Wednesday, July 20, 2011

JG'S Apartment: A Shopping Tour!

Well hai there, reader!  Welcome to my new D.C. apartment!  Let me show you around...

Let's start with the outside:  See that big awesome house I'm standing in front of?  

...That's not my place.  See that window underneath my armpit?  That's my place.  Fancy, huh?!?

I'm living in an English Basement apartment a few minutes away from the Capitol.  For those unfamiliar with the concept, an English basement is a separate unit from the main house it's connected to; I have my own entrance/exit and the landlord in the main house has no access to my apartment.  The plus side is that the rent is fairly reasonable for a one-bedroom in this neighborhood.  The downside is that the lighting isn't quite as good as a regular unit and I may get kinda cold in the winter.  Time will tell on that one---I'm hoping the place is well-insulated but I won't know until December!

Alrighty, don't forget to wipe your feet on my doormat on the way in...

On my doorpost is the mezuzah I bought in Israel! 

(more behind the cut)

The entryway:
I've got a very long wall when you first enter.  Right now I'm using it for a hallway, but I suppose I could get creative and rearrange the couch to make this area part of the main room.  For now, I like having the walkway, though.  I'm storing my bike inside since someone tried to cut my cable lock a few weeks ago while my bike was stored outside (I use two locks, including one hulking chain lock that wasn't damaged).

Besides having space for my bike, I need a place for my wood table.  This guy was actually salvaged on the streets of NYC when I first moved there three years ago!  I could hardly believe my eyes; I was looking for a table with that exact shape and in that exact color of wood, and I would have been willing to pay up to $150 for it on craigslist.  And then there it was, the night before trash pickup, just waiting for me on the curb.  Check out that great carved detail on the leg!

(Also, a gumball machine and an Anthro coat hook with the first letter of my last name.)

Now, if you'll just turn your head to the left...

The living room/kitchen:
Thanks to completely irrational acquisition impulses, I managed to score a few clutch pieces of free furniture from fellow graduating law students before I left NYC.  Yes, normal people sell or give away their possessions before moving...I run around collecting them.  I'm proud of what I got, though.  I knew I'd need a couch, since my horrible NYC futon deserved the death penalty for its refusal to fold up properly.  I got this IKEA sofa for free from a friend.  I also got a long ottoman (not pictured, but it's at one end of the sofa) that has some storage space inside, which turned out to be the perfect size to keep my rarely-played Wii Rock Band drums.

Also, I scored this great, sturdy wooden coffee table about $12 at Salvation Army!

See the toucan in the background?  Calmly sitting on the hearth where he can't do any damage to my plants or floors?

I love the amount of light I get out of the front windows.  I initially ruled out basement apartments because I didn't want to live like a mole person, but this apartment won me over with its big, east-facing windows.  I get great light in the front half of the apartment all day.  The windowsill hosts my herb garden (the herbs seem to be in varying states of health...since taking this photo the cilantro bit the dust).

Yeah.  Sorry, Cilantro.  (Here.)

The HDTV replaces a clunky 32" CRT I've had for the last several years (also acquired for free from a graduating law student, when I was just a wee first year).  BF's boyfriend was selling his six year old LCD TV for a song, and I'd planned to buy a new one in the fall for many, many times more than the price he gave me.  Hopefully it's still got some life left in it!  It seems to be chugging along great so far.  What's the life expectancy on an HDTV anyway?

Finally, check out my open kitchen.  That was one of the biggest selling points for me on this apartment (the fireplace was a nice bonus, too); I love cooking, and I hate kitchens that feel boxy and tight.  The open kitchen not only allows for easy accessibility, but it also opens up the space and makes cooking a more social experience.  Also, as an added bonus, I've got a dishwasher!  For the first time in my adult life!

These spice racks.  Would you believe I actually had to toss a bunch of spices away just so they'd fit on THREE racks?  I bet you'd believe that..  Also, that door leads to a big storage space.

This toaster oven/rotisserie, which is AWESOME---a ROTISSERIE!!---purchased in part with a gift card won on one of Sally's Coffee Talk forums (see, e.g., here).

Moving along down the hallway, we come to the place where all the magic happens....

The Closet:
Ahhh, how I love you, double-closet.  I've got flats and heels in the stacking box shelves on the left (salvaged from a closing drug store in Philly in 2007---they've been amazingly handy since then!) and boots on the right (following Sally's genius method of upright boot storage).

True story:  after I got settled in my new place and unpacked most of my stuff, BF came over to take a look at the place.  He spotted the size of the closet and went to open it, saying, "Oh, good, you have a double closet.  Now you'll have space to---HOW IS THIS FULL ALREADY?!"

