There are a slew of reasons you might end up in an apartment you hate. Maybe you just had to escape a roommate who was driving you crazy, or the neighborhood took a dive after you signed your lease. Whatever the explanation is, the fact of the matter is that now you’re so miserable, you hate having to go back there at the end of the day.
The road to recovery is not easy here, and it’s riddled with a lot of rationalization and positive thinking (both of which you’re likely running low on). But like most low points in life, the situation doesn’t get better with brooding or kvetching, so you’ll have to do all you can to weather the storm while you wait for your lease to run out and look a for a newer, happier home.
Use this guide to help you survive that apartment you just can’t take anymore:
Fairly Assess Your Misery
Claiming you just hate “everything” about your apartment will get you nowhere…even if that’s how you really feel. Decide what makes you the most miserable: cramped rooms, insufficient closet/storage space, drab colors, lack of windows/natural light, crummy neighbors, poor maintenance/management, lack of parking, etc. Take the time to rank everything that bothers you most to least, then cross off the reasons that are beyond your control, like bad neighbors or inadequate parking. After that, you’ll be down to the things you do have power over.
Zero In on the Biggest Problem
For illustration, let’s start with a common problem: small rooms. Short of knocking out a wall, which no landlord would ever agree to, you can’t physically change the measurements of a unit. However, you can make it appear larger by painting it white or eggshell. As pretty as they may be, colors (both muted and bright) unfortunately create atmospheres that feel restrictive and small.
Rethink your furnishings, too. A large, overstuffed sofa may be a welcoming refuge to curl up on in the evening, but it can easily overpower a small living room. Opt for a couple of comfy chairs with ottomans that can be pushed out of the way at a moment’s notice to create more floor space. Replace oversized coffee tables with smaller end tables. If you have a standalone bookcase, consider installing a few sets of shelves on your walls instead. You’ll also want to hang that flatscreen TV on a wall instead of perching it on a stand.
Cover the floors with a collection of small rugs rather than a single large area rug, which usually only makes rooms feel more constricted. Replace sprawling houseplants on the floor with a few hanging ivies to create an airier atmosphere. Strategically place floor lamps around the room to illuminate dark corners. Last but not least, keep wall decorations like large photos and paintings to a minimum, leaving lots of light-colored walls open to reflect the sunshine.
Figure Out What You Can Fix
If your landlord won’t let you paint your own walls, politely ask if the building maintenance crew can do the job for you. You may have to buy the paint, but it’s a small price to pay for your personal happiness.
Replacing kitchen or bathroom floors, as well as hardwired light fixtures, can also serve to brighten a bad apartment, but again, consult your landlord before doing anything else. The same applies to stoves, refrigerators, and dishwashers. Many times all you have to do is ask, especially if a major appliance is already old and/or malfunctioning.
Address the Specifics
Many problems are easier to fix than you might think. For instance, if you lack closet space, try clearing out anything you haven’t worn in the last year. If it’s been unworn for that long, it’s unlikely you’ll ever miss it. You can also install floor-to-ceiling shelving and drawers so no space goes unused, or check out other storage ideas online.
Poor apartment maintenance can be frustrating and depressing, to say the least. Ask your landlord to fix electrical issues immediately, as they can pose a serious fire risk. Leaky pipes and plumbing issues also need quick attention. If your requests are ignored, contact your local tenants’ rights association for solutions.
Cramped kitchens make food preparation and storage a nightmare. Why not replace your dining table with a breakfast bar and stool to free up space? You could also invest in a mobile kitchen cart to act as an extra countertop whenever you have guests over. Use hooks on a pegboard to stash all your kitchen tools and gadgets, and install hanging baskets to store fruits and vegetables.
Seek Out Inspirational Sources
Still not feeling crazy about your current living situation? Check out home improvement websites, videos, and TV programs that specialize in apartment renovations. Many address the aforementioned problems as well as decorating on a budget, DIY decorating solutions, and where to find deals on next-to-new furniture and accessories. There are also several magazines dedicated to apartment living that are chock-full of creative solutions to almost any problem your apartment might present.
Don’t let your environment adversely affect your outlook on life. Make the best of that apartment you hate with creativity, a big smile, and the thought of soon being able to move into your real dream apartment.