Being in someone else's space can be draining after a while and, when it's "home" for weeks at a time, you definitely want to feel safe and comfortable. While you can't make any dramatic changes to someone else's apartment, there are lots of simple adjustments that can have a dramatic impact.
Renting a little apartment is a huge part of why we can afford to travel overseas for over a month. True, it is 250-feet-small, doesn't have a full kitchen (hot plate, microwave, toaster oven), and only one room (living, working, dining, pull-out couch), but it's all ours and Paris is right out the door in every direction.
So how are we making it our home for these weeks? Let me give you a tour.
To start off, Here is the apartment as we found it -- the perfect size, beautifully decorated, and quite topsy-turvy about the edges.
make what you use all the time easy to reach -- Spices, tea pots, mugs, bread...only the most important things.
organize food that isn't yours by placing larger boxes in front -- There was a lot of food left in the apartment from previous tenants. I threw away several mostly-empty bottles, sticky boxes, and take-out packets but there was still a lot left. A simple wall of the larger boxes holds it all on the top shelf, still gives me a place to put the matches and toothpicks, and leaves the whole bottom shelf for our food.
move what you won't use and organize the rest -- This cabinet was a tangle of pots, pans, mismatched cups, and unreachable bowls. Bringing anything out threatened everything coming out. Now? We can see everything, reach everything, and enjoy looking at everything. So much more calming, especially in the morning when I'm still blurry from sleep.
only let things you use every day stay on the counter -- When your counter is this small, everything has to work for its keep. The top of the cabinet however, is the perfect place to line up your favorite bottles of wine from your stay.
scrub it until you feel comfortable -- It's all about the elbow grease here. There's no need to re-grout (even if you wish you could) and there's no use trying to fix broken drawers. However, scrubbing the daylights out of the shower and removing as much visible mold as possible is absolutely a good investment in your future well-being and personal sanity.
create a landing place -- It goes so so far in keeping you calm and your apartment neat. The bookcase by the door, once scattered with old brochures, a ballpoint pen, and a French-to-Spanish dictionary, has become ours. Hats, scarves, and various art and writing supplies sit above the French books, grouped neatly for later exploration.
coral your shoes -- It will keep your apartment from having dirt tracked through it, it will protect your shoes from getting scuffed, and it will keep the floor clear. A small bedside shelf has been perfect for us to use for this. It also provides the perfect home for our flasks and a bottle of whiskey.
move furniture -- The adorable armchair was cramped up next to the wardrobe. Simply pushing the chair into the opposite corner of the window means we can easily open the wardrobe and creates the perfect, light-drenched reading nook. Hello, morning cuppa.
candles work miracles for warming an unfamiliar space -- On one of my early grocery runs, I managed to snag a package of eight pillar candles. Without any holders in sight in the store or the apartment, we used some dried lentils from the kitchen to fill one of the many mismatched glasses and popped the candle in. Voila. (Note that not every host allows burning candles and it is always best to ask first).
use what you have to decorate -- The bust already sitting on the dresser proved the perfect place to drape my sun hat, ready to grab as I walk out the door. We slipped our hard-won fruit into a glass bowl we found in the kitchen and popped our travel buddies next to the lamp. Have fun with it!
What are your tips for making a temporary home homey? Comment below or share with everyone on facebook.