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Simple student apartment hacks: what essentials to get (2018)

June 28, 2018

Simple student apartment hacks: what essentials to get (2018)

As a student you must have already discovered that space is at a premium and housing costs are sky-high. That future of chasing after teeny-tiny apartments while living paycheck to paycheck with intermittent rice and beans fastings, does not sounds all that appealing, am i right?

Well, while I do not have the answer to the soaring housing prices, I can assure you that your initial costs of starting your student journey do not have to propel you further into the debt pit.

The answer is simple.

Awaken and embrace the minimalist within you.

The minimalist home you are picturing is most likely one of those Pinterest achingly chic and curated apartments. The elegant lack of clutter, sleek lines of ergonomic designs and natural materials sceam aesthetics. But for a student, minimal living is due to NECESSITY, not aesthetics.


MONEY 
More money

TIME
More time
SPACE
more space

Minimalism is a fantastic way to save money. Choosing to own less simply means spending less. You will need not compromise on quality when choosing to lead a simple minimalist life. On the contrary some premium brands offer plain mono colours products.

Think of all the time you would be spending on shopping, maintaining and decluttering time and again. What about the time you spend on laundering and ironing, repairing and storing of clothing? And let’s not forget all the times you’ve wasted searching for that missing phone cable and your keys. 

As a student you will have access to plenty of shared facilities but limited personal
space. The key is to own exactly what you need. Then you won’t need any additional storage solutions cluttering your space and surfaces.

Have I not convinced you yet?

Let me share some personal facts with you.

Since moving out of my parent’s home back in 2006, I have lived in 4 different countries, 2 different states, 7 different cities, 16 different places. And all of the moving was done on tight budgets. But it is only with experience of both new exciting beginnings and crushing disappointments that wisdom really sinks in. So, really, I am a just a humble moving and packing wizard. So shall we get cracking 

 

 



Chapter 1

Essential Furniture for Your Room


Here’s how to fit everything you own in one teeny-tiny space


Think of selecting furniture that is simple, portable and designed to be stored away. This will allow you to maximise the space you have available and reduce the burden of moving costs once that lease expires yet again.


Wardrobe | Closet

What’s a closet?

A large box shaped shape with rails and shelving space where clothes and other accessories may be hung or stored.

So sticking to our principle of creating your space to be clean and simple, you will need to choose a compact design which can house your entire wardrobe comfortably. Then, it all comes down to finding the right compartmentalization. You should have a large space for hangers, a few shelves for folded clothes and a few drawers for smaller and finicky garments and accessories.

Closets with rails and shelving are easy to find in stores as well as second hand. It gets more tricky to find just the right closet with fitting drawers as well. Yes, if you’re buying it from the store, you often have the option to customize and add the missing parts, but remember those accessories carry price tags as well.

So, you can always improvise and place boxes, vintage or storage ones that you already have, on the shelves. Divide these boxes and fill them with your socks, underwear, gloves and other various bits.
If you don’t have boxes, then repurpose some of your canvas totes or cotton bags to store directly on the shelves.

Always reflect on the content of your wardrobe when choosing the organizational bits for it. Think of the ways you dress and what you have most of:

Lots of jumpers & t’s shelves, shelves and more shelves.

Lots of dresses rail with plenty of space for hangers.

Lots of jewellery invest your money or time to make DIY jewellery boxes.

Lots of sneakers shelves are great for storing shoes. Alternatively keep the bottom of the closet free of boxes and bags, so you can display and store your shoe collection there as well.


What should the closet be?

The closet should be simply put:

 

DURABLE  
PORTABLE      
SUSTAINABLE

It should last you many years.

It should remain in good condition, after all those many years, so as you could pass it on or resell.

It should be easy to assemble & disassemble without compromising on aesthetics and functionality.

It should be relatively easy for you to move and transport it.

It should comfortably meet your current needs, while ideally allowing for any adjustments needed in the future.

Start your search at the brick and mortar as well as online second hand stores, Free Your Stuff type of Facebook pages, and of course ask your relatives and friends if they have anything standing about.


What’s inside the closet?

Uhhhh, clothes of course?!

When moving out of your childhood home, think of bringing only the items you wear the most and those that you wish you had more of. That way, you are one step closer in building a well curated and loved wardrobe. The clothes in such a wardrobe would all be of a good fit and should come together effortlessly. So even laundry days wouldn’t be as shameful!

You can read more about this transition and building an intentional and minimal wardrobe in the post on Intentional & Minimal Wardrobe.


Intentional and minimal wardrobe

Bed  

What is a bed ?

A place to sleep or rest. Typically you’ll find some type of base with a mattress.

There are endless choices of bed frame and mattress combination. But let’s just keep it basic.

