Trying to find ways to love my imperfect apartment

I have a love-hate relationship with my apartment. It’s big, it’s bright, it’s central, it’s a short walk away from a cheese shop (yum!), and it’s two skips away from the river valley (which is beautiful, even in the winter). It’s also a bit too big, has ugly vertical blinds (which I’m not allowed to remove or replace), is very bland on the inside (no personality), overlooks a very busy street (which can be very noisy at all hours), and is neighbours with 3 construction sites (thankfully, the closest is almost done).

Love. Hate.

Having grown up in an old building in Halifax, NS (which survived the Halifax Explosion, in 1917, and had 9 – yes, 9! – foot ceilings), I still find my more modern apartment’s lack of personality odd. Almost uncomfortable. It doesn’t help that some of the rooms are hard to work with. My living room has 2 entrances on the same wall (one of which involves an oddly angled transition from carpet to lino). My bedroom is big enough to feel ginormous, but not actually big enough to do much with (and certainly not small and quaint, as my dream bedroom would be – seriously! I could just throw all my stuff away and live in this precious apartment!).

Add to all of this the fact that I can’t seem to figure out my design style (more on this in a later post), , and you get a very frustrated me. I want my place to be beautiful and look loved. But, I just don’t know what I’m looking for. What I pin in Pinterest is quite eclectic and what I think I like best seems to be not quite the right thing every time I try and execute it.

Take this recent example: This is what you saw when you walked past my bedroom a few weeks ago.

Boring!

Slippers, a dresser, and a drying rack, which is usually full of clothes, because I’m too lazy to put them away. My bed is boring. Very boring. It was the cheapest frame I could find at Ikea and I had planned on painting it, but never got around to it. It’s covered by a whole-cloth quilt I whipped up with the help of an Ikea duvet cover. In the winter, I also keep a gorgeous blue and white geometric wool blanket either at the foot of the bed or folded over the headboard (I love this blanket so much! – I almost want to keep it out year-round). I finally decided that I was tired of a boring, blah bed and of the above view each time I walked down my hall. I don’t want to take the time to paint the bed (mostly because I’m paranoid about getting paint on the carpet, but also because I hope to replace it sometime in the next 24-36 months), but I’ve got a hella lot of beautiful fabric and a few pillow forms.

So, now, I have this:

Before and after - pretty pillows make a huge difference

I love the pillows – LOVE them. This is a gorgeous fabric combo that I’ve been wanting to use for months.

Sewing. Love these together.

But, I don’t think that I like it in my space. Especially not my bedroom. It’s too bold for the rest of the room, and possible just too bold for me in general. Which is weird – I love colour! I love rooms filled with pops of bright and/or lush colours, I’m always drawn to fabrics that are boldly coloured, and I generally really hate pastels. As I type this, I’m wearing a bold deep purple sweater and a deep blue scarf. I am obsessed with colourful things and constantly wanting to buy new pencils, pens, paints, and everything else, even though I already have more than enough. My pen’s ink is a gorgeous teal. Deep or gem-toned colours are my spirit guide! … So, why am I so incapable of living with décor with bold pops of colour?

Love for colour

Maybe I’m not. Maybe I just need my bedroom to be a little more serene and I can pull bolder colours in elsewhere.

Anyway, the point is, I keep trying things that I think I love, only to find that maybe I don’t love them all that much when I have to live with them. So, now I’ve started to get paranoid and hesitant to try new things (like that awesome blue Hemnes dresser I mentioned in an earlier post). If I had the money, I think I would seriously consider hiring a professional for a second opinion, but I want to save that sort of treat for when I own my own place and can do things like paint walls.

In the meantime, the best I can do is to fill my place with things I love and slowly, but surely, work on finding the right décor elements for me. I may not love everything I try, but that just means that I have to be careful with things that I buy and remind myself that I can always sell things I make (like those lovely pillow covers, which I probably won’t keep). I also need to get off my butt and fix my living room enough to be able to start working on decorating it and deciding what elements need to go and what needs to be (eventually) replaced. I won’t be making huge changes anytime soon, as I’m hesitant to make many purchases when may be moving this year and may buy my own place in the next year or 2, but even little changes can make a big difference.

