Declutter Your Rental: Storage Solutions for Toys

Declutter your rentalDeclutter your rental

While having a child can add so much joy to a parent’s life, these little loved ones also bring certain challenges – including the spatial needs for a family. Living in a rental with a child can feel cramped and cluttered. If you have a child who loves playing with toys, but you don’t have a lot of space in your home, there are some simple solutions you can employ to keep your kids’ favorite toys organized and accessible. Want to know more about the best toy storage solutions? We’ve compiled a list of 4 helpful tips to keep your kids’ toys easy to access and out of the way.

1. Bookshelves and Baskets

If you have a child who likes to run around your rental, or have play space that is combined with living space, you’ll want to get the toys off the floor when playtime is over. One of the best solutions for storing toys is a bookshelf with baskets. Use a bookshelf that already holds books or purchase a smaller bookcase that is solely dedicated to toys, storing them on the bottom shelves so your child can easily reach them. Then, purchase some attractive baskets made from wicker, plastic, or wood to store the toys. Toys can be removed when it’s time to play and easily gathered into the baskets, then slipped onto a shelf when it’s time to clean up.

2. Under-Bed Storage

Does your child primarily play in his or her room? Consider investing in long, flat bins that can fit under a bed for toy storage. This is a great way to keep toys out of sight and reduce visible clutter. Long, flat bins also work for storing toys under a couch or futon. Under-bed or couch bins are great for storing toys that don’t need to be accessed everyday, but are easy to get to when needed – like puzzles, board games, or stuffed animals.

3. Behind-the-Door Organizers

You’ve probably seen those hanging over-the-door organizers intended for shoes, but these organizers can also be an excellent tool for keeping toys organized and off the floor. Fill the shoe pouches with art and craft supplies, action figures, or even building blocks. Toys will be accessible to the kids when they want them, but can be hidden away when you have guests.

4. Coat Hooks and Tote Bags

Another attractive way to store kids’ toys in a playroom or bedroom is with a set of wall-mounted coat hooks and labeled tote bags, which you can find at most craft stores. Use a permanent marker to note what kind of toys each tote will hold. You can even make this into an art project with the kids. Have them help decorate canvas tote bags that will hold all of their toys. Then, mount the coat hooks to the wall and hang the bags on the hooks. This is a neat and organized way to store toys, and it still allows your little ones easy access to their favorite belongings. You can also swap out labeled totes with clear, plastic bags or pouches so that children can see the contents inside.

Do you live with children in a rental? If so, how do you keep toys organized? Share your toy storage ideas with us (or send a picture!) on Facebook or tweet @AptGuide.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Quick Cleaning Hacks for Apartment Dwellers

cleaninghackscleaninghacks

No matter how much you clean, there’s always something else that needs your attention. Whether it’s mopping floors, vacuuming up the evidence of your last snack, or scraping soap scum, cleaning your apartment can take up all of your time. But there’s no need to succumb to never-ending scrubbing and wiping. Test out these seven cleaning hacks to help speed things along.

1. Steam the Microwave

Some of the best cleaning tips involve microwave ovens – who would’ve thought? Caked on food and greasy splatters are a chore to clean off the walls of a microwave. Instead of committing to extended periods of scrubbing and wiping, fill a microwave-safe bowl with half water and half vinegar, set the timer for 5 minutes, and hit start. As the water heats up, the steam loosens that caked-on mess, so you can go right in after the microwave dings and easily wipe it up – no elbow grease required!

2. Multi-task

Don’t stress about getting it all done at once; it’s okay to clean in bits and spurts. Use the time you spend waiting around to finish up some simple cleans:

  • Clean the kitchen sink and counters while you wait for the microwave to ding or the water to boil.
  • Sweep the kitchen floor while the oven preheats, and load the dishwasher while you wait the last few minutes for your food to bake.
  • In the bathroom, wipe down the mirrors while you swish the mouthwash around in your mouth, or even one handed while you brush your teeth. Expert tip: use newspaper for a streak- and lint-free shine.
  • Don’t just stand around waiting for the bathtub to fill or the shower water to heat up. Use that time to wipe down the sink, clean the fixtures, and quickly run the brush around the toilet bowl during the time you’d usually spend checking your phone.
  • Once you’re in the shower, don’t think the cleaning has to stop. Soap up, rinse off, and then attack those tiles with a squeegee.

3. Give the Shower Head the Night Off

Grab a plastic bag large enough to enclose your shower head. Check it for holes, and if it looks sturdy, grab a rubber band and a bottle of vinegar, too. Detach your shower head and place it in the plastic bag, then add enough vinegar to cover it. Finally, use the rubber band to secure the top of the bag. Your shower head will soak overnight, looking clean and fresh just in time for your morning shower!

4. Get Organized

Keep all of your cleaning products in one easily accessible place, so you won’t waste time hunting them down when it’s time to do chores. A hanging shoe organizer makes it easy to keep all those bottles, sprays, sponges, wipes, and brushes handy. Secure it inside a closet or pantry door, or even on the inside of the bathroom door for quick access. As for the trash bags, never hunt for a new one to line your trash can again. Store them in the bottom of your can, so each time you remove one, you can simply grab the next.

5. Banish the Pet Hair

All that pet hair becomes a huge, annoying mess to clean up, but we’ve got a hack you’ve probably never thought of before! Simply whip out your squeegee and run it over your pet’s favorite places, picking up cat and dog hair with very little effort.

6. Blend It Up

Yes, there are times when you need to take your blender apart or run it through the dishwasher, but there’s no need to do so each time you use it. For a quick and easy clean up, fill your blender with soapy water (just a drop of dish liquid will do). Then turn it on just as if you were mixing up your favorite smoothie. This only takes about 30 seconds, just make sure you don’t forget to rinse it thoroughly afterwards – soapy smoothies aren’t known to be the best flavor!

7. Clean up Funky Smells

Vinegar works wonders on many things that make your home smell unpleasant. If lingering cooking smells are the problem, leave a bowl of vinegar out overnight to banish them. Spray it on counter tops and appliances to naturally deodorize them. You can even run it through the dishwasher to get rid of lingering odors.

