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7 Simple Storage Ideas for Apartments

Living in a smaller space such as an apartment may pose a challenge when it comes to storing all of your belongings. As you design and decorate your space, there are lots of different things you can do to maximize your storage space. When you take the chance to open your mind and get creative, you’ll realize that you actually have more storage options than you think. Here are 7 easy ideas for adding extra storage space in your apartment.

Be Intentional with Furniture

Choosing furniture that can function as storage space can make your apartment stylish and practical. Try using a storage ottoman as a coffee table for a convenient place to keep blankets in your living room. Another great idea is to use a dresser as a TV stand for more drawers and shelves. Being intentional with your furniture is a great way to make the most out of your floor space.

Optimize Storage Under the Bed

Don’t skip out on utilizing the space under your bed for storage. It is such a simple option that often has a ton of room, and it also allows you to store your belongings out of sight. You can even find a bed frame with a built-in drawer for maximum storage space or use storage bins that can easily slide under your bed to stay organized.

Purchase a Shoe Rack

If there’s anything that can take up a lot of space in your closet, it’s shoes. Even though they are fairly small in size, shoes can be awkward to organize and can get cluttered very easily. You can find all different kinds of shoe racks online, so you’re sure to find one that works for your apartment. You could add shelf style racks in your entryway to organize shoes near the door or try an over-the-door organizer to hide away your shoes in your closet.

Get Creative with Over-the-Door Organizers

Over-the-door organizers can be used for more than just shoes. They are extremely versatile and can be used to store all kinds of things. Organize your favorite snacks behind your pantry door, or even store cleaning supplies on the door of your utility closet. With plenty of options, over-the-door organizers are an easy and affordable idea to maximize storage in your apartment.

Add Style with Storage Carts

Rolling carts are a cute and easy way to add a little more storage to your space. You can choose from many different styles and designs, and they can be placed just about anywhere. Place one in your bathroom to organize your makeup and toiletries or add one next to your desk to store books and office supplies.

Take Advantage of Closet Hacks

Trying some simple closet hacks to organize your closet can really make a difference in using your space wisely. One idea is to use vertical hangers in your closet to hang even more clothes. Hanging cubes are another good option to help you stay organized.

Maximize Vertical Space with Shelves

One area for storage that’s often overlooked in homes and apartments is the walls. Adding shelves can work wonders for storing and organizing small objects such as books and knick-knacks that could otherwise contribute to clutter.

When you know how to find creative ways to store your things, keeping your apartment organized and free of clutter can feel much easier. With these easy tricks, you can take your apartment to the next level and design a space that is both practical and stylish.

Renter-Friendly Ideas to Personalize Your Space

When you move into a new apartment, you have the opportunity to design a whole new space to your liking. Designing and decorating your apartment can be a lot of fun, but if you are renting your place, you may feel limited in what you can do to add your own personal touch. With all the new innovations in design over the years, there are many temporary options for renters to get creative with their space without risking any damage or permanent changes that could go against their building rules. Here are some of the top renter-friendly ideas to add some personality to every room.

Painting Your Walls

A great option to add interest to your space is painting. A lot of apartment buildings allow people to paint their walls, as long as they are painted back to their original color before moving out. You can paint one feature wall a fun color to add contrast, or paint cool shapes for an organic look. Painting is also a great way to incorporate color throughout your apartment!

Adding Texture with Rugs

Rugs are a great option for softening a space with hard floors by adding a cozier feel. When it comes to choosing an interesting rug, there’s a world of possibilities. With different colors, textures, patterns, and styles, adding a rug is the perfect opportunity to be creative and make your place feel more like home.

Lighting and Lamps

Lighting can make a big difference in the look and feel of a space. Adding soft lighting can help to create a warmer and more comforting feel, and string lights can add visual interest to a space. Giving your apartment a welcoming vibe through lighting can elevate your rental to the perfect entertaining space. You can also express your style by choosing unique lamp designs that add character to the room.

Choosing Unique Artwork

Art is a classic and stunning way to make your space unique. Cultivating a variety of art that speaks to your personality and tastes can really make a difference when designing your apartment. You can hang paintings or photographs, and even add sculptures or ceramics throughout your apartment. You can even feature your own art if it is a passion of yours. Art can also be a great talking piece for guests.

