Staying Warm in a Concrete & Cement Building?

Staying Warm in a Concrete & Cement Building?

Aaron Able
Jan 7, 2010

Q: I recently moved into a cute little studio apartment in a carriage house in Manhattan. It's a little 2-story building behind a main apartment building. Sounds charming, right? It's tiny, but I can make that work. The real problem — which was not disclosed to me until after I moved in — is that the entire building is cement, so all the walls (including many of the interior walls) are cement — it's FREEZING!…

Sent by Jen

…The major problem right now is the temperature - it's FREEZING! There is no insulation in cement walls, so even though the heater goes on during the morning and evening hours as dictated by NYC law, inside it's 55-58 degrees when the heat is off, and maybe 61 when it's on. I use a space heater (or bake something in the oven) to get a little more heat, but that too only gets the room to about 61. I walk around in a thick fleece and sometimes a down vest, and often I sit in bed under my down comforter just to stay warm. I'm embarrassed to invite any friends over because everyone would be so uncomfortable.

I can't use a regular drill to put any screws into the walls (for hanging curtains, hooks, shelves, art, etc.) My landlord has a special drill that can do this, though he's discouraged me from making holes in the walls.

I'm going to hang a thick insulated curtain over the windows to try to help hold in some of the heat, but I'm at a loss for what to do about the cement walls. Anyone out there have a similar situation or any ideas? Thank you!

Editor: I'd start with a wool rug — even industrial felt underfoot would help a lot. Also check out these resources on Apartment Therapy for concrete and cement inspiration:

Good Questions: Hanging Artwork on my Concrete Walls?
Concrete Walls: Cold or Inviting?
Solid As A Rock: Creative Concrete Roundup
House Tour: The Worden's MC Inspired Modern Build
Metal & Concrete Minimalist Home
Rudin House by Herzog & de Meuron

The bright side is that your studio will be nice and cool in August! Who else has insulating suggestions for Jen?

Image: From Shawnee, Kansas House Tour: The Worden's MC Inspired Modern Build

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