We can’t always love every place we live. What we can do is make the most of it, rather than wallow in the angst of disgust. After college and before I had any clue what I wanted to do with my life and my realistically unprofitable degree, my budget made most of my life decisions for me; the first being where I would live. I won’t name the Phoenix apartment complex I ended up living in for the next year, but I can assure you that it wasn’t pretty. More than anything it was a huge motivation to boost my budget. Though I was pretty disappointed and borderline scared of my new digs, I decided it was important to make the most of it.
I am talking about grungy bathrooms, tired carpet recently shampooed to temporarily hide stains, linoleum, and a dirty kitchen that the last resident so kindly left their crumbs and sticky stuff in the fridge. Though your place may not be this bad (hopefully!), you may still not find your place particularly comfortable. That interesting year of growing up allows me to offer a few tips to help make your gross apartment a place you actually may enjoy kicking back at the end of the day:
- Deep, deep clean – If possible, take a day before move-in, strap into a HAZMAT suit and spend as long as it takes disinfecting the joint. If you’ve already moved in, it’s not too late, it just mean you’ll need to move some furniture and empty your cabinets. Invest in some bleach, industrial grade gloves and a surgical mask and get to work. Scrub the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen and bathrooms. Be sure to move the fridge from the wall to get all the crud that’s been piling up for decades, and thoroughly bleach the toilets, tubs, and showers. Basically stand back and ask, “what probably hasn’t been cleaned in here since it was built?” I go as far as changing the showerhead and disinfect the door handles but I may just have undiagnosed O.C.D., I can’t say for sure.
- Move in and then de-clutter – The best approach to making a place work is to move in everything you have, try it all on for size and get rid of what doesn’t work. Cramming extra stuff in the corners or clogging walkways with unnecessary items will make it feel like the place is closing in on you. Keep pictures of happy memories where you’ll see them frequently and do away with that stupid vase you got from your ex that always brings back negative feelings.
- Brighten it up – Studies have proven it time and again, bright colors and light put people in a better mood than darker or muted colors. Decorating in all grays, browns, black, or other deep tones will make your place feel drabber than it already is. Next, change out the light bulbs as the place likely came equipped with nasty fluorescent lighting. Swap those life-sucking bulbs for a blue-hued bulb to soften the glare and make the place feel like a home rather than a hospital room. Now look at the windows. The more sunlight the better, unless the view out that window is a real bummer. Measure the window and run to Home Depot or Michael’s to pick up a piece of black foam and place it between the windows and the blinds. Complete the look with a drape and you can forget what’s outside that window in the first place.
You still may not be in love with your place, but at least you will know that it’s thoroughly clean and your space to make your own for the time being. Keep your head up and you’ll be in a new place before you know it!