing cabinet space – and they allow easy access to important cooking supplies as well.

18. Wall mount a television, if possible. : If the complex allows it, pop a flatscreen television on the wall to make more room on other pieces of furniture.

19. Consider a trunk. : Trunks can make for attractive accessories to interior design, and they provide plentiful storage space to boot.

20.Look for a smokefree apartment. : This list does not intend to infringe upon smoker’s rights, but individuals or families with asthma or allergies may want to ensure that previous inhabitants did not smoke indoors.

21. Boiling water can help clean sinks. : Remove the grime, slime, and assorted gunk from a kitchen or bathroom sink with a pot full of boiling water.

22. Consider renters insurance. : While the policies may not fit a budget, apartment owners with a little financial flexibility may want to consider taking out a renters insurance policy.

23. Consider installing a deadbolt. :Most landlords should be okay with their renters installing a deadbolt on their doors for added security. Just make sure to keep them locked whenever possible.

24. Engrave all valuables. : Diamond-tipped engravers allow people to place their names and initials on valuables without destroying them, making it far easier to track items in the event of theft.

25. Install battery-powered alarms on all doors and windows. : Add a little peace of mind and security to an apartment – especially those on a first floor – by installing small battery-powered, sensory alarms around doors and windows. Be sure to keep them tested as well.

26. Make homemade cleaners. : Budget, health, and environmentally-conscious apartment dwellers may want to look into mixing their own household cleansers to keep their living space free of dirt, debris, and pests.

27.Don’t throw out little soap pieces. : Keep the small leftover slivers of soap in a small mesh bag or special compressor to keep them from going to waste or taking up space when hoping to wear them down.

28. Grow herbs on the windowsill. : Doing so adds some much-needed color and natural warmth to an apartment, and saves money for those who enjoy cooking. They also make for inexpensive and beautiful gifts.

29. Buy or make curtains. : Curtains bestow plenty of character to a room, no matter how ornate or simplistic their design. Those made of heavier fabric also help trap heat to help warm an apartment in the winter months.

30. Decorate with huge mirrors. : One of the oldest tricks in the interior designer’s arsenal, huge mirrors help stave off a cramped feeling by creating the illusion of a larger, more open space.

31.Don’t buy DVDs or CDs. : Whenever possible, stream or download movies and music onto a PC to save space and money on purchasing a special tower for them.

32. Buy a power strip. : Power strips simultaneously help stave off short circuits and organize multiple electronics into one convenient location.

33. Use fluorescent light bulbs. : Fluorescent light bulbs use up 75% less energy than their incandescent predecessors, and they last longer as well.

34. Buy a washable shower curtain. :

Though they may run a bit expensive, washable shower curtains do not harbor mold nearly as much as the plastic variety.

35. Buy an air purifier : Anyone suffering from allergies, asthma, or other breathing issues would do well to invest in an air purifier to help alleviate the discomfort from living in an enclosed space with heavier concentrations of dust, dander, mold, and other assorted nasties.

36. Dumpster dive. : In areas where such actions are not considered trespassing (be sure to check beforehand), anyone with a high tolerance for grit and grime may want to see what treasures await them in dumpsters around the city. Always remember to bring a spotter along to warn of any incoming garbage trucks.

37. Upcycle whenever possible. : Save on clutter and space in a garbage bin by upcycling any sanitary goods into more useful items. Thousands of suggestions abound online for everything from old shoelaces to pet food bags.

38. Make regular donations of unused items. : Free up space and help the community by making regular donations to a favored charity.

39. Weigh the cost of self-moving or hiring professionals. : Prior to the big day, take the time to calculate how much DIY moving will cost versus that of hiring a company to do so. Sometimes the results come as a surprise.

40. Buy a futon. : Futons allow sleeping and sitting to take place comfortably in the same space, and ones set up in a living room allow for guests to stay over as well.

41. Buy cheap art. : Anyone without creative leanings may want to seek out the talents of local, perhaps struggling artists for a mutually beneficial means of decorating a home.

42. Always measure the space before buying furniture or appliances. : Never commit to buying any appliance or piece of furniture without first measuring the amount of space it will take up.

43. Choose decorations based on length of stay. : Anyone living in a highly transitional state should minimize the amount of decorations, as they will only make moving difficult later on. However, if occupying a residence for an extended period of time, it is generally okay to spring for more interior design.

44. Buy a fireproof lockbox. : Store passports, birth certificates, Social Security cards, valuable jewelry, photos, and other indispensables in a fireproof lockbox to keep them as safe as possible.