Apartment Guide is your go-to source, whether you’re looking to relocate or just searching for ways to make apartment living easier. Visit Apartment Guide today to find the apartment of your dreams! And don’t forget to share your cleaning hacks with us on Facebook and Twitter!

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Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Clean Refrigerator Coils

Let’s face it: In the summertime, your refrigerator is your best friend.

There’s nothing like the first sip of a cold beverage to cool you off when temperatures are sweltering, and you don’t even want to think about where you’d be without the freezer. A summer without ice is not a summer you’ll enjoy.

Since so much is riding on it, this month’s green tip focuses on keeping your favorite appliance running smoothly. Regular refrigerator maintenance involves vacuuming the condenser coils on the back or the bottom to clear out the dust and gunk about twice a year.

These coils are critical to pushing heat out, so removing the dust and dirt will allow them to more efficiently keep the inside of the refrigerator cold. Not only will this effectively keep things cold, but you’ll be using less electricity which saves you money and helps the environment. Now that’s cool.

So want to know how to clean refrigerator coils? We’ve got the process of vacuuming these coils laid out for you, step by step.

What you’ll need:

  • Refrigerator (duh)
  • Vacuum cleaner with brush and crevice attachments
  • Paintbrush or other small brush
  • Rag

photo of before and after cleaning refrigerator coilsphoto of before and after cleaning refrigerator coils

How to clean refrigerator coils: A step-by-step guide

Now that you have your tools, you can get started cleaning. Simply follow these eight steps and refer to the photos for clarity.

Step 1: Gently pull the refrigerator away from the wall

Your refrigerator probably has wheels on the bottom, so you should be able to do this with relative ease. Just be sure to go slowly so you don’t damage your kitchen floor. (Note: You don’t need to do this if your coils are on the bottom of the fridge.)

Step 2: Unplug the refrigerator

Yes, you have to. Always disconnect the power source before performing any maintenance on any appliance. It’s unlikely that anything will go wrong, but when the downside is electrocution, you don’t want to take the risk.

Step 3: Locate the coils

The coils should be located in one of two places:

  1. On the back: They should be easy to locate. Look for a metal grid attached to the back of the appliance.
  2. On the bottom: This is where it gets tricky. You don’t want to upend your fridge, so coils on the bottom usually have a grate in front that you can remove and then stick the vacuum cleaner attachment in there for cleaning. Look under the door for the grate and gently remove it. If you have trouble, consult your owner’s manual for more specific instructions.

photo of how to clean refrigerator coils step 2photo of how to clean refrigerator coils step 2

As you can see, the refrigerator coils here are on the bottom.

Try not to scream in horror when you see how much gunk and grime has collected there. If you don’t clean it often, it’s going to be a mess.

photo of how to clean refrigerator coils step 3photo of how to clean refrigerator coils step 3

Gross.

Step 4: Start vacuuming

Use the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner hose. The crevice tool might come in handy as well — there are even some vacuum attachments made specifically for refrigerator coils, so you may want to look into that. Be firm but cautious — you want to get as much grime off the coils as possible without damaging them, so take your time and don’t force it.

photo showing how to vacuum your refrigerator coilsphoto showing how to vacuum your refrigerator coils

While you’re at it, you might as well clean the normally inaccessible areas around the fridge. Vacuum the floor underneath where the fridge usually sits, and wipe down the sides/back of the fridge itself. You’re already moving it out of the way, so you may as well take advantage of the situation.

Step 5: Use the paintbrush to remove any stubborn bits of dirt

It doesn’t have to be pristine but poke around all the nooks and crannies to get it as clean as you can.

Step 6: Vacuum up all the dirt you knocked loose onto the floor

The floor is probably a bit of a mess thanks to the brush, so you can clean that up now.

Step 7: If your coils came off the bottom, replace the front plate

If your coils were on the back, plug the refrigerator back in and push it back into its home.

Step 8: Reward yourself with a cold beverage

You’ve earned it.

Related articles:

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Renovation vs. Remodel: What’s the Difference?

If you’re a homeowner considering a range of home improvements, you may not know if what you’re planning is a renovation or a remodel. Does it matter? Yes, because there are key differences.

A renovation is an update of an existing room or structure, while a remodel affects the design and purpose of an area. The more extensive work in a remodel will influence the cost and length of your project.

What Is a Renovation?

During a renovation, one or more rooms are updated and repaired. This might include new cabinets, flooring, and paint.

The bones of the room are typically left intact, though some structural issues may be fixed in a renovation, such as replacing rotting wood or swapping out window frames suffering from water damage.

A kitchen renovation might include replacing appliances, faucets, and knobs, while a bedroom reno might call for paint, new rugs, or new lighting.

Bathroom renovations often involve installing new tile, towel racks, and faucets.

Recommended: Home Improvement Cost Calculator

Advantages of a Renovation

Renovations are typically less costly than remodels, thanks to several factors.

You Can DIY

If you’re handy, you can slash some of the cost of hiring someone to undertake your renovation by doing some of the work yourself.

Because most renovations don’t require structural changes, you likely won’t be on the hook to hire licensed professionals to get it done. That means anything that you’re capable of—painting, wallpapering, floor sanding—you can do and pocket what it would have cost to hire help.

Just make sure you are skilled enough; hiring a professional to redo what you couldn’t complete may cost you money you didn’t plan on spending.

You May Get a Better Return on Investment

Since a renovation doesn’t call for major expenses like hiring licensed professionals or other construction-related outlays, in some cases the project offers more bang for the buck than a renovation does.

Renovation-related tweaks will still improve the look and feel of your home, and thus increase the value of your home, without the major expense a renovation entails.

You might want to try this handy home improvement ROI estimator.

You Can Expect Fewer Hidden Costs

When you’re renovating a room, your action plan is pretty cut and dry, and there aren’t likely to be surprises that require you to spend more than you planned.

Not so with a remodel, which, due to its scope, may result in additional costs to fix unforeseen problems such as hidden water damage, termites, or asbestos. These surprises can also lengthen the time of your project.

What Is a Remodel?

Remodels are typically more extensive than renovations. They include altering the function and sometimes the structure of an area of the house.

If your project calls for tearing down or adding walls, or changing the layout of a room, you’re planning a remodel.

