how to choose the right apartment

Moving is hard enough, so don’t give yourself problems off the bat. Before you start looking, think about what it is you’re looking for.FIRST: what’s most important for the apartment; size, location, rent, natural lighting, finishes, outdoor space…
SECOND: what’s most important for your lifestyle; area for proper home office, room to entertain, room for a queen size bed…

Living within your means financially is often talked about, but what about living within the physical means of your space? If you have hundreds of books, dozens of shoes, or records, think about where you would store/display them when looking at a space. If you have a lot of stuff, don’t get a tiny apartment that you’d have to pack to the rims to hold everything.THINK ABOUT
– If you have especially large furniture, how will it fit in the new space? Will it limit how you can set up the space?
– If your television is important, don’t pick a layout where the sofa can’t be directly across from it.
– If you’re bad with space planning don’t pick something with a weird layout.
– If you have trouble visualizing, take someone with you who is.
– If you have a limited budget and lots of stuff, make sure the space has proper storage so you don’t have to buy all new storage furniture.

For example in my own search, rent and location were the most important things. After that when I saw this apartment I knew the clean open layout would help to keep the small space feeling larger than it is, it had great natural light and the view of the trees in the backyard were the final selling point. And this is a small building (5 apts) not run by a management company, I have greater leeway to make the changes/installs I want. 

make moving easier step 1: define vision for new space

Moving can be stressful (if you let it) and a lot of readers have asked how it can made easier. With a couple tweaks to my process, here’s how:
Step #1: Define The Vision + Functions For New Space
you need: pad and a pencil
Ask yourself the following:
  • How do you want to feel in your new space?
  • How do you want to function in the new space?
Example feelings: I want a fun, inspiring space, that is colorful and bright. Or rather a zen, minimal, ‘hotel feel’…
Example functions: I want to start a book club that can meet in my apt, have overnight guests, start exercising at home, cook more, have dinner parties for 6…
This step gives you a logical, reason-based framework for deciding whether to keep or get rid of something, rather than just going by the arbitrary “if you haven’t used it in X amount of time, get rid of it”.


make moving easier step 2: create floor plan


(floor plan option 1)

(floor plan option 2)
Step #2: Create Loose Floor Plan
you need: graph paper, pencil, measuring tape
Measure the new space and with graph paper, draw the space to scale.
If you’re moving with your existing furniture, measure your pieces and start playing with placement thinking in terms of function. Figure on a few options, it doesn’t have to be ONE master plan. The point is to see which if any pieces may not work so you can donate, sell, or give them away as not to lug them to the new space, or how/where you would store them in the new space. For those smaller pieces you are unsure of, bring them and figure it out after you move in.
If you’re not moving with existing furniture, this step is important to get you thinking of how to set up your new space. This is how most interior designers start the process of figuring out what’s needed, and (very important) what size pieces, so you’re not buying random furniture hoping it will work.
This is to get you started thinking about how you’ll use your new space, it’s not about making 100% of your decisions. Once you’re in your new space, you can see what works and what doesn’t. You’ll also then see where your holes are and what else you may need.

make moving easier step 3: edit + sort

Step #3: Edit + Sort

Now that you have a idea of how you want to live and an idea of the new space itself, it’s time to go through your things. This is so you get reacquainted with what you have, edit out (donate, sell, give away, recycle, and/or trash) what’s not adding to your life, and get things sorted so you can move onto the next step, mapping out the new space! Plus the less you have, the less you have to move.
EDITING: I believe our things are tools to help us live the lives we want to live. Ask yourself “does keeping this inhibit or enable me to live the life I want to live?”. Don’t get rid of something just for the sake of it, or because you haven’t used it in X amount of time. Keep things you’ll actually use (even if only once a year) and are worth the ‘cost’ of keeping; we pay by square foot here in NYC, so we literally pay to store things in our apts.
SORTING: Group like things together; all kitchen stuff, office supplies, clothes, tools, batteries, vases, etc. A key concept to being organized, this also helps you edit. Example: seeing a vase on it’s own, it’s hard to know whether to keep it, but seeing all your 15 vases together you can see maybe it’s time to let go of a few. Use shopping bags or designate surfaces for each category and use labels to keep things straight (believe me, it helps!).