‘Princess’ bed frame (A classic design frame)


This bed frame usually has both large headboard and footboard. It sits high off the ground.

These beds are not only for princesses! You can find anything from lavishly decorated and vintage styles design to more calm and elegant ones. They are often made out of metal, wood and some even come upholstered. And remember that you’ll need to buy a fitting mattress.

Cons
These bed frames are rather bulky and require assembly.
Some will also require a purchase of box spring.
Not ideal for small spaces.

Bonus
This design offers a feeling of sleeping in luxury.
High bed frames instantly allow for more space for storage.

Low bed frame (A modern look) 

Simpler in design and has a much more modern look than its princess style counterpart. It sits low, so you won’t need to worry about hurting yourself should you ever fall off the bed. They are often made out of metal or wood or both. And here too, you will need to get a fitting mattress.

Cons
Low bed frames require assembly as well.

Bonus
It sits low, so you get an additional squat exercise without having to set aside time to exercise.
Low bed frames lack the bulk of their up-high counterparts, so they fit into small spaces easier.

No bed frame (Millions sleep on the floor today)

Sleeping on the floor is known to improve circulation and align your spine better. If you’re not able to withstand the hard floor surface, I would suggest that laying down a blanket or two otherwise try a shikibuton, a Japanese style futon.

Shikibutons are thinner than their Western counterpart. They are originally made entirely of natural materials such as cotton and wool. There are not any added chemicals and coating used in production. Similarly, if you choose to lay on blankets - pick those of natural materials.

Cons
You would need to keep your floor clean.
Mattresses kept on the ground can develop mold and mildew because of lack of proper ventilation. SO, depending on how humid your living conditions are - you would need to roll up your mattress and air it out daily or weekly.

Bonus
You won’t need to splurge on a box spring or bed frames.

The size and weight of your floor bed allows you to easily roll up the bed and store it away. This way, you can free up the space in your room for other activities such as yoga or meditation. Alternatively, you are able to change the function of your bedroom entirely for the day by turning the room into a more open and serene office space or a space to host your guests.
Also, the dimensions of your floor bed allow you to easily transport it.

It is surprisingly easy to maintain. You can air it out once a week or once a month. Letting the futon sit out in the sun is the perfect laundering method as the UV light kills the bacteria and odors.


What’s on your bed?


Comforter|Duvet

Pick the one that fits your climate best. Natural fiber and material would be your best money spent. Think of investing in wool comforters as they help regulate your body temperature, keeping you comfortable throughout all seasons.

Pillow

My advice is go pillowless if possible. Not using neck and head support during sleep allows your body to find the ultimate position for rest. Having said that though I sometimes use my flat pillow as per my physiotherapist’s advice.


Bed Sheets, 2 Sets  

The reason to have 2 sets of bed sheets is simply twofold: 1. When one pair is in the wash, you’ll always have the other one to use; 2. When a friend visits you have a spare.


Desk & Chairs

Consider the space you have and your needs. If you’re a frequent library goer, then perhaps investing into large or highly advanced ergonomic office chairs is not such a good idea. A simple small desk and chair workstation works well for humanities or sciences students.

Folding Table and Chairs.

Fantastic for tiny spaces

Getting folding table and chairs will enable you to easily adjust your personal space to your needs. They do not require any tools or time to assemble and will also be a breeze to move with. Should you find your folding chair hard to sit on, a foldable blanket or a seat cushion work wonders for your bum’s comfort.

Do not compromise on materials and make

Here, I do not mean seaside foldables, yeah? Make sure you get stable and well built items. So focus on solid and durable materials, namely, metal and wood. You won’t need to compromise as some premium brands offer beautiful designs. Shopping on a budget, IKEA Frode chair will cost you a mere 20 quid (30 euro) while  BoConcept Oslo chair goes for 316 quid (359 euro).


Table and Chairs

When space is not an issue or the need for a more permanent studying set up, go for sturdy desk and chair combo. Pick the combo that will be comfortable and sturdy.

 

CHAPTER 2

SHARED SPACES

Kitchen

Kitchen Table & Chairs

Did you win the lottery with a walk-in AND dine-in kitchen? Kudos to you!!!

Then, you should take into account the number of people who will be eating at the table at the same time. There you have the size of the table and number of chairs needed.

Next, get a table with a surface that can handle possible cuts and spills, otherwise buy some reusable tablecloths or placemats.  


Kitchen Accessories

If you are living entirely on you own the list below is a great selection of kitchen necessities.

If, on the other hand, you’re moving into shared accommodation, then consider sourcing these items amongst all the residents, that way you are likely to already have everything you need and more.

