life in a tiny apartment.

June 17, 2015

life in a tiny apartment: rugs or lack thereof | reading my tea leaves
Tip #124: Consider ruglessness.

We vacuum our apartment almost every single day.

On any given day there’s an army of minuscule squatters taking up residence on our floors. They take the form of shriveled tofu, dried into shockingly hard little crumbs, playground sand, smashed blueberries, runaway peas, and far-flung desiccated spaghetti. The catalog of daily detritus is staggering and growing.

On the morning of the day that I took these photographs, James had vacuumed with Faye frantically chasing behind, hobbling after the canister on all fours while periodically letting out a half-delighted, half-exasperated squeal. In the ten minutes that intervened between the vacuum getting put away and all of us leaving the house, the floor needed to be vacuumed again. This is life in the big city with a one-year-old. Surely it will only get worse.

Most rental agreements in New York City include a stipulation that says that 80% of the floorspace needs to be covered in rugs. If your downstairs neighbor mentions this to you, it’s probably a good idea to try to comply. If they don’t, I say do your best to be courteous. We try to keep indoor bowling to a minimum. We don’t wear shoes in our apartment and we keep Faye’s toys mostly relegated to the quilt that we keep in her toy box and unfold for block building and general shenanigans.
But in the name of sanity and wide-open-spaces, we’ve gone rugless. Or to be more precise, we’ve returned to ruglessness.
life in a tiny apartment: rugs or lack thereof | reading my tea leaves
When we first moved into this apartment last March, we bought our first real rug. Partly because we finally had the space for one and partly because we thought we wanted to cozy up our place to welcome our baby-to-come. And the rug was definitely cozy. In fact, I’m really grateful that it was here while I labored and while we sprawled ourselves on it for the first few months of Faye’s life.

Decorators will say that a rug brings a room together, but in our case I felt like it was pulling it apart. Coziness aside, our rug never really felt right. It was too modern for the space, maybe. Or too white? Too loopy? Maybe the problem is really just me and my general tendency toward design indecision and my overwhelming urge to keep the floor clear of clutter and bits of hidden food particles. Whatever the case, we decided to sell our rug. Back in the fall we put up an ad on Craigslist and sold the rug to a neighborly fellow with a house upstate with bare floors aplenty.
life in a tiny apartment: rugs or lack thereof | reading my tea leaves
I’m not in any rush to recover the floors, but if I did add something, I think I would go for a rug that felt a little less like a carpet. In the meantime, I’m doing my usual mulling things over in this spot.

A few things on my radar:
This Antigua Blue Rug by Caroline Z Hurley found via The Primary Essentials.
This Blue Arrows Dhurrie from Bohem (formerly Gypsya).
This Woven Rug from Joinery.
The occasional vintage gems added to two my favorite shops: Little Byrd Vintage and Ethan Ollie.

For the curious:
Our vacuum. (The very best vacuum there is.)

Tiny apartment survival tips #1 -122, RIGHT HERE.

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  • Reply Loribeth Tanner June 17, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    I've got a nice, thin cotton rug (5×7) that I lay down for special occasions and it can be easily folded up to the size of a quilt in the closet.

    • Reply Erin June 17, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      Nice idea! That's kind of what we do with the quilt, too. Bonus: it can get washed weekly!

    • Reply Loribeth Tanner June 17, 2015 at 3:41 pm

      I do love the idea of washing it!

    • Reply admin June 17, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      Nice idea! That's kind of what we do with the quilt, too. Bonus: it can get washed weekly!

  • Reply Polly Cat June 17, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    The floor in your apartment is very lovely, would be a shame to cover it up! The floor in my university room was so dirty and stained… rugs saved the day! x

    Polly Cat Contemplates

  • Reply Traci June 17, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    I like the rugless look when the wood floors are pleasant to look at! And I'm checking out your vacuum–I just moved to a new city and didn't bring my vacuum with me. 😐

  • Reply Charly June 17, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    I'm jealous. I think I'd prefer the rugless look, but my boyfriend has a rug he received as an heirloom that I feel bad about hiding away. To be continued!

