Tag Archives: apartment

Apartment Projects: The Gallery Wall

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My greatest wish for my new apartment was to have a gallery wall. I was seeing them all over Pinterest and other blogs, and it seemed like an ideal way to personalize my new home. Plus I had several 5×7 photographs that I had printed and framed but never displayed in my old apartment. A couple of weeks after moving, I felt ready to tackle the gallery wall project.

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I created my gallery wall using a method from A Beautiful Mess (found here), which involves making paper cutouts in the shape of all the art pieces. Then you can arrange the cutouts on the wall with tape and find the best configuration before making any holes. This method was a lifesaver because I ended up moving the gallery to a completely different wall. I was planning to hang it above my bed, but the cutouts revealed that my pieces weren’t big enough to properly fill that space. Instead I tried out the wall above my kitchen table, and it worked wonderfully! Once you have the final arrangement, you can mark on the cutouts where to position the nails. The paper rips right off after the nails are in place.

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They don’t mention this in the article, but my first step was actually arranging the pieces on the floor. I was inspired by another post on A Beautiful Mess (found here), which deals with a gallery wall that’s closer to the size of mine. I liked how Emma used one piece as an axis with the others lined up along its edges. You could also think of it as a spiral. This seemed like the best way to be artfully asymmetrical, and I’m very satisfied with the results!

Please excuse the messy table.

Please excuse the messy table.

The largest print is by Simini Blocker, whose Rainbow Rowell fan art is very popular on Tumblr. You may recognize the 5×7 photos from when I first moved into uptown (seen here and here). I have five of them in frames, but four was a better number for this arrangement. The square print is by my friend Jenny, and I also included a 4×6 photo with my college roommates. I love that the gallery has different shapes and textures but still feels cohesive. Thanks, black frames!

Simple touches like this go a long way toward making a rental feel like home.

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Box Pyramids and Red Sharpies

I’ve lived in Minneapolis for almost four years, and I spent three of those years in the same apartment. I loved the house, the location, and my roommates. Last year the owner of the property became ill, and his family eventually had to sell the house. Since the new owners wanted to live in our apartment, a move was on the horizon for all of us. It takes a while for me to adjust to these kind of changes, but over time I became excited about the prospect of getting my own place. I knew that my new apartment probably wouldn’t have the natural charm of the old house I had been living in, which would give me a chance to jazz it up with some Pinterest-worthy projects.

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Have you ever seen those rankings of stressful life events? The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale appears to be the most common. I looked it up because I thought moving would be higher on the list. It would definitely be higher on my personal ranking. I started looking for an apartment, perhaps earlier than I could reasonably expect to find a June lease, but I felt strongly that I wanted to stay in my neighborhood if possible. My obsession paid off when I found an early listing in one of my “ideal scenario buildings.” That was a weight off my shoulders, but I still had the actual move ahead of me.

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During my last move, I was definitely less organized. I was also moving from one three-bedroom apartment (with roommates, obviously) to another, which meant I didn’t need to be overly concerned about having enough room for extra stuff. This time I purged old clothes and unused items in the weeks prior. Overall I felt a stronger nesting instinct than I had during previous moves, probably because this apartment was going to be all mine. The greatest evidence is that I bought plants—three small succulents, to be exact—despite my poor track record for plant survival. There may have also been a celebratory trip to Ikea where I gained a few possessions, but I didn’t go crazy.

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Next came the exhausting days of packing and cleaning. I may have reached the point of labeling a box “Random Awkward Crap” in red marker. But eventually the pyramid of boxes was gone, and I was free to settle into my new home. My fantasy was to have an attic apartment that felt like a little den. I ended up in an ordinary (but undoubtedly cheaper) apartment building, but the space still feels very homey. I will share a couple little apartment projects in the upcoming weeks, starting with the gallery wall that I installed last weekend!

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What to Do with the Empty Bedroom in Your Apartment

When your roommates move out, it will be sad and a bit lonely. But it will also leave an empty bedroom with intriguing possibilities.

What to do first? Take photos of yourself in the empty room, of course.

Then take photos of your rainbow slippers. (Thanks, Mom!)

What to do with all this floor space?

Dance party, obviously. Crank the Rihanna.

If you sing along, it sounds all echo-y!

Suddenly ask yourself, “Why am I wearing slippers in my un-air-conditioned apartment on a 90-degree day?”

Wonder if you are bothering the downstairs neighbors. Well, just one more song.

Take one more melodramatic photo of yourself. Thanks, backlighting!

Unless you plan to build a fort, you have now exhausted the possibilities of the empty bedroom.

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New Apartment Firsts

Being in charge of all my own meals is definitely a first. Since I lived in the dorms all four years of college, it was nothing but the dining hall for me. The food wasn’t great, but it saved me a lot of time in the planning meals, shopping, and cooking department. To my surprise, I’ve been finding it fun to be in total control of my food. My biggest discovery so far has been the omelet. Last Friday night was another milestone when I made my first two-pot meal:  spaghetti and tomato sauce. (The sauce was from a can. Who do you think I am — Martha Stewart?)

