Ready… to enhance your apartment-dwelling experience? Get set (with a creative mindset)… then GO! To Etsy.com.
Its name reminds me of the song about the itsy bitsy spider, but Etsy is anything but small: it’s a global online marketplace where all things handmade can be bought and sold, and it has tons of awesome ideas if you’re just a little bit patient and crafty.
(And also: just because I get super utilitarian here, does not mean I am a man, even though I stereotyped all men as utilitarian in the last post. I’m totally a girl. But I like utilitarian things because I’ve lived in 14 different apartments in 4 different countries since college, and I’ve noticed that the things I keep when I move are those I actually use, rather than just look at because they’re pretty. So to me, the pretty-but-useless combination reads as a waste of money in many, but not all, cases.)
Let’s get started.
The first thing I came across that was cool and functional was a stunning and useful earring holder made of beautiful old wood and simple metal chicken wire. If earrings are attractive on a person, the logic goes that they can’t look too bad away from the person; instead of stowing your jewelry away, think about putting it out as a work of art in itself. The key to making the holder attractive is having a high-quality or very interesting frame; the artist who made the one I saw chose a rich maple-toned wood and had me at first sight. Especially if you are living in a studio apartment, having décor that’s also useful is a (penny) wise way to go.
Another item along the same lines was a gorgeous (and judging from the looks of that rubber mallet, pretty dang heavy) desktop caddy made from spalted maple. Here it is. I wish I could touch it.
I don’t think I’ll get to touch it. Wah.
Anyway, this is genius because it’s obviously an exceptional piece of wood; the artist designer said he took it from his friend’s house right before the friend used it as firewood. If you want to create items like this that are useful as well as attractive like this rescued caddy is, keep your eye out for old wood at antique markets or in garage sales (you can’t just drill holes in firewood, that won’t look good), then find some friends with a power tool drill it full of holes or advertise for a carpenter on Craigslist to help you out.
Also, if you’re like me and would never think about having a wall to hang tools on, but you DO need some way to organize tools (ok, so I suppose that would make me aspirationally utilitarian?), this could be a way to trick yourself into being organized and happy about it.
Note that if you live in a shared apartment, consensus around items of décor is, logically, easier to reach the more cool features the item of décor has; I will vouch that functionality usually ranks high in on that list. And a crazy old hunk of wood with a weird story behind it and holes stuck in it, designed to bring orderliness and weightiness to your life? Definitely functional.
Cool. Moving on.
Using color as the unifying theme, you can create a sophisticated look for your apartment even if the things you’re collecting are not all alike, like these things are. (A word of wisdom from my mother: be careful not to overdo it with yellow or orange unless you know what you’re doing as a decorator because “a little bit of yellow goes a long way.” Thanks Margaret.) Collecting colored glass jars, bottles and vases can add detail and light to your apartment, and hey, in a pinch that vase can handle a bouquet just fine.
Speaking of detail plus usefulness, I will now ask you to admire these two artistic-interpretations-of-clothespins I found. The first are glittery and pink, reminding me of a shade of nail polish I had once that pretty much rocked:
Warning: These pins are not for laundry use. Because the glitter will come off, and you will look like you’re still 7 and do arts and crafts with glitter. Even though that is what we advise doing, the difference is that we advise “hacking” the laundry pins and turning them into very cool pins-formerly-known-as-clothespins to hang up your favorite photographs on a line of twine for some low-cost, low-tech photo display magic.
If you’re a little less fab and a little more subtle, do the same photos-on-a-line thing but with ex-clothespins you’ve “antiqued” yourself using black ink and rubber stamps with a motif of your choosing:
If you want to order any of these items directly just leave us a message on our Facebook page and we will happily provide any artist’s contact information. Have fun with your projects (and definitely send in any photos of any DIY desktop caddies, I will be impressed forever).