make moving easier step 4: mapping the new space


Step #4: Mapping

Imagine how easy it would be to unpack if you already know where the majority of your things will go? Like the floor plan, this isn’t about having everything 100% set in stone. It’s to give you a realistic view of what you have (seeing it in print is a big eye-opener), and gives you an idea of how much, if any, additional storage you may need.
MAPPING: Marrying step 1 + 2, give all your things a home within the home keeping in mind how you want to function in your new space. Use a copy of your proposed floor plan to draw it out (use pencil).

make moving easier step 5: tie up loose ends


Step #5: Tie Up Loose Ends

In an ideal world, the previous steps would be completed before you move. This step is for after you move.
Use your mapping to get things in place. Start in the kitchen so you can eat with your plates and dishes to feel at home even if your place doesn’t look like home just yet. And it gets a lot of boxes out of the way! Leave anything you’re unsure of for the end to see what room is left in each cabinet, closet. Don’t be surprised if you edit out more while unpacking.
Following your floor plan, set up the furniture to see if it looks as good in person as it did on paper. Play around with placement, even if it’s just moving something a few inches. Look to place the pieces you’re unsure of; try things you wouldn’t naturally, like a dresser in a kitchen/dining area, a bookcase in a bathroom or even a closet…
Using painters tape, tape out where things will go to see and feel how your floor plan works and what size pieces are best. Live in the space for a while to see what if any changes may enhance the way you live there before buying. If you’re still at a loss, most furniture stores have in-house designers that can help you at no charge. Bring your floor plan with measurements, as well as your function list.
– Focus on unpacking boxes whose contents you know have to place to go.
– Keep the things that don’t have a place yet and out of the way, including furniture.
– Take the garbage and recycling out on a daily basis, it makes SUCH a difference. List your used (clean) packing supplies for free on craigslist for reuse.
– Don’t make the mistake of not trying something in fear it may not work. Who cares? If you don’t like it, move it and try something else.
– Hang art once all the furniture is in place.
(I’ve been waiting to do this final post until I had the ‘after’ shots of the place shown in the previous steps. Sadly, sometimes my client’s finish on their own and I never get to see the ‘final’ set-up and I failed to take progress shots. If I do go back, I’ll be sure to show you…)

q + a: constant moving + staying organized

(me a couple weeks after I moved into my current apt)

samia asks “I’m all about organization as well, but so far am not that successful with my endeavours coz we are frequent movers; as frequent as six months or worst 2 months. It’s just my hubby and his projects… dont ask! Any tips or advice as I’m frustrated with my efforts to organize but still losing things and you know failing…

Moving is truly the worst, so I feel your pain. Sounds like you need to take the time to properly edit and sort all your belongings. I’m guessing from moving so often, there are boxes that stay unpacked which says you probably don’t need a lot of the things you have been dragging around with you. Editing down will not only make your life easier where you are now but that much easier when/if you have to move next time. Note: be respectful of your husband’s things and don’t edit his things without his permission! You wouldn’t want him doing it to your things.
Sort your things together (all kitchen, all office, all memorabilia, all clothes, etc) and figure a way to store them where you are now, and reuse these techniques for the next place. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when setting your home up each time.
As far as your husband’s things/projects, is it possible to keep those things separate so they aren’t in your way? When working with couples I separate the storage for their personal things; things that aren’t shared like clothes, personal memorabilia, hobby materials. It’s so important to have some areas of the home that’s yours only.
If you find yourself having to move again, here are a couple of good resources for you: Real Simple and the Gilbert Guide.

another note about packing

While packing I found out how filthy the apartment really was. Not only because of the BQE outside but my landlord was doing construction on the floor above me before I left and didn’t think to plastic off the area, and even though I have those plastic strips along the bottom of my door (which I put in the first week I lived there), that contractor dust was everywhere!!

Not wanting any of that dirt coming into my new place, I washed just about everything I owned; all my dishes, decorative pieces, furniture, and almost all my clothes which are mostly hand wash and dry clean only. But considering the changing season, I would have have a lot of cleaned anyway (but not this much, I should have gotten a security deposit from her, not the other way around!). So before the move I took my coats, clothes, and the silk curtains to the cleaners which helped lighted my moving day by about 5 large shopping bags. 
But even for those who don’t live in an obviously dirty place, just living somewhere for a while, you don’t realize how dirty you things can get from just sitting there, especially things that aren’t being moved around a lot like curtains. I remember I did the same thing when I moved the first time from the place I lived for almost eight years.