Some examples of remodels: changing a powder room into a laundry room, knocking down a wall between a dining room and kitchen to create a great room, building an addition to your existing home, or expanding a closet into a dressing room.

Even if you’re not tearing down or adding walls, your project may be a remodel. This might include moving kitchen appliances around to improve room flow, tearing out a tub and installing a walk-in shower in a bathroom, or turning a small guest bedroom into a home office.

Recommended: Closet Remodel Guide

Advantages of a Remodel

Many homeowners find there are pluses to a remodel as opposed to a renovation.

You Have the Opportunity to Customize Your Home

As homeowners grow with their home, they may find that their needs change.

Some may want an addition to accommodate an aging parent, while others may have expanded their families and need to convert a home office into a nursery. Empty-nesters may want to use one of their bedrooms as a study or gym.

A remodel affords them more options than a renovation does because they can make the necessary changes—however major—to achieve their needs.

You May Experience Hidden Benefits

Adding an island to a kitchen and removing a wall to create a larger space might mean more than increased room to prepare meals. You may find your family spends more time together in rooms that are spacious and inviting.

Similarly, retrofitting your heating and cooling system, adding under-floor heating, and replacing insulation might result in lower utility bills, freeing up money for hobbies or vacations.

Why a Remodel May Cost More Than a Renovation

All of that means remodels are costlier than renovations. Here’s why.

You May Need Permits

Thanks to the extensive nature of most remodels, many cities require homeowners to secure a permit before they begin work, especially if the project involves creating an addition to the home, or if new walls or new roofs are being installed. This is to ensure that building codes are followed.

If you need permits, you will want to factor the time it takes to secure them into your timeline. Once the permits are approved, the project may begin. And once it is completed, it will likely need to be approved by a local inspector.

You May Need Professional Help

If your remodel requires electrical, duct, or plumbing work, you will likely need to hire a licensed professional to complete it.

You may also need to hire a general contractor to hire and oversee these workers and others for larger remodels like adding a guest suite to the home or converting an attic to a home office with an en-suite bathroom.

These vendors, while necessary, can be costly since you are paying for their time in addition to any materials.

You May Be Dealing With Construction

While it can be exciting to imagine what your home will look like after a remodel, getting there can be taxing. That’s because you may be living in a construction zone as the project is underway.

It can be difficult to have to eat multiple takeout meals because your kitchen is being worked on, or deal with dust from work being done in the next room over.

If their remodel is especially extensive, some homeowners find they need to rent a home nearby until the remodel has been completed.

Recommended: Average Cost To Remodel

Paying for a Remodel or Renovation

Whether you’re undertaking a renovation or remodel, you’ll want to have a budget and a payment plan. Some renovations are small enough that homeowners can pay upfront.

Those tackling remodels and larger renovations might tap a home equity loan or home equity line of credit, when the home is used as collateral.

An unsecured, fixed-rate home improvement loan is another option.

A cash-out refinance also can free up part of the difference between the mortgage balance and the home’s value.

Recommended: Home Equity Loans vs Personal Loans for Home Improvement

The Takeaway

Undertaking home improvements can be exciting for homeowners. But before you embark on a project, know whether you’re looking at a renovation or a remodel, how much inconvenience you’re willing to put up with, and what you are willing to pay.

SoFi offers no-fee home improvement loans of up to $100,000.

If a cash-out refinance makes more sense, SoFi offers that as well.

Or if you’re in the market for a home loan, SoFi has that covered, too, with competitive rates and options requiring as little as 5% down.

Check your rate and start planning that remodel or renovation.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Home Loans
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Source: sofi.com

How to Fix Common Damage Issues Before Moving Out

Moving out of your apartment can be bittersweet. You pack up all of your things, begin moving furniture, start taking down wall art– and, find yourself face to face with that golf ball-sized hole in the wall you accidentally made one night, then covered with art.

After living in an apartment for at least a year, there’s bound to be some small damage here and there. While some wear and tear is normal and should be built into your lease, fixing minor damage before moving out will ensure you get your full security deposit back. Plus, you’ll stay on good terms with your landlord, who you may need for references down the road.

To make sure you leave your apartment in good condition before moving out, take a look at these normal damage issues and their fixes:

Small holes

After taking down the photos from your gallery wall, you probably noticed the many small holes left by nails that were used to hang the frames. Patching small holes left by nails, tacks and screws is simple and will leave the walls looking great again.

You’ll need some spackling paste, a putty knife and some sandpaper. Squeeze a small glob of the spackle into each hole, then use the putty knife to spread and blend it over the hole and wall. Once the spackle is dry, use the sandpaper to lightly sand the area, especially around the edges, to leave a smooth, flat wall.

In a real pinch, you can use some materials around the apartment to fill the hole. Plain white toothpaste or baking soda mixed with white glue can also work to fill nail holes, but aren’t recommended unless you absolutely have no time to get the right materials.

Large holes

Now it’s time to tackle that large hole you hid under your favorite painting. Mending large holes in drywall isn’t as easy as some of the other fixes, but it will most likely cost you less than if you were to let your landlord handle it and deduct it from your deposit .

Pick up a mesh repair patch at the hardware store to use with your spackle. Then, cut the patch so that it fits over the hole and the surrounding wall. Cover the patch with spackle, and after it dries, sand down the edges so they blend into the wall completely.

Scuff marks

Though scuff marks likely aren’t going to cost you any of your security deposit, they make the apartment appear dirtier than it is and make more work for whoever has to clean thee apartment.

Since I seem to make an inordinate amount of scuffs on the walls of my apartments, I typically don’t try to tackle them all– just really noticeable and large ones. A magic eraser works wonders to get rid of them, so pick up a couple and your walls will be white again in no time.

Broken blinds

Another common damage issue I’m guilty of is bending or even breaking some of my window blinds. Before moving out, dust your windows and blinds, and make sure none are bent or cracked. If bent, do your best to straighten them out as much as possible. If you can’t straighten them, or if one of the blinds is broken, start by looking at the bottom – there’s often a spare slat in any set of blinds. If not, look for blinds of the same size and color at your hardware store. Replace the broken slat with the new one, and your landlord won’t ever know the difference!

