First Apartment Essentials: Checklist and Guide To Finding and Moving Into Your First Apartment

Moving into your first apartment? Feeling stressed? Check out this First Apartment Essentials checklist and guide to finding and moving into your first apartment, from 1stlake.com.

Congratulations! You’ve finished college. Enter the inevitable post-grad dilemma: “Now What?” While career and relationship issues are a bit more complex, you can at least get a grasp on your living logistics. Whether you’re stressing about moving because your lease is up at the end of the summer, or you’ve enjoyed relaxed, rent-free living with the parents until now, refer to these tips for finding and moving into your first apartment.

Before Moving Into Your First Apartment…

For those who are taking their time adjusting to life after college and haven’t yet made the big move to apartment living, there are some first apartment essentials to consider. Keep these questions in mind when it’s time to start thinking about moving out of Mom and Dad’s.

Be smart about your budget.

Most experts will tell you when looking for an apartment for rent; the rent should be no more than 25-30% of your annual income. While you might be dying to move into that two bedroom luxury apartment, you may not be able to afford it and should take many factors into consideration. Budgeting realistically for your new apartment, and finding one that suits your needs, is key.

Take the time to examine what your exact income is after taxes and subtract your expenses. Include food, household supplies, phone, car payment and insurance, credit card bills, clothing, gas, internet, healthcare, school loans, entertainment, and an extra category for “miscellaneous” for those unexpected expenses. What you have left is the rental budget for your new place. Some management companies, like 1st Lake Properties, Inc. include a flat rate for certain utilities per month, others you may have to pay separate.  Keep this in mind when considering monthly expenses.

Consider roommates carefully.

Choosing who you’re going to live with should not be taken lightly. With the right roommate, sharing a space can be a breeze and really fun, but if they’re the wrong choice, it can end badly. Before agreeing to live with someone you didn’t know before, make sure to spend some time with them first and decide if you’ll be able to get along and live in harmony. On the other hand, living with your best friend can also be tricky. Best friends don’t always make the best roommates. It’s up to you to decide what’s best.

Is it a good location?

While you’re apartment hunting, be sure to consider how close the location is to work, grocery stores, hospitals and entertainment. You might find your dream apartment, but it’s not worth it if the location is a nightmare.

What facilities are available?

Does the house or apartment you’re looking to rent have what you need, like washers and dryers, an alarm system, dishwasher, garbage disposal or outside space? Decide what is important for you to have.

You should never move into an apartment for rent before at least touring the community. It’s most helpful to view the layout of the apartment as it gives you a good idea of where and how much furniture you can have. Sometimes the actual apartment is not available to view, in these cases its best to see an interior to view the fixtures and finishes.

Turn knobs, open and shut doors, and open windows. Do you get a cell phone signal inside your apartment? Don’t be afraid to test all of these things out when you’re looking at potential apartments. While it may feel awkward, it is a very necessary step in making sure your new home is right for you. Ask as many questions when touring apartments as you need. You should be happy and comfortable and the tour should be a good experience.

Lease Items to Consider

Once the hard part is over and you’ve decided on your brand new first apartment, take the time to read the lease from cover to cover. Since this is your first time renting, you probably aren’t familiar with the legal lingo, try to familiarize yourself with it before showing up for the lease signing. Don’t be afraid to take your time combing through the details, and ask the agent about any questions or concerns you may have. Sometimes, simple clarification can lend to a huge peace of mind.

If you’re unclear about what your future plans may be long-term, ask about the possibility of a short lease term. Everything from re-painting the walls to what kind of roommates you can have is typically covered in the language of the lease. Reading the small print can make a big difference.

Moving into your first apartment? Feeling stressed? Check out this First Apartment Essentials checklist and guide to finding and moving into your first apartment, from 1stlake.com.

Free Printable First Apartment Checklist

Download our free printable first apartment checklist to make your move a breeze.

Furnishing Your First Apartment Cheaply

Many first-time apartment renters may find it hard to furnish their new apartment on a budget. While many of us would like a comfortable and stylish home, finding the finances to do so can be tough sometimes. Thankfully, there are many resources and decorating ideas available for furniture shoppers without a lot of money to spare. It is possible to have a stylish apartment without a lot of funds! Finding everything you need simply requires a little hunting, a dash of luck, and a bit of scrutiny!

Begin by digging through your local classified ads. Whether you’re looking at your local paper or at a local site online, make sure you check in on all the ads you can find. Once you have some free time, devote a day or two to hitting up local flea markets, thrift shops or second-hand stores.

