All posts by Guest Author

Living with your in-laws? 7 thoughtful tips for organizing your small space

With the uptick in intergenerational living that we’ve seen over the last few years, more families are seeing the value in the moving-in-with-the-in-laws arrangement. Saving on housing, having more people to help with childcare and household chores, and developing relationships are just some of the benefits.

However, lack of privacy and turf wars are commonly cited as problems when living with family. Here are seven tips that will help you organize the space and maintain balance until you’re ready to strike it on your own.

1. Have Rules

clean white sneakers on wood floor

It’s important that rules be well-established before any moving takes place. If you’re living at your in-law’s home and they have a strict “no shoes in the house” rule, make sure you abide by it. If they’re living in your house and you don’t want their dog on the furniture, they need to respect that, too. Make sure that any deal-breakers are defined before boxes are brought in.

2. Establish Routines

open washing machine with towels

If you work during the day and your mother-in-law is at home, have her do her laundry while you are working. That way, when you do finally get home in the evening, you aren’t fighting over the washing machine. The same goes for showering and cooking times, as well. You don’t want to be baking a chocolate cake to take to a party while someone else is cooking a particularly garlicky dinner.

3. Rent Out Storage

makespace-mobile-schedule-screen

If moving in with your in-laws is just a temporary situation, travel light. Bring minimal belongings with you so that you can cut down on clutter. If you need to, put your items in storage so that you can access them if needed, but so that you are keeping your invasion into their space to a minimum.

Even better: schedule a MakeSpace pickup from your old home, and your things will be stored while you’re staying with your folks. Once you’re out on your own again, MakeSpace can deliver your items to your new spot, so you never have to visit a storage unit again.

4. Use Baskets

light wood bathroom sink with shelves and baskets

If you find yourself having to share a bathroom, having a way of keeping everyone’s items separate is a good idea. Hooks for towels are a necessity, and baskets for each person’s toiletries will avoid morning routine confusion.

Organizing baskets are also a good way to keep foods separate in the fridge and the pantry, and can maintain a semblance of order near the front door. Make sure each person has a place to put small items like keys and sunglasses to avoid confusion or missing items. Your father in law won’t be thrilled when he can’t find his keys, especially if you were the last person to drive his car.

5. Keep Lists

grocery list with phone notebook and colorful pens

When sharing a space with others, it’s important to stay on top of things like groceries and household chores. Make sure that you have clearly posted lists of things that need to be done, and if you finish an item from the pantry, add it to the grocery list. Keeping on top of these smaller points can prevent major communication issues down the line.

6. Set Boundaries

white hanging do not disturb sign

It may be their home, but that doesn’t give your in-laws the right to snoop through your things when you’re not there. Remember to always knock on closed doors and respect each other’s privacy.

With everyone disjointed from their regular habits, it can be tricky to navigate things like TV time and who’s cooking dinner. Remember that good communication is going to be your most effective tool for managing your living arrangement.

7. Be Respectful

mother kissing adult daughter

Respect can go a long way towards making this transitional time go smoothly for everyone involved. Let each other know when someone’s not going to be home for dinner, or if you’re going to have friends over and would like some privacy. Don’t play the TV too loud late at night and try to keep conversations at a lower volume while other people are sleeping. Just be considerate of the fact that you live with other people and you should all do just fine.

Whether you are staying with your in-laws temporarily, or if they have moved into your home due to health concerns, there will be hiccups along the way. Keep these tips in mind to ensure that the situation works well for everyone.

This post was written by Rachel Jackson. Rachel is a mother of 2 beautiful boys. She loves to hike and write about traveling, education, and business. She is a Senior Content Manager at Bizset.com – an online resource of relevant business information.

9 space-making design tips to make your apartment look and feel bigger

If you’ve lived comfortably in a 1,500 square foot lower flat in Washburn, WI for $895.00 per month, it might be a shock to move to Chicago, IL, where your square footage shrinks to 895 while your rent price raises to one of the largest in the country.

Now your apartment seems tiny and depressing. Was moving to such an exciting city worth the trade off for space?

Of course it was.

There are simple tweaks  you can make to your apartment that will have it looking and feeling more spacious without the need to book it back to the ‘burbs. Watch your apartment grow with these nine tips:

1. Lighten Up

You may like the drama of black walls, but your tiny place will look less like a dungeon if you use more cheerful colors.

Try painting all walls vibrant colors like sky blue or daring yellow and enjoy the enlightening difference. Even bright white can add some refreshing pizzazz, and as an added bonus, it reflects sunlight to create a more open feeling overall.

2. Drop it down

low bed with black frame and striped comforter

Your giant platform bed towering three feet off the floor has you sleeping like The Princess and the Pea, but royal vibes notwithstanding, it’s using up valuable space.

Instead, choose a style that drops it low and hugs the floor. With your bedroom more opened up, every night can be crowned a restful night’s sleep.

3. Mirrors

large wood mirror reflecting light from chandelier and window
Style Me Pretty

Ever go into someone’s house and see a wall completely covered in a mirror? They’re not just extremely vain. By strategically placing a mirror across from a large light source like a window or chandelier, a depth effect is created that makes the whole room appear twice as big.

Great lighting + huge mirror = ultimate selfie station.

4. Fold it up

dark wood bed with footboard storage

Remember your mom’s ironing board that folded up into a closet door? Borrow from the same principle when creating some extra space in your own apartment.

Foldable chairs, hidden storage behind artwork, and footboard drawers are all great ways to have your stuff available when you need it, and tucked away when you don’t.

