My First Apartment: Looking Back

My first apartment was a pre-war studio in Astoria, Queens. Without getting too gushy about it, having my very own apartment for the first time had an incredible effect on me. It proved that I could take care of myself and it allowed me to create a restful, nurturing rock in the often challenging, mostly struggling daily life in beloved New York City.I had mice, the occasional cockroach, laundry in a dark old basement 7 flights down, and very little space. The entire apartment was around 300 square feet, but for $825 a month in 2004, that was all the apartment I could afford.

And all I needed.

I was sold on the building's age and architectural details, the closeness to the subway (which I didn't realize you could hear from the window), the hardwood floors, the closet space, and the pretty tile in the bathroom.

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I painted the front entrance a pale pink and hung pictures over the unsightly electrical box. I kept my bed on the floor (which freaked me out when there were mice) to keep the profile of the space low and open, and opted to use only two out of the three antique dressers in my collection.

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In the pantry I kept kitchen items, books, and extra art — or cards I would collect from gallery shows. I placed a small vintage kitchen table just beyond my bed and was lucky to find a round antique sofa on a nearby street corner that fit in the kitchen to offer a seat for guests. It didn't matter that one leg was broken; I propped that side up on a stack of books.

I painted the long wall in the kitchen/living/dining/bedroom a pale yellow green, a milky stem green in the kitchen nook, and a pale turquoise blue in the bathroom. I still love the combination of turquoise, greens, yellows and pinks and use those colors throughout my house today.

It was a tiny space, sure, and completed on a shoestring budget but everything in it was and is special to me and makes me smile.

Do you remember your first apartment with fondness?

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