When I finally got the space in Harlem  – blessedly empty of the previous owner’s massive furniture –  the first thing I did was haul up my trusty lightweight, reclinable French beach chair so I could hang out and just mull. I’d wander the rooms, feeling the space, able to envision its possibilities better now that the furniture was gone. The place was pretty bleak, the wear-and-tear showing on old carpeting and dingy walls.The master bedroom had yellow walls, green window frames, and scary baseboard heating. Yikes!….

Without furniture, and only an old brown fan hanging from the 8′ ceiling, the second bedroom looked even tinier. What was that little valve hidden in the wall? Could it be moved?

At times I wondered if I’d made a mistake, but then would look out at the view, revisit the original plans and remind myself that my instincts for places had always been good, that I’d done my due diligence, that I COULD make this into something swell. I remembered the motel rooms and problematic rentals I’d redone using whatever I had around.

One of the first things I did was prop a cheap mirror I’d found in the apartment next to the window, to test my idea of installing a mirror the same size as the window to give the illusion of a corner window.

I tacked pictures that I’d printed out from my “Evernote inspiration journals” on the walls…I also banged a hole in the sheetrock to see how the wall I shared with my neighbor was constructed, to see if I needed to think about soundproofing.

Sometimes I’d  be in the empty apartment for hours, staring into space, which, if you could see inside my head, was filled with possible iterations, which I’d already been sketching in the months before.  Just taking the time to BE in the empty space is the key to figuring out the design, whether for something you own OR rent.

This image from Cabin Porn is exactly how I felt, dreaming in an undone place surrounded by beauty.

cabin porn

There was SO much to do. What had I gotten myself into?

Stay tuned for just that!

Related posts: introducing ‘the improvised life’s new ‘laboratory’
sneak peek: improvised life’s new space + our cool optical illusion design solution
project + reno lesson: embrace the unexpected……… things won’t go as planned
…24 hours after ‘all hell broke loose’
home planners and other ways to envision a space
harlem lab renovation: ‘before’ photos
inspiration journals: walls, books, software…


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