Decorating with Plants

Adding plants to your living space can really bring a special touch of life and energy, and there are lots of choices for easy houseplants. Artificial plants are also a good idea if you don’t want to worry about taking care of the plant, and silk flowers can look just as good as the real deal! Placing plants throughout your apartment can be a good way to tie your whole space together by adding a bit of greenery to each room.

With a bit of creativity, there are so many options and ideas for renters to personalize their space without making permanent changes. When you open your mind to put in a little extra work, you can create the apartment of your dreams no matter where you are. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try new things!

Sectional Sofas vs. Separate Living Room Sets for Apartments: The Pros and Cons

Is a sectional right for your apartment? Or would a separated sofa and loveseat combo make more sense for your home? The answer depends on many factors, with your personal preference being the main one. Here are a few pros and cons of each to help you decide what’s best for you.

Sectional Furniture

Pros
  • They’re ideal for smaller spaces, as the arms of separate sofas and loveseats take up space that usually isn’t used.
  • They offer a more cohesive appearance in the room.
  • The living room may appear cozier, more comfortable, and more inviting.
  • A basic sectional provides the same number of spots as a sofa and loveseat combined.
  • Although they are made with a certain number of spots, they can typically fit more people than that, comfortably.
  • If you choose U-shaped sectionals, you will have eight seats: two on each of the three sides plus two connecting spots.
Cons
  • The middle/connection section can be uncomfortable, although it still allows for seating.
  • Unless it’s a sectional that can be separated, it can be difficult to move if you relocate.

Sofa and Loveseat

Pros
  • Sofas and loveseats have a more elegant, polished appearance.
  • While the arms may take up space, the arms can enhance the comfort level.
  • Sofas and loveseats are easier to move when you need to vacuum under and behind them.
  • If you’re one who likes to rearrange your furniture to give your living room a new look every now and then, separate pieces may make more sense.
  • You may have more design options, such as being able to place more end tables in your living room. The end tables may be more accessible as well.
  • Separate pieces can make a small room look larger.
Cons
  • They will take up more space in your living room.
  • If you’re looking for a casual design in your living room, separate pieces may look too formal.
As for pricing, we really can’t say which option would be more ideal – because a variety of factors may affect the cost of each. Some of the many factors that may affect the difference in cost between a sectional and sofa/loveseat combo include:
  • The material (leather, fabric)
  • Modern technology that’s incorporated (charging stations for phones, audio devices)
  • Reclining options
  • Any chaises or footrests that may be included
  • The size
  • The brand
Ultimately, the decision will depend on your preference, how you typically use your living room, and the amount of space you have. Whatever you choose, we hope your living room looks amazing and provides you with all the comforts and conveniences you’re looking for!

Spring Cleaning with a Purpose: How to Clear the Clutter While Beefing Up Your Bank Account

