10 Apartment Essentials That Could Save Your Relationship

Photo: Courtesy of Design Within Reach.
There’s no denying the myriad joys of living alongside a significant other: shared meals, a warm bed, lazy weekends in. It's what many refer to as "a never-ending sleepover with your best friend" — and who could find fault with that? But cohabiting has its challenges, too, and city couples (often saddled with the added strain of extra-cramped quarters) have their own unique set of obstacles to contend with. In the average 550-square-foot NYC studio, after all, mess accumulates quickly, and there’s little — if any — room to slip away for a moment of solitude.

So, for a little guidance, we asked six experienced cohabitors which items they consider key for happy, healthy, and harmonious apartment-sharing. From coat racks to creative seating options, these are additions that are meant to preserve space, sanity, or both — so you can concentrate instead on the (many) wonderful pros of playing house.
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Photo: Courtesy of Restoration Hardware.
Lilly & Phillip

The Sleep Savior: Restoration Hardware sheets

“Living in a studio, our bed takes up the bulk of our main space,” says interior designer Lilly Kuehne, who’s shared a Brooklyn Heights studio apartment with her husband, Phillip, since 2013. “Finding bedding that’s aesthetically appealing and comfortable for both us took a number of tries, but finally, we bucked up and bought some adult linens. Restoration Hardware has simple, great-quality options that I buy for clients, so we feel lucky to have some in our own home, too.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Design Within Reach.
Lilly & Phillip (cont.)

The Shelf Alternative: Eames Hang-It-All

“With only two small closets (which house clothing, camping equipment, bedding, and a major shoe habit), things can get out of control real quick,” Lilly continues. “Our Eames Hang-It-All works wonders for containing the ‘stuff’ that gets thrown around. It keeps everything off the floor, bed, and chairs — which makes a huge difference in our day-to-day stress levels.”
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Jessica & Reid

The Sound Savior: Bose® SoundLink® Mini Bluetooth® speaker II

According to this West Village couple, the right tech makes a world of difference in a small, shared space. "We play music 99% of the time we're hanging out in our apartment, so getting a
Bluetooth speaker was a no-brainer for us. Since we each have multiple music apps and playlists, having something easy to connect to our various devices was key," says Reid.

Jess agrees. "I'm a total neat freak, so I love that the design is really sleek, minimal, and sans wires. It doesn't take up much space in our already cramped apartment, plus we can take it with us when we hang out in the park or go on weekend trips," she adds.

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Photo: Courtesy of CB2.
Anne & Michael

The Multitasker: Nesting tables

“I recall having to do some heavy persuading when it came to these lucite tables,” says Anne Cassard, who’s shared a home with her husband, Michael Greeson, for five years. “However, I know we’re both continually thankful for their room-transforming superpowers. They can convert from a compact picture-stand to much-needed surface area for morning coffee in a flash.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Ikea.
Michelle & Jesse

The Floor Saver:
Creative seating options

“It’s important to utilize a small space as much as you can, and we do that by having as much seating as possible,” says Michelle, who has shared an apartment with her boyfriend Jesse in L.A.’s Koreatown for two years. “We have seating in our kitchen, our living room, in the vanity. That way, if we need to do some work or just want to relax for a moment (together or alone), we have options.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Ikea.
Erika & Joseph

The Enhancer:
A room divider

“Our apartment is ridiculously small — we’re talking really-big-walk-in-closet small,” says Erika Owen, who shares an NYC apartment with her boyfriend, Joseph Gonzalez, a freelance photographer. “As soon as we set up this shelving unit, everything changed. It adds just a little bit of personal space; one of us can chill on the couch while the other naps on the bed. And thanks to its open design, it doesn’t clutter the apartment.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Magnetic Poetry.
Erika & Joseph (cont.)

The Unexpected Necessity:
Magnetic poetry

“There’s nothing I love more than leaving Joseph secret messages via refrigerator poetry,” Erika, an editor at Travel + Leisure, continues. “He builds bikes in his free time, and I know nothing about bike lingo, so trying to leave cute messages using only bike jargon puts a smile on his face. It’s a great reminder that you love each other, even during the rough weeks.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Easy Closets.
Ethan & Stephanie

The Underdog:
An efficient closet

“The big issue for us was lack of closet space,” says Ethan Alderman of his West Village apartment. “When my girlfriend, Stephanie, and I moved in together a year and a half ago, we custom-designed a closet, had the pieces delivered, and subsequently built it on the back wall. It was pretty expensive, but certainly worth it. It allowed us to have breathing room and free space elsewhere, where we otherwise would have had to store clothing.”
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Photo: Courtesy of CB2.
Julia & Aaron

The Problem-Solver:
A versatile work surface

“I’m a freelancer, so I need a home work space,” says photographer Julia Robbs, who’s shared apartments with her husband, Aaron, in both New York City and San Francisco. “However, we don’t have enough room for a traditional desk, much less an office, so we got this desk from CB2. It’s slim, holds my 27” Apple monitor perfectly, and conveniently doubles as a bookshelf for additional storage.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Amazon.
Ethan & Stephanie

The Entertainer:
Two streaming devices

“We have two Apple TVs,” Ethan continues. “One in the bedroom, and one in our main area. We both stream a lot of shows on Netflix and HBO — unfortunately, they’re often different shows, so it’s imperative that we’re each able to watch our programs without fighting over who gets the streaming device.”