7 Things (I think) Every Home Needs

I began writing this on the first day of spring. It was snowing. Which means that for the majority of the last — FOUR MONTHS — I’ve stayed inside, hiding from the hideous winter elements. Which is hilarious because that means that 1/3 of the year I’m staying inside a tiny space while living in a huge, ridiculously amazing city. So, I can’t be Carrie and keep my shoes in the oven. I can’t live in an ugly box that I pay too much for, only to be outside and enjoying the world every day. It means I need a space that’s warm, organized, comfortable – home.

So here’s my first list. If I were to move ANYWHERE, especially in a city, these are the items I know I couldn’t live without. Maybe because of how they look, mostly because of their practicality (even if just for my mental health), take a look, and let me know what you think.

1. Speakers! Even if you can hear your cell phone on vibrate in each part of your house, that doesn’t mean you don’t need speakers. Music sounds better with them. Bravo TV arguments will  intensify. And, no, silent discos weren’t invented for single dance parties at home. I have these Harman Kardon ones, and they’ve lasted forever. A bit pricey, but for $170 they look nice, are clean, won’t add clutter, and sound great.

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2. LIGHTING. Even if your apartment has ceiling lamps (lucky), you still should find some table and floor lamps, or more overhead lights to create a warm space that can help define areas, corners, and cubbies. I found this great floor lamp at the Brooklyn Flea (the best!)  that I use as a reading light in our living room. The table lamp was also a favorite find from Eastern Market in DC. Helpful hint: Buy a good lightbulb. It WILL pay off. I prefer the softer lighting bulbs like the GE White Hybrid Halogen. They’re energy smart and eco friendly! $12 each but they really do last forever.

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3. Plants. Please don’t say you can’t because you just kill them. That’s why succulents and cacti were created. Plants keep your space bright, beautiful, feeling clean… and some even clean your air (yes, fact). Add a couple, take them to your new home, and they’ll make any space look good.  It’s genuinely the easiest, cheapest way to decorate. I love this Target Home find, a cement planter that could easily (stupidly) sell for $50, but was $13. Not everything needs to be a Pinterest DIY, where your supplies cost an obscene amount of money.

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4. Extra Seating! I love having extra chairs around the house to make sure that if we do have a lot of guests around, everyone has somewhere to sit. We have a wood folding one that I stash behind the closet, a couple cute side chairs… Small chairs are super easy store and move apartments with. They can have a pattern, texture, unique wood… It’s a simple way to add decor to a space without feeling too “done”, and they don’t clutter. I love our West Elm John Vogel chair in charcoal.  The second one I bought from a previous tenant at an apartment I used to live in.

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5. A good (electric) tea kettle. This seems random, but after living with an Australian, I’ve learned the power and beauty of a good tea kettle. Beyond making a cup of tea, an electric tea kettle will boil water for your pasta, french press coffee, rice, potatoes… EVERYTHING. It’s so much quicker than a stove top kettle, and I literally use it every day. I love this Capresso clear glass kettle. Buy it from Bed Bath and Beyond with a 20% off coupon, and it’s $50. Yes, you can get a cheap plastic one, but I prefer glass because you’re not ingesting toxins every time you heat the plastic, it’s much nicer to look at, and easier to clean because the kettle is separate from the electric plug. It’s also a good, small size that won’t take up too much space in your teeny kitchen.

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6. A magic bullet. If you have a teeny apartment, this is a LIFE SAVER. Beyond making that delicious kale juice we all pretend to love, you can also blend soups, yogurts, even use it as a food processor. It’s SO easy to clean, and is much smaller than a blender. I love our Nutri Bullet especially because I do think it breaks food down better than the other brands. Again, use a 20% coupon ala Bed, Bath & Beyond and buy it. The steel design also makes for a nicer looking appliance.