Across the closet is the situs of my awesome CENTRAL A/C THERMOSTAT so I can stay nice and cool (or, during winter, - hopefully - nice and warm).

The hallway continues, and a few feet down from the closet is an open alcove where an entirely different kind of magic happens---

The Bedroom:
The bedroom was actually my LEAST favorite aspect of this apartment, but it's grown on me quite a bit. The biggest downside to this space, as I alluded to, is that it's an alcove.  There is no door separating the bedroom from the hallway.  If someone were to crash on my couch overnight and then walk to the bathroom at 3am, they would have to follow the hallway to the end and walk past my openly sleeping body.  Something about that just seems weird to me.

Thus, I'm in the market for some good privacy screens to run along the foot of the bed, but since I won't have house guests for a while there's no rush.  I've also been hunting for the perfect quilt to put on my bed.  I have a duvet and white cover, but I think I'd prefer a printed quilt that would lay more flush with the bed and offer more color to the room.  I am drooling over this Anthro quilt, but the reviews say that it gets destroyed upon washing OR dry cleaning---not to mention the fact that a dry clean only bedspread seems like a stupid idea.  Sigh, the hunt continues.

(The cute white nightstand by my bed was another $20 salvation army find!)

Aside from the alcovey-ness of the space, the other thing I didn't particularly like about this area of the apartment is that it gets very poor lighting.  You may have noticed in some of my in-the-mirror photos on this blog that colors seem distorted; those photos are all taken towards the back of my apartment where the light from the front doesn't quite reach.  It's not horrible, though; there's a random door that leads to absolutely nowhere (literally; it seems to be a drainage ditch:)

...but at least it provides sunlight for a few hours a day!

I'm really happy with that random inlet I have on the left side of my room (the arrangement of the top two photos is the IRL view---you can see the corner of the white nightstand in the bottom right of the first picture).

The awesome wooden dresser was my final Salvation Army score---$40 for a big solid piece of furniture that kicked the butt of my cruddy, falling-apart IKEA dresser all the way to the curb, quite literally.  I'm especially proud of this purchase, since I waited and waited for the right dresser---scouring Craigslist, passing up option after option---and eventually found the perfect piece well below what I was willing to spend.

I've got nice a slice of wall space on which to hang my accessories.  I found this great tie organizer on Amazon and it's worked fantastically for my necklaces!  (I bought two.)

On the opposite side of my bedroom as the bed is my desk.  This may be bad feng shui to have your work space so close to and facing your sleep space, but this was the easiest place to put the desk.

That printer on the right of my desk is this one (it's on sale for $65---down from $150!), and I've gotta say that I'm really happy with it so far.  I needed a multi-function inkjet that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg to refill with ink.  I haven't had to replace the ink yet, but I'm told that not only is Brother brand ink relatively inexpensive, but the company also supports third party ink cartridges so you can save money with an off-brand cartridge.  Wireless printing/scanning/faxing is a nice bonus, too.

Finally, walking further down the hall past my bedroom (and past my WASHER DRYER!!!!!!!!11!!!1!!!), you arrive at the place where all the magic happens (a different kind of magic than the first two):

The Bathroom:
Pretty straightforward.  I want to replace the shower curtain and the towels with something that coordinates a bit better with the lime green, but there's no rush on that.

A few of my favorite things in here:
  • I got that cute monogrammed soap dispenser at Bed Bath and Beyond for a measly $5!  I went back and bought a second one for my kitchen sink, too.  (My first name starts with an "M".)
  • This shower caddy.  The suction cups kind of suck, and there's no decent hook to hang a loofah if you use one, but I like the leaf details!
  • This sign, which hangs above my toilet:

I almost included this in my list of bizarre possessions, but opted against it.  :-D

I re appropriated a long serving plate and unused mug from my kitchen to my bathroom to hold my toiletries in a more chic manner.  I was proud of myself for repurposing something I already had instead of buying a toiletries tray.

Overall, I'm really happy in this space.  It's funny the way things work out---if I hadn't gotten mugged while looking at the other apartment, I am certain I would have signed a lease there.  The only reason I ended up in this new apartment is because of the mugging, and I am so much happier with this part of the neighborhood and with my living space.

So, readers, what do you think?  Any decorating suggestions?  I need particular help with the following:
  • The long entry hallway.  Should I wallpaper it?
  • The built-in shelves in the living room.  Any good tips on filling empty shelves in a decorative way?
  • Ideas for a partition/screen/curtain to separate the bed from the hallway?
  • Tips on places to buy unique but machine-washable quilts?
What was your first "grown-up" apartment like?  Did you live by yourself or with roommates?  I really liked my roommate from the past year, but after living with other people since my freshman year of college, I was ready to live by myself for once.

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