For people who like to save money and actually enjoy cleaning (yes, they do exist … and on this planet, no less), the spring season is like a dream come true! They already know a truth that others might not realize: Spring cleaning means you can make some good money, clear the clutter, relieve stress, and protect the environment all at the same time. As you’re organizing your home this spring, remember that nearly everything can be reused, sold, or recycled. Almost everything. Think about it: 1. Clothing, shoes, handbags, and outerwear Start with the obvious: your closets and drawers. Make sure you have a few hours and take everything out of the closet. Seriously … just dump everything on the bed. Then, go through them one by one and neatly replace the items you used that week or regularly use during the month. In addition to being a smart way to reorganize and tidy up, you can identify which items you don’t use as often. Chances are, you will have a ton left over. If any of those items are in decent shape, take a picture of them and sell them online or take them to a consignment shop. For everything else that’s left over, do this … in this order … right away — not tomorrow, not next week. Right now. … Throw them all in boxes or trash bags. Seal the boxes or bags. Place the boxes or bags into your car. Take your keys out of your pocket or your purse. Insert the key into the ignition. Drive to a donation center or kiosk. Place the donations into the bin. Go back home. Start on the next closet or bureau. Why are we so insistent on this urgency? Well, because it can be difficult to resist the temptation to take things out of those bags. Just don’t do it. If you haven’t used a piece of clothing in weeks or months, you don’t need it. It’s probably out of style anyway. 2. Outdated technology There are many possibilities when it comes to your old cellphones, tablets, and obsolete music or gaming equipment.
  • Donate them to schools, veterans’ organizations, low-income communities, children’s hospitals, or other nonprofit organizations that could use them.
  • Sell them online.
  • Give them to someone in your family who doesn’t need the newest models.
  • Take them to a facility that recycles old technology. (Do not simply discard them. Computers, batteries, and other technological devices contain heavy metals, such as lead and toxic chemicals, that pollute soil and contaminate groundwater. These devices also won’t fully break down, so they will sit in landfills indefinitely.)
3. Still handy hand-me-downs Do you have little ones who aren’t so little anymore? We know it’s hard to part with those sentimental clothing and shoes, but you can do it. Family members or friends who still have little ones can use them! Of course, you can keep one or two as souvenirs. 4. Jewelry for sale You can make a good amount of change by selling jewelry that no longer suits your style. Try a few different places to make sure you’re getting the best value for your goods. 5. Timeless books Whether they’re textbooks or novels, you may be able to sell your books for a few dollars. If you happen to have valuable classics, they may be worth a lot more than that, too. If nothing else, gather those books you no longer need and donate them to a local library or school just to clear the clutter in your apartment. 6. Antiques You know those antiques around your home that you’re keeping “just in case they’re worth something in the future”? It’s time to have them appraised! You can find many antique appraisal companies in the area, and there are three scenarios:
  • If you find the item is valuable now but likely won’t increase in value in the future, then bid it farewell, take your money, and move on.
  • If it’s going to gain value, you may be wiser to keep it.
  • If it’s worth nothing, well, then you can get a good laugh out of it and then send it to a recycling center.
  • 7. Musical instruments and sports gear If you’re a parent, you’re likely well aware of how much musical instruments and sports gear cost. In many cases, your children only use them for one season or one music lesson and then never again, especially if they happen not to enjoy that particular activity. Sell them to used sports stores or online for someone else to use.

Sledding Hills & More Near You: Cool Places in Michigan Where You Can Have a Blast this Winter

Technically, spring begins in March. But we live in Michigan, and that means the snow might be here until the end of April.  For those of you who love winter sports, that means you have plenty of time left to enjoy all the winter wonders that this Great Lakes state has to offer. Have you hit the slopes yet? Are you looking for a fun sledding hill for your children? You may be well aware of the big names in outdoor winter sports in Michigan, like the Boyne Mountain Resort in Charlevoix County, the Mt. Holly Ski & Snowboard Resort in Holly,  or the nearby Pine Knob Ski Resort in Clarkston. We love those spots just as much as you do! But there are many lesser-known places near you where you can feel the rush and make lasting memories. Whether you’re a new apartment resident or have been in southeast Michigan forever and are looking for something new, allow us to point out some amazing locations – both large and small – for sledding, skiing, snow tubing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, and more this winter. Near Beacon Hills Apartments in Auburn Hills Near Briggs Park and Townhomes of Caswell in Troy Near Trillium Village Apartments in Novi Near Farnum and 14, La Plaza, R.O.C., and Wilshire Apartments in Royal Oak Near Andover Woods of Rochester Hills Near Aspen Village Mobile Home Community in Gaylord Near Warris Farms Apartments in Westland Near Cloverly Village, Hideaway, and Hidden Valley Club Apartments in Ann Arbor  Some locations may be closed or have policies in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so check the websites or call the locations for more information before you head out. We hope you enjoy this pretty winter before it’s gone!

12 Indoor Plants that are Perfect for Apartment Homes

Indoor plants can do much more than make your apartment home look pretty. They can also boost your mood, reduce stress levels, add soothing scents, eliminate common toxins, and enhance natural air circulation.

In addition to proper maintenance, choosing the right indoor plants is the key to sprucing up your apartment.

The following plants are known to thrive in indoor environments, so they are ideal even for residents who were not born with green thumbs.

Paddle Plant

This succulent grows best in bright light, so keep it beside a window. Water it whenever the top 2 inches are completely dry, which is about every two weeks.

Pothos

This low-maintenance plant is great for beginners. It can be placed in bright, indirect light or in low light. It can be grown in dry soil or in vases of water, and it tends to do well in nearly any kind of soil. Water it about every 10 days or when the top one or two inches feel dry.

Chinese Evergreen

You can water a Chinese evergreen regularly or once every few weeks. Either way tends to work for this low-maintenance indoor plant. It prefers medium to low light, making it perfect for dimly lit rooms.

