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Style Bloggers Give Lifehacks and Advice on My New York Apartment Nightmares

New York is the city of high rents and small apartments. It attracts a high population but demands low expectations when it comes to living, unless you’re rich, well, or dating someone who is. Because New Yorkers are nothing if not practical.

The other 99% has probably experienced one or two stress-inducing living situations. 

When it comes to apartment nightmares, I’ve experienced the night terrors. Thought not the type of dreams where you wake up screaming, because that would have woken up some of my former roommates. Out of all the miscellaneous things that can go wrong with a Manhattan apartment, the city never runs out of surprises. Just like dating, there’s a lot of crappy inventory, so you have to go into it already having decided what the deal-breakers are.  

I’ve lived to tell the story, and found some style and beauty bloggers to advise on how I could have turned my interior design moles into beauty marks. 

Anyone with an unhealthy obsession with Architectural Digest should probably stop reading. 

Realtors warn that settling is important. Like partners, no singular place can’t fulfill all our needs. I never expected hunger would be an issue, until I found an incredible place, besides the absence of a kitchen. It wasn’t just the typical missing a dishwasher, but an oven and counter space, as well. I seamlessed for a year to fix the issue but found the ugly space (a fridge and a table with a hot plate and a microwave) too depressing. “It’s like a kitchenette,” Barbara, who was seventy, joked. I wondered if she was senile. 

Beauty writer for BeLatina.com, Lisan Simpson would’ve enhanced the space with something that showcases individuality. “Like makeup, it’s not always about concealing, but making the canvas visually appealing, while seeing the beauty in its flaws. The kitchen is typically the heart of the home. That’s not attributed to the state-of-the-art appliances but rather the emotion evoked in people who gather there.”

In other words, if you’re household doesn’t have luxury, it can still have meaning. And nothing reminds you of home quite like this “Home Sweet Home” ArtSugar wall art by Jessica Stempel. It arrives matted and framed, ready to add a nostalgic warmth to any wall. 

“It represents togetherness, comfort, and a place for sharing,” the make-up aficionado adds. “Teapots, toasters, ovens, no matter the size can be a statement piece suitable for any space, as long as it’s function is two-fold, user-friendly and pleasing to the eye. This design approach can be applied to all spaces, as the idea is to create something that expresses our own uniqueness. Whether it’s through wall art or cool sculptures, a space should give us a feeling of warmth and serenity; like the faux throw and coffee mug we snagged from that antique shop during that unforgettable weekend getaway. A home should be a refuge that reflects our experiences, with reminders of our dreams, while adaptable to our #currentmood. Decorating should be fun, personal and leave a lasting impression of you.”

Even for the wealthy, the most universal problem with New York apartments is size. CityChickStyle blogger Lesley Reider says it’s all about creating an illusion. “I love making a room look bigger with a light colored decorative rug. We have a grey and beige one in our living room.”

But, what happens when the space is more about function than aesthetic? 

“Closet space is so limited in NYC apartments,” Reider says, “but I’m all about plastic storage containers that you can stack on top of each other. They totally maximize the space you have. This hack is a gamechanger!” Size obviously matters, but It’s more about using each square footage effectively. 

Location has sometimes been a problem, like when I lived on Avenue D. It was far from most places, besides Avenue C. I turned into a homebody. Apartments that are not conveniently located can make us lazy to leave for mild obligations.  Style blogger Tuan Le has been there, done that. 

“It’s even more beneficial to invest a little in making it a place you enjoy. I love ArtSugar’s influencer-curated selection of affordable art. It adds liveliness and warmth to any space, without the luxury price tag. If you’re going to be a homebody, it’s important to keep the apartment stocked with snacks, wine doesn’t hurt. This can even bring the party to you.”

Personally, I like to combine delicious treats with art, which is why ArtSugar’s pop sculpture section by Betsy Enzensberger is one of my favorites. It’ll truly sprinkle fun and originality wherever you place it. 

Champagne for Breakfast blogger Laurie Espino agrees, it’s all about the vibe. “My apartment is small, so I like to make it appealing for guests by adding a lot of lighting with fun lamps and using a neutral color scheme. I also like to add cozy accessories like a knit blanket or cozy throw pillows. They really finish the look.”

The worst apartment that I’ve encountered was a three month rental during the summer of 2014. Twenty and broke, my brother and I agreed to share a bedroom in a two bedroom inside, what the other tenant referred to, as a European-styled apartment. “Like the villas in an island,” she said, like it meant something.

Basically, the shower was in the living area, an actual thing, the unicorn of bad NYC real estate. It was part of the wall, separated by a shower curtain. Not to mention, the sink in the kitchen was shared for the bathroom. The toilet was not unlike solitary confinement. As an influencer, Tuan knows firsthand that any situation can benefit from the proper props.

 “It could have been made cute with a bold colored, velvet curtain. The sink is definitely a hygiene issue, but at least the living room would have had some decorum.” 

Investing in your apartment is another form of self love. Like this ArtSugar piece by Jessie Rubin, the right changes are going to “Love You More” back. 

The list goes on, but it looks like with dedication, creativity and Pinterest research, there’s always a sliver of hope. Even the most barbarian of apartments can be civilized. Again, not unlike dating.  

Jamie Valentino for ArtSugar January 14, 2020

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