I’ve lived in my apartment for almost five years, and not once did it ever feel like a home.
By all accounts, it’s a great space: two bedrooms, a storage room, a balcony (though it doesn’t look out at much), and a decent-sized living room with lots of natural light. It’s affordable (around $1,100/mo), it helped me pay off $23,000 in student debt, and it’s right on the subway AND streetcar line. I’m lucky. But I didn’t realize it until this December.
For those almost five years, I could only ever focus on the negatives of that space. No matter how hard you scrub, the kitchen floor never comes clean; the counters are dated; the cupboards are literally falling off the hinges; and it just has this lived-in feel… and not in a good way.
I never decorated my place or made it feel like a home because, in all honesty, I saw it as more of a temporary living situation. My plan was to live there a few years, then find a better place downtown—one that wasn’t an hour-long commute to my work *shudders*. I’d get a dog, be closer to my friends and family, and on weekends, I’d take a short walk to the local coffee shop and sip coffee while reading my latest fave non-fiction. Yeah, I’d be ~that girl~.
Looking back, I can see a series of moments that came together that led me to love my apartment. It all started with Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up. I got about halfway through it and stopped right about when she said we should be folding our socks. Pfft. Yeah, right. Like people have time to fold their socks. I stopped reading. I got what I needed to get out of it.
I remember spending the weekend at my parents’ house. They have a shed out back where we keep all of our childhood things. I had gotten my things down to two or three bins, and knew I wanted to clear it out down to only one. That day, I was a total savage. I mean, I was throwing away stuffed animals my grandma had given to me at birth. I was throwing away toys I had begged my parents for (Furby, anyone?). I was throwing away school projects, photo albums, and trophies I’d won over the years. These things had done their job. And there’s no doubt they brought me joy at one time. But that’s the thing; at one time. What am I going to do with 20 plastic trophies in the next five years? Showcase them all on a shelf? Nah. I took a mental photograph and threw them all away. Thanks for the memories.
The last moment occurred when my sister started to throw all of her shit away. Literally, all of it. I remember the first time I walked into her apartment after she’d done so. It was...breathtaking. The faint orange glow of her himalayan rock salt lamp, the soothing smell of her Saje diffuser, and the general flow of the space. She called it “The Zen Den.” She’s never been more right about anything. And she’s right 99.9% of the time. All I knew was I wanted a space like this. I wanted to come home from work and experience that moment of ahhhhh…
Fast forward to December, 2017. In an attempt to live a more minimalist lifestyle, I decided my challenge would be to throw out one thing per day. It morphed into something WAY better.
I was doing well! Throwing out knickknacks and old school papers and clothes. But it wasn’t until my sister spent the weekend with me that things really started to change. I remember we were sitting on my bed. I was telling her that I wanted to get rid of this massive desk I had bought when I moved in. It had four upper shelves and two bottom ones. When I first bought it, my thought process was “Well, I’m not going to be staying here for long, and I don’t want to deal with hanging up shelves, so I’ll get a desk that hits two birds with one stone.” That desk was a fucking nightmare. It took up way too much space and was a total dust collector.
In that moment, my sister suggested we clean off the desk. In true Marie Kondo fashion, everything came off the desk and I had to touch it all before I decided to throw it away or keep it, to see if it sparks joy. This was truly cathartic. Check out the before and after pics below. Now, I love that desk.
PICS x 2
Then we cleaned my closet. Then my dresser. And I’ll be damned if we didn’t fold my socks… and I liked it. Never thought I’d say this, but I’ll be folding my socks from now on.
It’s 11pm. My sister excitedly suggests, “Let’s do the kitchen now!” We were on a roll. We cleared out the cupboards and the fridge. It was disgusting. And beautiful. I threw out 4 frying pans I hadn’t touched since 2014. I put all my oats and quinoa and chia seeds in mason jars. I organized my canned goods and spices. I now walk into my once-hated kitchen and breathe a sigh of relief. I appreciate it now.
We did the living room. The bathroom. The linen closet. And the dreaded storage room. This was the true definition of momentum.
Take a look at all the stuff I’m going to be donating.
Now, every time I walk into my place, I feel free. And I treat it with more respect than ever. I make my bed every day. Sometimes twice. I used to throw everything on “the chair”. (You know the one I’m talkin’ ‘bout.) Now, I put everything away when I’m done with it and cleaning takes me a fraction of the time. I feel lighter. Happier.
I used to live in an apartment. Now, I live in a home.