For me, the worst part of background checks is when they ask for multiple years of prior addresses, because I have had many, many addresses. I've jumped back and forth from living with a roommate to living on my own, and began the cycle again when I moved back to Chicago in 2012. After living a year in a giant Wrigleyville apartment with my childhood best friend, I was back to looking for a place on my own when she found her dream man. So, I was determined to find my dream apartment.
I had a difficult feat ahead of me to find such an apartment. I needed it to have charm, a downtown location close to the Red Line, and be large enough to fit my stuff, but also small enough that I could afford it. Oh, and a good laundry set up—always.
Some might be surprised by this, but I was actually excited by the idea of living in a studio. Even at age 26. I liked the idea of having a large cozy room, where I could see everything I've collected in one place. The idea seemed comforting. And I knew immediately when I toured my studio that it was the one.
I loved that there was an entryway to pass through, large windows, a separate room for the kitchen, hardwood floors, and crown molding. Above all else, the closet was 6 1/2’ by 5 1/2’ and had built in shelves. My reaction upon seeing it was "Where do I sign?"
My challenge was fitting all my furniture meant for a one bedroom apartment to fit into the studio. Before my move date I drew out an elaborate blueprint, detailed down to the inch to make sure everything would fit, and that I wouldstill have room to walk. I sold off a few pieces of furniture, and replaced my couch for something slimmer to conserve space further. I was terrified when I first walked into the emptied apartment. Surely I had miscalculated. This room was small. How would I live in a room that was 18 1/2’ x 13’? But my logistics held up, and everything ended up fitting in seamlessly.
I own a mix of new pieces, midcentury modern and antiques that are well over 200 years old. I was worried that they all wouldn't quite flow being packed in so close together. I was able to solve this problem by keeping a color palette consistent throughout the space and used a pop of cool bright blue throughout. I also used three coordinating lamps to build consistency further. I replaced my coffee table with one that was simple iron and glass to keep it slightly more visually open. I got creative with storage solutions by turning the back of my closet door into a jewelry display by using simple stick-on hooks.
I became very good at furniture Tetris, since I did keep so many large pieces for the studio. Whenever I wanted to do yoga or have an open space to paint I had to shuffle the furniture around, but I was able to make it work.
To keep the apartment as homey as possible, I put up curtains immediately and bought myself fresh flowers whenever my budget would allow. I filled my walls with art, and I bought plants and tried to keep them alive as long as possible.
I used the mirror trick to make the space seem larger. I tried my damnedest to keep it tidy, because a small mess is a large mess in a studio. Every few months I treated myself to having a professional deep clean it for me. I kept my little dining table staged, although I usually just ate mostly off my couch. I even found a way to host a group of seven women over for book club comfortably.I disliked that although I had a coat closet and a hall tree, people constantly plopped their belongings on my bed. It's difficult to preserve your bed as a zone only for sleeping in a studio, especially when you walk right into it.
I ended up living in my studio for two and a half years, which is actually the longest I lived in any one apartment. It was the first time I broke the two year threshold. I'm so glad for my time in that space. I've recently moved to a one-bedroom in the same building on Sept 1st.
- How One Chicagoan Came to Love Living in 300 Square Feet [Curbed Chicago]
- Micro Week [Curbed Chicago]