The Architect-Approved Solution to My Most Annoying Moving Problem

published Aug 29, 2018
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(Image credit: Anik Polo)

It’s hard enough to adjust to a new place—I know, because I haven’t stayed in the same room for more than three months in the past three years—but moving into a new place brings its own tribulations. I love moving in and decorating quirky, irregularly-spaced rooms, but taking measurements? Not so much. Some places have large floor-to-ceiling windows and some have slide-up screen windows. Some places have a nook for your closet, some have a grand ornate cupboard. If dreaming up creative ways to deal with these idiosyncratic features wasn’t already hard enough, let’s throw some math into the mix.

In my opinion, soft tape measures are flimsy and slow. I find them especially difficult to use in a large room when I have to crawl across the floor to extend it bit-by-bit. They’re worse when I’m trying to measure ceiling height or some floor-to-length windows. Since I’m often moving to new cities alone for work, I often go to apartment viewings solo and move by myself, so I rarely have a friend there to lend a hand. I’ve found hard tape measurers are a bit easier, but I’ve been cut many times by the edges when they self-retract, so I try to stay away from them if possible.

You would think I would just give up on measuring all together, but I’ve found a system that works without any scrapes, bruises, or trips to the return counter. My current landlord is an architect, and when I was moving in, he loaned me a compact laser measure. (The model from Bosch he gave me sells for $40, but there’s a discontinued version available for $30). These tech gadgets are a handy tool for real estate agents, architects, interior designers, or anyone who’s looking to rent or buy a new place.

Here’s why I like it: I can get instant, accurate measurements at the push of a button, and I trust the measurements! The $40 version fits in my pocket and measures distances up to 65 feet to within ⅛ inch. Otherwise, I’m always second-guessing myself, going, “Did I really measure that right?” and “Was that in inches, or meters?” and “Was my tape measure crooked?”

I grew up using the metric system, but most of the places I’ve stayed in recently use feet and inches. But instead of me having to pull out my phone to do conversions, this measurer does it for me!

Okay—first part of measuring made easier. Onto the next annoying step: writing the measurements down. I used to draw out my room on pieces of paper, making sure to get the angles and spacing right. Drawing your room can be hard, especially if it’s not the most typical square-shaped space. But once I got something that resembled my space, I’d bring the stash of paper to IKEA or a furniture thrift store and to remember how my model looked in real life. “Okay, was that where the three meters was? From the closet to the wall? Or from the corner to the nook?”

Instead of mentally transposing this information, I’ve found an app that can really help: The Photo Measures kit ($7 on the app store and $5 on Google Play.) All I need to do is take a photo of my space with my phone, draw out my measurements on the app, and then save the plan. It is so much easier for me since I no longer need to draw out where the windows are, where the pillars stand, and how far each pillar is spaced from the other, etc. This app does it on the actual photo of your room, and the saved images are way more portable, and don’t get lost as easily!