Portland Day 2: The Apartment, Before

Around 3 p.m. on Day 2, Chandler signed the forms and got the keys to her new apartment. I drew up a super rough, poorly-scaled floor plan for your viewing pleasure and navigational ease. I know I’m not winning any prizes for my drawing or penmanship, but until I figure out Google Sketch-Up this is about as good as it gets without Anna’s professional intervention.

Chandler rented this place totally sight-unseen, so we were a little nervous about what we’d find on the inside. So what did we find? Well, it’s huge, as you can see. And it’s also pretty nice! Lots of workable space with potential for good stuff to happen. But it definitely has its challenges. Allow me to show you around.

This is the kitchen, obviously. One of the main reasons Chandler wanted this apartment was because it had a dishwasher. Do you see a dishwasher? Me neither. What vicious lies! But everything else is pretty nice—the cabinets are original (recently painted, like everything else) and in totally decent shape, and the appliances are all clean and orderly. Next to the sink there’s a hook-up for a washer and dryer, but there are laundry facilities on the property so buying her own seems a bit excessive. Anyway, it has good bones and we’re going to make it cute if all goes well.

Living room. From my perspective, far and away the worst thing about this space is the carpeting. Oh yeah, and the vertical blinds. Those have to go. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever understand the appeal of thick, plush wall-to-wall carpet, especially when the pile is a combination of beige and poo brown. It’s like an 80s rec-room up in here.

The first thing I did after the landlord cleared out? I started tearing up little corners of the carpet just to see what might be underneath. And, what do you know, there are wood floors under all that carpet. Who would do such a thing? Now, don’t get too excited. It’s a good thing this is Chandler’s apartment and not mine, because you know I’d do something idiotic like rent a floor sander, attempt to do the whole thing myself in the dead of night, and get shot by a disapproving landlord. Of course we wish we could do everything, but sometimes you have to know when to say when and there really isn’t room in the budget to make my beautiful wood floor dreams come true. Chandler isn’t nearly as bothered by the wall-to-wall as I am anyway, so we’re working around it.

Off the living room, there’s this little hallway that leads to both bedrooms and the bathroom. The door at the end is a closet, one of FIVE in the apartment. Oh, the things I would hoard with that much storage space.

This is Chandler’s bedroom, which is also large and has an ENORMOUS closet. Another room, another set of dusty old vertical blinds. They make me sad.

There’s a second bedroom, too, but Chandler’s not totally sure if she’s going to live here alone and use it as an office/craft space or if she’s going to get a roommate and rent it out. So we’re probably mostly going to leave it alone.

Finally, the bathroom. It’s pretty decent, with a new toilet, but could definitely use a little help. Getting the bathroom in good shape is a high priority for Chandler, so it’s the first project we’re tackling after all those initial first-apartment-oh-my-god-I-have-to-buy-so-much-stuff shopping trips are taken care of.

So there it is! There is a lot of work we’d LOVE to do, but given a super-duper tight budget and a short amount of time, we have to pick and choose our battles carefully. How far will we get? We’ll all have to wait and see.

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 1.7.11

    That is one HUGE ass apartment. Wow. I have New York eyes, so this looks like a mansion to me.

    Can you paint the wood trim and the doors??

    • 1.8.11
      Daniel said:

      I know, it’s a sprawling estate! We’re kind of at a loss for how to fill the space, to be honest. It’s a little much, but it’s REALLY well priced (well under half the price of my place!) and close to school.

      And we checked twice over… nothing in the lease about paint!
      Unfortunately the walls just aren’t in the budget. We’ll see about some other stuff, YOU KNOW I’m pushing.

    • 1.9.11
      Josh said:


      I haven’t even finished reading the entry yet. Got to the third picture, had a bit of a panic and made a mad dash to the comments to see if anyone had asked about painting the trim. I had a feeling you would’ve been right on it, Anna!

      Looks like a huge, fun project. I’m jealous.

    • 1.9.11
      Josh said:

      Oh dear, I should’ve proofread this before I hit go. Every other word is ‘had’.

  2. 1.7.11
    kay* said:

    Can’t WAIT to see the afters….and read along of course!