Carpet stains

If you’re a red-wine drinker living in a carpeted apartment, you probably know a thing or two about removing carpet stains. Tackling stains before they get a chance to set will help your carpet look better overall, but before moving out, peruse the carpet for any stains you might have missed.  Try using baking soda or carpet cleaner first. If that’s not strong enough to remove the stains, consider renting a carpet cleaner from your hardware or grocery store. They’re easy to use, and your carpets will be unrecognizably clean when you’re done.

Fix damage to the carpet

Now that you’ve fixed the stains on the carpet, is it still intact? If there are damaged patches, or if it’s started to come loose around the edges, or any other damage, you’ll want to get it fixed. Even if you have to hire someone, it’s likely going to be cheaper than having your landlord take it out of your deposit.

Scratches on hardwood

Renters love apartments with hardwood floors because they’re much easier to clean than carpet, but they do have one common problem: Hardwood is easy to scratch. There are a couple of quick fixes for the shallower scrapes, though. Many people swear by the walnut method, which involves rubbing a raw walnut along the scrape until the scratch blends into the rest of the floor. This method works well, just not on deep scratches and darker woods.

For deeper scratches, look for a wood-colored marker or pencil at the hardware store. These products are specifically made for filling in and disguising the scrapes.

Replace light bulbs

If any light bulbs burned out in places that you can easily access, now is the time to take care of them. If there are some that are difficult to reach, such as in high up or complicated fixtures, you might need help or for your landlord to handle them. Even so, replacing any easily accessible ones that burned out will give your landlord less to repair and take out of your deposit.

General dirtiness

Deep cleaning your apartment is recommended to ensure you get your full deposit back, and to give your landlord less of a headache when he or she is trying to ready the unit for the next renter.

Give everything a good wiping, sweeping and dusting, but spend extra time in the kitchen and bathroom. The refrigerator, microwave, oven and stove should all be thoroughly cleaned, along with the toilet, shower, tub and sink.

Take pictures

This isn’t a repair but is crucial to getting more of your deposit back. Take pictures of the current state of everything in the apartment that you couldn’t fix yourself. Having this documentation helps as later defense, in case your landlord takes too much out of the security deposit. Having pictures will work much better than your word against theirs in case things end up in front of small claims court.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

16 Best Ways to Save Money at Pottery Barn in 2021 – Discounts & Sales

If you’ve ever gone shopping for home decor, furniture, and bedding, you’ve probably visited a Pottery Barn.

The Williams Sonoma subsidiary is best known for its upscale products and stunning floor displays. Since its founding in 1949, Pottery Barn has branched out into Pottery Barn Kids and Pottery Barn Teens to appeal to a wider audience.

Despite these changes, Pottery Barn has always maintained a premium status for their brand. But if you’re shopping on a tight budget, there are numerous creative ways to save money at Pottery Barn.

Between in-store hacks and ways to save money on furniture and home furnishings, you probably don’t have to pay full price when you hit up this popular retailer.

Best Ways to Save Money at Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn is unlikely to compete on pricing with more affordable retailers like Ikea. But you don’t have to pay full price just because a store is stylish.

Many money-saving Pottery Barn hacks can help you make your next home furnishings upgrade affordable without sacrificing quality.

1. Join The Key Loyalty Program

The easiest saving trick every shopper can use is to join The Key member rewards program. This loyalty program extends to Williams Sonoma’s family of brands, meaning it covers Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barns along with Mark and Graham, and West Elm.

Joining The Key is free. You start by picking your favorite brand and then sign up for The Key through that brand’s website. To sign up, provide your name, email, address, phone number, and birthday.

Once you’re a member, benefits include:

  • Earring 3% cash back across the family of brands
  • Getting exclusive access to new deals and releases
  • Using Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma’s free design service

You can redeem cash back as store credit across any Williams Sonoma family store once you reach $15. You can use cash-back rewards from The Key program with your cash-back credit card rewards to increase your savings, and you can redeem your balance online or in-store.

2. Follow Local Stores on Social Media

You can follow Pottery Barn on social media if you want general updates about sales and country-wide initiatives. However, truly frugal shoppers are better off following their local stores.

Local store pages are useful for several reasons. For starters, you can reference them to find store hours or a contact number and to check whether the store’s open on holidays.

Additionally, local stores post photos of their inventory and sales. That’s when you can find specific pieces on clearance or products that are only in stock at your preferred location.

But note that not every Pottery Barn has a local Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

3. Sign Up for Pottery Barn Emails

If you want a low-effort way to save, sign up for the Pottery Barn email list.

Subscribers receive information about exclusive sales and promotions, so you can wait for a sale or event before you shop. You also learn about new Pottery Barn products and upcoming store events.

4. Use Online Pottery Barn Coupons

Another trick to save money at Pottery Barn is to use online coupons.

There are numerous online coupon databases you can search for deals, including:

These websites let you activate online coupon codes before shopping, potentially earning percent discounts and perks like free shipping.

Similarly, you can also use shopping browser extensions for online shopping to automatically apply available coupons at checkout. Two popular browser extensions that work with Pottery Barn are Capital One Shopping and Honey.

Both extensions apply coupon codes at checkout, ensuring you don’t miss out on savings. Both platforms also let you earn rewards by shopping at hundreds of partner retailers.

An advantage of using extensions over coupon websites is that you don’t waste time manually searching for coupon codes on the Internet. However, it’s important to note that coupon codes don’t always work, and you might find a particular website or extension works better for you than others.

Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the Capital One Shopping extension using the links we provided.

5. Shop With Discount Gift Cards

If you shop at Pottery Barn frequently or are planning a shopping spree, buying discount gift cards is a simple way to save more money.

People regularly sell unwanted gift cards to marketplaces that then resell them at a discount. Usually, discounts range from 1% to 2%, so you can buy a $50 Pottery Barn gift card for around $48.

That’s not a lot, but for larger purchases, discount percentages often increase. For example, on some discount gift card websites, you can find $100 and $500 Pottery Barn gift cards with $10 to $20 discounts.

