Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rental Transformation: Diary of a Dive...Part 1

I'm finally in a position to rent my own place. It's been awhile, and I want to thank all the people who have kept a roof over my head for the past couple of difficult years who made it possible. But now it's time to move on...and move in.

It's still tough out there job wise, and in an effort to keep my debt load down as low as possible, I've rented an old, tired and worn studio apartment. (And in renting a studio, I also wanted to indulge my Tiny House obsession to see if I could really tolerate living in such small quarters). Although in all honesty, I have a penchant for renting run down habitats even when times are good. Never one to spend beaucoup dinero on antiseptic white apartments with one window in it, I opt for old places because they usually have more charm, windows and light. More importantly, when the owner hears I'm a designer, he usually lets me do whatever I want to it, on the premise that the place is so beat up, there isn't much I could do to it that wouldn't be an improvement.

This place is no exception.

Cracked drywall, broken mini much to do...

Beaten and battered wood floor. It's still better than carpet in my book...

The photo is a bit deceiving, as the paint on the wall is all a grey white color, but the flash against the semi-gloss on the wood wainscot makes it appear lighter than it actually is.

I love wood floors, but there is no mistaking that these are original to the building (Circa 1940 maybe? It smacks of being a summer motel originally).

You can see the cracks in the wall I've started spackling and the floors definitely need some help (...and I much prefer that to carpet. I'm not a fan of wall to wall in a 'dirt intensive' area such as the mountains, as I've stated in a previous blog post. Carpet is near impossible to keep clean here.) The drywall is uneven, and has obviously been patched and patched again, for which no amount of spackle will repair. The floors speak for themselves. If I owned the place, I'd do it right and re-plaster the walls and at the very least, sand the floors down to bare wood...but I don't, and I'm not. So the best this place is going to get is some inexpensive cosmetic changes and some elbow grease.

And why? - oh WHY? - do contractors insist on doing this?

Cabinets had been set at 66" off the floor instead of the standard 54"...and with that, even the bottom shelf is 5" taller than I am . Seriously sir? Do I really need to get a ladder out just to have a glass of water?

I admit, this penchant for ramming a 30" high wall cabinet up to the ceiling drives me freaking nuts! And not just because I'm short. (5'1" to be exact). Cabinets are supposed to be 18" off the countertop - NOT 5 1/2 feet off the floor - for a reason. So you can actually reach them!  Not to mention all the (not optimum) storage space it robs you of on top of the cabinets if they had been set properly. In a small kitchen, every storage inch counts.

Now I'll grant you, these were obviously used 'Habitat for Humanity' store finds, and weren't originally designed for this kitchen, so I get that this is just a rental, and they made do. My point is, one sees this being done even in expensive homes and new construction.  Either the contractor assumes no one actually uses the kitchen - or only 6' tall guys cook in it - or the women are amazon's. Either way, it renders the work space relatively useless.

 And of course, I've got another issue to deal with as well...

Note the lovely plumbing pipes for the unit above that no one felt the need to install where they belonged? (Must be interesting if they need repair work done. They've got to come and ask permission to turn the water off in my apartment. Craaaaazy....)

Fortunately, I specialize in kitchen design. I can fix that!
Stay tuned to see what I do, with what I got.

But my first priority is to paint the walls and work on the floors. It's just easier to do those projects before I move my 'stuff' in.

The biggest challenge however is going to be the closet...or more accurately, lack thereof-

30" wide closet.  The ONLY closet. * heavy sigh*

Seriously? Are they kidding me??? I'm a woman. This isn't even big enough to store our shoes...