life in a tiny apartment.

October 8, 2014

Tip #111: When it comes to furnishing, emulate Goldilocks.

If there’s one thing that internet publishing isn’t terribly good at showing, it’s slow growth.

We’re used to seeing befores and afters, but in these portrayals of people’s homes the transformation is rapid—a quick swipe of the fingers and voila, you see a space rendered beautiful in seconds. The in-between parts of apartment furnishing and decorating are harder to showcase. There’s only rare cataloguing of the awkward adolescent phase when the nose—or couch—doesn’t quite fit into the rest of your face—er, room. Mostly, this is okay. But it’s a good thing to remember that even if the photos are few, most spaces go through an awkward stage. When it comes to filling a tiny space—or any space—with things that you love, the process is less Cinderella pre-midnight and more Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You’ve got to give things a try and rule out what doesn’t feel quite right until you settle on something that does.

stool In my case, I’ve found that holding off on purchasing something new until I find the just-right thing makes for a more beautiful space and far less regret. Here’s an example:

Since moving into our new apartment, I’ve been using our former dinner table as my work desk. Transformed into a desk it’s a wonder that we ever used the tiny 2×3 foot table as a dining table, but that’s the magic of tiny apartment living—everything that once seemed impossible is proven otherwise. Without a dedicated desk chair, I’ve been using one of our four dining chairs to work in—dragging a chair from our new table over to my desk while I work, and dragging it back to the table when I’m all finished.

And for the past six months, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for the perfect desk chair.

I’ve made weekly visits to the thrift shop around the corner. I’ve scanned the windows of antique shops and inspected piles of discarded furniture on the street. Finally, last week, James brought home a set of two stools. Vestiges from biology labs of years past, the stools were destined for the dumpster but they’re just the right thing for our space. Originally sold as adjustable stools, the two have long-since been stuck in place and one is stuck at just exactly the right height for my taller-than-typical desk. Patience, rewarded.

What about you? What’s a favorite thing you’ve found after a long search?

More on works-in-progress, HERE.
Tiny apartment survival tips #1-110, right HERE.


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  • Reply nyclilsmartass October 8, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    The chair seems very useful and doesn't look like it needs much space. Patience is definitely key for decorating.
    What about your back? It is comfortable to work in a backless chair for long periods of time?
    In our apartment the thing that took the longest to find was our couch. We have a big dog that sheds so I kept going back between fabric and leather since fabric means more dog hair but leather means possible rips. Size was a problem too. But then we found the perfect small faux leather couch with a great deal. The many months spent watching tv on the floor payed off!
    Thanks for the post!

  • Reply jenn @ beyond the stoop October 8, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    boy oh boy is that the truth… when moving into a new place it's SO hard to resist the urge to fill it right away. we had an extra wobbly malm ikea dresser that had it's fair share of moves (especially for the poorly made particle board behemoth), but we kept it for 6 months, searching and searching for the perfect dresser. the terms were that it had to be solid wood, hold just as many things, and be under $100. that pretty much left us to thrift stores and the occasional "this person has no idea the worth of this thing" find on craigslist. we snagged an "eh it will work" piece for only $38 at a vintage store in philly that turned out to look MUCH more fantastic in its permanent home than in that dingy store. patience IS worth it sometimes 🙂

  • Reply kiwi October 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    i love pretty little stools like that! but my back usually needs more support, sadly.

    my SO and i spent some time in an apartment that could rival your two fifty. when we moved in we had a futon bed/couch and his desk chair to sit in. with futons i think you can either have a comfy bed or a comfy couch, and ours was an excellent bed 😛 it took a lot of driving around a strange city and comparing prices before we picked up a second chair – one of those round chairs with bungee cords. i love it, it folds up completely flat to lean against the wall when we need more floor space, and it's still the comfiest seat in the house imo!

  • Reply Haley October 8, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    I really wanted a set of gray Russel Wright plates and I thought I was going to have to slowly piece by piece collect them via ebay. I waited and waited, and then on a trip to Brimfield there was a tiny table in the back of a field covered in Russel Wright plates and bowls and mugs, a whole set. I inquired about the price and the man said $30 for ALL OF IT! The best find ever. It felt like such a blessing.

  • Reply Nicole Yerkes October 8, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    I was searching for some kind of nightstand set for me and my husband–they had to be smallish for the size of the room, and preferably not heavy for all the moving we do, but still cute?! After a few months, found two beautiful little stands at a tiny garage sale, $5 for the set.

    Also, found this blog a just last week and I'm in love <3 Already been recommending it to my other blog-loving friends.

  • Reply Katherine October 9, 2014 at 1:18 am

    I am still on the hunt for the ideal fabric for my daughters' room curtains. It alludes me, and I have been tempted to plunk money down for "good enough", but I know a better choice is out there!

  • Reply Lexie October 9, 2014 at 7:21 am

    I am in 300 square feet living in only two small rooms. I needed a couch. Most would not put one in here but I measured and thought it out. I knew it would work. It had to be a smaller couch and it had to be pretty. I found one on Craigslist that was perfect, smaller and blue and white. Just gorgeous linen fabric just unwrapped from the purchase. It is perfect and was worth waiting for. with its blue and white stripe. The best part it was only 60! I was able to build coastal décor and have a lovely theme that matches. The best ideas are worth waiting for in décor.

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