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11 Things I Bought For My First Apartment & What Happened To Each 6 Months Later

Your first apartment. A blank canvas. All the possibilities. You read your Pinterest tutorials, and IKEA hacks, and look for furniture and vow to be organized and a grownup.

Obviously, that lasts all of two weeks, and then you look around surrounded by your piles of shit and wonder How did I get here? I meant so well. I got all of these organizing things, I read self help books? Where did I go wrong? Honestly, the most laughable item that I have that’s “adult” that I won’t even list — Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s just such a classic messy girl thing. One well-meaning person gives you this book (I actually inherited this book from my friend, who used to be a professional organizer), and you read two chapters and decide nope, not gonna happen.

My problem in life (that I’m sure many of us feel) is loving a bargain, and then accumulating mountains of crap because of it. Also my ADHD definitely contributes to my disaster zone. It takes more than just buying “adult” items to really wrangle an executive functioning problem. (For those who aren’t versed, executive functioning is what makes you remember appointments, hang up your clothes instead of tossing them on the floor, and not leave half eaten food everywhere. A disorder with this means these thoughts don’t happen naturally. You can buy all of the organizers you want, but if you’re not going to use them.) Here’s my cautionary tale:

1. A printer: $120

I bought it for my thesis, and printing out 80-page packets for workshop every other day just wasn’t worth hauling to school for. I used it a few times until I ran out of ink and couldn’t fix it, because printers and internet routers are my Achilles heel of home devices.

2. A filing cabinet: $40

Six months later, it was a mess of crumpled papers out of order and old workshop papers bleeding into other folders, which ended up on the floor outside of the cabinet.

3. An apron: $12.95

I bought it on sale from Anthropologie using my friend’s employee discount. It’s actually adorable and retro, and I feel like Betty Hofstadt Draper Francis when I wear it. But don’t fall into the trap of buying literally anything because you have an employee discount. I’ve used it for sexy pictures and an occasional cooking session, but it mostly lives under my boyfriend’s bed.

4. Garment rack: $59.95

It was a double-tiered huge rack and fell over about every three months. I used it as a real closet, and it took up a ton of floor space in my apartment. It was so cluttered with clothes and in dead space, so mice liked to hide at the bottom and poop in my clothes.

5. Glass Coffee Table: $30

I bought it in my first round of “adult” furniture shopping. It made one really cute Instagram photo, and then got pushed off to the side by my makeshift kitchen island. A vase on the kitchen island fell through it, shattering it everywhere. I stepped on glass shards daily for like three months afterwards.

6. Giant Ethan Allen desk: $90

I waited for a few weeks for the price to go down. I used my student discount on Housing Works’ student discount day (it’s every Tuesday). It was gorgeous and a very clunky, stately desk with a million drawers, AKA the problem. It was used as landing area/ledge, I used it to study for the GRE, all of the drawers became junk drawers, and again, mice hid under it.

7. Persian Rug: $60

The classiest of rugs, always owned by adults. My childhood home had like five of them. I found one at Housing Works for $60, so I was stoked. Then hair and gum constantly got stuck in it — I actually would use a dust pan, the grip part of it and brush it to get the hair out. I ended up getting rid of it after I moved.

8. 4-Poster Bed: $600

I always wanted one, and I decided I wanted to move out of my teeny bedroom and into my large main room. I moved it back and forth and had really cheap curtains for it. I couldn’t get it back together, and the bed broke.

9. Cocktail Shaker: $5

I once forgot to clean out remnants of a mojito, and it got too sticky to ever open up again.

10. Jonathan Adler Bottle Stoppers: $24

Purchased at a JA sample sale. I lost one still in the shopping bag in my piles of stuff. The other I left in a bottle of Rose that I forgot about in my fridge, and later, I couldn’t salvage it.

