A Puppy for Our Apartment

Every kid wants a puppy (or a pony) for Christmas. For Christmas 2012, Riel and I decided to get ourselves a Christmas puppy.

Sophie and the rest of the litter (plus one kitten!)

Sophie and the rest of the litter (plus one kitten!)

We fell in love with a litter of Miniature Australian Shepherd puppies that were born on Halloween. I grew up with an Aussie/Border Collie mix named Sadie and pretty much can’t resist those breeds. We drove 2 hours to examine the pups and potentially choose one.

We narrowed down our choice between two tri-color female pups that had sweet temperaments (we thought – hard to tell since their eyes weren’t open!) and were almost identical. Riel picked Sophie because of her white collar markings. She looked like a little cow/mouse hybrid.

IMGP7460 (2)We paid way too much for Sophie. I mean technically. The owner claimed that she was pure-bred. We met the mother and saw pictures of the father – who both seemed pure-bred. Sophie didn’t come with any papers, but we were in love with her. We paid the ridiculous price and brought her home on Christmas Eve.

Riel gave Sophie her first French fry in the car on the way home.

Now, Sophie is a part of the family. She has gotten into a lot of trouble, which is to be expected for a high-energy Aussie in an apartment, but she has also helped to make our apartment a home (see some other ways we make apartment living work for us).

A more recent picture of Sophie. In case you are wondering, she was not harmed by the wicker in any way

A more recent picture of Sophie. In case you are wondering, she was not harmed by the wicker in any way

How did you meet your furry friends?


5 Ways to Thrive in an Apartment

If you’ve ever done some time in an apartment, you know that space can be an issue (check out our first apartment). Here are some tips to make your apartment experience a pleasant one:

1. Get rid of stuff.

You will not thrive in your apartment if you are a hoarder. Resign yourself to saying goodbye to some unnecessary items. Will you really read that novel again? Have you ever liked a recipe out of that old cookbook? Do you actually wear that shirt? Have an ongoing “To-Donate” pile and drop it off at your local thrift shop frequently. If you haven’t touched an item in a few months, then you better have a good reason for keeping it!

Once you’ve whittled down your possessions to a reasonable amount, make sure you don’t buy more things to fill up the space you’ve freed. Carefully consider whether you need an item and how much space it will take before buying it. When you do buy something new, consider getting rid of something else to free more space. When you buy a new pair of shoes, get rid of the old ones you never wear any more.

2. Get organized.

Installing an Ikea pot rack is one of the many ways we've gone vertical with our storage.

Installing an Ikea pot rack is one of the many ways we’ve gone vertical with our storage.

Make it easy on yourself by finding a system that works for you. If you are not much of a folder, don’t have a closet system that requires you to fold your jeans! Have a big drawer devoted to a pile of unfolded pants. You will be much more likely to actually put them away.

Riel’s shoes get tossed in a big wicker basket in the bedroom. His gaming stuff (headset, Skuf Controller, and various games) go in a decorative basket on top of the entertainment center. Our keys hang by the front door. These things make it even easier for us to put stuff away then it is to get it out.

Think vertically when it comes to storage. Do you have space above your cupboards for extra kitchen items? Can you increase closet space by stacking bins? You can use bookshelves for more than books and put up shelves almost anywhere.

3. Make it your own.

Sophie makes our apartment our home

Sophie makes our apartment our home

You’ll be miserable in your apartment if you are constantly reminded that it’s borrowed space. So move yourself in. Decorate. You can either throw a few posters up, or go all out with curtains, rugs, art, etc. If you can paint a wall – do it!

We lived in our current apartment for around 6 months before it started to feel like our home. The major turning point for us was getting our Christmas puppy, Sophie. Nothing says home like a puppy that can’t wait to see you when you return from work. I highly recommend getting a pet if your apartment allows it.

4. Create usable spaces.

This compact office space is actually in the corner of our bedroom

This compact office space is actually in the corner of our bedroom

What do you spend your time doing at home? Make space for it. If you watch a lot of movies then you need a good entertainment set-up with comfortable seating. If you spend a lot of time writing or drawing you need an office space. If you want to have dinner parties, make sure you have a dining table that accommodates enough people.

Much of the time you can divide one room into multiple spaces (Ikea has lots of great inspiration). Maybe you don’t have a dining room, but you can create a living room/dining room combo. We definitely don’t have an office, but we turned one end of the bedroom into a workspace. If you can do the things you love in your apartment it won’t seem like the walls are closing in.

5. Make friends.

Get to know your neighbors. In an apartment complex you and your neighbors are bound to irritate each other. Sometimes even  routine noises such as the neighbor’s television or dishwasher can seem like a huge issue. It will be easier on everyone if you are on a first-name basis and can casually mention these things to one another. And, if you are on a first-name basis the noises probably won’t annoy you as much (and vice versa, hopefully).

Get to know your apartment manager. Inevitably, problems will arise at your apartment. The toilet may not be flush, or your dog may damage the carpet or drywall (like ours did). In such an event, you’ll be grateful that you already have a good relationship with your apartment manager. Just like the relationship between you and your neighbor, the apartment manager is more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt in a situation if you have already made a good impression.

I spent my childhood in a house and had a hard time adjusting to apartment life. These are some of the things that have helped us to make our apartment a home. 

For more apartment solutions check out my Apartment Life board on Pinterest!

What have you done to fit into a small apartment?