Apartment living for marital bliss.

If you’ve been here with us for awhile, you may remember that I live for most of the year in a beautiful but stiflingly remote place, a place where both my husband and I own businesses and love our work in the summer, a place that makes me feel in the winter like I’ll either develop a very problematic whiskey-drinking habit or, worse, play out a real-life version of The Shining.  Or both.  You may also remember that I recently decided, and convinced my husband, to move a couple hundred miles south to a larger city for the winter months, to work remotely and be around, ahem, other human beings.

My desk, our dinner table, and the place where we snuggle up to watch movies.

So here we are, three weeks into our five-month stay in a wee rental studio apartment in the quaint downtown district of our college town. And when I say wee, I mean: miniscule, bitty, maybe 200 square feet max.  The place consists of one living/dining/sleeping room with a kitchen nook, a bathroom and big windows.  We’re on the sixth of eight floors above a beautiful historic theatre, and our walls rattle a little with the bass of electronica bands playing below.  Our two dogs are acclimating to riding the elevator down to the park.

The knob that turns the mirrored ‘armoire’ into our bed.

The place came furnished with just enough for the two of us: two bowls, two mugs, a few pieces of silverware, four towels, a loveseat for two, a little table for two.  The mirrored ‘armoire’ in the middle of the room is really a Murphy Bed.  (Sidenote: William L. Murphy invented these beds as a newlywed living in a one-room San Francisco apartment in 1900, so that he and his wife could entertain their friends without their bed serving as the centerpiece of the party.)

The ‘closet:’ a coat rack between the Murphy Bed and the wall.

Microwave doubles as dry-goods storage.

A sign of all the other lives being lived here.

All of our dishes. (Note that wine bottles outnumber cereal bowls and coffee mugs combined.)

This little studio is quite a change from our two-bedroom home on a half acre in the woods surrounded by millions of acres of wilderness.  And I love it.

I could list quite a few reasons (like the proximity to the buzz of civilization, the comforting reminder every time I press the elevator buttons of all of the other lives being lived above and below and beside mine, the good food and beer within walking distance), but really, I’ve been most excited about the fact that this pared-down kind of living has a very happy side-effect: my husband and I quite like each other these days.

This is not to say that we don’t typically like each other — I’d say we have a very average and normal amount of annoyance, crankiness and benign bickering  in our relationship.  I’ve noticed, though, that our cozy little living situation has come with not only a Murphy Bed but also a certain sweetness between us.  Maybe it’s because we are both out of the apartment during the day, for the most part going about our own business, so we have less time to get sick of each other. Maybe it’s because we only have eleven dishes total in the cupboard, so we don’t spat over emptying the dishwasher.  Maybe it’s because, when we sit down at the end of the day to relax, we have no choice but to sit down right next to each other on the loveseat.

Maybe it’s a little of all of those things, plus the fact that we’re both individually and independently a bit happier. The change of scenery has been revitalizing, the social interactions (his new hockey teammates, my girlfriends stopping by on a whim) stimulating, the simplicity tremendously refreshing. And this complicates things. This means that I need to start following through with my rather amorphous and, until now, dreamlike plan of living in two places.  This means teasing out all the financial and professional and logistical and personal snags in the arrangement, and then (gasp) actually making it happen — for the long term.

Someone recently and very surprisingly referred to me as ‘brave’ — a quality on my top five list of admirable qualities and one I never quite thought I had (I mean, I can’t watch zombie movies, even the funny ones, and I’ll admit I get a little scared in the dark).  But I am at least feeling, let’s say, heartened these days, proud of myself for trusting my unhappiness and listening to it, and glad to know that the guy on the loveseat next to me will listen to it too.

{Also: don’t forget to join the conversation on our topic of the month!}


20 thoughts on “Apartment living for marital bliss.

    • It is indeed the best of both worlds– and I’m so appreciating it. Now to figure out how to make it happen for the long term. And though I can take no credit for the gorgeousness of this little place (the owner is a brilliant designer), thank you!

  1. Your little place looks lovely. Whenever I go on holiday with my fiancé, we end up sharing a hotel room or a small rental flat, and we do get closer to each other. We live in a great 3 bedroom apartment at the moment. I love it but sometimes, one is in the office while the other is in the living room, and we’re together only for the night. Enjoy the sweetness, and the beers, and the buzz 🙂

    • It’s so curious how that happens. So many people ask if we’re driving each other crazy in that small space, but I find, like you, quite the opposite to be true. And thank you– I am doing my best to enjoy it all.

  2. I love how you have more wine bottles than dishes! 😉 I’ve had my fair share of small space living. I read a lot of Japanese small house architecture books on how to save square footage to maximize elbow room!

    • It’s like a puzzle! Every corner and cabinet in this apartment is so well planned and accounted for, and I love the feeling of nothing being wasted. Might have to pick up one of those books myself!

  3. I’m in love with the archway with the subway tile. This looks like a perfect space. I am jealous of your double life. I will be interested to hear if the split year works over time.

  4. I love that you are able to make things work for you! And good for you for listening to what you need and being brave enough to make changes accordingly. It is a brave thing to do and certainly not a choice that everyone would make. I know there are a lot of times I’ve forced myself to “tough it out” when a little listening to myself would have been much better, but for whatever reason, that seemed like the harder choice.

    Enjoy the winter in your cozy little urban place and I wish you all the best in finding a way to make that choice a more permanent one. 🙂

    • Thank you, BH. I’ve certainly told myself to ‘tough it out’ over and over and over… and in fact, it took a lot of other voices (my family, my girlfriends, some of you here, even the husband) to keep pushing me to listen to myself and take that voice seriously. I would say, “maybe I can do it for another winter,” and these other voices would say, “are you crazy? do you want us to have to visit you in some kind of institution?” etc. Maybe not so harsh, but you get the idea. So I certainly did not pull it off solely out of my own chutzpah.

  5. “Maybe it’s because, when we sit down at the end of the day to relax, we have no choice but to sit down right next to each other on the loveseat.” Amazing line, and so true. When DH and I lived in Munich in a studio apartment, first I thought, Oh Lord, we’ll never survive this. But very quickly it became clear that the constant proximity was very good for us — nowhere to storm off to, no doors to slam. (The only privacy I got was when I was in the bath, or when he sat in the kitchen with earphones in.) When we moved into our bigger place here in Vienna, we started saying “I miss you” when we were in different rooms! The beauty of such a small space is that it forces you into several kinds of intimacy– on the one hand, the kind you describe: a kind of sweetness and closeness. On the other hand, you grow so comfortable together that you forget there aren’t walls! I remember one moment in Munich when DH was doing something rather private (nothing terrible, but something you might not do in front of someone toward the beginning of a relationship) and when I remarked on it, he said, “I feel so comfortable around you, I forgot you were here!” We, of course, found this hilarious — I considered it a compliment — and another wall was broken down between us. I rather miss that kind of intimate living now…

  6. It’s a beautiful space, but then I am not surprised about that at all. I think having it for a fixed period of time is what makes it work too. If it were forever, that little space, it would begin to wear on you, but sometimes a change is a good as a rest, the stimulation is the breathe of air. Enjoy, enjoy!

  7. This is so lovely. I am envious of your dual life too. You are fortunate to be able to bring company with you and to find, when you arrive, that you are both closer for it. What a joy. I loved that line about sitting on the couch together too. It is so true! You will find a way to make your life in two places work. What a treat to spend part of it in nature’s space and part of it in proximity to so many other lives. Lovely, lovely.

  8. Pingback: An old dream. | Mother Sugar

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