Hot on the heels of our wedding last weekend (wolf-whistle)—now infamously pushed forward because of Prime Day—my wife and I recently decided to rearrange our apartment in a way that not only better suits our new work-from-home lifestyle but also opens up the space. As I’ve tirelessly chronicled on this godforsaken website, I live in a 500-square foot studio apartment with my significant other and two pets. So it goes without saying things get a little cramped sometimes, and feeling physically suffocated by STUFF is probably not the best way to start a marriage. For this reason, we ditched some of our more substantial belongings in favor of newer, smaller, and mostly cheaper decor, in addition to rethinking our approach to organization.
Before we moved into an apartment built for ants in Manhattan, we both came from roomier apartments in the heart of Brooklyn. Naturally, much of the furniture we packed up and transported in a U-Haul truck one rainy afternoon was intended for these 2-3 bedroom homes. About a year and a half later, it became evident the layout was no longer working for us, thus we started investigating clever ideas for “downsizing” our digs to at least create the illusion of grandeur. You see, whether you’re a renter or a homeowner, sooner or later, you’ll recognize the shortcomings of your original vision for the interior design and backpedal. To spare you the grief, I’ve put together a tidy list of compact furnishings to replace your existing setup and start anew.
An Unexpected Obstruction: The Dining Table
Let’s face it, unless you have a family of four or more, no one needs a large dining table right now. In the midst of a pandemic, you should probably avoid having guests INSIDE YOUR HOUSE. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST EAT OUTSIDE IF YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE A SOCIALLY DISTANT FEAST. But especially if your living quarters are confined, the first thing you’ll want to take a look at is your dining table. Ask yourself, do you really need that extendable, rectangular mess occupying the larger part of your dining area, or could you get away with a modest, squareular pinewood storage desk measuring just 29" each way. We opted for the latter, and haven’t regretted it since. Removing our six- to eight-person Ikea piece from the mix gave us more clearance to do our nightly floor exercises, at the same time rather than taking turns.
Clearing Out the Fridge
To conserve fridge real estate, we got a bunch of these fridge drawers and organizers for the shelves that don’t have storage. You know, the ones where you keep all your most random novelty sauces right next to the beer and various yogurts? Now you can have an entire drawer dedicated to beer, and another exclusively for ‘gurts. However you want to sort your fridge, you can rest assured knowing the arrangement is rational. However, I will say, the egg container—which can store up to 14 eggs as opposed to a carton’s 12—isn’t the best example of this efficiency. Who’s got just two spare eggs lying around? But, for $35, you’ll be able to stock your fridge with one of those bad boys, two wide drawers, two narrow drawers, and a can dispenser drawer for the aforementioned beers. A pretty great value all things considered.
Put It Where You Can’t See It
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my adult life about cleaning, it’s that the key to maintaining a space devoid of clutter is to shove it inside something else. Enter storage. While everyone and their mother knows you can buy under-bed storage bins to keep useless junk out of sight and out of mind before it’s inevitably tossed out, those with more trinkets than you know what to do with can stuff ‘em inside an ottoman and prop your feet up when you’re done. We bought the Youdenovoa 30" folding storage ottoman, which comes cheap at $39 yet feels high-quality despite the modest cost.
These organizer boxes from mDesign we keep in our bathroom. Their versatile design, however, makes them perfectly suitable for just about any room. Alternatively, mDesign offers a bathroom-specific vanity set for storing things purhcased in bulklike mouthwash and handsoap. For a moving storage solution, I recommend the Mind Reader three-drawer rolling storage cart and organizer. Push it aside when it gets in the way, or test out new locations around the apartment on a whim to see where it fits best. Whatever your needs, let these organizational tools serve as repositories for everything you don’t know what to do with—at least until you figure out what to do with it.
From Instrument to Ornament
Like my coworker Quentyn here, I’ve been trying to learn how to play the guitar these past few months, mostly because there’s nothing else to do. But here’s the thing about musical instruments, especially string instruments: they take up A LOT of space. Space that I, evidently, do not have. The String Swing guitar hanger and mount bracket not only addresses that concern, it actually improved the look of my wall. Previously a blank slate, the addition of a guitar makes it seem like I’m competent at something outside of work, even though I’m an amateur guitar player at best. To complement this new adornment, I bought a six-pack of aluminum album cover frames—the cheapest I could find at the time of the transaction—to hang my vinyl records. The end result is a room graced with musical appreciation and aesthetic that appears intentional, as opposed to bearing resemblance to my college dorm days.
Let’s Shelve This One for Now
Speaking of wall storage, it doesn’t get any better than shelves, and floating shelves give your plain surroundings art deco flair with a side of faux-minimalism. Conveniently on sale as we speak, this set from Sriwatana, the company boasts, is made of real wood. Because of their U-shape, you don’t have to worry about spending another 10 bucks or so on separate bookends. These hold my wife’s small collection of “trash romance novels” (her words, not mine) with room to spare. Back in the kitchen, anyone who cooks knows the distress inflicted by a disorderly spice rack, or lack thereof.
Wosovo’s stackable cabinet shelf solved for this problem by layering herbs and spices laterally. Likewise, if your medicine cabinet is full and your bathroom countertop in disarray, allow me to introduce you to my friend the mDesign adjustable vitamin rack. Complete with three whole rows of storage, there’s plenty of space to occupy, with pills of all kinds—I won’t tell!
A Wee Lil’ Baby Printer to Brighten Your Day
Okay, you could say this one’s trivial at best—we all know printers don’t take up a whole lot of space, BUT since I share a desk with my wife (yes, we have the Ikea double-desk Kallax), most full-size inkjet printers have our workstation beat. As I told Chaya when she interviewed me for her roundup of the best compact printers you can buy, nominating the Canon Pixma TR150 was a no-brainer. While I’ve only had it for a month or so, the 2.7 x 7.3 x 2.6” form factor doesn’t block my view or touch my elbows when I type. And because it’s wireless down to the optional battery, you never have to think about it, which, let’s face it, is exactly what any of us wants from a printer.
To top it off, an easy-to-navigate 1.44" OLED screen yields an easy setup and lets you cut to the chase, disabling the auto-sleep mode as I know you’ll be compelled to do within the first few prints. A 50-page limit may sound limiting, but who prints that much these days? If you do, I apologize for that rhetorical, but seriously, I bought this thing to avoid my weekly trips to the post office only to find out they’re closed on weekends now because this is Trump’s America.
The All-in-One Always Pan
The Always Pan has been making its rounds recently in esteemed publications like the New York Times, Vogue, Fortune, and the Wall Street Journal. But now I’m here to recommend it firsthand on our lesser-known, underground hipster website, so you know it’s real. When reassessing kitchenware, pots and pans stand out as particularly voluminous goods. From Our Place, the Always Pan rectifies this by replacing eight things in your cabinets, taking the place of your frying and saute pans, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, non-stick pan, spatula, and spoon rest. While I’ve yet to test it out myself, I did get a review sample, which my wife used to make some delicious Chinese buffet-style coconut shrimp with a side of Brussel sprouts.
“This thing is super easy to clean, cute on the stovetop, and finally, I have a goddamn place to rest my spatula,” my wife, Gizmodo staff writer Victoria Song gushes. “This thing is super easy to clean, cute on the stovetop, and finally, I have a goddamn place to rest my spatula. Also, I am super excited to trash, like, 5 pans that are roughly the same size that I have absolutely destroyed. Do you know how much cabinet space we’re going to reclaim?? Do you????”