Sally: At least I got the apartment.
Harry: That's what everybody says to me too. But really what's so hard about finding an apartment?
After a break-up, getting to stay in your apartment can be a relief; but how do you make it feel new and yours, once a live-in love moves out?This month, we're exploring the concept of Setting Up Home — sometimes that entails moving, and sometimes it means staying. When a shared apartment is suddenly yours alone, the need to make things fresh can be urgent, but also incredibly daunting. Where to begin, especially if you're already overwhelmed with emotional and financial concerns? I put this question to my most trusted advisors, all of whom have been through this, their hearts and homes even lovelier for the pain they've gone through. Here is their advice, in no particular order...
• Rearrange the bedroom. (This was at the top of everyone's list of advice.)
• Buy new sheets.
• Buy a new bed.
• Paint the bedroom, if possible. Buy the nicest paint you can afford, and replace your standard slapdash apartment paint with many carefully, lovingly applied coats of paint. A clean slate.
• Let your friends help. Of course they love dinner parties and picnics with you, but they want to be there for the rough times, too. They're dying to help, to do anything, so don't be afraid to let them. Take them up on their offer to crash on their couch or come over for dinner every other night. Let them make you tea, help you paint, and give you a ride to IKEA. Don't worry about being good company — they love you.
• On the other hand, doing difficult – especially physically difficult – tasks on your own can be quite therapeutic. Feel free to ask someone to help you rearrange your bedroom furniture, but doing it yourself can be wonderfully exhausting, leaving you with a sense of pride and accomplishment. And the exertion might help you sleep better, too.
• Once the move-out is complete, get rid of any and all stuff that your former S.O. abandoned when they left. Not a gift given by them, or something you bought together that you feel good about, or something you'll want someday, but the inevitable junk.
• Get an inspirational board where you can post cards from friends, fabric swatches, recipes, and anything new you're excited to try.
• Spread out and use every inch of space- the whole apartment is yours now. It can take awhile to break down invisible divisions ("their" side of the closet, etc), but it's liberating once you do.
• Take down art you purchased together and replace it with art YOU love.
• Burn sage or incense after a good, symbolic (or literal) scouring of the place- clean the kitchen, bathroom, and especially the BEDROOM. Take a salt bath and toss in some rose petals and such, and let the drain wash away the old stuff. You're clean and ready for newness.
• Make something pretty, just for you. Decoupage the light switch plates, make cute spice jar labels, embroider your pillowcase.
• Get a new plant to love. Treat it well and watch it thrive.
• Throw a housewarming (house re-heating?) party or a newly single party. Your friends are probably aware that you just lost approximately half of your possessions, and might be happy to bring hand-me-down housewarming gifts. They get to clear clutter, you get a waffle iron!
Finally, my very favorite piece of advice: The key is to do something nice for yourself. If it were your best friend trying to rearrange her life, what would you do for her? Get her an awesome Heath tea pot? Help her hang up quilts as decoration? Try to be just as good to yourself.
Image: When Harry Met Sally by Columbia Pictures, via Little Gray Pixel