To: You. From: Your savvy renter self.

December 27, 2013
(Allie Ghaman/Express)
(Allie Ghaman/Express)

The holidays are over. You needed a vacuum, but you couldn’t resist asking for an iPad Air. But what good is your super-slim tablet if you keep losing it under the giant piles of dust covering your apartment?

Rectify your Christmas-list mistakes by taking advantage of post-holiday sales to stock up on the stuff you really need for your apartment. Here’s a list of gifts renters should get for themselves.

Cut the Cord
Ditching cable to save money is all the rage, but those streaming services can get expensive, too. Try the $35 Chromecast. Plug this into your TV’s HDMI input, and anything you can stream in Chrome is now on your HDTV — for less than any similar product. Though it seems silly to buy something made by Google anywhere but the Internet, you can pick this up at any major electronics retailer.

Be Better at Sucking
That vacuum you’ve been using since college isn’t really picking up dirt anymore. You may need a new one. The pricier brands, such as the Dyson DC40 Origin ($400), may be worth the money, according to the vacuum experts at Maryland and D.C. retailer Brothers Sew & Vac. A better quality vacuum could save you money in the long run because you won’t need a new one as quickly.

Copy That
We may live in a digital world, but every once in a while you still need a printer. The Epson Expression Home XP-410 ($70) does everything you need without taking up much space, according to CNET and Consumer Reports — and it’s under $100. You may only need it twice a year, but you’ll be grateful to have it when you do. (Assuming, of course, you also have printer paper.)

Snack and Stack
Bowls are crazy useful: popcorn holders, cooking objects, catch-alls. A nesting stack of multisize bowls all fit together, so they take up far less space in your kitchen. Duralex Lys clear stackable bowls ($2-$21 at Sur La Table) are durable and good-looking.

Get the Green Light
Want your apartment to look better at the flip of a switch? It’s all about the lighting. Your pad probably came with harsh, incandescent bulbs in the fixtures, so swapping in a softer, energy-efficient kind can make a room look better while lowering your electric bill. Plus, those incandescent bulbs won’t be sold after Jan. 1 as LED takes over. The trick is knowing what kind of light is going to work best. Learn more at the D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility site. That organization has partnered with D.C.-area retailers to provide energy-efficient lighting at a discount. Find locations at dcseu.com.

Stop ‘Storing’ Your Clothes on the Floor
D.C.-area apartments always seem to be short on closet space. Make the most of what you have with a closet organization system that’s designed for your space.

It’s not cheap. Custom shelving, such as Container Store’s Elfa system, starts around $500 with installation. The outcome — the opportunity to finally unpack all of your clothes from moving boxes — is more than worth it.

Do (Some of) It Yourself
Your landlord is there to fix the big stuff, like when a pipe blows, but asking him or her to hang your shelves isn’t cool. A well-stocked toolbox always comes in handy. That way you’ll always know where to find your hammer, screwdriver, flashlight and nails (you know the drill). The folks at Old School Hardware (3219 Mount Pleasant St. NW; 202-462-1431) can put together the Mona Lisa of renter-friendly toolboxes for you for $75 to $100.

Put Your Seat Up
Yes, the word “pouf” is ridiculous, but in a small apartment, floor poufs offer extra seating for entertaining. Plus, you can easily store them when your guests are gone. Go classic with a stylish knit one from Jonathan Adler ($120 at JCPenney), or go the exact opposite with a hamburger pouf from Urban Outfitters ($98).

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Beth Marlowe | December 27, 2013