life in a tiny apartment.

October 17, 2012

Tip #35: Tackle what you can. Don’t doubt yourself.

Living in rental apartments generally means living with a lot of things that you’re not one hundred percent pleased with. (Take the fan saga, for example). Sometimes you stumble upon a gem of an apartment with the most beautiful porcelain sink you’ve ever seen and the cheeriest kitchen a duo could wish for, but more often than not, you’re left with a thing or two that you’ll likely choose to ignore, they being too costly, or too cumbersome, or too gross, to fix to your liking.

But, just be sure. Sometimes things seem more unfixable than they really are. A few summers ago, I spent the summer living with my sister Cait and her husband, Curt. In their tiny East Village apartment, the bathroom door never latched properly. One day when they were out, I had at with a utility knife and a screw driver. After a minute or two of scraping at layers of old paint, out popped the latch and the door was fixed. Hero-sister! In our current apartment we have a very noisy stove. When the subway rumbles below (every 15 minutes or so) the entire thing vibrates, causing the metal racks in the oven to make a racket like you can’t imagine. Mortifyingly, we thought this was something that couldn’t be helped. Over the weekend, James discovered that the little leg that evens the thing out wasn’t screwed down properly. In five seconds flat he’d fixed the shaking. We moved in 15 months ago and only this weekend did we sleep through the night without a rumble. What fools these mortals be.

I think our previous lack of action stems from a combination of not owning the place ourselves and not wanting to bother the landlord about cosmetic or otherwise trivial things (minus that fan bit). But chances are, the things that bother you in your place are more fixable than you imagine, too. Bottom line: Remember your toolbox and muster a little elbow grease. Painted over window panes, orange rust stains in the tub, crooked bathroom mirrors, and hissing radiators, consider yourselves warned.

PS. Mulling spices/witches brew on the stove. ‘Tis the season.

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  • Reply About Charly October 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    I've been reading your blog for awhile…and I really love this post because it not only connects to living in a tiny apartment, but also to much of life. Tackle what you can and don't doubt yourself should be posted on my desk.

    Thanks for the post. And, p.s., I like the little allusion to A Midsummer Night's Dream.

  • Reply mary October 17, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I definitely know what you mean! Apartment living always comes with a trade-off, because you can't take it and make it what you want a lot of the time. But this year, even thought I've been dating my soon to be husband for about 8 years, I found out about his Mr. Fix It skills and we're going to do some fun stuff like adding a peg board for pots in the kitchen & replacing some light fixtures to spruce up our little space. Unfortunately, our rattling air conditioner unit isn't so easily fixed…

    Love your blog btw! When I first found it I pretty much read the whole thing : )

    Mary from Light Sleeper, Heavy Dreamer

  • Reply Neurotic Workaholic October 17, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    You are very resourceful, and I admire you for that. I really need to learn how to fix stuff in my apartment. In my old apartment, it was always extremely hot, even with the A/C on. It wasn't until I'd been living there for a couple years before I finally found out that the air conditioner was broken. I'd told my landlord about it before, but they didn't actually fix it until I made them come in and take a look at it.

  • Reply Lauren October 18, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Don't know how you were able to do it and be able to sleep for those 15 months, would of drived me crazy.

  • Reply Laura Marie October 18, 2012 at 3:40 am

    Love this post — the youngest child in me has always gone the ignore/patch-over/pretend-you-don't-hate-it route, and embarrassingly, it was only recently that I realized how much satisfaction can be found in the fixing. There's a metaphor or 12 in there, but my point is: well said 🙂

  • Reply Daniella Ciotti October 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    In my old, old, apartment I hated the way the cupboards looked I just went ahead and painted them white (much to my landlord's delight). Some things you just can't stand looking at over and over when you're living there. Better to fix it up! Although, i'm sure many friends thought i was crazy for painting cabinets in a rental… ah well.

  • Reply Anonymous October 22, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    I lived in rentals for nearly 30 years and always improved/fixed what I could including transforming the yard when I had one. By respecting their property, I had their respect, too. It makes me sad when people put down "renters".

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