5. Multi-functional pieces

murphy bed coming down from bright blue wall
Home Design Lover

Seek out furniture that pulls double duty. An old-fashioned Murphy bed or a coffee table that doubles as a desk are two helpful possibilities that let you make the most of your space. Now if only they could clean the place.

6. Pop out those ceilings

living room with black ceiling and white walls and light wood floors
SFgirlbybay

Yes, we told you to paint walls white, but to create the illusion of taller ceilings, go dark up top. A ceiling painted black, dark grey, or navy suggests height and will make your your eight-foot ceiling take on twelve-foot penthouse vibes.

7. Move it out

vintage mid-century modern living room with fireplace

This one is a little counter-intuitive, but stay with us: If you move furniture a little bit away from the walls it can create a feeling of spaciousness. A sofa and chairs butted against walls tend to look very confining, whereas providing a little wiggle room gives the appearance of more room to breathe. Your living room will look larger, and your furniture won’t be left holding its breath.

8. Leave the windows alone

loft with large bare windows
POPSUGAR

Overcrowding a room with excess furniture is already a small-space no-no. Covering a window to allow more stuff to fit? Unforgivable.

If windows are blocked, everything quickly looks smaller and cramped, and the lack of light will give the room an eerie cave-like feeling. Resist the urge to squish lots of furniture pieces in one room, instead opting for a few solid pieces that balance the area while showcasing the natural light.

9. Declutter

yard sale with vintage sea set
Flickr/Mike Mozart

When making the move to a smaller apartment, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have more stuff than can fit in your new space.

Consider a yard sale to help you get rid of unneeded things. Starting with an almost-clean slate will make it easier to visualize where to place your favorite things, rather than wasting time and energy packing up stuff that you simply no longer need.

Still have too much? Schedule an appointment with MakeSpace. They’ll pick up your stuff, transport it to their secure storage facility, and deliver it back whenever you decide that, yeah, actually, the foosball table will fit.

 

It may be challenging to get that big apartment feel you’re used to in a smaller place, adjusting doesn’t have to be difficult. Give these simple tricks a try and embrace life in the city, with room to spare.

Sam Radbil is an author at ABODO Apartments, an apartment marketplace website that makes apartment hunting easier for people all across the country. Check out their available apartments in Chicago, IL and follow along on Twitter at @ABODOapts.

Feature image by UrbanSpan

5 quick ways to revamp your guest room for unexpected visitors

When guests arrive to stay in your home with a little to no notice, providing an inviting, relaxing space for them is one of the best ways to show your hospitality. Impromptu visits are bound to happen, but with these simple tips for being guest room-ready, you can be assured your family and friends will know they are always welcome!

1. Clean Up

clean white guest bedroom with open windows

The first step in welcoming guests is to provide a clean, uncluttered environment. Quickly freshen up the room by opening the curtains and windows. Let the sun shine in as you vacuum and dust the windowsills, furniture, and picture frames. Clear floors, furniture, and counters to make sure there is adequate space for your guest’s suitcases and belongings.

If space allows, a comfy chair in the guest room is ideal for putting on shoes, reading, or relaxing. Keep air filters updated to ensure the room is kept as allergen-free as possible. While sprucing up, don’t forget to tidy the guest bathroom, as well.

2. Create A Cozy Feel

fluffy comfortable white bedding

Because the majority of time is spent resting and sleeping in a guest room, you will need to make sure the bed has a set of soft, freshly-laundered sheets. When making the bed, keep in mind the time of year. You may need to add warmer blankets during the winter season, and in warmer months, lighter bedding often works best. It’s always a good idea to have extra quilts available in the closet.

For rooms with hardwood floors, consider placing a cozy rug near the bed for additional warmth. As a final touch, one or two decorative pillows that make family feel especially welcome.

It is important to have your Wifi password handy for guests. Keeping it in a stylish frame on the bedside table will make it easily noticeable and works much better than a piece of paper that could become lost.

3. Provide Some Basic Toiletry Items

make yourself at home guest bathroom basket
Love, Pasta, and a Toolbelt

It is beneficial to know what makes your guest feel at home. Keeping a well-stocked decorative basket with items such as fresh toothpaste and toothbrushes, dental floss, soaps, travel-size shampoos and conditioners, body wash, hand lotion, band-aids and cotton balls can do wonders for your guest.

In the guest bathroom, always set out fresh towels, hand towels, and washcloths that are kept especially for company. Time permitting, adding a fragrant vase of fresh flowers from your garden is an added touch your guests are sure to enjoy.

4. Snack Basket

snack basket for guests
Pinterest

If you have a few extra minutes, another thoughtful way to care for your guests is to set out a basket filled with some easy snacks and beverages. Water bottles are especially nice to have in addition to an assortment of fresh fruit, granola and/or protein bars, small packages of crackers, or a variety of chocolates treats.

5. Personal, Comforting Touches

guest room nightstand
The Inspired Room

Last but certainly not least, set out some personal touches for your visitors to enjoy. Framed photos of fun memories give the room an added cozy feeling. Proper lighting is important in the room, and it is a good idea to make sure all light bulbs are in working order. Candles are a great way to add ambiance and tranquility. It is best to use soft, subtle fragrances that are not too overpowering. A selection of coffee table books, magazines, and even local travel guides are a nice touch in the guest room. And finally, nothing is more welcoming than a personalized notecard expressing to your guests how wonderful it is to have them there!