Sometimes neighborhood garage sales, yard sales, or rummage sales can yield amazing vintage finds, perfect for decorating! If you’re at a neighborhood sale, don’t be afraid to ask about the history of the item or why they might be getting rid of it. You can never be too cautious, and most owners are more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

If you lack the time to peruse local resources or simply haven’t had any luck when doing so, online sales and auctions are always a possibility. However, do your research and try to stick to more reputable sites when buying larger items. If you’re unfamiliar with the website or source, there is a possibility of it being a scam. Even if the site is reputable, there are also risks involved. Generally, you will not be able to inspect the item in person before buying it and sales are usually final. You should also take into account how much shipping costs will be before bidding on or buying an item online. Depending on how much shipping costs will be it may be cheaper to simply buy the item closer to home at a local store.

Whether you’re buying online or in person, it’s always important to inspect your item closely and thoroughly! Pull out drawers, look underneath the piece of furniture, and test doors. If the seller doesn’t allow you to inspect the item, don’t buy it! Even if the price of the item is cheap, you should expect it to be of good quality. Don’t be pressured into buying a sub-standard item!

Lastly, don’t be afraid to haggle with the seller. This can be most effective when buying from a garage sale, yard sale, or rummage sale. Most times, the owner of the item is simply looking to get rid of it. As long as you remain realistic when haggling, you can generally come to an agreement on a lower price. If you do a little research and have a working understanding of the going rate for the item you’re trying to purchase, this can help you immensely. Stand your ground, but be fair. If the seller refuses to lower the price, you can always shop elsewhere.

If you keep your wits about you and search thoroughly, you may find it easier than expected to make your home look stylish on a budget. Your new apartment should reflect your personality and be a comfortable place to call home! Have fun searching for the perfect furnishings and trust your instincts when buying everything you need for your new apartment home!

Remember: rent comes first!

Without a place to call home, your other expenses might as well go out the window. Make sure to prioritize rent above all else when payday comes. If money is tight, try to trim down by seeing what expenses you may be able to cut down on or remove completely from your expenditures. If you have a cell phone and no longer use your home phone very much, switch to cell phone only. If you’re going out to eat too much, try cooking at home instead to save money. There are always solutions to trimming your expenses down to help make ends meet.

Enjoy your first apartment!

Renting your own place for the first time can be exciting and perhaps stressful. If you take the time to make sure your apartment and lease are right for you, budget your expenses, make sure your utilities get turned on, and plan for the unexpected, transitioning into this new step in your life should be a smooth and fun process.

1st Lake = A Great Choice for Your 1st Apartment

Now that you’ve made all the important decisions about renting your first apartment after college, it’s time to start looking! Search for the perfect apartment in the greater New Orleans area at 1st Lake Properties and check out our map to see what 1st Lake location works best for you!

Be sure to also download our free printable first apartment checklist to ensure you make the move with everything you need.

Tax Refund? Spend It On Your Apartment!

The silver lining of tax season is the tax refund – and deciding how you’re going to spend it! Some people use it for a fancy night out or a vacation, but we think you can transform your apartment into a fine dining establishment and vacation-worthy spot available for enjoyment every single day of the year. Did you get a little lagniappe from tax season? Here’s how to spend it!

kitchenaid mixer

A Kitchenaid stand mixer turns you into a Food Network-worthy home chef. (Photo credit MyOrganizedChaos.net)

For Foodies

Make your apartment a foodie paradise with smart purchases that create a restaurant-quality feel at home. A few ideas:

Vitamix blender. These high-performance blenders are perfect for at-home juicing, quick smoothies, and icy summertime treats.

Kitchenaid mixer. Another pricey – but totally worthwhile – kitchen appliance, the Kitchen-Aid mixer is a stand mixer that makes baking a breeze. But it doesn’t stop there. Use it for the fluffiest, dreamiest mashed potatoes or make homemade bread using the dough hook attachment.

Modern silverware. Upgrading your silverware to something hefty and sleek can instantly change the feel of a weeknight dinner. Crate + Barrel has several modern options like the Aero flatware, featuring matte black, aerodynamic handles.

For Homebodies

Who needs a vacation when your apartment is as sumptuous as any hotel? Here are a few upgrades you can make with tax refund dollars.

A cashmere throw. Cashmere isn’t just for winter. Because it’s a natural fiber, it’s moisture-wicking and provides the softest, lightweight warmth any time of year (even in summer when the cranked-up A/C gives you a chill!).

A bold art print. Head to Society6 for a variety of affordable art prints that add a major impact to bare walls. Browse framed options – you’ll pay a little extra but the gallery-quality look is gorgeous and sleek.

