Inspired by how happy you are that ob tampons expand all around to custom-fit your body, Autostraddle’s “a custom fit” article series will tackle how to make all the other parts of your life expand/adjust all around to custom-fit your life/self. Today Laneia’s gonna teach you how to nest and make your home fit your style and personality on a budget!
Sometimes you need help with your feelings, and sometimes you need help with your space. Sometimes you need help with your feelings about your space! Today is one of those days.
Finally moving into my own place! I’m a recent college grad, so I don’t have tons of money for decorating, but I want my apartment to feel as new as I feel, ya know? How do I make my space feel a) new b) like home and c) unique, on a smaller budget? I don’t want to buy everything used, but I don’t want to keep all of my old stuff, either.
Congratulations! I just did this last year, actually — Riese and Rachel, too! — and I definitely relate to wanting a brand new living space to reflect your brand new head space. A lot of making this work on a budget involves rethinking the way everything else works.
The most important first step is getting rid of everything that has a negative vibe. If it reminds you of something angry or sad, it doesn’t need to come with you. Even if you know you could put it to good use, and even if you kinda like it — if it forces you to recall something negative, toss it. You can replace it later! Same goes for the things you’ve been holding onto out of guilt. I had a lot of shirts that fell into that category and donating them was like therapy.
Rethink How You Use What You Have
If a side table was in your bedroom before, try it out in the living room now. Arrange your books by color or topic instead of whatever method you’d been using. Do you want your TV in the kitchen? You can do that. You’re making the rules now. Feel like turning an old sarong into a curtain? Mhm, that’s a thing you can do.
Dining chairs are really versatile. They can be used as extra seating, makeshift tables or even shelving, and can usually be found reasonably priced at thrift stores or in the ‘as-is’ section of furniture stores like IKEA.
Rethink How You Buy
Make a list of things you need — curtains, bookshelf, a whisk, etc. — then decide which of these things you could handle buying used and what you’d like to buy new. Craigslist is obviously your very good friend here, but sometimes you just don’t want to involve a third party (i.e. the previous owner) in the process. This is where thrift stores save the day! When you’re shopping at a thrift store, you don’t get to see your items in their previous environment, so everything feels closer to new. It’s kinda like rescuing a dog from the pound, except you’re rescuing a tea kettle. So now you’ve got a cute tea kettle and a neat story to tell, without the baggage.
Rethink Your Space
“I bought a house, it’s a 2-bedroom house. But I think it’s up to me how many bedrooms there are, don’t you? Hey real estate lady, this bedroom has an oven in it! This bedroom has a lot of people sitting around watching TV. This bedroom’s over in that guy’s house.”
There’s a lot to be said for tradition, but just because you’ve always had a dining room table, doesn’t mean you’ve always actually needed a dining room table. Or a dining room, for that matter. When I moved into my apartment, I decided I needed an office more than I needed a dining room. When you put a desk and a whiteboard in the dining room, it becomes an office! You can combine your living room with your bedroom and use the extra space as a yoga/meditation room. You can put the dining room on the patio if you want to. Look at everything as a blank slate and figure out what’s best for you and your life. Don’t let anyone tell you how many bedrooms you have, is what I’m saying.
Things That Make a Space Feel Like a Home, According to Me
Curtains are like blankets for your windows. You can tell them I said that.
2. Things on walls
A weird thing happens when you put things on walls: the room feels both bigger and cozier. This has something to do with drawing your eyes up and around the space in a way that empty walls can’t. But what is art? What’s worth hanging on your wall? If you want to look at it all the time, then it’s art. If you can put a frame around it, most other people will agree that it’s art, too.
3. Blanket in the living room
4. Indoor plants
Living things have living energies, and your space needs that.
5. Bathroom rug
You could use a towel, I guess, but wouldn’t you feel happier with a soft fluffy rug? That’s what she said?
Some apartments come with overhead lighting and some don’t. Either way you should invest in some lamps. Overhead lighting can be harsh, but a couple of lamps or even a string of fairy lights will soften things up. Also candles!
Glancing over at a row of books is like looking through an album of vacation photos. I remember that I’ve been there and it was nice, or it was gut-wrenching or hilarious or the best four days of my life. But there I was! I was there in all of those books.
8. Your favorite things
Consider highlighting, not just keeping, the things that make you feel happiest, no matter how unconventional or weird they might be. The half-finished clay fish on my bookshelf might look ugly to guests, but it’s proudly displayed right next to the three-legged ceramic pony and the pink glass hat, because all of those things make me feel pretty fantastic, and that’s the point.
So, now it’s your turn — how did you turn “your place” into “your home”? What’s your favorite trick for making a space feel homey and like an authentic reflection of who you are and how you like things done? How many houseplants have you accidentally killed? Let’s discuss!