These simple and easy tips for getting your guest room ready that take minimal effort, but speak volumes to make loved ones feel welcome. In turn, you can know that these little details mean so much to your guests and will make their stay all the more memorable.

Annie Grace Fleming is a Public Relations Specialist for Crawlspace Depot. She regularly produces content for a variety of blogs that cover topics from insulation to air filtration systems.

How to bring the colors of nature indoors

Modern designs are all about bringing the natural world inside.

These days, we have enough distractions: From our smartphones to our laptops, we seem to always be looking at some kind of artificial screen. That’s why the latest trends are focused on bringing nature into our homes to provide some much needed “breathing room.”

As more people move to the city in search of urban excitement, we make our homes our own natural wonderlands. Let’s explore the best interior design trends of 2018 that are all about bringing the colors of nature inside:

Bring your favorite plants and flowers inside

plant and succulents on white coffee tableOne of the easiest ways to bring the great outdoors into your urban environment is to simply place  potted plants and fresh flowers around your home. These small accents might not be huge, but they add a breath of actual fresh air.

Don’t have a green thumb?

There’s no shame in choosing fake plants if you aren’t up to the task of caring for real ones! If you want to start small, consider a plant that’s low maintenance, like a small succulent.

Upgrade your cabinets

modern dark green kitchen cabinets
Atticmag

Of the places in your home that are in need of a natural refresh, the kitchen may be at the top of your list, but can also be the most daunting task to take on. For an easy upgrade with major impact, bring natural colors to your cabinets.

Deep greens, golden tans, and muted browns occur frequently in the great outdoors, and are  chic choices for a cabinet update. You can also return your cabinets to a deep, natural wood by switching out the doors (RTA kitchen cabinets are a beautiful option). Your kitchen will be instantly modernized with an added essence of warmth.

Feel closer to nature with natural floors

light bamboo wood flooring in neutral bedroom
DigsDigs

While tile might be easy to care for, it can sometimes leave your apartment feeling cold and outdated. Bring your home one step closer to nature by switching your flooring to something more environmentally sound.

Choosing a natural material like wood, cork, or even bamboo will give your home a noticeable refreshing feeling. There are plenty of eco-friendly materials available that are more sustainable than traditional flooring options without sacrificing style. Counter these natural floors with contrasting wall colors to create a unique, well-rounded effect.

Add touches of the outdoors

white and green leaf printed sectional in living room
Kaitlin Madden

If the ideas above are too big of a commitment, there’s no shame in starting small! Look for patterns and prints that mimic the colors of nature. A palm or floral print can transform a room when highlighted correctly.

Remember: nature doesn’t come in a single set of colors. If you live in the Southwest, that might mean bringing the impressive warm sunsets inside with fiery reds, oranges, and even fuchsia. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you might choose prints that remind you of the greenery and the rain. Let your interiors reflect the view from your window.

Let in the light

sheer white curtains in an apartment living room
Apartment Therapy/Marie-Lyne Quirion

Finally, don’t forget to let the light into your home. If you live in an urban apartment, abundant natural light can be hard to come by. Take advantage of the glimpses of the great outdoors that you do get with sheer curtains in shades of white, pale yellow, or light blue. Sometimes the best decoration is the one beyond your window, so leave window sills clear of clutter and invite the light in!

 

No matter where you live or which design aesthetic you prefer, we all could use a little more nature in our lives. Even small touches go a long way to making your home a comfortable and captivating space, so stir up some sunshine and welcome Mother Nature in for a visit.

This post was written by The Blog Frog, a unique platform that helps bloggers build stronger and better networks.  

Sleep Easy: How To Design A Room Around Your Pull-Out Sofa

The best get-togethers are those that seem to never end. Sleeper sofas make watching movies, playing games, or just catching up over a glass of wine an easy overnight affair. Host holiday visitors right in your living room with pull-out sectionals, or set up sleepovers for multiples in the guest room with loveseat sleepers.

When adding a piece of furniture that can dramatically expand and contract, it’s key to consider the room’s layout and decor. Here are our best tips for easy, functional designing around a pull-out sofa.

Choose the best size and shape for your space

With the range of sofa sizes and shapes available today, you can easily add a sleeper to nearly any room in your home—the living room or family room, the home office, or even a large guest bedroom. In most cases, these pieces will function first and foremost as couches and secondly as beds.

With that in mind, first consider how the piece will fit into the designated area as a sofa. For large rooms, get optimal seating with a full sectional arrangement. For a tighter space, a small loveseat pushed up against the way may be all you need.

Also, evaluate the mattress size that would be most appropriate for both your daytime couch-sitters and your overnight guests. A twin mattress is the perfect sleeping spot for a single person, but they’re typically only available within daybeds or two-cushion couches. If you can swing it space-wise, choose a queen-sized pull-out bed—it’s the most useful and versatile, providing enough room for one to two guests without overwhelming the space.

Keep comfort in mind

woman-making-sleeper-sofa

Just as important as sofa size and shape, the comfort level of your couch is integral to the perfect sleeping setup. The sofa cushions should be plush enough that guests sitting on them would never know that beneath them is an entire pull-out contraption. The thicker the cushions, the better. A firm fabric such as a tight-weave linen-like upholstery or slick natural leather also helps protect guests from the metal bars inside the furniture.

Next, think about the mattress itself. While you should look for sleepers with thick, comfortable mattresses, remember that you can always add a super-plush mattress topper to any bed for cloud-like coziness.

