Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Home Improvements - a little goes a long way

When I moved in to this apartment a year and a half ago, the list of immediate tasks was long but obvious due to the sheer fact that two people had to now inhabit a one-bedroom apartment previously occupied by just one person. Over the course of a few intense weeks, we reduced and reorganized and figured out how to make it all work. Stacks of books went to the Strand, bags of clothing went to the Goodwill, kitchen cabinets got reconfigured, a bedroom dresser and two nightstands were purchased, and the bathroom vanity got an entire overhaul. But once the major to-do's were completed, a lot of the smaller and less important tasks fell to the wayside as things like jobs and travels took up our spare time. Eventually though, I was able to revisit my "Apartment To-Do List - Tasks of Secondary Importance [working title]" and slog my way through it - and yikes, what a difference something as small as just putting up a few pictures can make to my overall mood.

I had long been wanting to put up a gallery wall. I'd actually purchased a couple of the above pictures with the intention to hang them in my old apartment, but never even managed to put them into frames before moving. When I realized that the space above my nightstand in my (new to me) bedroom was bare, I knew that was where my pictures were going to hang. It took a trip to Ikea and a lengthy measuring/cutting/framing/re-measuring/nailing/hanging/re-hanging session, but I finally got everything up - and it makes me so happy. One day I'd love to have one of those massive gallery walls that takes up half the room, but for now, these six pictures will have to do.

In the small-but-mighty category, I finally took control of my cookbook situation. Previously, I had all my cookbooks lined up at the end of my kitchen counter and held by one of those cheapo bookends. It was fine, but really kind of cluttered - and that's not to mention my old system of printing out various recipes and shoving them into random books whenever I decided to "clean up." So first I tackled the loose recipe issue - each random paper went into a 3-hole plastic sheet protector, and the stack of sheet protectors got bound into a folder. Simple, cheap, and amazingly effective. Then, the folder and all the cookbooks went into a wire basket that was big enough to hold everything but with a smaller footprint than that of the original line of books. It's easy to dig though the basket when I do need to grab a book, but for the majority of times when I'm not referencing an analogue cookbook, they're out of the way and neatly stacked.

And finally, the largest of the projects - a backsplash in the kitchen! About six months ago, my folks gave me an early monetary Christmas present with instructions to spend it on something for the apartment. J and I had been talking for a while about adding a backsplash to cover up the industrial-apartment-plaster, and that was just the impetuous we needed.

It took us a while to figure out just how to go about getting our backsplash. Should we buy the tiles and DIY it ourselves? Or do we go the peel-and-stick route? It quickly became clear that we were not going to do the installation ourselves - the time, stress, and tool investment would have been too much to handle, and besides, neither of us had ever done anything close to a project of that caliber. The peel-and-stick option wasn't for us either. None of the patterns really spoke to us, and price-wise, it wasn't all that different than traditional tiles. So we called our landlord and struck a deal - we'd buy the tiles/grout/sealant/etc. and our building's maintenance man would instal the tiles; when we eventually move out of the apartment, the backsplash will remain, adding value to the overall unit. Five trips to Home Depot later (one to buy some tile options, one to buy all the tile we though we'd need, one to return the unused get the idea) and we had our beautiful backsplash.

All of these improvements were just that - embellishments to things that were already perfectly fine and functioning. But this being my first semi-permanent living situation in quite some time, it feels so good to put in a little time and effort to turn this apartment into a home.

Links to products mentioned: 
   ~ Gallery wall: top lefttop rightbottom right
   ~ Cookbook basket
   ~ Backsplash tile


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