Some popular gift card marketplaces include:

Gift card availability and denominations vary based on supply and demand. Raise generally has the most extensive collection, and you can usually find Pottery Barn gift cards ranging from $25 to $100.

Plus, new members get a 10% discount bonus with the coupon code “FIRST” for a maximum savings of $20.

Since more significant discounts provide the most savings, the key is to plan your Pottery Barn shopping trip. That way, you know exactly how much money you need and don’t overspend on gift cards.

6. Understand Shipping Rates

At Pottery Barn, shipping costs depend on your total order price and whether you want standard shipping or next-day shipping. Standard shipping arrives in four to five business days and upgrading to next-day costs $26.

To potentially save more, consult Pottery Barn’s shipping rates and fees table. For orders under $200, you’re looking at up to $21 in shipping fees. However, orders of $200.01 or more charge 10% in shipping until you reach $3,000 or more, at which point shipping costs drop to 5% of your total order value.

If you’re on a massive Pottery Barn shopping spree, consider what a 5% or 10% shipping rate does to your bill.

For example, at $2,900, you’re looking at $290 in shipping costs. However, spending $100 more to reach $3,000 brings shipping costs to $150, netting you $40 in total savings.

If you’re close to a shipping-reduction threshold but don’t need anything else, ask friends and family if they need anything or think about any upcoming gifts for birthdays and holidays. But crunch the numbers.

If buying a low-cost product still saves you significant cash, it’s worth it. You can always donate unwanted merchandise and get a charitable donation tax deduction. Just check the sale and clearance section for deals.

Finally, look for products that are available for pickup when shopping online. If you live near a Pottery Barn, making the drive is probably worth it to avoid paying for shipping.

7. Shop on Clearance

If you want to find Pottery Barn products at a discount, your best bet is to wait for a clearance sale or floor sales event.

Pottery Barn’s website has a sales section, so you can begin your search for deals online. But visiting your local Pottery Barn allows you to find markdown products the retailer doesn’t advertise online.

Occasionally, Pottery Barn also sells floor models during floor sales events. That includes furniture and other inventory previously used for in-store displays, which the company can’t sell as new. This inventory often has minor scratches or dents but is sold at a discount.

If you don’t mind buying furniture with a potential scratch or two, floor sales are worth keeping an eye on. Alternatively, check the online clearance section regularly to look for deals.

8. Shop Off-Season

Chances are you’ve tried shopping off-season to save money on clothing or back-to-school supplies. But have you ever considered shopping off-season for home decor?

Like other retailers, Pottery Barn rotates their floor displays and inventory to match the upcoming season. So you can buy a set of summer linens and bright throw pillows as you enter the fall to save money in the long run.

9. Visit a Pottery Barn Outlet Store

Pottery Barn has several outlet stores where you can find floor models, returns, overstocked inventory, and slightly damaged or worn inventory it can’t sell in regular stores.

Essentially, outlet stores help Pottery Barn liquidate excess and gently used merchandise, which means you can potentially find discounts.

Currently, the following states have one or more outlet locations:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia

Just remember: Outlet prices aren’t always lower than the regular retailer, and you should also factor travel time into your bargain hunt. When in doubt, call ahead and ask for specific pricing on pieces you’re considering and for a store attendant to check product availability.

You can also sign up for Pottery Barn Outlet emails to receive outlet store-specific newsletters about new product arrivals and deals.

10. Buy Gently Used Pottery Barn Products

If you don’t live near an outlet, you can shop at companies that resell used and like-new Pottery Barn products at lower prices.

Several websites where you can find used Pottery Barn products include:

You can also shop on auction sites like eBay if you don’t mind bidding and potentially negotiating with sellers.

Selection can be limited when looking at resellers, but the effort is worth it if you find your next living room set or coffee table for half the price.

11. Use the Pottery Barn or Other Cash-Back Credit Card

The Pottery Barn credit card is perfect if you’re a serious Pottery Barn shopper. There are zero fees and plenty of perks. For example:

  • Earn 10% back for shopping at Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, and Pottery Barn Teens when you spend $250 or more on a single purchase.
  • Receive early access to sales, limited-edition collaborations, and information on new arrivals.
  • Shop for $0 down with 12 months of financing on purchases of $750 or more.

The 10% back in reward points is the primary selling point for this card. For example, if you spend $3,000 redesigning your living room, that’s $300 in rewards — not bad for a no-fee credit card.

However, you must spend $250 in one transaction to get the reward, which severely limits the usefulness of this card if you don’t spend much money on your Pottery Barn trips.

If that’s the case, shop with some type of cash-back credit card to maximize savings.

Cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® (read our Chase Freedom Unlimited review) and American Express Blue Cash Preferred® card (read our American Express Blue Cash Preferred review)  are excellent options that have welcome bonuses and cash-back rewards for everyday spending, making them a better choice if you don’t frequently shop at Pottery Barn.

12. Take Advantage of the Military Discount

If you’re an active military member or veteran, you and your family can take advantage of Pottery Barn’s 15%-off military discount. This discount also applies to Pottery Barn Kids and Teens as well as Williams Sonoma.

Plus, military members also get 10% off on electronics at Williams Sonoma.

13. Create an Online Registry

If you have an upcoming wedding or want to save money on newborn expenses, Pottery Barn has registries you can use to save money.

The Pottery Barn wedding registry helps your wedding guests shop for gifts you’re actually going to use. Plus, you can add products from any retailer in the Williams Sonoma family of brands to a single registry.

You can also ask a registry expert to help you craft a registry list that suits your style.

After the wedding date, you get a 10% completion discount for up to six months, meaning you have six months to buy out the remaining merchandise on your registry at a discount.

The baby registry from Pottery Barn Kids works the same way, except you get a 20% completion bonus.

14. Save on your New Move

Paying for moving supplies to pack and ship all your stuff adds up fast.

Thankfully, Pottery Barn has several incentives to help keep moving costs down. For starters, you get $15 off when you spend $75 or more on Sherwin-Williams paint.

Since 2 gallons of Sherwin-Williams paint typically costs between $75 and $150, depending on the paint type, that’s generally enough to paint an average-size room if you’re applying two coats.

Note that Sherwin-Williams is on the pricier side, so unless you’re in love with one of its colors or need high-quality paint to cover up darker colors, brands like Behr and Valspar are typically more budget-friendly.