Jade Plant

Considered a symbol of good luck, a jade plant does need to be watered regularly. Do not let it dry out completely between waterings. It must be placed in an area with an abundance of natural light.

Asparagus Fern

An asparagus fern is thorny, so wear gloves when taking care of it. Watering this plant entails misting the stems daily. You can place it in a sunny or shady area.

Yucca

A yucca plant prefers bright, indirect light and sandy soil. It shouldn’t stagnate in damp soil for long periods of time, so make sure the pot has proper drainage. Water it once a week.

Peace Lily

A peace lily prefers low to bright, indirect sunlight and humidity, making it ideal for corners in darker rooms. It can be grown in a vase, as long as it is suspended or floated near the top of the water. If you choose to grow it in soil, water it once a week.

Aloe

Aloe plants not only beautify homes with an exotic look, but they can also serve medicinal purposes. An aloe plant needs bright sunlight and lots of water, but make sure the soil dries out before you water it again.

String of Pearls

If you want something unique, this is the gem you’ve been looking for. The way this fun plant appears, you would think it belongs on a grapevine. A string of pearl plant prefers bright light and sandy soil. Water it once twice per month.

Calathea Ornata

A calathea ornata can add a burst of color to your home. Keep the soil moist, and place the plant in a humid environment if possible. Don’t let the soil get too dry before watering it. It prefers bright, indirect sunlight.

Philodendron

What’s not to love about this plant? Its heart-shaped leaves can enhance the character of any home. Do not place it in direct sunlight, as the sun could burn the leaves. Water it every one or two weeks, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.

Snake Plant

Snake plants should be placed in indirect sunlight. Allow the soil to dry before watering this pretty plant. It typically doesn’t need to be watered more than once every two weeks or even once per month.

6 Ways to Relieve Stress During the Holidays

There’s so much to love about the holidays. Fluffy snowflakes floating all around you, colorful lights on buildings nearby, music in the air.

And then there are a few things you might not love so much, like the stress that comes with the season.

But if you take a moment to step back, you can definitely enjoy all the wonders of the holiday season without as much stress. You just have to be mindful of your own needs and listen to your body and your mind when they tell you to just stop.

Here are a few ways you can relieve stress during the holidays … most of which you might not mind so much.

Get enough sleep

Sleep deprivation can affect you in more ways than you know, including contributing to physical pain, poor concentration, general irritability, and possibly even that notorious holiday weight gain. During the holiday season when we all have so much to do, it may be tempting to skimp on sleep, but it’s important to get those 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night to help you tackle the day.

It will most certainly make a difference in how you feel and how those around you feel.

Here are some ways to ensure that you do get a good night’s sleep:

  • Maintain the same sleep schedule.
  • Darken the bedroom before going to sleep.
  • Ensure you have ideal blankets and pillows based on your preference, as well as wear clothing that is optimal for your sleep comfort.
  • Use aromatherapy devices such as diffusers to add a calming, soothing atmosphere in the room.
  • Shut off your devices at least one hour before going to sleep, and set it to sleep mode to avoid being awakened by the sound of text messages, emails, and social media notifications. Don’t allow yourself to check your phone endlessly, shop for gifts, or play those games as you’re trying to fall asleep.

Laugh loudly and love freely

Allow yourself to be happy.

The operative word there is “allow.” Really think about that. … So many people these days stop themselves from smiling or laughing, but why?

Laugh loudly, express affection toward your loved ones, and show kindness to strangers.

One way to put this stress relief tip in action is to spend an evening watching your favorite holiday comedy with your loved ones. Shut down your devices, cuddle up with your family, and make an effort to laugh at the funny scenes in the movie.

Seriously. Concentrate on laughing. Don’t just watch. Allow yourself to laugh out loud when something is funny. Laughter is a stress reliever and can be contagious, so don’t hold back.

Do what you can right now … and leave it at that

An important way to relieve stress is to live in the moment. This moment is all you have, after all, so don’t worry about what you need to do tomorrow, the day after that, or in 2022. All you can do is what you’re doing right now.

Having that mindset can help you complete one task after another rather than feeling overwhelmed by thinking about them all at the same time — or, worse, trying to do them all at the same time. You know very well that when that happens, nothing gets done, which can make your stress level even higher.

