Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Doin' the Apartment Shuffle

Living in a small place in a big city has its challenges.

Manhattan is prime real estate, so space is always an issue. Getting four people and two cats to fit into a one bedroom apartment in Upper Manhattan is an accomplishment worthy of blogging, in and of itself. (Especially when two of those four people are constantly in a growth spurt.) In our seven years here, we've learned a few things that have made life a bit easier.

Creativity will get you far. Whether you're turning the kitchen nook into a second bedroom {done}, or building a double loft bed to increase the floor space of your bedroom {not done, but admired}, thinking outside of the box is a highly valued skill.

Less clutter=more living space. Our home *has* to stay tidy. If things are left on the floor - even just a few toys - there simply is nowhere to walk! Having less space also means that every bit of it is optimally utilized, so it's really hard to hoard things you no longer need. A "Goodwill run" always accompanies the Apartment Shuffle.

Buy only what you need
. A $15 trip to Target is much less likely to turn into a $150 trip - since there isn't a place in which to store the extra $135 worth of stuff. Never mind the fact that we really don't make $15 Target runs, because it takes such effort to get there in the first place! Truly, we're much more likely to make a $150 run...but you get my point.

Misery loves company. Pretty much everyone in Manhattan (certainly in our ward) is in the same boat. So no one is surprised when they walk in to another's place and see food storage in odd places, make-shift walls, mismatched furniture, or a over-use of vertical space. Most people we know have picked up something curbside, which they now utilize in their home. We're all in this together! The pressure to "keep up" is much less intense than in the 'burbs.

A few other things. Our bedroom is adjustable. Our fireplace is virtual. Our laundry room is within arm's reach when cooking. A closet can double as a practice room for especially loud bel canto passages. Our apartment can be cleaned swiftly, because there are only three rooms including the kitchen.

Now that I've digressed completely, let me ever-so-obviously shift back to my original subject. The Apartment Shuffle. A dance we do at least quarterly. It involves shifting weighty boxes from one closet to another, stacking containers and outgrown baby goods on top of different wardrobes depending on the season, and turning furniture to face different directions according to the dictates of our A/C airflow patterns.

Earlier this year we managed to boogie down an entire space so that it was nearly EMPTY. Yes folks, we had a closet that was almost completely bare. We decided to keep it that way for a future rainy day - one that arrived last month. So now it's full up to the ceiling again - but oh! how lovely it was, to have tucked away in the back of our minds, the knowledge that it was there.

Today was satisfying, as I turned our entry closet into Trav's closet (shared with a back row of winter coats, an assortment of buckets, our 72-hour kit, a shelf filled with a year's supply of laundry detergent and fabric softener, beneath another shelf stacked to the 10-ft ceiling with suitcases insides of suitcases inside of suitcases. And the ironing board). I then shifted the front row of winter coats and jackets from the entry closet into the hall closet, to be housed with linens and blankets, Trav's suits, my concert gowns, a hanging shoe-keeper, my sewing machine, toiletry supplies storage, and Rubbermaid containers filled with photographs, select old cassette tapes, precious cards and letters, and my singing career reviews, programs and memorabilia. Obviously, this space will now lose its practice room privileges.

Our singular bedroom closet still houses Kit's clothes, more shoes, and two more shelves of folded sweaters and clothes. J-bird has her own small armoire in the bedroom with dresses and cardigans. This just leaves a space for MY clothes - which unarguably take up the most space. They hang with Kit's clothes and fill one of the shelves of various folded garments in the aforementioned bedroom closet. (We still need to get a proper wardrobe or armoire for "our bedroom" - the part of the livingroom that is tucked behind two 3-panel dividers. Maybe our next tax rebate....)

So after all of that moving around of stuff, and blogging about it on the internet, I actually feel quite good about today!


Unknown said...

Certainly a different way of living than I am used to! Way to be creative.

Anonymous said...

excellent tour. and brilliant ideas. those photos are the next best thing to actually being there.

Unknown said...

Thanks! Do your kids love the music? Did you grow up with it? MAN I loved it...

Looks like you have a fun life! :-)