So you've moved into an apartment

Here are 10 hacks I wish I'd known

After spending their first year in those comfy dorms, most university students opt for a more independent apartment lifestyle as they continue their university career. This year is no different. The University of Alberta is expecting over 1500 students in our residence buildings in Fall 2020 alone!

When the pandemic hit abruptly during Winter 2020, I moved from my dorm in Peter Lougheed Hall into Nîpisîy House. I said goodbye to close quarters and my trusty meal plan and hello to my own living room and an empty kitchen. To say I was unequipped for apartment life would be an understatement—I could barely cook! I only wish I had the chance to make the most out of my apartment as I spent nearly 24 hours every day inside thanks to the increased isolation measures.

I recently moved into another apartment in Aspen and Maple House and took the opportunity to make the space truly my own. Here are 10 essential tips and tricks to make the most out of your apartment (while still following the University of Alberta Residence Agreement, of course)!

1. Soundproof your walls for some more privacy

I’m a light sleeper who will wake with the drop of a pin but I can also be pretty loud around my apartment, whether talking enthusiastically on the phone or dancing to my favourite tunes. Soundproofing your room with some cheap foam insulation is one of the easiest things to do in order to make your space more comfortable and show courtesy to your neighbours.

2. Use furniture to create makeshift rooms

If you’re living in a studio or open concept apartment, it may feel as though there is no separation between different aspects of your life. We all know what it’s like to crave a nap during a gruelling study session when our welcoming bed is only a few feet away. Get creative with rearranging your furniture by walling-off designated areas to create “rooms” without any actual walls.

Grad res

3. Use command hooks to get kitchen supplies or jewelry out of the way

The worst thing is having a messy drawer full of kitchen supplies while you’re frantically meal prepping for a busy week ahead. This creative article shows how command hooks can be used to organize nearly everything in your apartment -- the possibilities are endless!

4. Pick up a storage cart for your kitchen or bathroom

A little extra storage never hurt anybody. So many people recommended this one item to me so I had to include it in this list! I found this affordable one at Ikea and TikTok also pointed me to this one. Honestly, it’s been a lifesaver in my bathroom which doesn’t have as much counter space as I would have liked. I use it to store my skincare, hair straightener, and even my laptop when I’m catching up on my YouTube subscriptions while I’m doing my makeup!

5. Add removable wallpaper

A fun wall can spark creativity even when it feels like you have absolutely no motivation. My friend recently repainted her room with a fun geometric accent wall and I was jealous that I couldn’t do the same in my rented apartment. Then, I found out about removable, self-adhesive wallpaper. There are tons of quirky designs on Amazon that will brighten your day and help to make your apartment more personalized! Just read the reviews to make sure they won’t take the paint off of the walls when you remove them.

6. Add extra shelves to make the most of the extra space at the bottom of your closet

Invest in some more storage units or makeshift shelves to maximize your space underneath your clothes in your closet. Additionally, if you don’t already have a shoe rack, I completely recommend one. It will keep your boots and sneakers tidy, especially during Edmonton’s brutal winter months and prevent you from tracking snow into your apartment!

7. Look for space above your furniture to hang shelves or store containers

In addition to finding space down low in your closet, look high above your furniture for more organizational shelves. Why not slide storage containers above the cabinets in this Graduate Residence apartment instead of inside them to save some space! If you’re short (like me), make sure you have a sturdy stool to reach them instead of playing a dangerous balancing act—yikes!

Grad res

8. Offset dark spaces by buying light decor and mirrors

Whether you’re in a basement apartment or you’re in a space lacking natural light, opt for light-coloured furniture or decor to make the space appear more open. Take it from the homely Pinecrest House basement apartment below and its potential for adding more light-coloured decor! Furthermore, switch out the blackout curtains for translucent ones or none at all if possible. You can also strategically place mirrors around the room like this in order to increase the overall light!

9. Downsize if you can

Apartments can be cramped, especially if you’re sharing the space with others. The perfect time to reevaluate what you own is when you’re moving into a new palace. Downsize if you’re not getting the most out of your big appliances. If you know your roommate(s) or can hold off until you meet them, coordinate with them so that you don’t have duplicate appliances! Before purchasing more appliances, ask yourself what you wish to accomplish with them and figure out if there may be a smaller alternative. For example, I recently purchased a large espresso machine but I wonder if I could do with one of these smaller ones.

10. Add personalized items

Have fun with this one! These apartments are your home away from home. Plus, most of us will be working online this year, right from our apartments. Spruce up your space with things that remind you of who you are. An ideal space should motivate you to be the best version of yourself and remind you of what brings you joy. Whether it’s with a photo wall, fairy lights, or plants, it’s worth it to put aside some money for the small things that will make your day a little better. Or, you can try out these simple DIY decorations for a personalized touch!