Place a thick and textured throw blanket in complementary colors over the arm of the couch—it can double as extra warmth for sleepover guests.

Use storage furniture to hold bed linens

Store extra pillows, sheets, and blankets in the guest room in attractive storage furniture that doubles as decor. Place linens in decorative baskets and bins in the corners of the room, or tuck them away in hidden media center drawers or cabinets. Choose a storage space that’s extra-roomy, and swap out bedding with sofa pillows and blankets until morning to keep the space clutter-free. You’ll save space in your linen closets, and you’ll make everything easy to access for your guests.

Too many blankets, not enough storage furniture? Schedule a MakeSpace pickup. We'll pick up and store the extras until you need them delivered back again.

Add versatile furniture

If your sofa-sleeper just so happens to be the main seat in the living room, it will serve primarily as a seating area. You’ll likely need a coffee table and at least one end or sofa table, depending on the size of the piece. But to make the sitting area functional as both a lounge space and a makeshift bedroom, you’ll want furniture that’s easy to rearrange. For example, a lightweight acrylic or rattan coffee table is much easier to push aside than a solid stone or concrete drum table.

If you still want to incorporate a hefty natural material into the room, look for tables with marble, stone, or thick-cut glass tops and airy, open bases. The same advice applies to side tables. Or, if you still want to add a solid, sculptural metal or wood table with some weight to it, let that one act as a nightstand when the pull-out bed is in use.

Accent chairs, lounge chairs and armchairs should all be arranged clear of the pull-out space. To allow the overnight guest room to breathe and to avoid boxing the bed in with auxiliary furniture, arrange these spare seats so that they are flanking the sofa area. Angle the chairs out and away from the sofa to create a layout that feels open.

Illuminate with all-purpose lighting

As with furniture, you don’t want the hassle of rearranging the lighting when it’s time to pull out the couch for the night. Arc floor lamps are the perfect all-purpose option for sleeper sectionals, sofas, and loveseats alike. Specifically designed to fit behind a couch or chair, the arched neck of these lights maximizes the area the illumination covers, and the overhead design allows it to easily convert to a nighttime reading lamp for those tucked into the pull-out.

Another option that works for the entire space is a chandelier or overhead flush mount (use multiple flush mounts, if the space requires a little extra brightness) paired with a table lamp or two. Keep one table lamp on an adjacent side table that can do double duty as a bedside light for overnight guests.

Style decorative objects in the name of simplicity

marble coffee table with flowers and small books
Apartment Therapy/Pippa Drummond

Carefully consider the décor that sits atop the furniture pieces you’ll need to move when you pull out the bed. For example, think about the coffee table or ottoman in front of the couch. Instead of creating an elaborate tablescape of candles, hardcover books, vases, and other decorative objects, keep it simple and choose just a couple of items to display. You can still decorate with all the accessories you originally wanted—just spread them throughout the entire room, placing on console tables, wall shelves, and display pedestals instead of clustering most on the main surface.

If you plan to host overnight guests often, consider taking a minimalist approach to the decor in that particular room. As a DIY bedroom, it should be zen and welcoming, and a color palette of soft, neutral hues is visually comforting in a bedroom.

Pull-out sofas help you make the most of the space in your home. Try to make the most of the sleeper itself by surrounding it with accommodating furniture in a functional layout. Your future couch crashers will love you for it. Happy hosting!

Hannah Bollman writes inspirational and actionable content around home design and entertaining for Crate and Barrel, where you can find sleeper sofas to meet your hosting needs. When she’s not providing guidance on interior style, Hannah enjoys performing stand-up comedy and working to improve her 5K time. 

The 5 Best Dog Breeds for Small Apartments

Do you think that dogs aren’t the best pets for apartment dwellers?

Think again.

You see, a lot of people imagine dogs as these big, messy animals who need lots of space, will always run around, and will ruin every couch they can get their paws on. Sure, some of them are like that, but a lot of other breeds are actually quite peaceful and love nothing more than to lounge on a couch indoors with their owner.

If you live in a small apartment, don’t lose hope yet. You, too, can be the pet parent of a beautiful dog; you just need to find the right breed (and maybe a little extra room. MakeSpace can help!).

Find out which dog breeds are the best for small apartments. Maybe you will find one that suits you and fall utterly in love with it!

1. The Bulldog

black and white french bulldog on blanket

It doesn’t matter if it’s a French or English Bulldog, this breed of dogs is perfect for people who live in small apartments. Since they are low in energy and don’t mind just hanging out all day on the couch with you, Bulldogs are a great breed from those who not only own small flats but are also quite introverted. Loving and kind, this breed is one of the easiest to take care of: all they need is a good bed to sleep on, a healthy meal, and your company.

Of course, like every other dog, they need exercise. While they don’t have as much energy as, say, a Golden Retriever, a couple of walks during the day or a game of fetch in the backyard does their wrinkly body good. Just be careful during hot days, as they can overheat pretty quickly!

2. The Chiweenie

chiweenie dog on white fleece blanket
The Happy Puppy

Even this dog’s name tells you he’d be a great small apartment dog. A mix between a Chihuahua and a Dachshund, the Chiweenie is able to fit everywhere thanks to his small body, which makes him perfect for people who live in small spaces. Just keep in mind that the Chiweenie is quite hard to train, as he is a very stubborn fella, and might even suffer from the “small dog syndrome” if he’s not trained well.