45. Decorate with scents. : Extremely limited space does not always have to be enhanced visually. Use scents creatively as a means of adding ambience without adding too much additional clutter. Candles, incense, and plugins are only some of the myriad ways in which one can add an olfactory aesthetic.

46. Rearrange furniture for a fresher look. : When seeking a new look on an extremely limited budget, think about moving furniture around for a quick change at no cost.

47. Bring in a few plants. : Greenery adds visual interest and a splash of nature to an apartment in addition to keeping the air feeling fresh and clean.

48. Insulate around windows and electric plugs. : Help keep energy affordable and efficient by adding a little insulation to areas where air persistently escapes.

49. Buy a low-flow showerhead. : Doing so helps slice water bills down to a more manageable level – there is really very little reason to spring for a high-pressure shower head.

50.Consider an Energy Star ceiling fan. : Energy Star-approved appliances make for green, affordable options to cooling (and heating!) a home.

51. Spring for a wireless router when possible. : Should the landlord approve, think about installing a wireless router in order to cut down on the number of irritating cables floating about the place.

52.  Consider foldable working spaces. : For parties, dinners, and other forms of entertainment, think about purchasing collapsible or portable workspaces that can be easily stowed away to make room for more guests.

53.  Fill up laundry loads. : Save water, energy, and time by doing large loads of clothing at a time. Smaller ones tend to add up.

54.Get inspired by feng shui. : Some consider feng shui an excellent way to pretty up a smaller space, so consider it an option when looking for decorating ideas.

55. Add height variations in furniture and lights.: Keeping furniture, lamps, and lighting at uneven heights pulls from the vertical principle and creates visual interest without taking up too much space.

56. Don’t forget the hallways. : Be sure to give some attention to hallways when setting up an apartment – they frequently go overlooked and beautifying them only makes a living space more enjoyable.

57. Have the post office hold mail during vacation. : If neighbors appear too rushed to retrieve extra mail during vacation time, just call and ask the post office to keep it until the trip is over.

58. Incorporate cookbooks into kitchen décor. : Find a pretty and inexpensive shelf to show off a cookbook collection for a bit of fun and functional decoration.

59. Hit resale shops and garage sales whenever possible. : Former and current apartment dwellers are almost always selling their furniture, appliances, and home accessories for affordable prices.

60. Consider wall decals. : Renters living in complexes that do not allow painting or picture hanging may want to consider inexpensive and decorative decals to add a splash of color to their walls.

61. Invest in a cable tie. : Cable ties keep annoying wires from tangling up and causing tripping hazards. Plus, they help keep visual clutter to a minimum.

62. Organize an apartment watch. : Mobilize the community into looking out for one another by organizing an apartment watch that makes note of any suspicious activity and looks out for everyone’s well-being.

63. Keep Christmas trees moist. : Those who celebrate Christmas should regularly water any fresh evergreen trees. If they get too dry they pose a disconcerting fire hazard.

64. Always keep aware of legal rights. : Prior to moving, make the effort to look over all the numerous resources available on renter’s rights in order to protect against potential harm.

65.  Extensively research properties beforehand. : As with legal rights, it is always a prudent idea to peruse all the reviews available on a property to ensure safety, comfort, and value alike.

66. Consider subletting during long vacations. : If a responsible subletter can be found to fill in an apartment during vacation times, take advantage of their financial support.

67. Accessorize small, flat spaces. : Countertops and tables benefit from the addition of a few vases, small sculptures, or other decorations that pretty up the apartment without compromising valuable space.

68. Don’t pay rent on a credit card. : Minimize costs and the risk of possible interest by paying rent with either a check or a debit card.

69. Block sliding glass doors. : The presence of sliding glass doors facilitates burglary because they can easily be removed from their rails. There are a few methods to block the doors at night in order to stave off potential robberies.

70. Prevent carpet discoloration.: Keep an apartment clean and beautiful by keeping the carpet as clean as possible, trying to understand why it happens and how to prevent further damage.

71. Consider LED lighting. : LED lighting adds an interesting ambience to a room without taking up large amounts of space.

72. Always check carbon monoxide and fire detectors. : Regularly run tests of carbon monoxide and fire detectors to make sure the batteries still work.

73. If living alone, take precautions in directory listings. : For safety reasons, women who live alone may want to opt to leave their full name off of a directory, instead opting to list only their first initial and surname.

