This refresh was a matter of getting down to the things we really value in our lives. Being that our move — the ultimate palate cleanser — didn't work out but our needs had nevertheless changed, I set out to overhaul our current 350 square foot apartment.
In 2009, Nathan and I came back from living in China with just suitcases of clothing. We stayed with my parents and then in a sublet where we bought a new bed and a used nightstand. We moved those things to our current apartment and have been here ever since. It's a small space, so I wouldn't say we ever went overboard with stuff, most of it used to begin with. My parents happened to be moving at the same time we were and we helpfully inherited their castoff furniture. But as I continue to work from home and Nathan sometimes does as well, we needed practical workspaces that weren't the dining table. I undertook this project back in April and just last week wrapped up. With little fanfare and even less dusting, here are the results.
Somehow our tiny apartment has a rather generous hallway which functions like a foyer would. I took down a gallery wall and only kept the pieces we really wanted, including a portrait of my great-great grandmother, Bertha, and a print by our friend Scott Albrecht. The end is Nathan's little area because the hall closet is his. I added another set of hooks and installed a snowboard hanger (never used and given to us by a friend) because where else would that thing go? The umbrella stand was bought at a flea market around the time we first moved in.
The Office/Living Area
A big media cabinet went out and the the television moved to the wall. I bartered Nathan's IT skills with friend who does woodworking for custom shelves and standing desks made from scrap wood. Here are the standing mats I bought. I got the filing cabinet on Craigslist quite a while ago. The shelves hold books, souvenirs, and some practical office items.
Rather than take up room on the shelves, I stacked most of our books in this weird little space in the living room wall. This left more room for other items like this flower pot I bought from friend and local ceramist, Jonathan Castro. The old camera belonged to my great-grandfather.
The only new pieces below are the chair (I sold my old one on AptDeco), the stool and mirror (off of Craigslist), and the blanket (a souvenir from Nathan's trip to New Mexico). I wish the chair were second hand but I got a little excited and ordered it off of Gilt, where Nathan works and we get credits.
Our bedroom has always been quite stripped down. Until recently, the bed was (stupidly) turned the other way and taking up almost all of the floor space. I could sit on the end of the bed and pull things from the closet. While the lazy convenience of this was pleasurable, there wasn't much room to move around, get dressed, etc. Incidentally, do not try to move a bed alone while your significant other is cross country and your phone is across the apartment. I hastily chose to move the bed after we made the decision to stay and coming off of the harrowing ordeal of trying to find a new apartment. Although I had the frustrated strength of a thousand apartment-hunting New Yorkers, I was nearly crushed by the weight of the mattress and wondered if anyone would ever find me mangled by our Luxury Plush Pillowtop before Nathan returned home.
The curtains are new and 100% linen from West Elm. I looked for second hand curtains, but with sizes being so specific, I didn't have any luck. I even went to this couple's apartment to look at some, which were not the length advertised and were still installed on the wall. These curtains were originally meant to go in the living room, but they ended up being a better fit in the bedroom.
The blanket is a thrifted Army issue and the duvet cover is turned inside out, making it white rather than off-white and black. The shelf above the door was made by the same bartering friend. The boxes are Container Store, cardboard and recyclable. Everything else is old — light fixture (IKEA), drawers in the closet (Container Store). Luckily, we have storage spaces above our closets. Those plus under the bed hold seasonal clothing and other storage-level items.
My closet extends a bit now into this vanity area. Thrifted containers hold jewelry, the exception being the white candy dish that was my great-grandmother's. I found the mirror on, you guessed it, Craigslist. The pipe and pocket watch belonged to Nathan's grandfather. Coins and matchbooks from our travels fill a small glass container.
Not much to see here. Shower doors that are never really clean, but eucalyptus in the stall makes it better. I upcycle glass containers to hold beauty stuff like toners and masks. More plants. A bamboo shower mat is an addition I highly recommend. Or maybe one of these American made teak ones.
The kitchen is small but sufficient. There are a surprising number of cabinets in the space and these keep everything out of sight. The Hario kettle it took me so long to choose and my great-grandmother's cast iron skillet stay on the stove. The mortar and pestle are off of Etsy. I found the marble slab at Housing Works last week. See that grey table under the bar tray? That's the nightstand we bought for our sublet when we first moved to New York!
That's it. Everything else was already here and now shines on it's own. Anything that's left is special and adds value to our lives — aesthetically, emotionally, or practically.