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So, DH and I moved into a two bedroom apartment about 10 months ago. Still not fully unpacked, nothing on the walls. Clutter everywhere. Has never felt like home...and this is our first home together (makes me feel so guilty!!!). About to sign another year lease...and have no idea how to make this house feel like a home. We are so overwhelmed that we don't know where to start. Spent an hour tonight going through shower/wedding gifts...but since nothing has a "home", we feel like we didn't do anything. We are severely limited on storage space. Does anyone have any ideas on how to get started or tricks to make more of the space we do have? Combining our possessions was not as fool-proof as I assumed. We work completely opposite hours so we don't do anything because we feel like we need the other person to be there when we purge possessions or make decisions. Neither of us feel happy here...but moving and starting over is currently not an option. :smhelp:
 

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Maybe you could start a box of stuff you think can be gotten rid of, and then when dh gets home he can look through it. He could take out the stuff he wants to keep and add some stuff he thinks should go. It would take longer than going through it together but at least you would feel like you are doing something.
I'm sure some other people here will have more ideas for you.
 

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i say start small. clean up a bit all over and then move on to organizing and purging the bathroom. then the kitchen, etc.

have 3 bins for each room - give away, keep, and ?
once done go thru the ? box again and divide between the other 2
 

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When I lived in a studio, I found a lot of staying on top of things was in finding creative ways to store stuff. You can set up storage under your bed. Add shelves to a wall (typically, rentals will allow you to put screws in the wall). If you could divide the space between shelves in your kitchen cupboards to make two shelves where there was one, do that.

Other than that, it is a lot of sentimental slash and burn. What can you just not ever give up, and what could you maybe send back out into the world to be used and loved by someone else? I found giving sentimental stuff up to thrift was a LOT easier than tossing it.
 

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When I finally stopped being a slob - I used the system I learned in Sidetracked Home Executives (probably out of print).
When you ARE together, set a timer for 30 minutes, start at the front door and work your way around the room clockwise.
have a put-away box, a give-away box, a storage box and trash bags. For 30 minutes clear/clean/organize everything you come to in your sweep around the room - closet, bookshelf, whatever. When the 30 minutes is up - STOP - put away what is in the boxes, pitch the trash, and make an appointment for your next 30 minute session. This will at least give you a systematic way to make a decision about everything in the apartment eventually.
And by working only in 30 minute bursts, you won't make the stupid decisions we all sometimes make in the heat of being fed up with a BIG project.
 

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Honestly, if it's been living in a box for 10 months unused, you don't need it.

jmo.

Do you find that you have two of everything? Two toasters? Two blenders? that type of thing? or is it just 'stuff'?

If you have 2 of something, I would pick the newest model, and give away or donate the other.

Remember, if it's only the two of you, you don't need 5 sets of bed sheets, you don't need 20 bath towels... it's ok to let things go.
 
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I would make culling things out, as others have said, a top priority. When you don't feel so overwhelmed by stuff, you will be able to relax more and it will feel more like home.

Maybe you could have a conversation about (1) what is most bothersome to each of you about the place and (2) what would help most to make the place feel homey to you. Maybe then you could work first to correct the worst bits, and try to incorporate a few of the things that would make you feel most at home, given the limitations of your situation.
 

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If you have a little bit of money I suggest rubbermaid totes. Label a tote and start filling it: Books, Sentimental His, Sentimental Hers, Kitchen, Bedroom, 2nd Bedroom, Garage-Type Stuff, (or Car Stuff)

Other suggestions for categories to get you started:

Winter Clothes
Summer Clothes
Gift stuff (wrapping paper, bows)
Photo stuff that you don't want to split up between His & Hers as above.
Cookbooks
DVD's
Cd's (yes, really, put these things in a tote JUST to get them off the floor, off the top of the tv or stereo, just to get them into one place.

