Down 3, up 4, 600 less

So, after living a full year in Cambridge, we decided to try our luck and move. It was down 3 flights at the old apartment and up 4 flights at the new, but the move was worth not only the 600$ savings, but the extra room.  More stats: we went from 850 sq ft to 1100 sq ft, and the new apartment is only 4 blocks from our old place, which means my ‘slow-in-the-mornings-but-lovable-boyfriend’ will still be able to make it to his law school classes on time.  Below are some photos that I was inspired to shoot once we were all unpacked and situated.

The wide photos above were shot on a tripod at 17mm and stitched together to form a panoramic shot- really the only way to shoot an informative interior space.  All detail shots were done with my trusty 50mm 1.8 Nikon lens which I recommend to any photographer who shoots with an SLR (which is nearly everyone these days).  The 50mm is the cheapest lens Nikon makes at about 120$.  Any editing done was only the basics on Adobe Lightroom, a photographers must and precursor to Photoshop, (try a free trial here).

Everyone knows that moving is a pain and when we all wish we were less materialistic.  Suddenly you curse your 4 snow parkas in 4 different shades of white and your 40 pairs of shoes.  But not only is the physical labor and the planning of logistics on your mind, but the staging of your living space.  For that, I give you some tips:

1.  TjMaxx. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  It’s one stop shopping.  I got my lamps, towels, bedding, all bathroom accessories, place mats, hangers, pots, bowls, glasses, chair cushions, throw pillows, blankets, yadda yadda yadda- all there, and pretty much all on clearance.

2. Craigslist. Not only did I find my apartment on craigslist (after using a real estate agent last year and paying a ridiculous fee- you can cut out the middle man and hunt for yourself) but furniture as well.  While their ‘free furniture’ section may be sketchy, their furniture for sale isn’t too shabby as long as you’re dedicated to the hunt. I was lucky to have relatives in the area who gave unwanted furniture to us, and Will and I made many other pieces- but we did buy two small end tables and a dresser from craigslist.  The tables were 7$ a piece and the bureau 40$.  Not only do they fit our style well, but that means when we decide to move again (eventually), we can resell or give up those pieces without taking a huge monetary loss.  And don’t forget about Goodwill- their little treasures are great for ‘staged’ pieces like figurines, plates and glass.

3.  Plants. They do a lot for an interior space. Home Depot is always a good place to find everything you need, but grocery stores during the spring time usually are also equipped. I saw herbs for 2.97$ a piece at Shaw’s the other day and herbs like rosemary, basil, mint, chives and oregano all seem to do pretty well inside, and they’re the go-to cooking flavors. Mint for ice-tea, basil for tomato and mozzarella, oregano for a white pizza…. etc etc.

4.  Paintings/art.  You DO NOT have to be an artist to make a painting that looks amazing on a big, blank wall.  I guarantee you that 1/2 of your favorite paintings you can straight up copy with basic acrylic paint (water-soluble and cheap). In the photos above, the painting on the fireplace mantel is one I did of Van Gogh’s chairs. Craft stores like Micheals and Joanne’s constantly run 40% off coupons so even a large canvas can be under 20$. Channel the inner Picasso or modern expressionist in you- go splatter crazy, stick figure, or blocked color mad- on a canvas and on your wall it will make itself art.  Don’t feel like painting?  Take that favorite photo of yours, make it black and white- print it as 20×30 on Shutterfly – mount it with a glue stick to foam core- use finishing nails to hang it on your wall and easy peezy- you’re in your own gallery space.

5. Curtains. I made all the curtains for our apartment from muslin (usually around 2$ per yard- cheap because it’s typically used for patterning). You’ll need a sewing machine, but even those are cheap these days (low prices being under 100$). Muslin is the perfect off white/cream and lets in a diffused light while still allowing privacy. Basic tension rods complete your needs and each curtain required only 2 long stitches on the top and bottom.

6. TV.  Not so much interior design as basic money saving idea. We currently only get basic cable for 7$ a month. That’s about 20 channels with all your basic networks and news cast. To supplement our cable, we have Netflix which is 9$ a month- but behold- you can share accounts and therefore can split the cost among, say, your whole family and all enjoy their new instant downloads, which is about 1/4 or so of their stock. (try a free trial here). Netflix not only has every movie known to mankind- but TV shows as well. Just be careful not to do season marathons like I did of Spartucus and Cake Boss- you’ll lose days on end. And don’t forget Hulu, which as we all know, is completely free. If you buy a basic HDMI cable (8$ on amazon) you can stream your computer to your TV and viola-the image is complete.

7.  Movers.  Obvious tip for people moving but what I recommend, since you pay your movers per hour, is to have absolutely everything packed and ready to go AND, if you’re not moving far- to do the light moving yourself. You can cut your movers cost in 1/2 that way without breaking your back over your couch.  If you’re in the Boston area, I highly recommend using Intelligent Labor– best rate and best people.  In other areas, since there so many companies to choose from- use Yelp and other review sources to compare customer feedback.

So, that’s moving on the cheap from me, to you. Moving and setting up your first apartment will always be an expensive endeavor but I believe that it’s very important to feel good in your home.  In a strange new place, fresh out of college, away from home and old friends- your personal space should quickly become your familiar retreat and safe haven. And I promise you, the more creative you are with ways to save money or do things yourself, the more proud you will be of your space. I pinky promise.

2 thoughts on “Down 3, up 4, 600 less

  1. Wow Teresa. Your creativity seems to have no end. I wish you could decorate my apartment like you used to decorate my school subject folders 🙂

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