Playful and low maintenance, the Chiweenie is the perfect breed for people who don’t have enough time or space to take care of a bigger dog. Note, however, that he might have some difficultly with kids, so if you have children, consider a different breed.

3. The Bassett Hound

tan and white basset hound
Flickr/Sally Wehner

The Bassett Hound is a “medium” dog that fits well in small apartments. Usually very quiet and calm, they are great if you are living in a building with really thin walls. After all, no one wants to stay awake at night because of one dog barking incessantly. All a Bassett Hound needs to be happy is daily exercise (nothing too excessive though: a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood or a stroll to the dog park is enough) and a loving dose of attention.

The Basset Hound is definitely not a small dog (compared to the Chiweenie at least), but he has nothing against hanging out in a small spot in your apartment the whole afternoon or just cuddling with you when you [both] need it.

4. The Pug

small pug looking scared

Of course, we can’t write about small apartment dog breeds without mentioning the Pug. This famous small dog is a ball of happiness, and you’ll be more than delighted to have one around at all times. Small and low in energy (just like Bulldogs), they are easy to take care of, even though they can suffer from many health issues due to inbreeding.

So, if you don’t mind caring for a dog who could sleep for hours after chasing his tail around (bonus points if you take a funny video), we’d say the Pug is perfect for you.

5. The Morkie

morkie dog with red and white pillows in background
Flickr/Toni Truong

The Morkie is a cross between a Yorkshire Terrier and a Maltese. As you might imagine, this dog is a bundle of cuteness. Thanks to his small stature, he is perfect for people living in small apartments.

Morkies do require some extra training—especially if you have human kids running around along with your fur baby—to take the time to ensure he’ll show love to every member of the family.

This is guest post by Houda from DiamondPup. She is a full-time writer, traveler, and self-proclaimed dog person. She also makes lame jokes, writes poetry, and loves eating weird food in faraway countries. Did she mention that she was a dog person? Yeah, give her all the puppies, please.

What Are People Looking for in a Property? [Infographic]

What are people are looking for in a property?

It depends on who you ask, and how old they are.

Millennials prefer a convenient location and open floor plan, and they would like to communicate with realtors through texts or emails.

Generation X members value a solid school district and house features over the location and would prefer to connect with realtors through emails or phone calls.

Baby Boomers are focused on first-floor master bedrooms and accessibility for future needs, and when communicating with a realtor, they prefer phone calls.

Members of the Silent Generation are focused on smaller homes close to friends and families, and they choose to communicate with realtors through face to face interactions.

No matter what age group you are in, considering your current and future needs is crucial when making such a big decision as choosing a home. If you’re willing to downsize, what will you do with all your extra stuff (hint: MakeSpace can help you out)? If you relocate from the city to the ‘burbs, which once-necessary items can you potentially give away? Are you tired of taking on the responsibility of homeownership and are ready for the freedom that renting affords?

There are a lot of things to think about. The Realtors at Del-co Realty are ready to help you sift through it all.

del-co realty looking for in a property infographic

How to Build a Wedding Registry Fit for Apartment Living

Hand-picking a laundry list of new items for your wedding registry can be exciting—until you realize you need a place to store it all. If you live in a small apartment, it can feel daunting to build a registry if you can’t imagine where to put all those gifts.

The good news is that with just a bit more planning, you can create a useful and meaningful gift list that you, your future spouse, and your guests will love. Here are seven of our top tips for creating a registry perfectly suited for your space.

1. Take a moment to take stock

multiple wooden spoons grouped together

Whether you’re already living together or will be moving in after the wedding, it’s essential to take some time to figure out what you both already own. Schedule some time together and go room by room, listing any must-haves you currently lack. Then, you can identify any duplicate items that can be sold, donated, or thrown away to make more space.

2. Don’t be afraid to upgrade

couple sitting on bed hugging pillows

Now that you’ve gotten a clear picture of your belongings, it’s time to think about upgrading. You may find it hard to replace an item that still works, even if it’s out of style, part of a mismatched collection, or if your future spouse is not a fan.

Now is the perfect time to upgrade to a piece that you both love and that reflects your combined tastes as a couple. Plus, swapping out an older item for a newer one won’t take up more of that precious space in your apartment. You have the added benefit of donating the older item to someone who needs it.

3. Ensure that you have the essentials

blue and white towels rolled

Think carefully about your list of core, everyday items before deciding what to keep and what to upgrade. Even in the coziest of apartments, most people will need:

  • dinnerware and flatware sets
  • drinkware, including water glasses, mugs and wine glasses
  • bedding, including sheets, blankets and a duvet or comforter
  • bath towels and bath mats
  • cookware sets, including a frypan, a saucepan and a stock pot
  • cutlery
  • furniture

4. Understand your entertaining priorities

white plates place setting at a dinner party

Traditionally, couples are advised to register for both everyday dinnerware and fine china for special occasions. Small apartment dwellers, though, are less likely to host a sit-down meal for 10 additional people. You may not even have enough cabinet space to store 12 place settings, let alone a separate collection of china.

Consider two options: Register for more than you’ll need now and store extras separately, or register for only what fits in your current home. If you know you love to entertain and you don’t mind stowing a box or two of belongings in a storage unit (or a friend’s spare room), go ahead and register for a separate collection of fine china in addition to your everyday plates. However, if you don’t anticipate hosting a large group of guests, consider skipping the china and opting for a basic set that can transition effortlessly from formal to casual.

