life in a tiny apartment.

May 23, 2012

Tip #14: Paint your apartment–or ask your landlord to paint it–before you move in.

let me start this off by saying that we have a really nice landlord. he’s friendly. he’s flexible. this post should not be taken as a criticism against him. nor should it be taken as a criticism against our delightfully mop-haired super.

that being said, our apartment is about 140 different shades of white. beyond the white, the walls are host to a variety of other shades including coffee splatter, scuff mark, and my personal favorite, grease spot. farrow & ball, if you’re looking to add any of these gems to your 2013 colour card, call me. i’ve got some good specimens.

a multi-shaded apartment is nothing new for us. our last apartment didn’t just have multiple shades of white, it also had multiple finishes. eggshell sidled up next to semi-gloss which found its way into a fraught relationship with flat finishes painted onto the doors.

we’re hoping to undertake a new paint job* this summer. but here’s the catch: we’re already all moved in. obviously. and in this place, there’s no “other room” to shove a couch or dresser. there’s also only approximately 8 inches of spare space around our bed and any wall. we’re not really sure how we’ll pull this one off.

if any of you find yourselves in the position of moving any time soon, take my advice and get the landlord to agree to paint the place before you move in. and by paint i mean all the walls, in the same color. if you do, you’ll walk into your new spot and angels will sing.

*we’re not painting anything gray. that’s just a pint of paint borrowed from a friend for a little picnic basket overhaul.

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  • Reply Sam | ashore May 23, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    I refurbished my studio before I moved in, and you're so right! I just wanted to paint the walls – but my dad (who's a contractor)insisted I do the trim and the ceiling. That white makes such an ENORMOUS difference – the space seems larger, brighter, and the white trim against the walls really brings the eye up.

    • Reply Erin May 24, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      thank goodness for dads.

  • Reply clairemaxwell May 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Top notch advice. I'm hoping to move soon and will take it on board!

    Your apartment is just gorgeous. You've worked wonders with it.

    • Reply Erin May 24, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      thank you, claire!

  • Reply Paige July 5, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    So smart. I'm about to move into (another) small apartment and this was the push I needed to decide to paint *before* moving in! Now I'm trying to decide how – all white? Accent walls? Bah!

  • Reply jaymie July 12, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I came across your story and was very interested. My fiance, my 3year old daughter and myslef are in a one bedroom apartment in the subarbs of south jersey. I complain all the time how we need more space but can't afford it. I very much admire you two for the way you live. And your creativity. Your place is adorable. I'm not sure i presonally could do it,especially with a child. But I love your story and your was the first thing i saw when i got onto my computer and it made me smile.:)

    • Reply Erin July 12, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      thanks for your sweet note, jaymie! i'm sure you've made your space lovely!

  • Reply Anonymous July 13, 2012 at 1:59 am

    When I painted my shoebox apartment I piled everything on top of everything else right in the middle of the room. The pile literally touched the ceiling. I turned my kitchen table over and put it on top of my desk. I tipped my dresser over onto my mattress and then put lighter things on top of that (obviously, all of this with help). I covered everything in a wall of plastic. There was about 2 feet around the edge of the pile to paint. It was pretty fun to do, actually!

    • Reply Erin July 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm

      wow! so impressed!

  • Reply Anonymous July 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    I painted one wall at a time in my long narrow corridor, waiting for one side to dry before I could do the other side. Otherwise, I would be wiping off more paint with my backside on the wall behind me than I was putting on the wall in front of me. If you get my drift. We also couldn't be two people painting in the same room at the same time. But you know, my 450 sq ft railroad apartment is a palace compared to yours.

    • Reply Erin July 13, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      sounds like you guys had a good system!

  • Reply Heidi May 24, 2016 at 12:04 am

    This is a belated response to the post, but I’m about to move into 400 sq. ft. sans loft so I got a really nice (queen) futon as well as a really pretty cube storage bookshelf system for storage and a “bed”, but I definately think painting the walls before I officially move in might be helpful. What colors would you suggest for such a small space? Everything white? Any certain gloss?

    I have been reading every one of your tiny apartment posts trying to come up with the perfect way to organize and live in my tiny apartment.

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