Meditate, exercise, or practice mindfulness techniques

Take at least 15 minutes per day to meditate, exercise, or practice mindfulness techniques. Practice yoga, silently meditate, listen to calming music, or sit quietly and listen to the sounds around you. A simple walk around the block will do as well. If you prefer something more active, do your daily aerobics, lift weights, or play sports if you wish.

When done properly and safely, virtually any exercise or wellness technique will work wonders for your body, mind, and spirit and help to melt away the stress of the day.

Maintain a healthy diet

You may be tempted to choose unhealthy foods as you’re trying to finish all your errands or socialize with friends, but try to eat healthy when you can. When you eat better, you feel better. That can reduce physical stress on your body, and that in turn will inevitably improve your mood and mental state.

You don’t have to do everything

You know yourself. You can probably think of many ways to cut down on the things you don’t really need to do.

  • Kindly decline that party invitation from a friend of a friend on Facebook who you never met.
  • If you need to bring food to a party, go ahead and buy it from the store rather than making it from scratch. Some party guests actually prefer store-bought to homemade. Alternatively, buy most of the ingredients and make the main elements of the dish from scratch, just to make sure your dish still feels authentic.
  • Are you having a party in your own home? Consider making it more casual, so you can minimize the time you spend cooking, prepping your home, or washing dishes afterward.
  • Buy gifts online rather than driving from store to store, and take advantage of grocery delivery apps. (That might be safer during this COVID era anyway.)

Remember to ask for help if you feel overwhelmed. Consider asking for that help from the children in your life. They might love to wrap those gifts, decorate those cookies, or even help you prepare for a party.

However you celebrate the season, we hope it’s as joyful, peaceful, safe, and stress-free as can be.

Happy Holidays!

9 Must-Do’s & Creative Ideas for a Festive ‘Friendsgiving 2021’

Move over Thanksgiving. There’s a new feast in town. Friendsgiving has given November a new meaning in recent years, and it’s making the holiday even better.

Really, why have one Turkey Day feast when you can have two or more throughout the month. After all, the more, the merrier. (You have enough merriment to last through both November and December, right?)

Friendsgiving offers one major bonus over its much older counterpart: less stress. Although you can make it even more extravagant than Thanksgiving if you wish, Friendsgiving can be an easygoing, pretention-free way to celebrate the holiday with friends who may have other commitments on Thanksgiving Day itself.

To truly make your Friendsgiving especially festive and memorable this year, make it all about the fun and casual vibe while making each guest feel truly welcome and valued. Your event may even be the hit of the season and become an annual tradition in your home!

Here are some ways to make your Friendsgiving 2021 outstanding.

  1. Formally invite guests to your casual party.

    Go beyond the basic email or text message and send formal, print invitations. The invitations will add a more official tone to the event while setting the stage of the theme. Follow up with phone calls and texts to make sure people received the invitations and to see whether or not they are planning to attend.

  2. Create a themed hashtag.

    Ask your guests to use the hashtag when they post images of the event on their social media accounts. If all goes well, you might end up using that same hashtag for years, essentially creating a “social media journal” of your Friendsgiving traditions.

  3. Post a signup sheet online for people to identify what they’re going to bring.

    This is a good way to avoid 10 variations of green bean casserole. (Does anyone actually enjoy that, by the way?) You may wish to list general categories of dishes you would like to see at your potluck and then ask people to sign up for them. That way, you avoid double-dishes while giving your guests leeway to make the dish as creative as they would like.

    For friends who prefer not to cook, don’t forget to include the “other” things that you will need, like plates, napkins, drinks, ice, olives, pickles, and so on.

  4. Oh, those drinks…

    You may wish to make it BYOB event and let everyone bring what they wish. Otherwise, you can make it a themed party by suggesting a certain beverage color or certain type of beverage. You might even choose to make it a mocktail party, which is especially ideal if children will be attending.

    Whatever you do, make sure you have something for everyone. Don’t forget to have enough everyday water, soda, and coffee available.

  5. Plan to make the main course.

    As the host, you get dibs on the star of the night. So, the turkey is on you! Whether you want to make a full turkey or the turkey breast alone, if you add your own special take on it, the main course is sure to become a fan favorite.