One thing I can (and probably should) do is break up my decor board on Pinterest into three boards: things I could make happen in my apartment (small décor elements like art, pillows, etc.), things I could make happen if I owned my own place (painting walls, etc.), and all the rest of the things that I love, but that will probably never happen (either because they aren’t really my style or because they would involve major renovations and/or a lot more money than I have to spend on luxuries like décor).

I’d say “wish me luck,” but what I need more than luck is a swift kick in the arse to get myself back in gear and working on this.

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5 Responses to Trying to find ways to love my imperfect apartment

  1. kandisebrown says:

    I say paint the bed! Your timeline for changing it is 2-3 years, that’s a pretty long time. Get a dropcloth, put your mattress in the living room to sleep for a couple of days, and go to town. Similarly, I think you should just go for it with the curtains. You can always stick the vinyl blinds in a closet or something to put them back up before you eventually move out.

    For the walls, what if you just painted them a better quality white? Basically every apartment I’ve ever lived in has had some shitty bathroom semi-gloss all over the place. You could just paint it flat white and that would be an improvement. Also, doesn’t look like you have much in the way of art — hang some stuff! Or at least frame some stuff and **artfully arrange it** pinterest style on your dressers and shelves. Giant stacks of books, more throw pillows, rugs (even though you have carpet, rugs are still good!).

    Our apartment is still very much under construction after 3 years of living here (and I don’t think it will ever look quite right as long as I have a treadmill in the living room, but oh well). We also have a ton of STUFF (mostly books but then things like, oh, cat fur brushes and an electric fly-swatter) that I am constantly looking for ways to store elegantly but usefully. It’s a process!

    • You’re right. I really need to suck it up and paint the bastard. Heck, maybe if I like it more, I’ll keep it longer and just replace the mattress. And, it is just about the perfect time of year to do it (warm enough to keep windows open at night, but not so hot that I need windows open to the noisy street below all night). Plus, I think I might have a couple other things I want to paint (2 table tops).

      My lease is actually very explicit about how I’m not allowed to alter, remove, etc. the blinds. I was warned when I moved it that no exceptions will be made. Which is sucky, but I can live with it for now. I think they’re ugly, but neutral enough that I can live with them if everything else is nice.

      I admit that I regret not painting when I first move in, but I really didn’t expect to be here that long. I’d be hesitant to drop the cash on painting now, when I might be moving out in 6 to 18 months. But, art! Art is definitely something I need more of. I have a fair amount, but until recently it was all in my living room and/or waiting to be framed. I still have a bunch waiting to be framed, but I think that I also need some big art for a couple of places. I think I can fill some gaps with small quilts, so I’m going to start working on that (finding the right pattern, etc.) this weekend. Otherwise, I just need to hurry up and get some frames so that I can put up the rest of my stuff.

      It’s definitely a process. I think I’me getting closer to something that is in that “love, but could add/change as new lovely things are found” stage, but I will definitely never be fully in love with a place that I can’t paint or have nicer curtains in :)

    • I forgot to say, that, yes, I agree about the rugs. I’ve noticed a lot of great rug-on-carpet and rug layering lately. If nothing else, I’d like one under my desk in the kitchen (formerly known as my dining area table).

  2. kandisebrown says:

    Actually… do you read Manhattan Nest? He upholstered a bed just like yours. It was awesome.

    • I DO NOW! Wow, that bed looks amazing. I wonder if it’s worth buying the tools in order to make this happen. Actually, with a little elbow grease and determination, I could manage with my hand-powered stapler and screw drivers. The only thing would be tryiong not to feel silly riding a bus with a big piece of wood, ha ha!

      I’m am going to very seriously consider doing this, if not now then definitely when I get a place of my own. Thanks for telling me about it!

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