You can also sign up for the New Mover Program to receive a welcome catalog and design advice for your new home. Pottery Barn also offers free design services to new movers.

However, the best part of the moving program is the installation service. The retailer can mount your TV, hang curtains, paint your new home, and assist with other installation and assembly for a small fee.

First, verify the Pottery Barn in your area offers this service. Then get a quote and compare the price to hiring another professional or doing the work yourself.

15. Use the Pottery Barn Employee Discount

Pottery Barn employees get up to 40% off regularly priced merchandise and an additional 20% off on clearance. So if you’re looking for a side gig and have a redesign project coming up, applying to Pottery Barn could be worth it.

Plus, you can use the extra money to help pay for your upcoming project and take the sting out of paying for it with your regular paycheck.

The Williams Sonoma family of brands hires throughout the year, especially during the holidays, so keep an eye out for job postings if you’re considering this saving trick.

16. DIY Pottery Barn Knockoffs

Crafty shoppers might be better off getting creative than paying higher prices for official Pottery Barn items.

If you’re open to a DIY project, start by searching for Pottery Barn knockoffs on Pinterest. A single search yields hundreds of knockoff ideas, tutorials, and decor ideas you can use to transform your home while staying on budget.

Some design bloggers also focus on knockoff DIYs. Knock Off Decor has a category that’s full of Pottery Barn DIY projects that can save you money.

Often, these projects involve purchasing more affordable materials from places like the dollar store or a local hardware store. Some projects simply involve upcycling existing pieces of furniture to match Pottery Barn’s aesthetic.

Just remember to consider your time and level of experience before taking on a DIY project. If you can score massive savings and enjoy working with your hands, the knock-off route is one of the best ways to decorate your home on a budget.

But if you’re busy or just all thumbs, it’s probably a waste of time.


Final Word

Saving money and scoring discounts probably aren’t the first things that come to mind when you think of Pottery Barn. But it’s possible.

However, you should still shop around, especially if you have a massive home renovation project coming up. Retailers like Wayfair, Overstock, Crate & Barrel, and even general retailers like Target often carry cheaper alternatives to Pottery Barn products.

You might have to get creative and mix and match products from different retailers to achieve that Pottery Barn aesthetic. But if shopping at Pottery Barn alternatives saves you money and matches your design vision, it’s worth the effort.

If you’re committed to Pottery Barn, give yourself as much time as you can when planning your home makeover. If you can wait a few months for a clearance event or for specific pieces to go on sale, you can furnish your home with high-quality furniture and home decor without spending a fortune.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Survival Guide: What to Do When You Don’t Have a Closet

If you’ve ever lived in an apartment that was lacking in storage space, you’ll never again take closets for granted. Trying to fit all of your possessions into small closets (or no closets at all) is difficult and frustrating, especially for those who like their living spaces neat, clean and well-organized.

Not having a bedroom closet is perhaps the most challenging storage situation. I once lived with two others in a two-bedroom apartment that also had a large office, which was my bedroom. Lucky for me, the office had its own bathroom attached. Not so lucky: the closet was nonexistent.

If you’re living in a bedroom that doesn’t have a closet, it can seem inconvenient at best, but you do have options. Take a look at this survival guide for creating clothes storage when you don’t have a closet:

An Armoire or Dresser

One of the most obvious solutions is to buy a large armoire or dresser to store clothes in. What’s great about armoires over dressers is that they offer a place to hang any clothing that you’d rather not fold.

Dresses, blouses, and easily wrinkled items won’t have to be shoved into a dresser drawer, which could potentially save you from having to pull out the iron every day before work.

Dressers, on the other hand, are great for people with a lot of foldable clothes. Either piece of furniture comes in various sizes, so those who live in a small space will be able to easily find something that fits their room.

A Clothing Rack

Stores like Target and Ikea sell clothing racks of all different shapes and sizes. You’ll easily be able to find smaller standing clothing racks that have a single bar on which to hang your clothes.

There are also full closet organizers that you can mount to a wall with multiple shelves and rods great for holding an entire wardrobe. Though not as affordable, these are a one-and-done solution to not having a closet, and they’re pretty easy to install on the wall.

Bookcases

The variety of bookshelves available in stores and online is truly amazing, so they’re a great organization option for bedrooms with nonexistent closets. The bookshelves with cube-shaped cubbies are particularly useful for organizing different types of clothing and accessories.

If you’re planning on using bookshelves in place of a closet, be sure to buy plenty of baskets and bins that will help you keep the shelves neat and uncluttered.

Floating Shelves

Floating shelves are another useful storage option, and they’re especially great because they can fit onto walls of any size. Hang floating shelves across the width of an entire wall, or stack them from floor to ceiling. You can even install dividers on your shelves to keep all of your clothing items separated.

Under the Bed

Installing drawers under the bed is both practical and unobtrusive, so it’s a perfect solution for people who live in a small space. You can also inexpensively lift your bed to create even more storage space under it, using store-bought bed risers.

Consider storing shoes, handbags, and other less-often-used items under the bed so you don’t have to get down on the floor every time you change clothes.

A Trunk

For a storage solution that’s part decorative and part amazingly effective, find an antique or vintage trunk to keep at the foot of your bed.

Trunks are very spacious, so you’ll be able to store a lot of your wardrobe in it. Use it for bulky items like sweaters, sweatshirts, and sweatpants that don’t stack as easily on shelves.

Create Pretty Decor

Some of the prettiest and most colorful items in a person’s apartment can be found in their closet, like shoes, handbags, scarves, and jewelry. Instead of tucking those items away into storage, find creative ways to display them around the room and apartment.

Buy a small coat rack just for your scarves and hang them by the front door. Line pretty high heels and handbags along the bookshelves in your living room or entryway. Hang your statement necklaces from pretty hooks on the wall above your toilet, rather than using that space for a piece of art.

Use a Curtain

Many of the solutions in this survival guide leave your clothing out in the open or on display, but simply hanging a curtain can help you tuck your wardrobe out of sight. Attach it to your bookshelves or simply hang one from the ceiling in front of your shelves to hide your clothing.