Sadly Joel McHale doesn't hang out in my kitchen.

Getting to know my neighborhood has been enjoyable. Last week I got to the point where I could drive to my apartment without having to think much about directions. I’ve even started venturing out for walks when I have a free afternoon. I think the best way to learn an area is to just go somewhere, either by car or on foot, and then find your way back. I’m slowly learning the order of the named streets and the locations of certain landmarks.

The previous tenants of our apartment, on top of making our internet installation as complicated as possible, seem to have left an impenetrable layer of grime on the wood floors. As a result, we couldn’t walk around barefoot without risking dirty feet. To combat this, my roommate Lisa and I bought a Swiffer Sweeper. Having never used one before, I found it oddly satisfying.

The grime was not in the shape of cute paw prints either.

Driving north on the 35-W, there’s a point when you come over a hill and see the downtown skyline in the distance. Whenever I see it, I can’t help but think, “I live here.”

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A Lease of One’s Own

I apologize for the lengthy absence. It’s been an absolutely crazy week, with friends to visit and a wedding in the family.

But I had to update you, blog readers, on another exciting development. On Wednesday I signed a lease for my first apartment! I drove to and from Minneapolis in one day, which I wouldn’t recommend in 90 degree heat. Still, I now know where I will be laying my head in less than two weeks, and that makes me very happy.

It’s nothing fancy. Just a quaint three-bedroom apartment to share with two roommates. But honestly, I’m in love with it.

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The Great Apartment Hunt

So great that it took me two days to recover!

Okay, that might not be entirely accurate. When my mom and I told the last apartment manager that we were only looking at three places that day, he looked at us rather incredulously. Still, three was plenty for a day that included driving to Minneapolis and back. Since my future roommates weren’t there, it was really just a scouting mission.

With the help of my stepdad’s trusty navigational system, we set out with our cookies and Red Vines to explore unfamiliar turf. Our first stop was the school where I’ll be working. We walked all the way around the building and peaked in some windows. Luckily it was a Saturday, so no one was there to be creeped out by us. My mom was approving, and I was reminded of why I loved the vibe there.

The navigation system lead us to our three appointments without incident. I’m always a little skeptical of nav because I think being able to navigate on your own is valuable. Still, for a day like this, it was a lifesaver. I was expecting there to be at less one jerk in the trio of apartment managers, but Minnesota Nice won out. Leave it to me to want to rent an apartment from someone because they’re a “nice guy.” I mean, they would be easier to work with, right? I like nice people, okay!

Our showings included two good (and very similar) options and one dud. All three were messy because the current tenants were in the process of moving out. One manager was particularly bothered by this, which was pretty cute. My mom and I were amused to see a hookah in one of the living rooms. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Fargo anymore. But I don’t think we were over the rainbow either.

No final decision yet, but I hope to have the housing issue resolved by the end of the week. That should lower the stress factor considerably.

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Please Trust Me with Your Property

Tomorrow my mom and I are making the trip down to Minneapolis for a day of apartment hunting. Since Carleton keeps most students living in the dorms for all four years, it’s my first time searching for a place to rent. A little scary, but mostly exciting!

Naturally, since I’m an adult and stuff, I set up our appointments myself. It’s the rare landlord that actually answers his phone, or so it would seem. I often found myself leaving awkward voicemail messages on a stranger’s phone. Usually this was no big deal, but in my first round of calls I had one catastrophic failure. After giving the usual spiel about who I was and why I was calling, I completely blanked on my phone number! Or more specifically, I couldn’t remember my area code.

My train of thought went something like this:  651 . . . no, that’s the Minneapolis area code! . . . This has been a really long silence. . . . Maybe I should try this message again — wait, no I can’t! Oh my god, this guy is going to think I’m an idiot. I basically became Ross on Friends in the episode with his hot cousin, but with less creepy undertones.

Eventually I was able to spit out my phone number with area code. Of course, that was the one person from the first round of phone calls who didn’t call me back. I didn’t feel too bad about it though because I got a few others showings set up that day.

Of course, I made the mistake of falling in love with one of the apartments. This one just seems like the perfect setup, the price is reasonable, etc., etc. They may have just had a better photographer, but I was already picturing myself living there. Cut to today when the manager calls to cancel my appointment because the apartment was just rented out. That’s what I get for hunting from four hours away, I guess.

Now it was time for round two of phone calls. Since the place did look promising, I swallowed my pride and left another message for the man who probably thought I was an idiot. This time I made the mistake of calling on a brand new cell phone. While leaving my second voicemail, I got a text. Long story short, I thought someone might be trying to call me and — ta da! Another message complete with awkward silence.

But, wonder of wonders, he actually called me back this time. The man must have a sense of humor. I’m crossing my fingers that we find something promising. Feel free to cross your fingers too.

This small child is better at talking on the phone than me.

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