Thin walls, limited space and little control over maintenance. When you live in an apartment, these are just a few of the inconveniences that come with the territory. However, you can make your rented home a little more livable with these Top 10 Best Buys for Better Apartment Living.
No. 10: Portable Space Heater
Save on apartment heating costs and warm just the room you’re in with a portable, oscillating heater. These small electric devices kick out a good deal of heat and can warm an entire room in the wintertime. Keep it in the living room while you’re watching TV or chatting with visitors, then move it into the bedroom when it’s time to go to sleep.
Look for a model that is thermostatically controlled, so you can program it to kick on and off at a temperature that is comfortable for you. You can spend a $100 or more on a top-of-the-line portable heater, but for less than $50 you can purchase a model that will adequately make your apartment more comfortable in the wintertime.
No. 9: Portable Tower Fan
On the flip side of heating and cooling your apartment — but in the same price range — a portable fan can efficiently cool small spaces if you’d rather not turn on your A/C or if your apartment doesn’t have it.
A portable, oscillating fan also comes in handy for displacing odors. Just direct airflow toward a window and you can quickly clear your apartment of kitchen odors, the smoke left behind by guests, or the smell of pet accidents.
No. 8: Air Purifier
For more powerful removal of contaminants in the air, opt for an ionized or HEPA-filtered air purifier, especially if you are prone to allergies. Good models will remove mold, pollen and dust from the air, resulting in a healthier apartment environment.
Visit the website Apartment Therapy.com here for a guide to shopping for an air purifier, which will run you anywhere from $100 to $1000.
No. 7: Houseplants
If an air purifier is beyond your budget, bring nature’s own air cleaners into your apartment by decorating with houseplants. Aside from the relaxing aesthetics of your very own end-of-the-day indoor garden sanctuary, displaying houseplants in your apartment can actually improve the air quality.
Check out the scientific research about houseplants and air quality, including NASA’s endorsement, and see a list of 15 plants recommended for keeping your indoor air clean at the Air Purifier Review Site.
No. 6: Rugs and Wall Tapestries
In many apartment buildings, the No. 1 tenant complaint is about noise. Fabric, however, absorbs noise. So whether you’re trying to keep outside noise from coming in or trying to mute the noise you yourself create, use plenty of it along walls and floors.
Rugs are available in all shape and sizes, and at all price points, so you’ll have a lot of decorative flexibility in outfitting your apartment with rugs, which serve other practical purposes, too, such as keeping your carpet clean or your hardwood floors scuff-free.
Fabric wall tapestries also come in a variety of sizes for a variety of prices, but expect to pay at least $100 for one that covers a substantial portion of an apartment wall. Poster-sized fabric tapestries, however, can be found for a fraction of the price and, hung in collections, will also provide considerable sound absorption.
No. 5: White Noise Machine
If you’d rather go the technological route to a quieter apartment, a white noise machine is a must. Most often used in sleeping environments, a white noise machine often takes up little more room than an alarm clock but its intended use is exactly the opposite of one: to help you sleep or concentrate by obfuscating intrusive noises or thoughts.
The machines, which are priced at around $35 and up depending on features, emit soothing nature sounds, soft music or true white noise not unlike a oscillating fan or space heater.
No. 4: Laptop Computer or a Smart Phone
You know you want one anyway, so moving into a new apartment is the perfect time to ditch your space hog of a desktop computer and start using a laptop or a smart phone instead. Nothing’s stopping you from getting one of each — except possibly your budget — but if you have to choose, consider how you’re presently using your desktop.
If you use the web primarily to check e-mail, Tweet your whereabouts, and search for information, you may no longer need a computer of any sort, since those activities can be done via smart phone. If, however, you do a lot of word processing, frequently download large media files, or complete a lot of computer-dependent work from home, you’ll want to consider purchasing a laptop. These slim, lightweight portable computers are just as functional as desktops, but they save valuable apartment floor space by eliminating the need for a permanent desk setup.
No. 3: Drop-Leaf Table
Save additional floor space with the purchase of a drop-leaf table, which sets up as a full table for dining or studying and then converts to a smaller size when you drop one or both leaves as needed.
Many such tables large enough to seat four when both leaves are in use may be purchased in the $100 to $200 range, though you can certainly spend several times that amount if you are looking for something larger or something that is built to last a lifetime.
No. 2: Kitchen Hooks
Apartment kitchens are notoriously small with limited cupboard space. Solve your storage problems with wall- or ceiling-mounted hooks and racks, available at a variety of price points.
For example, take About.com’s advice found here for using hooks to hang coffee mugs from the wall beneath your kitchen cabinets using inexpensive supplies from any hardware store. Or, follow the advice of Apartment Ratings.com’s “Oh My Apartment” blog here, which suggests a ceiling-mounted pots and pans hook rack. Expect to spend less than $100 on a well-made, ceiling-mounted rack.
No. 1: Shelving Units
The No. 1 solution for a cramped apartment is to invest in plenty of shelving units, whether they’re freestanding or wall-mounted.
Wall-mounted shelves start at around $10 each; freestanding shelving units are priced from $25 on up, depending on the number of shelves in the unit, where you buy it, and whether it’s made from wood, metal or plastic.
Use shelving in traditional ways — to display books, pictures and knick-knacks — or come up with your own uses out of necessity. Hall closet too small? Hang a shelf on the wall opposite it for storing gloves, hats and scarves. Not enough storage in your bathroom? Use a shelf in there for bath towels and beauty supplies. Too many kids’ toys? Line a bedroom wall with shelves for them.
Each apartment is unique and comes with its own challenges to comfortable living. This list of Best Buys for Better Apartment Living, however, should help you improve your home-sweet-rented-home.
Author Experience in Rental Property Management
Sarah Coffey, “How to Shop for an Air Purifier,” Marketplace.ApartmentTherapy.com
Admin, “15 Houseplants You Can Use as Air Purifiers,” Air-Purifier-Reviewsite.com
Marriette Mifflin, “Hanging Coffee Cups – Easy Mug Storage,” About.com
Emily Gojko, “Cramped Kitchen? Hang Pots and Pans,” OhMyApt.ApartmentRatings.com