Instead of registering for 12 complete place settings, consider sticking to eight sets and expanding your collection when and if you move into a larger apartment, condo, or house. Your best bet is to choose a pattern that will stand the test of time. Ask a store associate what their customer favorites are for a collection will likely still be around for years to come. Otherwise, you can select a classic white dinnerware set and add to it over time. Classic white will easily complement other dish patterns and colors. You can also swap pieces in and out as seasons change—simply sign into your MakeSpace account and have them scheduled for delivery.

5. Choose kitchen multi-taskers

cheese, honey, and crackers on a wooden serving tray

Before you step foot into any store or create an online list, it’s a good idea to do some research and look for pieces that serve more than just one function. In any small space, choosing furniture, housewares, and decor that multi-task is the key to creating a home that is both stylish, functional, and scaled to your square footage. My favorite kitchen multi-taskers include:

  • coffee makers with integrated bean grinders
  • toaster ovens that can bake, broil, and roast
  • tools and accessories that are pretty enough to store in the open, including marble storage canisters, a matching set of cooking utensils in a decorative container, and a brightly-colored stand mixer or Dutch oven
  • nesting mixing bowls that double as serving bowls
  • durable, stylish cutting boards that you can use as serving platters
  • blenders that have food processing attachments and motors powerful enough to tackle a wide variety of cooking tasks

6. Find dual-purpose furniture

bar cart used for kitchen utensil storage
Design Sponge

Just like in the kitchen, pieces in your living area work best when they serve more than one function. Stools and poufs are the perfect apartment accessory, since they can act as seating for guests, side tables or coffee tables, and even plant stands by sunny windows. Nesting coffee and side tables can expand or collapse depending on your needs. Ottomans that turn into a single bed for overnight guests can also serve as oversized coffee tables for impromptu meals in front of the TV.

Another great choice?

Bar carts.

These on-trend pieces are once again all the rage. Apart from providing a chic way to serve cocktails and snacks during parties, they can store anything from wine bottles to books to decor, including plants, candles, and picture frames. Extra points if you find one on wheels for easy room rearranging.

Even storage pieces can serve a decorative function. Woven rattan baskets can hold throw blankets and pillows, magazines and books, pet toys, or even extra phone chargers and TV remotes. The nice thing about a pretty basket is that it can also be used for other purposes as your storage needs change—as a planter (just keep a plastic tray in the bottom to contain any water), a laundry hamper, or even a carryall for trips up and down the stairs. Wall-mounted or leaning shelving units are another great option, as they not only provide essential storage and have a small footprint, but they also add an architectural element to the room. Look for customizable shelving units that you can mix and match to fit your needs.

7. You CAN think big in a small space

comfortable living room with leather sofas
Apartment Therapy

Group gifting is growing in popularity, and living in a small space doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t register for a bigger purchase. Your wedding is a great excuse to pick out a few larger items that both work in your current space and could also fit seamlessly into any future homes.

A storage bed is a great option. A bed frames that incorporates drawers underneath the mattress makes the most of bedroom space. Many storage beds don’t require a box spring.

If you already have a bed you love but need something for your living area, consider an apartment-sized sleeper sofa. This is the perfect upgrade for those who enjoy hosting visitors but lack a spare bedroom. Another smart choice is an area rug that can pull any space together to create a finished, curated look. For smaller rooms, choose either a monochrome rug or one sporting a subtle pattern, so you don’t overwhelm the space.

Laura Love Bardell writes for Crate and Barrel, where she creates design-savvy content on the latest home-furnishing trends. Laura enjoys providing inspirational and practical guidance for couples who are creating a registry.

3 Super Common Moving Myths — Debunked!

You’ve finally found the perfect home.

After some careful searching through some of the best neighborhoods in Chicago, you’ve managed to discover the property that not only suits your needs and sense of style but also fits within your budgetary restrictions. Now, all you need to do is transport all your belongings to your new property safely and securely.

For many people, the actual “moving” part of moving to a new house is one of the most stressful experiences they will face. There’s so much to organize and do, it can feel as though you never have a moment to rest. Unfortunately, falling victim to the myths of moving can make your experience even more complex, because it means you need to fix problems you’ve accidentally created for yourself during the moving process.

To help you get ahead of the madness of moving, we’re here to debunk three of the most common moving myths:

Myth 1: You Have to Move Everything at Once

boxes stacked and packed for moving
Flickr/Becky Stern

It’s tempting to think that you only have a single day to move everything from one house, into another. However, this isn’t a realistic approach — particularly if you’re moving to Chicago from a different city or town. Not only will attempting to move everything at once give you more stress to deal with, but some movers will actively refuse to move certain items due to safety, ethical, and legal reasons.

To keep the frustration of moving to a minimum, consider storing some of your more valuable possessions in a space close to your new home, ahead of time. This will not only mean that you have less to handle on moving day, but it could also ensure that your most beloved possessions stay safe, too.

Myth 2: You Don’t Need to Label or Organize Boxes

home depot moving boxes labeled and color coded
Love Makes Life Beautiful

When you’re rushing to get everything packed, taking the time out to label and organize your boxes can seem like unnecessary additional work. After all,  you’re already at your wits’ end from cramming everything you own into boxes and bins — adding an extra step of writing on and color coding the boxes seems overwhelming.

However, it’s safe to say that you’ll regret failing to organize your stuff ahead of time when it comes to unpacking.

The last thing you need when you’re moving into a new home is to spend hours wandering around each room, trying to locate all the items you haphazardly packed in a hurry.