11. Everything Muji Makes

I’m weirdly obsessed with Muji, but also a trainwreck. Here’s a list of selected items I’ve purchased from Muji:

  • All of their notebooks: especially that come in a five-pack. I end up losing all of them, and my metaphysical poetry notes end up in my thesis notes, and it’s not fun. ($5.95)
  • Acrylic drawers: The teeny ones that make it look like “wow this person has their shit together”. They end up with makeup spilled everywhere or coated in toothpaste. (originally $38, purchased two for $10 each, $20)
  • Mesh pencil case: All of my attempts to keep all of my writing utensils in a pencil case are laughable. ($5.95)
  • Larger acrylic drawer cart: I’ve used it as my nightstand, and it’s coated in dust and the red wax from Babybel cheese. One of the drawers’ entire purpose is to support my fan next to my bed. ($47.50)

In total, I’ve blown $1,121.30 on random stuff for my first place to try and be an adult. Of course, all of it by now is broken, gone, or covered in gum. I’m moving into a new apartment this month — it has the promise of two closets, but that may not help. I’ve been buying up organizers, and I finally got a dresser that has more than two drawers (and wasn’t taken off the street). I love street furniture, but that’s another topic for another day.

I am hoping to finally clean out my wardrobe with my active Poshmark account, but who knows if that will get accomplished. Moving is rough. Anyways, I’m probably a hopeless case when it comes to becoming a totally organized grownup, so comment with any tips and tricks!

Rachael is a former front page horror story, current corporate adult. You can find her disjointed thoughts on her blog and on Twitter.

Image via Unsplash

  • Miss Meg

    All the mice! I’m cringing. A lot of this sounds less like issues with the purchases themselves (let’s say, the $60 rug) and more with general cleanliness. How do you get gum on a rug?!

    • Anni

      Yeah I know cleaning is a bitch…but I am a lot grossed out by how many instances of mice there are! If cleaning is really such a hassle for the writer, maybe they could trim their budget in other places and hire a cleaning lady once a month (2-hour clean at a $25 hr/ rate) to help them out.

      • Julia Schnell

        Without knowing anything about the writer’s apartment, cleaning alone might not solve the mouse problem (see: the ill-maintained duplex I lived in with a hole in the bottom of the back door that the landlord refused to fix which was *very inviting* to mice in the midwestern winter). But I agree that the issue isn’t the purchases themselves, but caring for them.

    • Magical Unicorn

      As someone who has recently been looking for a place… clean people seem to be the minority. Ugh. And yeah gum on a rug at home?! wtf?

  • I think the big lessons here are that buying storage isn’t the same as getting organized and nice things need to be maintained to stay nice. You need to have a system: figuring out what you can fit in your home, making sure everything has a place, and routine cleaning. At least moving will give you an opportunity to sort through what you have and chuck the stuff that is just taking up space.

  • Angela

    Good to acknowledge your potential roadblocks in becoming organized, however ending it with saying you’re a hopeless case isn’t really productive either. Responding to an issue with self deprecation doesn’t make it seem like you want to actually resolve it, or at the very least you’re not clear on what small actionable steps are possible to start from (nor what questions to ask to figure out that step).

    This article’s tone seems very off from most other TFD content.

    • penguin

      Agree. I hate how “being a mess but idgaf so I’m cool” became a thing. It’s so defeatist, which is the opposite of what I thought this site does, which is encourage people to take action and make their lives better. A lot of these problems wouldn’t be problems if the writer DID give a fuck.

  • Ella

    Lol I loved the different tone of this article. I have let babybel red wax melt in all kinds of places. Most commonly pockets and backpack compartments.

  • Shae

    Covered in gum? How does ADHD make it seem ok to put used gum on random objects? Thats gross and putting it off on ADHD seems like an excuse for bad behavior.

    • Summer

      Agreed. I don’t understand how gum ends up on rugs or anything else…maybe try throwing it away when you’re done with it? Or switch to mints if your ability to handle chewed gum is equal to that of a toddler?

      And not being able to “fix” the printer? There’s nothing that needs repairing when a printer is out of ink. It’s a very simple thing to replace that requires no tools or mechanical inclination. Consult the owner’s manual if you really can’t figure it out, or google the model of your printer if you don’t have the manual. The worst part about replacing ink is the cost of the cartridge.

      And the stepping on glass for 3 months…..?? I know shards end up everywhere when glass breaks and I can totally understand finding small pieces for a few days after, even if you’ve swept and/or vacuumed, but *months*? Again, try cleaning.