  6. Design beautiful place settings … or don’t. It’s your party.

    If your event is super casual or you don’t have space in your home for a full dining table, feel free to set everything out and have guests eat on the couch in front of the TV or while standing around the kitchen. Gather some bean bags, pillows, and blankets so people can even sit on the floor if they choose.

    If you are looking for a more elegant party, create place settings for each guest. Pinterest offers endless ideas for beautiful Friendsgiving place settings.

    For example, this simple touch can make your guests feel warm and welcome. Make sugar cookies by hand, and use icing to place each person’s initials on one of them. Tuck each one into a mini gift bag and seal it. Slightly decorate the bag with a Thanksgiving-themed touch, and place the cookie on the top plate to decorate each person’s place setting.

    Add Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving-themed décor throughout your home as well to enhance the festive vibe.

  7. Your guests need something else to do.

    Your company is the best! It’s doubtful anyone will need anything other than delicious food, drinks, and laughter with you and your other guests. But … you know, just in case … you should have some other fun things to do for the rest of the evening.

    Combine Friendsgiving and Game Night, for instance, or have a classic Thanksgiving movie playing in the background. (“Planes, Trains and Automobiles” anyone?) Consider a casino-themed Friendsgiving and make it a Poker Night. Remember to also have games and toys available for young children if they’re expected to attend.

  8. Consider a competition for the dish of the night.

    Just to make sure your guests add a little zing to their dishes and enjoy your Friendsgiving event even more, offer a small prize for the top chef. Create secret ballots ahead of time that people can use to vote for their favorite dish of the evening.

    Alternatively, create a contest for a particular food or drink item, such as hot chocolate, and have your guests sample each one to see which one takes the cake.

  9. Send them home happy.

    While you’re buying those bags, invest in a few larger ones that you can use as goodie bags. Fill them with various treats such as homemade cake pops and candies, and personalize each one.

    Think you’ve had enough of the food for one day? Instead of snacks, send your guests away with a mini mani/pedi kit, cooking utensils, a deck of cards and a pair of dice, or whatever else you think your guests would enjoy and that fits the theme of your party.

However you plan your Friendsgiving 2021 event, we hope it’s filled with lots of fun, love, and laughter. And just think, you get to do it all over again on Thanksgiving!

Have an amazing November!

COVID Halloween Take 2: Celebrating Safely During the Ongoing Pandemic

The wind whistles in the night. Fallen leaves make scratching sounds as they flutter along the sidewalk. The moon casts an eerie light on the world beneath it, and ghosts, scarecrows, and skeletons sway in the breeze.

Halloween is the best, isn’t it? … As long as visions of demons don’t dance in your head.

Michigan homeowners look forward to decorating their homes, trick-or-treating, and going to those haunted houses and hayrides all year long.

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2019 survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, total spending for Halloween was expected to reach $8.8 billion, with $2.7 billion of that for decorations. Among those celebrating the holiday, 49 percent planned to decorate their home or yard.

Despite COVID-related restrictions for Halloween 2020, homeowners found innovative ways to decorate their homes and celebrate with their friends and neighbors outdoors. In some ways, it was one of the most memorable Halloweens yet here in Michigan.

Did you have such a blast last year that you want the trend to continue? Are you looking for unique ideas to keep the spirit alive? Don’t forget about these inspirational innovations:

  • Outdoor Halloween Tents: Celebrate safely outside, and play Halloween music softly in the background to contribute to the aura of the night.

  • Candy Chutes: Last year, Michigan homeowners created 6-foot or more long chutes to slide treats down to trick-or-treaters. Ironically, the fun social distancing technique made trick-or-treating even more of a treat.

  • Goodie Tables: Up and down the block, homeowners set up outdoor tables with treat bags and loose candy, allowing passersby to pick up what they wanted and head on their way.

    But that’s not what happened. What did happen was even better. People stayed and mingled with each other, creating a greater sense of community.

    That’s an especially smart idea for apartment communities, so you can get out, get to know your neighbors, and maybe make a new friend or two. … Or you can kindly scare them away if you prefer. It doesn’t make a difference to us. You do you.

  • Masks with a Purpose: Kill two monsters with one stone. Remember to mask up, especially if you’re not vaccinated or plan to party indoors. Make your mask a part of your costume, and there are so many ways to do so. The teeth of a skeleton? The creepy smile of a jack-o-lantern? Funny faces? With a little imagination and inspiration, a simple COVID mask may be all you need this year.

