life in a tiny apartment.

February 20, 2013


Tip #52: Choose your computers carefully.

As usual, this is less of a tip and more of a conversation starter. As you’ll learn, I’m not very good at following my own advice, anyway.

Big ticket items in a small apartment are tricky. It’s easy to justify giving away extra mugs, or those beach towels you never use, or 12 dresses you haven’t worn in years, but parting with expensive things like furniture and computers (or any screened thing) can be more complicated, or at least more daunting.

When we moved into our tiny apartment just over a year and half ago, we brought with us this rawther large desktop computer. The computer was only a few months old when we moved and I wasn’t in the market or the mindset to exchange it for something smaller.

A large desktop computer in a tiny apartment. Well. It’s not exactly ideal, but we don’t have a TV and it has served us well for catching up on episodes of Downton Abbey and The Goodwife (not to mention my personal favorite, Nashville). Perhaps more importantly, given the amount of time that I spend working at a computer these days (from home),  I haven’t quite wrapped my head around the idea of getting rid of the desktop entirely. But to be honest, I’ve been feeling a little stir-crazy lately and I wonder if it’s the ol’ desktop that’s keeping me down.

You guys all seemed to have clever solutions for your music-listening, show-watching habits last week, so I’m curious to know if you’ve also downsized your computers in favor of more portable options. Am I the only fool still working on a desktop?*

*NB. TO BENEFACTORS/TRESSES: I’m thinking perhaps I need both: un petit séjour en France would be much more manageable with the addition of a new laptop…

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  • Reply Annabel Vita February 20, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    We have a mac mini hooked up to our TV (mainly his, but we both use it) and a macbook pro (mainly hers but we both use it). For the mac mini we have a bluetooth keyboard and trackpad (with a doohickey that joins them together) so we can use the whole thing easily from the TV. I could live without either of them, but if I worked from home like you I'd want a laptop or ipad so I could go to a coffee shop to work sometimes!

    • Reply Erin February 20, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      indeed. i'm no good at staying focused in a café…but having some mobility is increasingly appealing!

  • Reply Miya February 20, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    hi friend! i have both–one big one and a laptop. we do the same tv-watchy deal on the big one (and i like to have it to be able to look over my work super-zoomed in). that said, i do like being able to go out & work. if your benefactor/tress isn't coming forward (he/she's probably just shy), maybe you could do a little windows laptop or even an ipad with a keyboard? xoxo

    • Reply Erin February 20, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      good points (darn those shy philanthropists!).

  • Reply Charlotte | Charlotte's Web February 20, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I LOVE Nashville! Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I downsized to a netbook from a large laptop last year and have never looked back. It's easy to store and weighs next to nothing if I have to take it out with me. Then again, I work as a writer so all I need is word and occasionally the starter version of photoshop for blog picture editing, your needs may be a little more advanced. But still, it's so easy to hide away when I'm done with it x

    • Reply Erin February 21, 2013 at 1:32 am

      the storage element is certainly appealing! (ps. rayna james isn't any tammy taylor…but still..)

  • Reply olga February 20, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    I've been thinking about the same thing – to be honest, if i had to do it all over again, i'd get what you have and have a tiny mac book air to take with me when i'm running around (which is a lot). I have 15 inch mac book pro, which, while great in a small apartment, is definitely too heavy to lug around. yes, it would be more expensive to have 2 rather than 1 computer. but for my own sanity, i'd do just that. the amt of time you spend staring at the screen, the big screen makes a difference. also, un petit sejour en france est une tres bonne idee.

    • Reply Erin February 21, 2013 at 1:33 am

      agreed: the heavy laptops are almost more annoying than a desktop! (glad you're in support of my séjour)!

  • Reply Anonymous February 20, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    My husband has a laptop and I have an ipad. I wouldn't recommend ditching the desktop and only having a ipad, but if you want to be mobile, it's GREAT! And if you ever want to watch a show while your husband does something else, you could easily watch in bed with your headphones (I do that quite often, as my husband is a full-time student so studies most evenings). Pages is a great app for writing, though you'd likely want to post your blog entries on your desktop still. I have the zaggfolio, which is a case with a keyboard and would highly recommend it! The keyboard is great (and I hardly ever charge it!)