      ADHD or not, this article isn’t a case of loving to shop or scoring a bargain, this is straight-up laziness when it comes to cleaning and taking care of things that goes way beyond “lol I’m such a mess tho.”

  • Alexis

    I really don’t understand this article. Your problem is NOT that you love a bargain or can’t relate your exciting purchases to your actual life (something that a lot of people struggle with). Your problem is you don’t take care of your stuff or your living space. Seriously, walking on glass because a table top broke three months earlier? CLEAN IT UP!

  • Itsonreserve

    “I stepped on glass shards daily for like three months afterwards.”
    “I actually would use a dust pan, the grip part of it and brush it to get the hair out.”

    Girl, what you DO need to buy is a vacuum, even just a hand vac.

    “I used it a few times until I ran out of ink and couldn’t fix it, because printers and internet routers are my Achilles heel of home devices.”

    Also please tell me you sold the printer and didn’t just throw it out because you needed an ink cartridge?

  • Wendi

    Is it just me or are there some articles on TFD that you have to wonder how the author not see how their piece would be received?

  • wolf

    In defense of Marie Kondo, I have to mention that she states several times that one person cannot simplify the life of another person. The wish to simplify has to come from within. If it does not, her method is not for you. So, gifting the book to someone who never expressed any desire to have it is pointless.

  • Jay0623

    I think there’s a firm difference between “being a perfectly organized adult” and “capable of taking care of my belongings so they stay in decent condition,” and by aiming for the wrong one you might have sabotaged yourself from the get-go.

    The first one is a moonshot, because there’s no such thing as a “perfect” organization system and owning a bunch of file folders doesn’t make you any more mature (especially if you don’t have any of those habits in the first place!). It’s easy to get overwhelmed, figure you’ve messed it all up, and then stop trying and stop caring, especially when your executive dysfunction sees a huge mess with no way into breaking that into more manageable chunks so it’s easier to not look at it and let it pile up. I’ve been there, myself, many times — it’s to the point where my friends and family know they need to intervene in helping support my mental health if they come over and my condo looks like a tornado ripped through it.

    However, taking decent care of your stuff is definitely an achievable goal, and would cut down on the ability of mice to nest in your things! You don’t have to be the perfect homemaker or as organized as Marie Kondo, that’s not realistic for most folks (and it’s an extra challenge for folks who aren’t neurotypical), and aiming for that right off the bat is setting yourself up to fail.

    However, it’s not too much to set out with the aim of simply respecting your belongings. They aren’t just physical things, they’re the time and money you put into acquiring those things, and therefore by respecting your surroundings you’re respecting yourself. You deserve a nice place to live, and only you can define what “nice” means for yourself and then take whatever steps need to be taken to make that a reality. I find it helps my executive functioning to do things in small, discrete chunks, making lists so I have a set way of doing each task and setting a 5 minute timer every night to do a sweep of my home before bed, but developing a system is something it took a lot of trial and error to get good at. And it might not hurt to ask for help from more organized friends or family, who may be willing to come in and help you tidy and might have a better eye than you do at figuring out how to build systems you can actually maintain.

    Also I agree with the comments below, switching to mints might help with not getting gum everywhere and investing in a small vacuum might help with not stepping on broken glass — please do this, for your physical safety! A vacuum doesn’t have to be a big investment, either — I’ve got a $30 Dirt Devil that isn’t fantastic, but for quickly picking up hair and broken glass it’s more than sufficient.

  • anarialm

    GIRL, I am equally incapable of keeping any kind of clean or organized. My solution has been to just slowly start getting rid of things. The less stuff I have to take care of the easier it is to find the energy for the rest.

  • Rebecca Ann

    What I found was the best way to stay organized, was to get rid of as much as possible. I moved often, and would purge before AND after each move. I now only have what I need and/or love, and people always comment on how well-organized and tidy my apartment is. One person even said I’m very good with “mise en place” (but I think he meant “mise en scene), by which he was impressed by how well I had set up the space. That never would have happened if I had kept all of my old things that I no longer need. I am by no means a minimalist, though, I just find having less stuff keeps my place easier to keep in order. Good luck!

    • Miss Meg

      Lol at the “mise en place” mixup, I’d totally say the same thing.