74.Keep essential tools on hand. : Save the time having to call a maintenance crew by keeping necessary tools on hand and repairing minor damages as they crop up.

75. Decorate no-sew pillows. : Many stores sell inexpensive pillow forms that require absolutely no sewing, and creatively decorating them adds a lovely flair with minimal effort.

76. Consider wall-mounted shelves instead of bookcases. : Save valuable floor space and make a wall more visually interesting by mounting shelves on the wall to hold books instead of a larger, more traditional piece of furniture.

77. Pick a style. : Choose one of thousands of different styles and base the interior design around the desired theme.

78. Consider fabric in place of wallpaper or paint. : One option to decorate walls beyond paint, decals, or paper involves draping and pinning large swaths of fabric to add a colorful accent to a room.

79. Old bookshelves make good storage. : Think about possibly taking advantage of old bookshelves for an interesting, decorative way to store towels, sheets, and other housewares.

80. Put up a wipe board. : Post a dry-erase board (with or without a calendar) in an area experiencing high traffic, keeping track of what needs doing throughout the day.

81. Buy a coffee maker. : Save money on expensive beverages by purchasing a coffee maker suitable for the available kitchen space.

82. Use hanging organizers. : Hanging organizers for shoes, clothes, housewares, and other items reduce the amount of occupied flooring. Hammocks also work as well, adding an interesting visual to perk up a room.

83. Consider decoupaging old furniture. : Imbue old pieces of furniture with new life by decoupaging the surface area with interesting papers or a themed collage.

84. Clean messes as they crop up. : Making the effort to clean as messes begin occurring helps reduce the chance of escalation that attracts pets and creates an untidy, unsanitary environment.

85. Minimize the use of disposables. : Whenever possible, use reusable items such as cups, utensils, and plates to keep garbage bags from overflowing and keep expenses low.

86. If a complex has a party room, use it. : Save wear and tear on an apartment unit by taking advantage of any party rooms available in a complex, many of which come with special deals for residents.

87. Pick an apartment on a middle floor. : First floor apartments run a higher risk of burglary and top floors may prove difficult to escape in emergencies. Middle floor apartments also enjoy the most insulation as well, making them far more comfortable when the weather gets chilly.

88. Incorporate collections into the décor. : Collectors may want to turn their passions into decorations, saving storage space and adding a highly personal flair to the overall aesthetic.

89. Hide the litter box. : Cat owners have numerous ways to creatively hide the litter box – this link only shares one of the many options available. Make sure the cat in question knows where it is located, however.

90. Creatively hide AC units. : Air conditioning can be an eyesore in an otherwise lovely apartment, but numerous innovators have devised ideas on how to keep them obscured and beautify a living space.

91. Go flatscreen. : If financially feasible, convert televisions and computers to a flatscreen format as a means of allowing for more available room.

92. Repurpose old furniture. : The listed example is only one of thousands of possibilities involving finding completely new and unique uses for older furniture pieces.

93. Consider floor cushions. : For the comfort of guests, some apartment owners may want to think about adding floor cushions to their home. They store well and provide additional seating during crowded parties or movie nights.

94. Buy dining tables with leaves. : Dining tables and other pieces of furniture with leaves allows renters to host larger dinner parties without having to take up too much kitchen or dining room space on normal days.

95. Leave if things get too lonely or cramped. : Apartments can occasionally feel cramped, even for those with a solid grasp of space economics. Stave off the cabin fever with a trip to a nearby park, bookstore, coffee shop, bar, or other location.

96. Consider slipcovers. : Keep a variety of inexpensive and pretty slipcovers on hand to change out and customize furniture without having to buy new pieces.

97. Do not leave extra keys outside. : By this point, most burglars know where to look for spare keys. Instead of storing one in a fake rock or under a mat, ask the landlord to keep an extra on hand in the event of a lockout.

98. Buy small appliances. : If possible, try and buy the smallest appliances available that do not compromise on quality. This will maximize counter space in the frequently cramped kitchen area.

99. Consider organic bedding. : Unsurprisingly, organic bedding runs a bit higher than its synthetic kin. However, anyone with sensitivities to dust mites or other irritants will appreciate its hypoallergenic qualities.

100. Handmake decorations. : Hundreds – if not thousands – of DIY books are available with excellent patterns for cheap and beautiful handmade decorations for myriad stylistic preferences.

With the aforementioned advice, recent college graduates can walk into renting their first apartment with confidence and an arsenal of educated decisions. Decorating, security, cleaning, and basic maintenance become far easier when learning from the experiences of others.

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