Never made a meal yourself. Don’t panic. Think simple and slow and let the internet curate your meals.

The main focus in the kitchen regarding the food as well as equipment should always be quality vs quantity - buy one quality item instead of five cheap alternatives. The quality item is likely to last you a lifetime and should you want another one down the road, there is a growing second hand market where you will able to resell your items.

Pots & Pans

1 large & 1 small pots, an average sized pan, preferably all with lids.

Oven safe tray

Think multipurpose ones. Some brands, like Onyx make glass and metal bowls
that are oven, freezer and dishwasher safe. This will allow you to use the
container as a baking tray when needed, storage container or as a nice salad
bowl.

Strainer | Colander

Pick the one made out of solid steel with larger holes are durable and easy to
clean.

Dishes & Bowls

2 sets of each.

Knife

1 good multipurpose. We have three knives: An utility knife, a vegetable knife and a general kitchen knife.

Cutlery

2 sets : fork, knife, tablespoon and teaspoon.

Large bowl

Serving and mixing bowl for salads or prep.

Cutting board | Cooking Utensils

Go for the bamboo board. Bamboo resists retaining water and as a result, it won’t warp or crack as easily as normal wood board. Remember not to wash it in the dishwasher. A bonus factor in choosing bamboo made items is that it is a sustainable and renewable resource that is grown without the use of toxins,
pesticides, or fertilizers, as opposed to its wooden counterparts.  any chemicals.
Bamboo is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.

Can | Bottle opener

Multipurpose and multifunction can and bottle openers. Think of the ultimate
home kitchen’s swiss knife.

Blender

Invest into the best quality blender your wallet or parents can afford. It will
become your right hand in making sauces, smoothies, grinding your coffee
beans and matcha teas.

Coffee maker|tea pot

1 pot

Cups and glasses

I highly recommend jars as they are so multifaceted. They serve as glasses,
tupperware, to go bottles and to go container. As for cups, enamel or stainless
steel cups are ideal choice when thinking of durability. But of course if you don’t
have two left arms or a small child then feel free to enjoy a cuppa from a  
ceramic or double wall glass mug.

Dish towels

Dish towels and reusable counter and spills wipes are an absolute must. You can
never have too many. A good stash of dish towels allows you to save money on
all the paper towels, napkins, and even oven mittens. And once dirty, you simply
pop them into laundry along with everything else and there you have an
investment that just keeps on giving.

We also made a minimalist kitchen guide. Have a look.

Living room

If you’re one of the lucky few to have a living room at your disposal then consider getting these living room essentials:

Couch

Strapped for cash? Buy a good futon mattress and scavenge some used pallets. It is an easy and affordable way to make your living room cozy and inviting. Alternatively, choose a carpet, floor cushions or yoga bolsters and you have a multifunctional, open and inviting communal space.

Dining Table & Chairs

First, do not double up on tables and chairs if your kitchen already has a solid set. Second, consider the space you have and your needs. Have a think: are you planning on entertaining large parties in your living room or will it be mostly used for some occasional and cosy potluck dinners?


CHAPTER 3

Bathroom and Other Home Essentials

Bathroom Essentials

Towels 2 Bath and hand towels . The reason to have 2 sets of towels is simply twofold :
1. When one pair is in the wash, you’ll always have a spare on
2. When a friend visits you have a spare.

Toilet |sink brush  

Always choose all natural bamboo brushes.


Other Home Essentials

Drying rack for laundry

Tumble dryers are not always readily available, they are expensive, high in energy use, and causes irreplaceable damage to the clothing. And when you have access to sunlight, it is the ideal way to dry one’s clothes leaving it soft and fresh scented, not to mention the superpower antibacterial effect of sunlight: UV light kills the bacteria that may survive a cool wash.

The best folding drying rack design is X-frame drying racks. One of the oldest styles, they are lightweight and collapsible. Once used, the rack can be easily stored behind a door or in the closet. Choose wooden or bamboo materials, or source one second hand. As a student you have access to tens if not hundreds of students tossing or selling their possessions EVERY SINGLE YEAR, so take advantage of that.

Mirror

Entirely depends on your circumstances and your needs. I would definitely aim at having at least one full length mirror in the house or apartment you live in. I personally do not advocate for having multiple ones, nor hanging one in your own personal space, if of course you have a choice.

Lamp Desk|Floor

Reflect on your needs. If you enjoy curling up in your bed to reach a book in the evenings, then getting a floor lamp would be essential for you. Alternatively, if you’re a night owl and study all through the night, then a desk lamp should be your main investment.

Storage boxes

Only invest in these once you have chosen the items that will join you on your minimalist student journey. You are likely to discover that you do not need as many (or any) as you originally thought.