  3. 1.7.11
    Mom said:

    They listed a dishwasher and there is no freaking dishwasher? Tell the landlord to put one into that damn big empty space, it could most definitely be done. False advertising!!!!

    • 1.8.11
      Daniel said:

      But we already filled the space! It was actually a blessing in disguise. And really a dishwasher is pretty extravagant for one person.

      Chandler says if she ever needs a lawyer, she’ll request you.

  4. 1.8.11
    Fat Cat said:

    Notwithstanding the unfortunate carpet, this is one of the best student rental appartments I have ever seen. Wow ! Can’t wait to see what you do next :-)

  5. 1.8.11
    Tania said:

    Ooh, I love the hallway light, the doors and the cabinetry (and handles) in the bathroom. Good stuff to work with. No doubt with your magic fingers it will look marvelous.

    As for the wooden floorboards. I’ve done a superficial job of ripping up carpet and cleaning the wood underneath with a light sanding (by hand) where required. It looked pretty good. Sure I had a gorgeous hardwood to work with… is that a possibility here? That carpet and lino are fugly but unobtrusive enough to be obscured by your and Chandler’s workmanship, if that steak cake is anything to go by.

    • 1.8.11
      Daniel said:

      It’s really hard to say the shape of the floors, since you never quite know what the carpet is hiding until it’s too late to put it back. Definitely lots of staples and tacking strips we’d have to take up. They LOOK good from what I can tell, but I dont think Chandler’s willing to risk it. Which doesn’t stop me from hinting at the option about every ten seconds.

  6. 1.8.11
    Lena said:

    I can understand your pain! I will never, never understand wall-to-wall carpeting. Luckily its not very common in Switzerland. If there aren’t nice wood-floors its mostly wood laminate which of course isn’t that great but still beats wall-to-wall carpeting by far in my opinion.
    But do I get that right? Chandler is a student and will maybe live in this giant apartment on her own? I was already totally surprised that you live in an apartment with a living room but also having two bedrooms for yourself… wow! Most students flatshares I know in Zurich eliminate the living room to save money. If you’re lucky the kitchens big enough for a nice table, if you’re not so lucky its tiny. And while there are a few lucky enough to have a living room (mostly the ones quite far from the university in the suburbs) I never heard of a student having a seperate office/craft space!

    • 1.8.11
      Daniel said:

      While we both definitely have nice apartments, mine costs less than student housing at NYU, even living there alone, and WAY less when splitting between two people. Chandler’s place is definitely big, but the rent is actually pretty inexpensive (less than half of my place! Isn’t that crazy?). In this part of town, it’s all a suburburban residential area (chandler’s apartment is really a one-story duplex in an four-unit property), so it’s really different from renting an apartment this size in, say, a highrise in the city center.

    • 1.8.11
      Lena said:

      Wow, why is student housing at NYU so expensive? I thought it should be way cheaper then live elsewhere to also support struggeling students! Why do you have student housing if not for that reason? And you shared a room, didn’t you? And didn’t have a proper kitchen?

    • 1.8.11

      NYC is its own special place as far as housing goes—and that includes the schools here. And by “special” I mean “insane”.

    • 1.8.11
      Daniel said:

      I think supporting struggling students is about the last thing NYU is worried about. And yeah, that janky room I shared with a stranger without a kitchen last year was more expensive than my apartment.

  7. 1.8.11
    Simone said:

    I’d get rid of the Brown wood asap. It will look 10 times better after that. Good luck.

  8. 1.8.11
    taren said:

    ooh, i’m excited! i’ve lived in many apartments with this look before and every time it’s just so darn depressing that i exclaim “nothing can be done!”… and then vertical blinds and poo brown carpet haunt me for the next 6 months. so yeah, needless to say… i can’t wait to see what you do with this space!

  9. 1.8.11
    Allison said:

    I’m excited to see what you do! Is this a service you’ll be offering to others??

    • 1.8.11
      Daniel said:

      Haha, it’s not really a service, I’m more here to help out and brainstorm. In the end it’s Chandler’s apartment so the decisions are up to her!

