[Photo: My Hell’s Kitchen apartment last fall. Vintage Burke swivel chair, Ikea cabinets hung on the wall, Weltron 2000 AM/FM 8-Track Stereo (circa 1970), red acrylic string lamp, and photography wall of iPhone shots.]
Before fulfilling my lifelong dream of living in Manhattan (and long before I was married), I lived in Seattle, Portland (Oregon), and Chicago. Each a great city unto itself. While I never had much money during those years, I always placed my priority on location over space when it came to housing.
In 1999, eight years after moving back to Seattle, I realized I didn’t want to grow old in the Emerald City. Still terrified to move to NYC, I picked up and moved (with my BFF) to Chicago where I became a home owner for the first time and three years later the second time.
In 2007, eight years into my very comfortable life in Chicago (and after many visits to NYC), I hit the jackpot. I was laid off from my job and offered a healthy severance package, and at the same time, the value of my loft was up by 50% in the four years I had owned it (this was the peak before the crash). That combo of severance and equity was ultimately the kick in the pants I needed to push past my fears and finally move to NYC. I arrived in summer of 2007.
In all of the cities I have lived as an adult, all of my homes, owned or rented, were either in choice locations or were fabulous in their own right. They were all studio or junior one-bedrooms, and small ranging from 450 sq ft apartment in Seattle in the epicenter of the Pike/Pine Corridor, to a 550 sq ft 29th floor apartment in a 55 story all glass building on Lake Michigan, followed by a 550 sq ft loft in the middle of the Chicago Loop, and then down to my 225 sq ft fifth-floor walk-up tenement apartment in the West Village. I always chose location over space.
Add to this the fact that I have nearly always lived alone (a few roommate situations aside). I had relationships, but none that lasted long enough to progress to the point of shacking up. I had reached a point where I could accept that I may be single the rest of my life. This was the frame of mind I was in when I was fortunate enough to become a homeowner in Manhattan. Aside from my very limited budget, the primary driver when selecting an apartment was with the thought that I may always live alone, and if that was the case, I wanted to be in an apartment that could be paid off by retirement, and was comfortable enough to spend the rest of my years. When I found my 294 sq ft pre-war doorman studio in Hell’s Kitchen at a price I could actually afford, I could see this being my final home, a house for one.
Here are some shots of what it looked like last winter, just before I prepped it to sell.
As this was to be a single person household for the long haul, I went in with the idea of maximizing the space and doing lots of built-in storage.
The fold up bed was originally purchased for my 225 sq ft West Village walk-up in 2007, but it turned out to be invaluable to making this space function without it feeling like a hotel room.
The kitchen was the last thing to complete. I had hoped to completely replace it, but when it became obvious that I was not to live alone in this apartment, I knew I had to do something to make it function for a few more years for the next person to live here. Here is the before and after.
One of the joys of this apartment was the view from the window where I spent a lot of hours surfing the web, and such.
For a more immersive experience, I have also posted this YouTube walk through shot the same week as these photos were shot.
As for living alone? Let’s just say that was “Before there was two”.