Mix and Match

If you have one particular wall that would work well for a “closet,” mix and match the ideas to create exactly what you need for storing your own personal belongings. Hang floating shelves across the entire wall, then attach a closet rod to the wall beneath them. Or, find two small armoires and put them on either side of a short bookshelf.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

5 Reasons You Should Pay for a Pre-Drywall Inspection

When building a new home, there are architectural requirements along with city and state codes that the builder must follow; and while general builder inspections are required along the way, it’s still a good idea to pay for your own inspections, especially the pre-drywall inspection. 

If you’re building (or thinking about building) a new home, congratulations! Unlike buying an existing home, you get to select everything you want from top to bottom, inside and out, to create your dream home. We’re currently building our new home and recently had our pre-drywall inspection. You usually don’t hear much about these kinds of inspections, so I wanted to share with you why we did a pre-drywall inspection, and what we learned.

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Our soon to be new home!

Isn’t the Builder’s Pre-Drywall Inspection Enough?

During the builder’s inspection, the builder will go over anything you added during the design process,  explain how things work, and show you where things are located inside your walls before the drywall is added. It’s the perfect time to ask questions — but what if you don’t know what to ask? This is where a pre-drywall inspection is beneficial.

Think of it as more of a pre-drywall “walk through”  and not so much of a traditional inspection. The purpose is to look at every aspect of the home, not just the pretty parts. If there are potential issues with the foundation, plumbing, electrical or roof, it’s better to address them sooner and not after signing the papers and moving in.

(READ MORE: The Pros and Cons of Building vs. Buying as a First-time Homeowner)

What the Process Looked Like for Us

We used Chad Brittingham with Cardinal Home Inspections, LLC out of Charleston, SC. The timing of this inspection was perfect because we scheduled to meet with the builder for their pre-drywall walk through a few days later.

Mr. Brittingham went through the house several times and with each pass, looked at different building aspects. The first pass involved the foundation, followed by framing, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and the roof. We walked with him and he explained the reason for certain building items, pointed out any issues and took pictures for his report, and also took the time to explain how certain systems worked. As an inspector, his job was to comb through the fine details and find potential issues that we as buyers may overlook because we just don’t know. 

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Chad Brittingham, home inspector, testing the window function.

5 Benefits of a Pre-Drywall Inspection

  1. It can address any issues: Once the drywall is installed it will be more challenging to fix any issues involving the internal items behind the drywall. Cracks in foundation, poor building materials, mold, etc., will simply be a lot harder to see later.
  2. It can check on any modifications you added during your design meeting: We added recessed lighting to some rooms, extra outlets, a security light and a few other things. But, during our pre-drywall inspection, we discovered that a few of those items were not there. It’s a lot easier to add them before the dry wall; like the builder put it, it would be like doing surgery on your house and then leaving scars!
  3. You can visualize where important pieces are in your wall: Word of advice, take pictures. When you move in and you need to find a stud, you’ll have a better idea where they are located within the wall. Most importantly, you’ll know where plumbing, gas lines, and electrical lines are located so you can avoid them before you hang anything or secure anything to your walls. 
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Taking pictures before hanging drywall will help you avoid any costly repairs when affixing items to the wall.

4. It can reveal workmanship and materials: While builders have a construction manager who oversees everything, each part is handled by a different subcontractor. Getting a chance to see the work of the electrical team, plumber, roofer, HVAC, etc can not only ensure they’re not only using the proper materials, but that these systems are installed within code.

5. It can protect your investment and your peace of mind: You’ll have a written record of the issues that were found and you can document how it was fixed. This is your home that you’re spending your money on and you want to know that your home is sound. After the inspection was over, we were more confident that we picked a great home for our family.

Man bending over pointing to the floor in partially constructed house. Man bending over pointing to the floor in partially constructed house.
Mr. Brittingham pointing out construction details.

After the Pre-Drywall Inspection: Next Steps

At the end of the pre-drywall inspection, Mr. Brittingham gave us a couple items that he felt were of a greater concern to keep an eye on, but overall felt that the items he found were typical for this stage in the building process. Mr. Brittingham provided us with a full inspection report, including the items he found with pictures of areas that needed to be addressed, which I forwarded to the builder prior to our walkthrough. As the buyer, we definitely felt our inspection better prepared us for the walk through with the builder.

While the builder is bound by certain laws and codes, and their own inspections, the pre-drywall inspection we paid for independently, is acting on our behalf as the buyer. I definitely don’t believe our builder is trying to “slide anything past us,” and we did our research on the builder prior to signing. This was just one more step to further protect our investment, which will ultimately protect our family. 

Need More Home Building Advice?

Be sure to check out the Homes.com “How to Build” section, with videos and articles covering a range of topics that’ll carry you on the building journey from start to finish!


Brooke has a lifestyle blog called Cribbs Style and currently lives in Charleston, SC. This wife, mom of two almost tweens, and mom of three fur children enjoys all things DIY and organizing. When she’s not helping others tackle the chaos of life, she’s either working out, at the beach, or just enjoying time with family and friends.

Source: homes.com

How to Pick the Right TV Size for Your Room

If you’ve ever sat in the front row of a movie theater, you understand the problem of proportions. You don’t want to stare into an actor’s stomach for most of a film (or maybe you do, but that’s a blog for another time). The size of the screen matters as does how far you are from it.

It’s the same for the size of your home TV screen. You don’t want to have to sit so close that you lose half the picture or too far away that faces are minuscule, or you can’t hear the sound accurately. You also don’t want such a large TV that it overpowers your living room.

Whether your TV will hang on a wall or sit on a console, remember that bigger is not always better: it’s a good idea to figure out the Goldilocks-right TV size for your room.

How to measure TV size

The size of a screen is measured diagonally from corner to corner — not including the TV’s “frame.” A 65-inch TV is actually about 55 inches.

Besides the physical size of the screen, you’re also measuring clarity, otherwise known as resolution. That comes from the number of pixels (think of dots) that make up a picture on the screen. Those Impressionist painters were onto something; the more dots the better the resolution. And think about how far away you need to stand to see the beauty of the whole picture.