  10. 1.8.11
    Lex said:

    The hallway light makes me think midcentury modern. If that’s the direction you’re going to go, a tip:

    Craigslist. Most of the midcentury-oriented furniture stores here are ridiculously overpriced. If y’all have the dosh, splash out on one really distinctive casegood piece from Look Modern (SE 8th and Clay), and fill in the rest from Ikea, Urban Outfitters (great textiles at good prices, but the selection online is better than in-store), and Craiglist.

    We do have bedbugs here, so I would avoid upholstered pieces from Craigslist. That’s just me, though.

    Oh, we also have Cost Plus World Market, which can fill in some blank spaces, and the Home Goods out near Ikea had a fairly amazing selection of small appliances, not-heinous decor items and the like the last time I was out there.

    • 1.8.11
      Daniel said:

      Thanks! We’ll definitely be trolling CL a lot next week (no internet until monday!)!

  11. 1.8.11
    Michelle said:

    I am loving this series!

    I think the hardware on the bathroom sink is nice… that’s just me.

  12. 1.8.11
    megan said:

    carpet makes me want to rip my eyeballs out, who would do such a thing to wood floors?

    I have a couple more places for you to check out for projects on the cheap. Scrap- it’s literally what it is called, they have scraps of everything from paper to cans of house paint. If you want to slap a bit of color on those walls, you might be able to find some super cheap can of random paint there.

    Also, the rebuilding center. They have every thing you can imagine for a house project. It’s a bit overwhelming, but you might find a treasure there.

  13. 1.9.11
    Allyson said:

    Wow, that place is absolutely huge! I’d love to have that much space.

  14. 1.10.11
    Mich said:

    wow, it does look huge. Can’t wait to follow how you fill the space. Chandler is one lucky gal to have a friend like you to help. This sounds like so much fun- I remember my college roommate and I rearranging furniture every couple months- cause she was just as nuts as I am!

  15. 1.11.11
    Kate said:

    This post made me laugh out loud TWICE. First, the crazed middle of the night floor sanding and staining because I am the same way when I move into a new place (make it perfect! now!) Second, your comment about closet space and ‘oh, the things’ you could hoarde. So true. Great blog.

  16. 1.12.11
    Nicole said:

    :( I have been mocked and looked at askance by several people when I state, in total sincerity, that the reason I am not motivated to keep my apartment very clean, let alone decorated, is that wall to wall carpeting makes me completely unwilling to invest any effort into it. I have actually broken down into tears over the lack of affordable places with wood floors around here–I was looking at places less than half the size of the apartment I ended up in, at significantly higher rent, and thinking “that’s reasonable!” solely because of the wood floors. Frugality won out.

    … okay, I lied. I STILL cry over my carpet =/ God, that’s pathetic.

    … on like a monthly basis. MORE PATHETIC.

    I really hate carpet. Also, it’s a bitch to keep clean when you have animals. Battered wood floors all the way.

  17. 1.12.11
    S said:

    Hi, feel the need to warn you that I think your bathroom shelf/tension rod thing is highly likely to rust. If it was ~$30 from BBB, it will rust. I bought 1, it rusted within 30 days, took it back thinking it a defect, only to be replaced by another that rusted. And then bc I’m a glutton for punishment, I tried a 3rd. Yep, rusted. Awesome.

  18. 1.16.11
    ropeadope said:

    This is such a classic portland apartment. I have lived in two that look just like it. The beige carpet, the dark wood doors, the baseboard heaters and vertical blinds! Word to the wise, keep dressers and other stuff an inch away from the wall or mold WILL grow. Its disgusting!

  19. 1.19.11
    Melanie said:

    Excited to read the rest of these posts! Not meaning to pry, but did Chandler find Portland housing somewhat affordable?(feel free to ignore if money is a sensitive issue)? I’m thinking of moving to the area after I finish my BFA this May, so any insight would be helpful & well appreciated.

    Such a shame to have wood flooring hiding underneath the carpet. I can’t imagine that a landlord would be too pissed about exposing it—wouldn’t wood flooring add value?—but I guess there is the possibility of it being hidden for a reason…