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"First Apartment" by Tracy Raetz

When my friend first came over to see my place I had no bed and no furniture, just some sheets and a duvet cover in one corner (my ”bed”) and a blanket and some pillows in the opposite corner (my “couch.”) As my friend and I sat on the floor talking and taking bong rips, he told me my place looked like “a heroin addict's place.”

As someone who is certainly not a heroin addict, I took this as an insult. I reassured him that I had only moved in a few days ago and that slowly but surely my place would be less heroin-homey and more postgrad-pothead-chic in no time.

“No time” has now been about 6 months. I have a bed (yay!) a couch (wow!) and a few other items that makes it look like an adult might live there. I’m still not at the point where I can declare my apartment “finished” but it certainly looks more put together than it did that first scary week.

Here are my tips on turning your first apartment (no matter how small and gross it may be) into a space you enjoy being in. Moving away from your family and friends is extremely hard, but having a space to yourself that makes you feel at home can make the transition a lot easier.

Get a bed:

A box spring, a mattress, sheets and a couple pillows is all you need. Now not only do you have some place to sleep, but you can put the long side of the bed against the wall, set up some extra pillows and BAM you have a seating area. A bed is a necessary expense, and you really need to buy this new, or else you’re just buying a mattress full of bugs and someone else’s skin.

Get somewhere to sit besides your bed:

Your bed is pretty comfy, but sometimes your butt needs a change of scenery. Like most post-grads, I’m poor as shit, so I did my best to get some seating for my place for free. ‘For free!? Tracy tell me your ways!’ My secret is keeping my eyes and ears peeled. My first “furniture” piece was a wicker chair that I found set out on the parkway. One person’s trash is another’s treasure, am I right? The next was an old vintage settee that my colleague was throwing out. There was no cushion and it was a weird tan floral print but hey, it was free. I painted it, put an old sari over it and voila!


Get a table:

After a while I got tired eating all of my meals in my bed or on my lap while sitting in the wicker chair, so I decided I needed a table. A lot of flea markets have small bistro sized tables for good prices, but I wasn’t able to find one so I decided to make a temporary one. I used a large sheet of plywood and some brackets to create a place I could eat my cereal. The chairs I got in the Ikea damaged section, which if you haven’t been there is a room full of Ikea furniture with minor “damage” for extremely discounted prices. Any post-grad's dream.



This is the fun part. I also consider décor a very important aspect to a persons space; it’s how you show your personality and create a place that feels like home. When I packed up my little car to make the drive from Texas to Califonria, I made sure to include artwork, books and objects that were special to me. Looking at my apartment now, I can see how it really reflects who I am: an exact mix of my parents. I have Native American pottery and rugs from my mom, and weird salvaged objects, photo books and vintage cameras from my dad. Shelving is a great way to display the objects you love. On my walls I have framed artwork that I have collected or created over the past few years. Another DIY project I did was creating some hexagonal shelves to display some of my “objects-de-art” (as my dad so fondly calls the weird shit he salvages.)


By making the shelves myself I saved money and was able to make something custom and one-of-a-kind. I also purchased a bookshelf to act as a room divider, which turns my studio into a make-shift one bedroom, giving me a little privacy in the boudoir.


Your first apartment should be a reflection of you, but that doesn’t mean you have to go into serious debt trying to furnish it. Just surround yourself by people, art and objects that mean something to you.



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