The beauty of rubbermaid totes? STACKABLE AND HAVE LIDS :)

Here are the type I'm referring to, we have used them for years for many different reasons:
Roughneck Storage Box / Bin | Rubbermaid

As far as getting rid of stuff just because you haven't used it, I disagree. Anything you can keep for future use, as long as you do get it organized, will save you money down the road. Personally, I'd keep duplicate items such as toasters, blenders, and throw them in a tote as well for safe keeping and stashing out from underfoot. Say, in the bottom of the spare bedroom closet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
These are some great ideas. DH and I have agreed to a one hour session together three nights a week to work on this problem, and he's agreed to let me do some of it on my own as long as nothing is thrown out without him getting a say in it. Dcompton's ideas were great. We actually sat down and talked about what we wanted/needed....which we should've done months ago. We discovered that he really wants the dining area to be settled so we can sit down to dinner when we are together for our evening meal. And I want pictures and things up on the wall to help personalize the apartment. We also both agreed that our bedroom was the most important thing to start with as we want to feel relaxed there. We're going out this weekend to get more storage things ( liking the rubbermaid stackable idea) and have put together some of our old storage things leftover from college and grad school to stick in our closets (the good old wire mesh cubes etc).
 

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Rubbermaid totes with a piece of plywood overtop and a piece of cheap fabric make nice end tables too. :D

We also made long low bookcases out of concrete blocks and boards (from the lumber store). Or, if you can afford it, IKEA Billy bookshelves are good - still my mainstay.

Maximize the storage closets you do have. Shelving is a must. In an apartment this is usually free-standing. Landlords don't like things attached to walls usually.

I am glad you each picked an area to work on first - Dining Room and Master Bedroom. I usually start with the master bedroom, as that's where I go to rest and rejuvenate. If I've had too much of the rest of the place, I can hide in there! To this day my children laugh at my home within a home. :) I have a reading chair there and lots of nice home spa things I can do while in my room. A good collection of CDs and a CD player to augment DH's clock radio. Pens, pencils and highlighters for notetaking from the books in my reading corner. Nice votive candles and those thingies where you float essential oils in water over a candle (what IS the name for those?). I also have it appealing by putting some silk flowers in a stained glass vase made by my sister on the dresser. And a silk fake fig tree behind my chair in the corner. And a nice decorative reading light on the low bookcase in the corner (really a 2'x2'x1' plywood cube with adjustable shelf made by DH early on in our marriage).

The thing is, it doesn't take a lot of money. It takes desire and vision. Most of my stuff for my room was given to us or from the Dollar Store. The runner for the dresser was made by me. The runner for the vanity was the most expensive purchase at $65. DH decided he didn't need a bedside table. Instead he has a bunch of plywood boxes full of his comic book collection stacked to form a bedside table for him.

Just get creative and think outside the box! :)

As for excess stuff...well, working on one room at a time is one thing. But I'd also suggest you empty that room of everything and only put in it things you will actually use or love. The rest can be put someplace else or packed away or given away/sold.

JMHO.
 

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I have lived in a small apartment 2 times since DH and I have been together. Here are some things we did to maxamize our space:

I took a shower rod and put it half way down my closet so I had more hanging space for clothes. One of the ones that you do not have to use screws to put it there, that way it doesn't leave marks or holes in the wall, but you have extra space for hanging clothes. This was essential when I lived in a two bedroom apartment with two kids, I would hang the older kids clothes on the top rod, and the smaller childs clothes on the bottom rod.

Also I love storage totes, they are plastic, air tight and hold lots of things, stackable etc.

There are even lower ones that you can get that fit right under your bed. If you do not have a lot of space in your linnen closet you could try storing stuff this way.

Deflintely get some pictures or things up to help make it more homey, it would make you feel a lot better sitting down to relax at night if you feel "At Home".

Shelving is a wonderful idea. I use it a lot, even now in a house. :D

I like the idea of putting things in a box for both of you to go through and figure out what stays and what goes, this is a great idea.

At one point I used a Pantry type thing for a book shelf and in another apartment I used it as a place to put the kids movies and games.

Good luck with getting everything straightened out, and making your place, a home.
 
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