How I made my apartment cozy, organized, and easy to clean.


This is not the first time I have lived ‘on my own.’ I did live in a dorm for two years in my undergrad and during that time I certainly learned about ‘less is best.’ I think my minimalistic approach to life certainly began there. I’m grateful I learned this about my personality before I moved out on my own. It made moving and unpacking a breeze. When I found my apartment, I had about three months to pack and get ready to move three hours away. During that time, I slowly began buying pieces for my apartment. As I purchased furnishings one by one, I began to come up with the vision I had for my first place.
What I wanted:

  • Light and bright
  • Neutral tones, nothing too colorful that I would later regret purchasing
  • Floral and feminine, but not girly (I wanted my boyfriend to feel cozy when he visited)
  • easy to clean, easy to organize

Now that I’m, mostly, unpacked, I’m happy to share some ideas that have made my first apartment comfortable, organized, and easy to clean.

Before you move:

Ya gotta get rid of the crap. I started this process about four months before I moved. I went through my closet, dresser, bookshelf, kitchen, and misc. storage places and purged belongings that would prove to be clutter in my apartment in this manner:

  • If it has not been worn, read, or used in two years it is
    • thrown away if it is not in good shape
    • donated
  • If it has been worn, read, or used in two years it
    • will remain in its’ respected place for now

I repeated this purging process a couple more times, particularly with my closet. Packing went by so quickly and it felt good to only be taking things that I used regularly/semi-regularly.

1. Get things off the floor

This was a lesson I learned during my dorm life. The more you have sitting on the floor, the more cluttered the room will feel. Avoid stacking belongings on the floor such as books and DVD’s. If things go on the floor, focus on using decorative boxes for storage (this is what I use to store movies and books that didn’t fit on the bookshelf).

I also went to IKEA for the first time ever, and I’m in love now. While I was there I found the majority of my furniture for the living room. Both the entertainment center and coffee table have secondary shelves. I purchased small baskets to be placed on these shelves to hold my TV remotes and coasters, along with any miscellaneous items.

To prevent any possible floor clutter or possible catch-all spaces, I opted against an end table next to the couch. Instead, I found this simple floor lamp at IKEA. For the price, it was a doozy, and I can always find a colorful lampshade to change things up!

2. Bring in some life. Literally.

As a graduate student, I sadly do not have time to provide the love that a pet needs. However, I love gardening and plants. This next point may be a little intimidating if you are anything but a green thumb: but don’t let me lose you just yet!

Bamboo and potted ferns are excellent indoor plants, especially for beginner green thumbs. I bought my ferns for $2 at Fresh Thyme. They start small but will grow. Most ferns require no direct sun and watering only once a week. Bamboos are the same way. My bamboo plant is about six years old and has continued to grow with being on a window sill and minimal watering.

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We all know that plants provide us with the air that we need to breathe. Having a few plant babies to take care of in your apartment not only gives a little bit of clean air in your home but also gives you something to nurture.

Talk to your plants, it really does help them grow.

P.S. If you weary about having a real life plant but still want some greenery- pop into Hobby Lobby. I’m sure you’ve seen their amazing variety of fake plants. Depending on what you are looking for, a small jar/vase with a fake fern or ivy would be perfect. Take note that fake plants can be more expensive than the real deal.

3. Keep It Simple Stupid

Again, another lesson that I learned while living in my dorm. When I was younger and living in a dorm, I was so excited to have a small space to my own that I purchased things to furnish/decorate that I regretted almost as soon as they were there. I mismatched colors and woods. I picked colors, that in the store I loved, but later on, gave me a headache.

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With my first apartment, I did not want to make the same mistake twice! I stuck with white and light colored wood bases to my furnishings. The colors I brought in were muted yellows and greens, with ivory accents. This gave the effect that I wanted, light and bright. The sense of cohesiveness draws in the apartment, and through I don’t have many belongings, makes the apartment open but cozy.


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