  • Reply Christine Amorose June 17, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    I've never heard about the rug rule in NYC–and a good thing, because I certainly wouldn't comply! My old roommate insisted on rugs in our living room, and the first thing I did when she moved was thrown them out. I just like the feel of the floor under my feet, and I find it easier to sweep/vacuum up crumbs than worry about a rug. And the biggest thing is that I've just never found a rug that I LOVED and that really worked in my room–for my budget! Glad to hear you support this strategy 🙂

  • Reply Lexie June 18, 2015 at 6:45 am

    I like bare floors. I have a magic way of cleaning them and keeping them in good shape with old English products with a swifter rod and then wax. My vacuum is by far the best on the planet. Its a Bissell Clear View Helix pet vacuum with a dual Hepa filter. You simply empty the canister to clean it and it gets everything and I mean everything up The Hepa filter you just rinse and reuse. It gets .Every speck , every hair and all dirt. I have a Himalayan with a long tri coat and it gets all hair up. It has several attachments yet is very light and easy to store as its thin . The Hepa filter keeps the dust from circulating and cleans out particles that most vacuums throw back in the air. Mine was only 79 and its lasted 12 years still like brand new. I adore it.

  • Reply amandapetunia June 18, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    FLOR tiles! I have five pets and I like to sit on the floor. They add just enough padding and I have washed some of them due to my furries being older and having accidents. They are a god send (sp?). Not the cheapest but they are made from recycled bottles. (I don't work for them)

  • Reply Carissa Thilgen June 18, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    My hubs and I just moved to Jersey and have a bigger place full of hardwood floors so I'm hoping to get a few rugs, for the coziness and the pretty factor. But I'm so worried they'll just get ruined by our dogs! They bring in a lot of dirt, our 1-year-old pup still has accidents sometimes and our lab mix sheds like a BEAST. So if we do get a rug, it needs to be easy to clean and not too precious (or pricey), so I don't want to kill my fur babies when they inevitably destroy it!

  • Reply maria fordon June 18, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    We have horrible rental carpet and scratched linoleum. It's pretty depressing so I've been picking up every cute/plain/inexpensive rug I can find. Also is it weird that the Miele vacuum reminds me of my childhood? Lol

  • Reply Heather at Happy Chippy Junk June 30, 2015 at 4:27 am

    That dresser makes me swoon!! I look at the NY craigslist even though I live across the country. Oh the finds that sit on the curb!! How do you not bring them all home!!!

  • Reply Jill D February 18, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    A couple of years ago I got rid of our thick shaggy rug that seemed to serve only as a catch-all for crumbs and cat hair in exchange for a dhurrie (from West Elm) and am very happy with the results. The dhurrie is much easier to vacuum, has a beautiful pattern that adds color and interest to my otherwise neutral toned space, and helps to visually delineate the ‘living room’ in my studio apartment.

  • Reply Nicky N. September 11, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    In May, we got bed bugs, and it was a great opportunity to get rid of our old area rug, which my husband had picked out and I had never liked. We’ve never replaced it – I love the bare floor look, too, and it makes our tiny studio apartment seem so much larger! In San Francisco – where we live – you also have to have 80% of the floor covered. Our downstairs neighbor hasn’t complained yet (and we do tend to be pretty quiet), so hopefully we’ll be able to keep it this way!

  • Reply Ally July 19, 2017 at 3:15 am

    In my home country, apartment complexes all featured a large metal bar set up outside in the huge shared courtyard (also featuring a playground and open space where the kids roamed free range from dawn till dusk), where residents were expected, if they chose, to bring out their rugs at the frequency they desired, and whack all the dust and food particles out with a loopy plastic implement, sort of like a humongous curvy fly swatter. It’s a familiar background sound from childhood.

    A thorough and sensible cleaning solution, pre good vacuums. Also, free cardio. (-;

  • Reply Bethany Hudson September 2, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    Every time I see that dresser I’m struck by the color. What paint shade did you use?

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