  • Reply Mallory February 20, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    I work on a large desktop as well and I love it. It serves me well by being large enough to see my creative projects closer to 'life size' and I love it.

    We also use it for our television/movie watching, and it is the perfect solution to our, also small, apartment.

    • Reply Erin February 21, 2013 at 1:34 am

      Yes. I'm really not sure I could quit it for good: so easy on the eyes!

  • Reply Jen February 20, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Unrelated to your post…Did you paint the chest of drawers that lovely blue? It like like a tired oak piece I have and would like to paint, but didn't want to do white or a bright color. (I have a tv and use a laptop, but if I didn't have a tv I would use what you have and get a small laptop/notebook for travel and mobility.)

  • Reply Chloe Moon February 20, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    If you can use your large monitor as a TV than I would definitely say keep it!! This post is so relevant to me because my boyfriend just moved into my tiny studio and along with him came two HUGE guitar and bass ampilifiers. They are large and instead of having a space saver furniture piece we are limited because of those two large things…Hopefully they will be out soon if he finds a place to keep them! I hope!!

    Ergo – Blog

    • Reply Erin February 21, 2013 at 1:34 am

      godspeed with those speakers!

  • Reply Emily February 20, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    We have our heavy-duty desktop that all "serious" work/photo stuff gets done on (as well as some gaming by the husband)… and then I have a little Chromebook that I absolutely LOVE for portability. Plus, the Chromebook's keyboard far surpasses that of my desktop, so I tend to do most of my type-work on it as well. 😉

    Budgety-wise, I'm pretty sure both our desktop *and* Chromebook together come in well below the cost of anything Mac. 😉 Not bad to save some cash and have the best of both worlds (heavy duty usage and portability) at hand.

    • Reply Erin February 21, 2013 at 1:46 am

      Oh boy. I think I'd have a rough go of it switching from macs, but I haven't actually checked out Chromebooks…will do!

  • Reply janeray1940 February 20, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Small apartment/large desktop (same one as yours!)/no TV here either, and perfectly happy with that arrangement since I find the design of the Mac to be easy on the eyes. I also have a much-less-attractive Windows laptop that stays hidden except for when it's in use.

  • Reply laura February 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    I just went through this same conundrum last year. I have the same desktop as you and honestly didn't want to sit at a desk at night to use it (I sit at a desk all day for work). It was getting a bit sluggish in its old age too, but works great for show watching! It took me a bit to cave and splurge, but I decided to go for the small MacBook Air, justifying that it was a complement to the lunky desktop, not a replacement, so I didn't go crazy with add-ons (big screens and retina displays, etc.) and I've really liked the mobility of it the last few months, even within my home.

    • Reply Erin February 21, 2013 at 1:35 am

      Yes. I definitely understand this sentiment, too. Sometimes I just don't want to be at my desk anymore!

  • Reply S February 20, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Our laptop's old, chipped and slow. I fancy a netbook but apparently it won't support photo editing software too well.
    In other words, I'm stuck too. Space isn't a luxury we have either so please keep us posted on what you decide to do.
    I'd love a Mac but I have no idea what to do with one. I think a lot of us Brits see computers as typewriters with strange powers, so we stick to what we know…

    • Reply Erin February 21, 2013 at 1:35 am

      ha! strange powers!

  • Reply Kaitlyn Petry February 20, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    We live in a small apartment and the boyfriend is a PC gamer, he was always talking about this new computer he wanted and I told him I would buy him the tower for christmas last year so he could start building it. He picked it out, sent me a link, I called the store and reserved one, went and paid for it and when I saw the box I thought, oh god, it's not going to be that huge is it… and lo, it was. It was a massive massive tower. We had bought him this tiny little desk to fit in our den (closet) and the tower takes up half the desk. It's hilarious.

    • Reply Erin February 21, 2013 at 1:36 am

      sounds like you have the right attitude about it!

  • Reply Milynn {Love + Whimsy} February 20, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Since I'm looking at an apartment, which is a serious downgrade in size, I've been wondering what to do with my giant imac. I want to get rid of it for a smaller one, but I'm feeling the same way like you about parting with it. Is yours a 27 inch? I'm liking the idea of placing it where my tv would be too!

    • Reply Erin February 21, 2013 at 1:37 am

      no! thank goodness, it's the size below…21 inch?