Bamboo sheets and towels. Bamboo is an ultra-soft natural fabric that transforms showers into a spa-like experience. Bamboo sheets make it easy to fall asleep comfortably and quickly via a smooth and soft feel against your skin.

 

Smile! Three Easy Home Photography Styling Tips

Did our Instagram blog post spark your desire for a picture-perfect home? Spring is a great time of year to freshen up your space through cleaning and redecorating, and you’ll probably want to photograph the results to share on social media (tag us on Facebook and Twitter!). We came across a great article on how to make your home more photogenic and wanted to share these easy home photography styling tips with you.

nightstand decor

This nightstand vignette uses books and pops of color to look great on camera. Of course, we love the dog, too! (Photo courtesy Pinterest)

Add fresh flowers.

Fresh flowers – especially during spring, when they’re particularly abundant – are a great detail in a photograph of a room. While full bouquets and arrangements are gorgeous, they aren’t necessary. A simple bloom in a glass jar makes a photo of your nightstand, for example, fresh and visually interesting. Fresh fruit has a similar impact in a kitchen shot – citrus fruits like lemons and limes offer vibrant color while pineapples show off an interesting, architectural shape.

Use a flash of red.

It’s a good thing marsala is the Pantone Color of the Year, because a bit of red instantly attracts the eye and brightens up a photo. Red is psychologically one of the most eye-catching colors – even if it isn’t your favorite color, use it sparingly to add major pop to a photo.

Take advantage of books and magazines.

Stacking books and magazines can add height and depth to photographs. We recommend stacking your books neatly on a coffee table then placing a jar of flowers (red ones!) to incorporate several elements of photography styling into one beautiful shot.

 

 

Easy Feng Shui Tips for Your Home

Every room in your house has the potential to emanate peace and tranquility. How? Through the use of feng shui.

Feng shui is based on the idea that our homes are a reflection of what’s going on inside of us. By aligning the outside space with our inner feelings, you create a harmonious home.

This ancient Chinese method may seem a little bizarre on the surface, but feng shui principles are easy to follow and don’t (usually) cost a dime! We’ve culled a few simple ways to incorporate feng shui into your home.

round coffee table

A round coffee table facilitates ease of movement according to feng shui principles. (Photo courtesy Pinterest)

Easy Feng Shui Tips

Keep Toilet Lids Down

This is a good practice from a hygienic perspective, of course, but there’s also a feng shui explanation. Feng shui posits that the toilet is a drain – leave the seat up, and you allow good energy to literally drain out of your home.

Arrange Your Desk to Face the Door

In the feng shui method, having your back to a door puts you in a compromising position. Try arranging your desk so that it faces toward the door – you’ll feel an instant sense of control and empowerment that could show through in your work!

Place Your Couch Against a Wall

This is usually a natural spot for arranging couches, but it also has a feng shui purpose: a wall brings a sense of steadiness and security that can help you relax. If there isn’t a wall available, you can place a sturdy console table behind your couch instead.

Try a Round Coffee Table

Square and rectangular coffee tables have harsh lines that point directly at people when seated. A circular coffee table creates a harmonious flow that lets energy (and people) move around more easily.

Surround Yourself with the Items You Love

We devoted a blog post to this feng shui trick. Choosing items that bring you joy helps eliminate clutter and also amplifies positive energy. Move a favorite item to a prominent spot so you see it every time you walk in the room!

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

In feng shui, mirrors bring good fortune and double the abundance of positive energy. Use them!

Use Shapes to Create Energy Flow

According to Feng Shui, shapes are an important factor in the flow of energy in a room. Triangles, for example, are largely unwelcome as they convey a sense of hostility. Round or square furniture is a better choice, though Feng Shui encourages mixing shapes to avoid an overabundance of a single energy.

Fountains & Fish

If you’re a fan of the life aquatic, Feng Shui may be your ideal decorating method. Feng Shui literally means wind and water, so these natural forces play an important role in the practice. Ch’i, the life force, is said to be attracted to water so a well-placed fountain or fish tank is sure to attract positive energy.

A small water fountain or water wall will also attract good ch’i. Small fountains are available in many styles from retailers like Amazon.com and Pottery Barn. Prices, of course, vary, but you can find a nice fountain for your home for between $50 and $150.

America’s favorite starter pet, the fish, and its likeness are associated with success in Feng Shui. Stagnant water, though, is associated with a messy life so keep your fish happy and their water clean. If you’re not up for buying a fountain or new pet, mirrors are said to serve a similar function in Feng Shui.