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7. STORAGE. I mean, obviously, right? That is the dream. But you can do storage right, and then you can do storage wrong. For example, do you need your winter coat in your closet, taking up space all year long? No. In fact, it doesn’t need to ever be in your closet. Get a hook, hang it by your door for four months (this also allows it to dry properly). Done.  And when you don’t use it, buy these ridiculously smart (and REUSABLE) Ziploc  vacuum hanging bags, put your stuff in it, and then either store them in the back of  your closet or better yet, under your bed. They keep stuff clean, won’t ruin the filling of your coat, and pro tip: You don’t need a vaccuum to suck out the air. You can literally sit on em, and push out the air (like rolling a sleeping bag), until all the air is out. Fact. (No personal picture because sadly we are still using our coats. :P)

In addition, because we really no longer need DVD players, DVDs, or really any TV equipment beyond a ChromeCast stick, use your “entertainment center” for other things! Serving dishes? A “linen closet”? A mini hardware tool box with your tools, extra lightbulbs and batteries? This is such an easy way to keep organized and clean. (You’ll never know what’s in our “entertainment center”. Another Eastern Market find:

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That’s all I’ve got. What are your “not living without” items? Share em in the comments!

 

 

 

a quick bathroom update

In the old row house, I lived on the bottom floor and shared the house bathroom with guests and my other roommates. The bathroom was smaller than my kitchen now – so just about enough room for one person to stand. The shower alone was literally 2X2 feet. Teeny! Anyway, I wanted to clean it up, add a little color, and make it feel cleaner… all on my budget, of course.

I decided – while I was at Home Depot buying paint for the front door – to also paint the medicine cabinet. I picked a grey blue. Similar to the door, I bought sandpaper. And to add a final touch, I went to the sale section at Anthropologie, and bought a knob for $3. Total price: $25. I couldn’t buy anything smaller than a quart size of paint, so I do have some leftover… maybe for a future project.

You’ll need to sandpaper down the medicine cabinet, take off the knob, and if possible, put masking tape where the cabinet meets the wall… this will prevent getting paint on the wall. Let the wall dry BEFORE adding the knob, or putting stuff in the cabinet. Again, patience is a virtue.

Check it out. Also – I added a couple more items to the wall in my new place, I’m liking it.

I need to get better at taking “before” pics.

paint a door

I get what it means to live in an old, mouse-friendly, a little bit run down, row house. I’ve lived in one, and I can appreciate looking for ways to make them feeling fresh, clean, and modern.

I used to live in a group house. There, I tried different things to make the house a little warmer, and homey. One  idea I had was to paint the yucky-poo colored door a fun, vibrant color that would spunk up the front space. Obviously turquoise was the answer.

** Someone told me after I painted the door that they were told a freshly painted door made burglars more inclined to rob you… I don’t think this is the case. And if so, I would’ve have offered them one of the mice **

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Anyway, what you’ll need includes the following –

1. paint brushes – I would buy a basic brush  for the small corners and sides and also one of these guys –

It’s kind of one of the best things ever invented, and costs like $4 at Home Depot. There’s a paint brush pad on the other side. This tool makes painting edges, ceilings, and everything else a lot easier… and I like that it makes the paint go on smoother, especially nice when painting a door.

You’re also going to need sandpaper, take your pick at what kind. Maybe a medium thickness. And last but not least…paint!

Possibly because my weekends as a child included visits to Home Depot after soccer games, I would again recommend going to Home Depot to buy paint. Behr paint is effective, cheap, and comes in great colors. Because I was painting a front door, I bought the outdoor paint. I also just bought the primer/paint combo as there was no need for additional layers. Also, all I needed for the front and back of the door was one quart… that included two coats, and I had some leftover. Total for paint, brushes and sandpaper ~ $30.

Directions –

  1. First, wash the door. Simple enough.
  2. Use sandpaper to rub down the old nasty paint or wood or whatever you are painting on. This will clean up and smooth the door, and allow the raw texture to grab on to the paint a bit easier.
  3. Paint a coat – Put the paint in an old piece of Tupperware (recycle – no need to buy one of those paint trays). When painting, try to follow the grain of the wood. Also, paint kind of a “X” formation – this will make sure that paint sticks in every little crevice. Ew, that’s a gross word.
  4. Clean up any paint you spill – don’t worry, it will happen. Also, clean your brushes with soap and warm water – this will allow you to use them in the future. Win.
  5. Watch some TV – and LET THE PAINT DRY. If you lack patience like I occasionally do, this may be tricky. I recommend watching Dexter.
  6. Next day – paint another coat! I think after that dries, you should be good to go. Keep the door clean, and this should last you quite a few years.

Check out the final product:

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