Free Bonus: 8 Expert Solutions to Your Toughest Moving Problems

Myth 3: Any Moving Company Will Do

bellhops shaking hands with a customer
Bellhops

Finally, it’s safe to say that if you want an easy, stress-free move, you need the right support from your moving company. Taking the time to choose an organization that can provide you with a consistent, comfortable experience from start to finish should guarantee that you encounter as few issues on the path to your new home as possible.

The right moving company will work with you on planning your move, and they may even be able to help you pick up some of the items you’ve stored in your personal storage facility when you’re ready for them. Find someone you can rely on, and stick with them for a safe, simple move.

This post was written by Bellhops, a moving company that combines technology with a team of talented workers to provide a fun, friendly, and professional moving experience. They developed the nation’s first tech-enabled platform, which streamlines the move-day process and ensures customers are matched with the most-qualified movers and professional drivers in their area.

6 Super Satisfying Ways to Dip a Toe into the Spring Cleaning Waters

Spring is in the air, and with the flung-open windows comes the urge to clean and fix everything immediately. This is great! This is also unsustainable if its been, well, a pretty long time since the last fling open the windows/clean/fix everythingsession.

Ease back into a Spring Cleaning plan with these quick, satisfying household fixes, decluttering tips, and easy cleanups using things you probably already have around the house.

Let the sun shine in! (And then take a nap. Youve totally earned it.)

1. Put stuff into timeout boxes

clothing donation in a cardboard box
Huffington Post

Sure, this one works best for kidstoys, but who among us doesnt turn into a—ahem—less-poised version of ourselves when faced with giving up our prized possessions?

Create a maybepile of books, mugs, knick knacks, and housewares that everyones feeling medium about, and store them in stackable plastic bins. Dont panictheyre not going far. Keep them nearby in a closet, garage, or accessible attic space for a month (or slightly longer, if baby steps are needed).

Dont need em within that time frame? Guess what? You dont need em.

2. Dust with dryer sheets

dusting baseboards with a dryer sheet
Simplistically Sassy

Feel like youre forever wiping stuff down? Extend a little more time between dustings by using a dryer sheet to clean surfaces, baseboards, and shelves. Not only are they great cleaning cloths, but their anti-static nature repels dust, pet hair, and everything else that settled between the last time your parents visited and now.

3. Turn that shoe around

 

organized shoe closet

File this one under the Is this really going to make a difference?category (with the subheading of Yes, do it now): When putting shoes back in closets or on shelves, turn the right shoe in the pair backwards and keep the left one facing forwards.

Why?

When placed this way, the shoes naturally form a yin/yang shapeand save a ton of space for more pairs to be stored, too. Youll notice a crazy difference with high heels, the kind that normally take up a disproportionate amount of shoe real estate.

4. Refresh mattresses

vacuuming baking soda from mattress to clean
Curbly

If youve got the kind of mattress than can be flipped, nows a great time to do so. If it’s a pillow top, just rotate it and strip all blankets, sheets, and mattress protectors. Sprinkle the bare mattress with a good layer of baking soda, let sit for an hour or two, and then vacuum it up. (Psst: While youre doing this one, feel free to clean your comforter. It would love a little field trip out into the sunshine or to the dry cleaners.)

5. Flip your hangers

flipped clothing hangers for organization
Fun Cheap or Free

Here’s a great tip if you arent really sure if its time to part with that jacket or skirt: Put every last thing in your closet to the test by turning each hanger backwards. When you wear an item, replace it with the hanger turned the other way.

With the exception of special occasion garb, get rid of everything from that season still facing the opposite direction at the end of three months. If you didnt wear it, you certainly wont miss it.

6. Oil down fan blades

cleaning ceiling fan blades
The Organised Housewife

Ceiling fan blades are gross.

Ceiling fan blades in areas like the kitchen are even grosser. But guess what combats greasy buildup? Thats right, more grease.

After wiping down each fan blade with a pillowcase (to trap dust and prevent a greasy, dusty mess on the floor), wipe down the top of each blade with a little vegetable oil on a cloth. Rub in circles, repeat, and enjoy the fact that your ceiling fan no longer flings dust around your main living space.

There, now isnt that a breath of fresh air?

Keely Flynn is the creator of Tidyish, a site that touts decluttering and design from a decided non-minimalist. Check our her DIY tips, organizational tricks, and more hyperlapse cleaning montages than you can shake an 80s flick at. She loves your stuff (and she loves you, too).

7 Refreshing Ideas for a Delightful Springtime Staycation in NYC

The weather here in New York has been a little unpredictable lately, but we don’t want that to keep you from having a good time and celebrating the (eventual) coming of gorgeous spring weather. To keep your spirits high, here are some ideas for a beautiful spring staycation in NYC.

1. Take a spa day

woman receiving relaxing massage nyc

A day at the spa is a great staycation option, especially if you’ve been stressed and feel like you just need to get away from it all. Forget about the weather, don’t worry about work, just go get a massage and relax for the afternoon. Whether you go by yourself or coordinate a spa day with your significant other, there are plenty of great spas in the area to accommodate all of your relaxing staycation needs.

2. Visit the American Museum of Natural History

dinosaur at museum of natural history nyc
Flickr/Rach

Just when you think you know it all… enter The American Museum of Natural History. They have incredible exhibits that shed light on the unknown depths of the oceans, the amazing ecosystems in the Amazon, and the development of our understanding of human health, just to name a few. Whether you’re a history buff or you just want to learn something new, the Natural History Museum is the perfect place to spend an afternoon aimlessly perusing.

