I have lived in New York / New Jersey for 14 years and I have moved twice which is highly unusual for me. When I lived in Atlanta I think I moved almost every year that I lived there. Having that mobility in NY is almost impossible, most apartments have to be shown to you by a broker if you’re not lucky enough to snag one on your own. You will end up paying a broker fee, first and last months rent and in some instances a security deposit. With New York rents you’re shelling out a few grand before you’ve moved in and that’s not including movers.
The process of finding an apartment in NY is cut throat the demand is high if you spot a listing in your price range it’s probably already taken. This is the only time I’ve been in an apartment so long, I got a great deal with lots of space but the trade off was an older building that needed some cosmetic help. I only wanted to stay 2 years and its been 11. I get pretty bored with my apartment every now and then so I’ll move the furniture around, buy new furniture, buy art, whatever I can do to switch it up. Since I’m a renter I have to make sure whatever changes I make are temporary and can be put back to the original state.
My building was built in the mid seventies and it has every fixture from that era. Horrible cabinets, unpainted cheap wood doors, funky light fixtures, brown tiles, everything that is not my personal style. The first thing that needed to go was the brown tiles in the shower. Who wants to wake up every morning to dirt brown tiles that is not a good way to start the day.
I picked up some tile paint and painted them a nice fresh white. This was years ago so hopefully they have made improvements in tile paint. This particular paint required you to mix a chemical with the paint and once it was mixed you could not reuse it. Which means you have to commit to getting it done that day. Lesson learned, don’t start this kind of project at 9pm on a Friday, I had no idea it would take so long to paint a brown shower white I didn’t finish until 3. I’m pretty sure I cried about the amount of time it took but the result was worth it. This is the only upgrade I’ve made that can’t be undone so I took my chances with that and I really did them a favor.
Over the years I’ve gotten new furniture, put up temporary wallpaper, accessorized and painted walls to make it look more modern there are just certain things you cannot change like countertops and cabinets and I have the worst. Thankfully the cabinets are a light color so they are tolerable the countertop well that isn’t, so to offset the ugly I put temporary wallpaper on the backsplash so your eye is drawn to the wallpaper instead of the counters. There are some great patterns available. I was able to find removable wallpaper at Sherwin Williams. There are also so many options online. Depending on the store you can buy open rolls that have been cut if you don’t need an entire roll. I used the rest of my roll to wallpaper an accent wall in my bedroom.
Replacing light switch and outlet covers , door knobs and handles also helps to change up the room in a small way. If you have a smaller apartment I found that adding some large accessories adds dimension and interest to the room and draws your eye upwards to make the room look larger.
There are so many great options for accessory and furniture shopping for all budgets. Some stores do a great job of displaying merchandise you can buy it as is set up exactly. I like a more personal approach and take the time to find unique pieces from thrift shops, swap/ sell sites, sample sales or major retail stores and outlets.
Our neighborhood has a swap / sell FB page where locals sell or trade goods. I sold my sofa on it. When it comes to buying new furniture always wait for the sale especially at major retailers. I’ve gotten some amazing furniture deals at Macy’s with extra discounts on top of the sale price and cashing in my rewards from previous purchases. I’ve gotten some items practically for free.
I like to decorate my place with items collected from my travels. Collecting takes time but it adds a personal touch and these pieces are good conversation pieces to share with guests. I never want my home to be a place where people feel like can’t touch anything or sit anywhere.
Whether you are in a temporary of permanent residence it’s always nice to do a refresh.
What are some of your decorating tips or shortcuts?
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