The $22 Amazon Upgrade That Made My New Apartment Feel Like Home
And seven other items I’d buy again in a heartbeat.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:14 AM
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I never baked sourdough; I bucked the puzzle bandwagon; and I’m not on TikTok. But several months into the pandemic, I did fall victim to a popular quarantine trend: I moved apartments (okay, and got a dog).
Never having changed living spaces within New York (I’d been in the same Bushwick, Brooklyn, walk-up since the day I arrived three years ago), I was ready for a change and, frankly, an upgrade. So when I opened a mass email from StreetEasy and the price of an apartment caught my eye, my two roommates and I decided to look at it “just for fun.” And, well, you know how the story ends.
Most people dread putting together a new home, but as the type of person who often reaches a “flow state” when designing spaces, I truly believe I was born for the job. Here’s everything we bought to make our apartment feel like ours. Sure, it’s not the sexiest list (well, except for my groovy vintage armoire), but sometimes it’s the smallest upgrades that can make the biggest difference.
A Helping Hand
Replacing the basic brushed nickel doorknobs that came in the new apartment with matte black ones made the space feel more like our own. Plus think about how many times you use a doorknob each day!
A Place to Hang
I love these because each hook is actually two hooks. I bought eight and lined them up in the front hall for dog leashes, masks, and totes. Function aside, the solid beechwood is natural and timeless. After adding a simple storage bench below, the front hall feels like a mudroom.
We finally have nice fixtures (bye, boob lamps!), but I can’t stand overhead lighting. In the past I’ve gotten by with just table lamps, but these dimmer switches have made the ceiling bulbs actually bearable. My one piece of advice: Ask a professional to install them. We’ve run into all kinds of electrical problems after attempting it ourselves (just some minor power outages; nothing to see here).
The kitchen has zero drawers. Not one! I love the utilitarian look of a pegboard, and while you could get one custom-cut at a hardware store, we liked the simplicity of just grabbing one from IKEA. Plus there are so many fun accessories and add-ons—like a cup for utensils—you can get for the system.
A New Wardrobe
In small spaces with high ceilings, I try to go tall (rather than wide) with furniture. With so much IKEA in my room, I wanted something unique. A friend scouted this armoire at Dobbin St. Vintage Co-op, and 10 minutes later it was mine.
The apartment is full of upgrades, but one bummer was getting a smaller bedroom, and therefore a smaller bed. I didn’t want to invest in a bed frame, and I actually love the minimal ’80s look of the IKEA Malm bed. I previously had the wood version, but I thought a white bed against a white wall might make the room look larger. I debated buying the one with built-in storage, but I think you can fit more by just placing (okay, shoving) shoeboxes and suitcases under freestyle.
I’m always inspired by dramatic design details like floor-to-ceiling curtains. Because our ceilings are extraordinarily high, we went the custom route. Everhem lets you pick out your fabric, color, and even a pleat style. The curtains haven’t arrived yet, but I’m envisioning a textured backdrop that will soften the space and add a hit of elegance.
An Open-Air Closet
Remember how I said there weren’t any drawers in the kitchen? Well, there also isn’t one closet in the entire apartment. For three girls with a lot of clothes, we knew we had to build something out. We have a long hallway beside the entryway, so we used that space to hang six racks (two per roomie). So far, no complaints! But I do recommend using heavy-duty anchors, otherwise the weight of your winter coats will pull the racks right out of the wall.
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