The Practice of Placement

The best known aspect of Feng Shui is likely the practice of arranging furniture to achieve a harmonious energy in the home. For example, for all rooms in the home, artwork should be hung at eye level, though art should be hung above large pieces of furniture such as a sofa. Beds should not lie under exposed beams or near windows, as this blocks energy flow. The foot of the bed should also be kept clear.

As there are many rules in Feng Shui regarding placement of objects, you may want to research the finer points of the practice as they apply to your specific space, but achieving a more harmonious home is worth the effort.

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Related posts: What is Eclectic Home Decor? We Explore This Design StyleDIY Home Decor IdeasHome Decor for Small Apartments

 

Insta Inspiration: Our Favorite Home Décor Accounts to Follow on Instagram

Our Favorite Home Décor Accounts to Follow on Instagram

A beautiful picture can spark inspiration, which is why we’re obsessed with Instagram. Whether it’s searching for what to make for dinner or scrolling through images of cute animals, spending a little quality time on Instagram is one of our favorite hobbies. We also find it’s an especially good tool for home décor ideas.

Check out our list of the best home décor accounts to follow on Instagram below!

Favorite Home Decor Shops on Instagram

Following brand accounts brings multiple benefits – you’ll see incredible images of gorgeous interior spaces, plus, you’ll know exactly where to buy the products in each picture!

  • @westelm Find beautiful images of the brand’s modern home furnishings and décor. You can also follow the New Orleans store specifically (@westelmnola) for up-to-date information on sales and NOLA-friendly imagery like Mardi Gras floats and local eats.
  • @jonathanadler A designer and a brand, this Instagram user is your destination for snappy, preppy-chic design with loads of color and graphic prints.
  • @fab – Fab.com’s Instagram highlights everyday design from around the globe. The shoppable brand recently featured a photo-realistic clutch from DVRA – a New Orleans-based company!

Favorite Home Decor Publications on Instagram

Print magazines and online publications are a great resource for on-trend designs.

  • @elledecor A classic. Sophisticated interiors that cater to a range of aesthetic styles plus a dash of wanderlust – to-die-for homes in Capri, Milan, and Los Angeles are all part of the mix.
  • @dominomag No longer a print publication, Domino Magazine has fortunately taken their eclectic interiors to the digital world. Expect a mix of decorating inspiration, entertaining ideas, and bright bursts of color.
  • @apartmenttherapy One of our favorite websites is also one of our favorite Instagram accounts. This apartment-specific Insta is chock full of space-saving tips, DIY tutorials, and the latest design trends.

 New Orleans interior designer Whitney Jones shares design inspiration and DIYs on Instagram. (Photo courtesy whitneyjdecor on Instagram)
New Orleans interior designer Whitney Jones shares design inspiration and DIYs on Instagram. (Photo courtesy whitneyjdecor on Instagram)

Favorite New Orleans Design Inspiration on Instagram

In a city full of style and character, these Igers serve up some serious design inspiration.

  • @whitneyjdecor – This New Orleans based interior designer offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a day in the life of a designer and sneak peeks of DIY home decor projects.
  • @hattiesparks – The Uptown boutique owner’s Instagram feed is a beautiful blend of local life and spot-on design inspo.
  • @perchneworleans – The stylish Magazine Street home goods shop offers up antique, vintage & contemporary decor finds.

Favorite Home Decor Designers on Instagram

Take cues from these interior designers’ Instagram accounts  it’s like having a private consultation for free!

  • @ryankorban Elegant, decadent spaces juxtapose designer Ryan Korban’s witty captions.
  • @kellywearstler You’ll love her sartorial style as much as her interior design expertise. Swoon!
  • @mrorlandosoria The interior designer’s Instagram account is equal parts travelogue, foodie paradise, and clean-lined interior spaces.
5ftinf instagram

Instagram user 5ftinf packs a rainbow of color into every photo. (Photo courtesy 5ftinf on Instagram)

Lagniappe – Irresistible Instagrammers

A few other favorites we couldn’t resist including.

  • @5ftinf Flowers! Botanicals! Tea! A dreamy Instagram account that celebrates natural simplicity.
  • @themakerista DIY prodigy Gwen Hefner shares some of her favorite projects.
  • @sfgirlbybay Stylist and blogger Victoria Smith shows us “the world through rose-colored glasses.” California dreaming at its finest!

Looking for more interior decorating inspiration?

Be sure to follow our Apartment Decorating board on Pinterest for even more home décor ideas!

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