3. Tour a brewery (or two)

bronx brewery brew room
Flavourly

There are so many awesome breweries to check out in NYC. Threes Brewing and The Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn, Heartland Brewery in Manhattan, and The Bronx Brewery and Gun Hill Brewing Company in the Bronx have hops and history to offer even the most scrutinizing beer lover. If you’d like to make it an all-day event, try mapping out a few breweries for your own little brew tour.

4. Check out the Botanical Gardens

new york botanical garden
Fodors Travel Guide

In the off chance there’s a bright and sunny day in the city, check out the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. The garden in the spring is absolutely beautiful. After all, what better way to celebrate the beginning of spring than frolicking in some flowers?

5. See a Broadway show

chicago on broadway in nyc

If you’ve been living in NYC for an extended period of time, the novelty of Broadway may have faded off into the distance.

Time to bring it back.

Check out what shows are going on and experience the excitement of Broadway all over again. Or, if you’re someone who’s never been before, there’s no time like the present.

6. Go to a game

new york yankees at bat
The New York Times

If you haven’t been to a Rangers, Yankees, or Knicks game yet, you’ve got to check it out. The atmosphere at professional New York sporting events is unlike any other. Unless you’re going to a baseball game that might start in the middle of the day, most sporting events start in the evening. So if you’re looking to have some extra fun, try a new restaurant right before the game.

7. Spend the day at home

relaxing at home with book and coffee

If you’re not big on crowds, and an afternoon at the spa isn’t for you either, maybe a nice day at home is what you need to get yourself feeling rejuvenated.

Take a soothing bath with some relaxing music, sit in your favorite chair and read a book, or lay on your couch and catch up on your favorite shows. There’s nothing wrong with a mental health day. Or if you’re someone who needs to be a little more active, now’s the perfect time for spring cleaning. Take the day to get all your winter stuff packed away into storage (it’s easy to schedule a MakeSpace pickup!) and prepare for the nice spring weather.

Need more staycation ideas? There are always plenty of awesome live events going on in NYC no matter what you’re interested in. From food eating contests to salsa dance lessons to comedy shows, there’s bound to be something to make your staycation a success.

This post was written by Eventbrite, the world’s largest event technology platform that is bringing the world together through live experiences. From music festivals, venues, and marathons, to hackathons, air guitar contests, political rallies, and fundraisers — you name it, they power it.

5 Excellent Eco-Friendly Home Office Solutions

Anyone who has worked in an office would be familiar with the seemingly lifeless 9 to 5 routine. That stress and sedentarism is often considered bad for health and creativity for obvious reasons.

Working from home eases the gridlock and brings some balance back into your life. However, a lot of people tend to fall off the eco-friendly wagon when designing the home office. So, why not take a creative step forward to conserve energy and utilize even the smallest of space to create an eco-friendly workspace?

Check out these five amazing ideas for going green while working from home:

1. Let there be [natural] light

home office with skylight for natural light
Decoist

Good lightning is an essential part of an office. If you are going to spend a lot of time in the space, and the structure of your home allows for it, installing an energy-efficient skylight is a smart option. You’ll infuse the room with natural daylight while cutting down on electricity costs. Just be sure to actually head outdoors at some point in your day, too. Vitamin D does the body (and your productivity) good!

2. Invest in eco-friendly furniture

reclaimed wood office desk
Trendir

Take responsibility for your home office’s environmental impact by considering eco-friendly furniture.

A reclaimed wood desk, cork stool, or chairs made of recycled plastic can all contribute to your efforts to make the workspace as eco-friendly as it is efficient. You can also shop your home and give new life to bookshelves or cabinets that are simply collecting dust in the back of a closet.

3. Flourish among indoor plants

plants in a home office

Nothing beats bringing the great outdoors inside. Placing plants around your home office can improve air quality, decrease stress, and create a more peaceful environment, which are all important when you’re working on a deadline.

Incorporate greenery in the form of breathtaking terrariums, hanging planters, a miniature herb garden, or simple potted plants (English Ivy is an office favorite: It filters chemicals from the air).

4. Imagine your office in a closet

 

office in a closet

If all of Narnia can hide inside an old closet, so can your home office.

When you’re tight on space but your daily to-do list is overflowing, a spare closet is the perfect place to secretly tuck away your work area. Measure the closet to make sure you find a desk or other work surface that fits, add some chic desk organization tools, and slide in a slim office chair or stool.

When your workday is done, simply close the closet doors. You can get the big jobs taken care of without creating a big footprint to match.

5. Declutter with recycled shelves

salvaged wood shelf
Pat’s Color

You’ve heard it a thousand times: When looking for new ways to organize, look up! Utilizing your walls to create more storage space just makes sense. Buying brand new shelves, however, doesn’t.

Instead, install recycled, reclaimed, or salvaged wood panels. You’ll create a unique, rustic look that boasts the added bonus of being good for the environment (when properly sourced, of course). With a little touch of creativity, these shelves can be gussied up to further help declutter your desk by holding extra office supplies, documents, books, and more, leaving the surface of your space clear for, you know, work.

Creating an eco-friendly office shouldn’t mean more difficult tasks. Some quick research, selective purchases, and a keen eye taken to items you already own can infuse your area with style while being good to the environment.

This post was written by Tom Jennings, a freelance writer at Primero who is binging on Netflix series and food when not expelling some wisdom. Catch his words, he loves playing with them.