  • Reply Jay February 20, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    The iMac is definitely a keeper if it doubles as a TV but that being said, we don't have desktops anymore. It just wasn't feasible when we moved abroad and traveling a lot means we need to have portable technology. I love the flexibility my Macbook gives me but every once in awhile, I ponder investing in an iMac – that huge screen is so nice!

  • Reply Mary De Bastos February 20, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    I use a Netbook. But, I also have a TV. So…I'm not much of a help. I love your tiny apartment! I could have used these tips when I lived in a studio apartment in Scotland. It was SO small words can't describe it!

  • Reply Neurotic Workaholic February 20, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    I have a laptop, though I rarely take it out of my apartment; I'm afraid of being robbed, because the thieves typically go for the electronics first. I do have a TV, but it's the same one I've had since college. It works about as well as a fancier big-screen/flat screen TV, but I can't help coveting the fancier TVs sometimes.
    I like The Good Wife, and I like Downton Abbey too. As far as Downton Abbey goes, I think the scenes with the servants are the best ones.

  • Reply Patricia February 20, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Get a macbook air and a projector. That's what I did. Great for catching up on all of your movies + shows plus small apartment friendly 🙂

    • Reply Erin February 21, 2013 at 1:41 am

      james and i always talk about getting a projector. would be…awesome.

  • Reply Aida February 20, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    I found your blog by chance, while peeking others and I decided to check it out! I’m glad I did it, because I am really delighted with yours. It's beautiful, well structured, interesting… and it has completely got me hooked. I think we're going to get along just fine! 😉 I'd like to invite you to meet my space as well and I hope you'll have as much fun as I am having in yours!
    I wish you lots of success
    http://[email protected]

    • Reply Erin February 21, 2013 at 1:43 am

      Thanks for your kind words, Aida!

  • Reply rachel February 21, 2013 at 10:16 am

    In this house of laptops and iPads, with all their convenience and teeny-tininess, I couldn't imagine being without my 20" iMac, even if it does require a desk and chair. I just find it helps me to concentrate, and my posture is better than my partner's, as he slouches on the sofa with his laptop. Think carefully before ditching it is all I'd say!

  • Reply Mills (héron + hibou) February 21, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    We just have a 15-inch macbook pro at our house. We got rid of our television about 4 months ago. I thought I would miss it but mostly I just like that we have a screen that can be completely put away.

    • Reply BostonGemmie February 22, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      Oh we have 4 TVs in our house and I cant see us going to a computer screen~~~~my only issue with all the TVs are some are on all the time!!!! I cant sleep with a TV on!!! Drives me nuts to get up in the night and hear 2-3 differant shows on!!!

      I go around turning TVs off and they seem to come on all by themselves by morning! LOL!

  • Reply Anonymous February 22, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I dont live in a teeny cutie little place like you do but I have had the same mind-bending thoughts about should I dump the old, takes-forever-to-open-a-page computer and upgrade to a sleek new laptop, tablet or get another desktop computer!!!

    I have actually made a three tier Pros/Cons for all three devices and I have decided I am going to get another desktop computer.

    My main reasoning is because I am so in love with the desk that it sits on. It is old,great lines and solid as a ton of bricks as my brothers said when they had to move it! LOL!! But those who think I should move into this century feel I need a tablet or laptop. I dont want those because I dont want to be on the computer 24/7 and with those two and knowing me as only I know me (lol) I would be logging on all over the place when I really shouldnt.

    So for my family sake, I tell them I am a procrastinator and having those two devices will make it worse….but it is all because of that desk! 🙂

  • Reply alexaparis February 22, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Oh yes, un petit séjour en France!!!
    U should come:)

  • Reply Bridget February 26, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    As always, I really enjoyed reading your 'life in a tiny apartment'. My boyfriend and I are downsizing {or at least that is the plan} and these encourage me to think about being more mindful of some of the things we have in our current place! It's definitely eye opening now I'm actively getting ride of some of the things in our home…
    That and I love the blog in general!

  • Reply marissa (stylebook) February 27, 2013 at 11:27 am

    so pleased to have discovered your blog this morning, especially this feature. i had been mentally preparing to live in a tiny ny space for six months until a job found me in florida; now i'm back in the mindset. (another move's a'comin!) i always imagined i'd watch television on an ipad? also, nashville's good?? taking note!

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