Older TVs and some current 32-inch models have resolutions of about 1 million pixels (720p) and newer, larger TVs have more than 2 million pixels (1080p).

Many TVs over 50 inches have 8 million pixels, making them 4K Ultra HD (high-definition). And the latest and greatest and most expensive TVs have over 33 million pixels (8K).

Where to place the TV in your room

Sure, hanging a TV on a wall frees up space in your room, but it also may change the nature of the room. The TV, especially if it’s a large one, becomes the focal point.

Perhaps you have a great piece of art you’d like to rest your eyes on or a large picture window overlooking nature. A console TV, which would take up precious real estate in your apartment, might be a better choice if only because you can move it easily. But if you choose to hang your TV, and if it’s possible due to the size of your room, find a wall that may detract less from some other area you feel is more important to look at.

Woman on her couch holding a TV remote.

Should I hang a TV on the wall?

People often hang televisions above a fireplace. However, it is not the best choice as a gas fireplace generates 20,000 to 35,000 BTUs of heat. Heat and electronics are not good friends. Mounting a TV above an electric fireplace is not as bad since that type of fireplace generates less heat. According to Bob Vila’s Home Advisor site, “Only mount a TV above a fireplace if the temperatures in that spot do not surpass 100 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Another reason you might not choose to hang your TV above the fireplace is that the TV will be too high, and you’ll have to crane your neck to see it. Plus, the viewing angle will throw off the picture quality.

TV manufacturers suggest mounting your television at eye level, but of course, the ability to do this depends on which room you’re going to watch television in. Will you be sitting in a living room on a low couch to watch TV? Lying in bed? Seated at tall bar stools at a counter?

In general, Samsung suggests mounting a TV 42 inches from the floor to the center of the TV, “should meet the approximate eye level of someone who is 5 feet 6 inches tall sitting on a standard couch.”

If you’re lying in bed, that’s a different story. You’ll want to put a TV on a tall dresser at the end of the bed or mount it to the ceiling.

No wall space? No problem

If you’ve really got a very small apartment and no wall to spare, maybe your apartment building does. Skip the in-home TV and watch movies and shows on your laptop. When you need a big screen, take yourself to your building’s media center.

How far away you should sit from a TV?

Base the distance you sit from the television on the TV’s size and clarity. And, of course, the room needs enough space so you will have enough space to sit those “x” number of feet away.

The electronic experts at Crutchfield recommend a viewing distance of 1.5–2.5 times the diagonal measurement for Ultra High Definition (1080p) TVs, and 1–1.5 times the screen size for a 4K Ultra HD TV.

For example, if you have a 40-inch 1080p TV, an ideal viewing distance is 5-8.3 feet. For that same size screen in a 4K version, you’d sit 3-3.5 feet from the screen. These measurements will make for optimum viewing.

TV on a console in an apartment.

What about the distance from the TV and sound?

TV is not just for seeing, after all.

The size of the TV doesn’t necessarily affect its sound output, but if you’re sitting too far you might have issues hearing. Rather than constantly bumping up the sound you might try a soundbar, wireless headphones or running the sound through your stereo speaker.

What’s the right TV size for my room?

Ultimately, there’s no magic formula, but you’ll want the largest screen you can get that doesn’t overpower your space and where its placement allows you to relax comfortably while watching it.

Source: rent.com

Living Large in a Small Space

Squeezing your life into a tiny apartment, home, or condo can be a challenge, but you don’t have to sacrifice style or live knee-high in a sea of clutter. No matter how small, a space can be enjoyable and feel spacious with just the right touch. Here are some ways five tips on how to maximize your space, making it feel like home:

Downsize

You don’t have to get rid of everything but going through the process of downsizing can ease the clutter by getting rid of things you don’t really need. You probably did this before moving into your new space, but if you’ve had some time to accumulate more stuff, you may need to revisit it.

Brighten the atmosphere

Choose a crisp, light color scheme for things like curtains, sofa, and throw rugs to make the room feel bigger, brighter and comfy. Avoid darker tones that make a space appear uninviting and small.

Lots of natural light in a space can make it seem larger, too. Changing window treatments, if possible, or simply opening blinds and curtains during the day can make any room more pleasant.

Mirror appeal

Take a page out of restaurant strategy and try hanging up a few mirrors. It gives the illusion of feeling like you’re in a much larger and lighter space, and sometimes the illusion is all you need to feel better.

Style with function

With little space, you can’t give over space to something with just one function. A table with storage underneath or a desk that pulls out from the wall gives you effectively more space to work with. If you’re in a one-bedroom apartment, or even a studio, opting for a sofa bed can be a smart choice if you host guests from out of town. This takes away the need for an extra room and bed, while still being practical for everyday use.

Curtain call

Hang your curtains higher (the higher the better) to give the appearance of higher ceilings. You can also let in more light and make windows look wider by extending a curtain rod by four inches or more on either side of the windows. This will not only give the illusion of more square footage, but allows more light to enter too!

Shelve it

Getting clutter off of the floor can make any space seem bigger. If you’re letting items collect, trying various shelving. For a sleek, modern look, try floating shelves — this helps reduce the mess and keeps things simple. Hang them on your walls for a fashionable look that also leaves you plenty of floor real estate.

Curtain call

Getting clutter off the floor can make any space seem bigger. For a sleek, modern look, try floating shelves — this helps reduce the mess and keeps things simple. Hang them on your walls for a fashionable look that also leaves you plenty of floor real estate. If that’s enough, you might need to get more creative.

Be clever about storage

You still need places to stick your stuff, and a little creativity can get you a lot more space. If your bed frame is off the ground, you can put some boxes and other storage containers underneath it – the same goes for any other furniture with space under it. When you run out of that space, look to hooks and racks that go on the back of your doors. These are especially helpful in closets, where you can get shoe hangers to held more than just shoes, or bathrooms, where you can store what doesn’t fit in your drawers or cabinets. Still not enough space? Some cleverly placed peg boards can convert wall space to storage space, as well as keeping commonly used things in easy reach.

With these tips, take a look around your space and see how you can update! Have more tips to share based on your personal experience? Share in the comments below!

Photo by Stephen Crowley on Unsplash

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Source: apartmentguide.com