  • Trunk-or-Treat: It’s nothing new, but trunk-or-treat took on a greater role last Halloween. Tailgating meets trick-or-treating? Yes, please!

Whether it’s in front of your building, in your apartment, at a local hayride, in a haunted house, or out of the trunk of your car, Halloween is what you make it. So make it creative, fun, and, most important of all, safe.

Happy Halloween, Everyone!

Setting Your Home Up for Success at Work and School

Who knows what this coming year has in store, but one thing is for certain: School is starting, and it’s starting soon. By most accounts, many schools and colleges will be returning to in-person learning, but you may still have plenty of things to think about.

“Should I choose online classes just to be safe, or do I want the full college experience?” “How will I ever manage my family’s schedule with so much up in the air?” “Are my kids going to be in school in person all year, or should I plan for them to attend classes at home due to the Delta variant spreading so quickly?” “Will I have to figure out if I can continue to work from home indefinitely?”

We can’t answer all of life’s questions right now, but what we can do is this: offer suggestions on how to set your home up for success, no matter what life throws your way for the 2021-2022 school year.

Setting Up Your Home for Distance Learning and Work from Home

Let’s get the most basic of basics out of the way first: internet access.

Make sure your household internet access is powerful enough to keep up with everyone in your family, at all hours of the day, even if you have multiple devices in use at the same time.

You should also take some time to think about each person in your household and consider what he or she may need. You may wish to ask everyone about their experiences throughout 2020. What worked for them? What didn’t? And how can it all be better?

The most comfortable, productive environments for home offices or school workstations include several key features.

  1. A Door

    When you need to concentrate, call someone, or participate in a remote class, you will need block out — or keep in — the noise.

  2. Windows

    Natural lighting can improve mood, which has been shown to increase positivity and productivity. Windows will also make you feel more comfortable and simply allow for a more scenic atmosphere. If windows aren’t an option, make sure the nook has the ideal lighting to meet the individual’s preferences and needs.

  3. Ergonomic Furniture and Supplies

    If you are working from home or children are attending classes at home, that means you will be using those chairs, desks, and keyboards relentlessly. Invest in ergonomic chairs, high-quality furniture, and reliable equipment. Working from home lying on the floor or with your feet up on the living room sofa may be comfortable and rather fun, but after a while, your wrists, back, and shoulders will feel the effects.

    Along these lines, make sure you have cabinets or shelves for documents, books, or similar materials readily available at your workstation. The home office or study room should also be well-connected, allowing you or your children to work or attend classes without searching frantically through the rest of the home for a charger or the phone itself.

  4. Division

    Yes, it is possible to work from home and still consider it “home.” The trick is to stop working once you’re done. One way to ensure you separate your “work home” from the “home is where your heart is home” is to literally set it up to look different than the rest of the rooms. How?

    • Toss an area rug under the workstation. Once you’re on the rug, you’re at work. Step off, and you’re off. Don’t look back. As an added bonus, the rug will beautify the space, so you can take more pride in calling it your office or classroom.
    • Paint the walls a different color than the rest of your home.
    • Having some decor in your makeshift home office is a nice touch, but choose decor that is related to education or your career. Add some fresh greenery in the space as well for comfort and an aesthetic appeal.
    • If multiple people must work from home, try to ensure each person has his or her own space. Allow them to decorate the space in a way that reflects their own individuality and is most conducive to their success.

Finding the Ideal Spaces for a Home Office or Workstation

Are you thinking, “Sure, all of that sounds nice, but where?” Take a look around! There are likely plenty of spaces in your home that can be converted into a home office or personal classroom. You don’t need a lot of space; a few simple creative tweaks are all you need.

Consider these spaces:

  • A small portion of your kitchen, perhaps against a wall that isn’t being used
  • The corner of a hallway
  • A spare bedroom or a portion of a bedroom (as long as you keep your head off the pillow)
  • Unused space in the basement
  • A den/pocket office
  • A dedicated section of the living room
  • The dining room

We all hope life will get back to normal soon, and we are seeing life rebound to pre-pandemic days, slowly but surely. But you can’t deny that we all learned a lot throughout 2020, and we can apply much of it indefinitely.

In this case, we’ve learned that home is more than a place to shower, eat, sleep, and watch TV. You can make your home your palace, the place where you can live your best life.