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With great freedom comes great responsibility. And cooking.

Feeling at Home Alone: A Guide to Surviving Your First Studio

Single Living Demystified

With great freedom comes great responsibility. And cooking.

By Alina Shaikh, University of Toronto


A kitchen, bathroom and living room steps away from your bed?

Optimum conditions for dining in and throwing crumbs off your sheets. Admitting you’re a slob who doesn’t get up for anything other than takeout? Harder than you think.

With the emergence of resource furniture that can twist and turn from a bed into a bookcase, we’re now in the age of stuffing all of our needs into one cute package, as evidenced by the ever-increasing interest in studio apartments. Tiny, one-person pads are convenient, accessible and sound like an all-around good time, sure, but that dining table between your bed and futon will still fuck your toe up.

With these tips and tricks though, you can get the most “bang for your buck” as Baby Boomers love to say. So learn from my mistakes and make your studio a laid-back cornucopia of pleasure (eating, sleeping and pooping).

1. Don’t Sh*t Where You Eat

Whether you’re talking about jeopardizing your job by cavorting with a romantic interest from the office, or having your entire island—barstools included—right outside the john, you’d think that this tip was pretty obvious. I’m sure you’re able to understand why mixing business and pleasure is a bad idea, but architects don’t seem capable of grasping the problem, and will stubbornly defend their shitting-and-eating floorplans till the day they die.

houseFeeling at Home Alone: A Guide to Surviving Your First Studio

My advice: Ditch the island-dining experience for some big ass coffee tables. They can facilitate your unhealthy magazine hoarding, as well as hold your ramen cups and coffee mugs.

Having a kitchen right near the bathroom is common in a lot of studios, as people tend to keep the facilities close to each other and the bedroom separate. Ideally, rooms should be a few paces away from each other, but hey, convenience (and affordability) right?

If you’re in a similarly cramped situation, I’ve seen uni kids put up space dividers to break down their apartments areas into kitchens and living rooms, then use curtains to hide their disaster of a bed. Careful though—too many dividers and curtains and your house party will look more like a confused, wobbling maze than the “Project X” remake you were originally going for.

2. Break the Stereotype: Learn to Cook

There’s nothing better than coming home, thinking up a meal and going through with it any way you know how, the majority of those ways being YouTube recipes and “5 Minute Taco” tutorials. I didn’t say cook healthy, so there’s a loophole right there.

Cooking during your college life will not only prepare you for the real world (metabolism doesn’t last forever, as we all bitch and moan), but will also give you major party-hosting capabilities (who doesn’t want to hang at Cam’s studio after his frat-famous guacamole?). It isn’t like that one failed Astro final, because it’s simple: Friends want friends who can cook, shitty apartment or not.

Author’s Note: If you don’t care about having friends, you probably care about yourself. Good. Promote self-love, romanticize treating yourself and make yourself a goddamn five star meal. Because you deserve it, and you deserve to know how to use that palm-steak doneness trick everyone tells you about.

3. The Landlord Is Your New RA

You have one of two: The Don that kicks your door in, unannounced, and grabs your friend’s one beer bottle while complaining that the “party” is too loud; or the Dorm Mom that you can call 24/7 about your toilet leakage struggles. There is no in-between.

The real news: You have to get along with both types, while also getting over your standard, GPA-induced summer grieving period.

You can do this by taking way too many pictures of the closet studio to use as “before” pictures, and attaching them to your emails about how desperately you need the plumber, exterminator and maid to come in all at once. Kidding—but seriously, don’t be afraid to let the owners know what’s really going on in the place you’ll be living in for umpteen weeks/months/years. If it affects your life, your experience and their property, you better believe they’ll want to hear about it asap.

4. How to Get Out of the “Studio Shell”

The “studio shell,” though more common in metropolitan housing, occurs when a person has basically become a shell of their former self. Because everything they need is within arm’s reach, these shells leave their apartment less and less frequently, instead opting to stay home. I don’t think I have to tell you this, but it’s as much for me as it is for you: Although your Netflix-streaming TV might be two steps away from the pizza in the fridge, it may be wise to force yourself to get out for a bit.

Feeling at Home Alone: A Guide to Surviving Your First Studio

As a result of the unending temptation to stay in, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve retraced my steps looking for the remote and found it in the pantry, beside the armoire, next to my trashcan or thoroughly soaked by laundry detergent. (They’re somehow all next to each other; I don’t even know how this was supposed to work out in the first place.)

What’s really important is how much time you spend doing something productive versus how much time you spend catching up on “Pewdiepie” while reclined over your convertible futon, reaching over to the stove for the matcha (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating the space issue a bit, but still).

5. Taking Care, Taking Names

Living in a studio is hard work, no shit. It may be the first place you ever call your own, through and through. That’s why it’s so important to take note of everything you love about spaces you call “home,” and note exactly what it is that makes them feel like home.

Waking up to daylight streaming through your window? Check your budget-friendly studio viewings for windows facing the sunrise. Adore motivational reminders of your friends and how far you’ve come? Like tiny streamers throughout your space, Insta shots pinned to string bring a lot of personality to the room.

Even something as simple as a worn leather jacket, a dab of perfume or a casual throw over draped on your couch can make a world of difference. Maybe only you notice it, sure, but taking care of your space means putting in the time and effort to adorn your studio with things that truly matter to you, so that wherever you are in the world, you’re home.

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