How My Decorating Style Has Evolved: My Apartments in NYC and Philly

Over the years, my decorating style has changed quite a bit as I’ve moved apartments and gone from being a (barely) 22-year-old recent college grad to a 26-year-old professional.

My first apartment in New York was filled with tons of IKEA and fun wall art. I’ve always been (and probably always will be) a huge sucker for gallery walls, and they’re one constant that I’ve kept from apartment to apartment. My NYC apartment was a studio but was quite spacious and had a calming, airy feel. I decorated mostly with blue and white and kept the space nice and open. Ignore the crappy iPhone photos, but they’re all I have! I figure icky photos from 2014 are preferable to no photos, right? 😉

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In this apartment, I loved being able to have friends over in the living area. I hosted a lot of small get togethers and never felt cramped. I never actually sat at my desk (I’ve always been big on working from the couch/my bed), but it added a nice touch. I will say that at this point, I knew I liked gold/bamboo, but I didn’t know much about specific furniture brands and styles. It was in Philly where I fell in love with faux bamboo chippendale chairs, campaign furniture, and the like. In New York, I didn’t really add much furniture or subtract stuff from my apartment after I’d moved in. I was beyond skeptical of Craigslist and thrift stores in the city due to bedbugs, but I started to explore these resources in Philly and became hooked!

In Philly, I lived in an apartment off campus, which was actually much more affordable and much nicer than Penn’s recommended student housing. Even though I was in a studio, my apartment once again felt sufficiently comfortable (although my kitchen space was TINY–one countertop, an oven, and a fridge = chaos). I actually kept my microwave permanently on my kitchen table because that was the only place it could fit! In this apartment, I still made the space pretty girly (and #basic) incorporating fun bar carts (yes, I had multiple, but used one as a nightstand!), decorative pillows, and lots of color-coded books. Again, I have some iPhone photos handy (#cringing)…I had submitted these to Best Friends for Frosting who wanted to do a home tour but unfortunately couldn’t find a photographer to come to Philly! 🙁

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A friend was getting rid of this bar cart, so I was eager to scoop it up. It was a little big and worked great as a nightstand! I also purchased my trusty Target headboard, which was a great decision and has held up wonderfully.

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Again, never really used the desk and wasn’t even going to bring it with me from NYC, but the movers said they’d take it for free. I built it wrong and it was kind of falling apart the whole time! I barely worked in the library in grad school and preferred getting everything done in my room or in the office where I did my graduate assistantship. I do miss this apartment because it was so cozy and I really made it feel like home, even though I was only there for a year and a half (although thinking about it now, that’s longer than I lived in my place in Georgetown!). I also was spoiled with a walk-in closet, but that meant that I didn’t have a separate storage spot for cleaning supplies and coats.

All I can say is…no, these photos really don’t do the places justice, and omg, thank goodness for professional apartment photography in my DC home! I’m working on getting a shoot together for my new place but would like to figure out a few more things first…in my Dupont home, I have opted for darker, more gender-neutral, antique-looking, “grown up” pieces. Think less quirky wall art (though I still love it) and more classic-looking pieces. This is a first coming from a girl who was once obsessed with white furniture! While my current space doesn’t have the same crisp, girly look, I’m loving how it’s turned out so far and can’t wait to share a full reveal with you all!

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FRIDAY FEELS, #14

A snapshot of one of the nooks in my new room!
A snapshot of one of the nooks in my new room!

Bookmarked: Now that I live just a few minutes walking distance from a Trader Joe’s, it’s become my go to spot for everything under the sun (seriously, I even picked up toothpaste and makeup remover there the other night…I love that they sell those things!). These yummy Trader Joe’s dinners that you can easily make for yourself or for a group are just what I need. Thanks for sharing, Cup of Jo!

DC to-do list: So many fun things, including a long-awaited brunch at Le Diplomat tomorrow! My good friend Allison is coming down from NYC and we’re planning on doing allll the DC things (a lot of which involve eating). We’re also hoping to carve pumpkins on my roof while eating pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and drinking Trader Joe’s spiced apple cider (I think it would be delicious to mix it with champagne) because, fall. Also, fun fact about Allison: we met on the first day of college (woohoo!) and she’s visited me in each and every one of my post-grad apartments (the NYU dorm I lived in while interning the summer before senior year, my summer apartment in NYC where I lived right after graduation, my “real” NYC apartment, my place in Philly, my place in Georgetown…even my parents’ house! Can’t wait for her to see my new spot and be one of my first visitors!). Tonight, my friend Catherine is coming over after work for wine and catching up. I’m excited to show her my new spot, too!

Pinning: I purchased a gold trunk for my place via Craigslist (and I guess I’ve been talking about it on here a lot, because one of my friends saw it when she came over and was like, “Ohh, that’s the trunk!” I love how this one is styled…you really can use a trunk in any room and have it look classy!

Tackling: I’m trying to make my closet and bathroom all pretty thanks to some storage supplies I ordered from Amazon and Bed Bath and Beyond. I’m thinking of using little rolling tray in my bathroom because I need somewhere to set my hair straightener while it’s heating up (the side of the sink isn’t cutting it). Luckily, BB&B had the cutest option—I mean, this could even work as a mini bar cart, and the price can’t be beat (I ordered the gold). It’s quite small, but it looks adorable!

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When You’re Feeling Busy…

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The past few months have been some of the busiest I can remember, and looking back, I’m glad that I figured out when to cut back and when to still say yes. In September, I was working full-time, working part-time in retail, freelancing, apartment searching and preparing to move, wrestling with some personal decisions, and oh, trying to maintain a social life and workout routine! There were also extra things that, sure, I didn’t have to do but still wanted to do—helping edit a good friend’s business school essays and working with a woman from my church who wants to redesign her living room, for example. During this busy time, I did a lot of self-reflection and came away with a few points, which I’ll share below:

1) Understand what you want to prioritize. I think one of the biggest things I realized is that everyone prioritizes differently, and what might make sense for you would absolutely drive someone else insane. Take this example: even when I’m super busy, I still make an effort to be plugged in to my phone and social media. And this isn’t because I’m “better” at staying on top of these things than other people—it’s because honestly, I feel more overwhelmed if I don’t do these things! I hate feeling behind and out of the loop, and by texting with friends, checking Facebook, and watching an Instagram story or two, I actually feel a little more sane (call me crazy). For other people, workouts may be a top priority (and I really should be in this camp, because working out does so much for me mentally). And then there’s another set of people who may thrive on social things like events and happy hours after work in order to stay grounded (whereas I rarely do social activities during the week because it makes me feel too exhausted!).

2) Saying “I don’t have time” isn’t always going to cut it. Going along with the above, I’ve learned that there will always be time for things if you make them a priority. Whenever I tell my mom something like, “Ugh, if I just had more time, I’d finally be able to start that book I’ve always wanted to write,” she’ll remind me that if that was truly a priority of mine, I would’ve found a way to start. Harsh, but kind of true.

3) Planning ahead is your friend, as is keeping up with a hobby. This next point isn’t anything groundbreaking, but I’ll keep it on here anyway. I’ve been able to stay on top of blogging by scheduling posts several days in advance. I often feel a creative streak coming on and am able to crank out post after post and then schedule them for the next few days (even weeks). However, blogging in general is a lot of fun for me and a big stress reliever, so it truly doesn’t feel like a chore! As a related point, I’m a firm believer in keeping some things purely as hobbies. Just because I love interior design, for example, doesn’t mean I need to pursue it professionally (at least for now). My friends who run 5k’s and marathons don’t need to drop everything and become professional runners (this is an example I use a lot when people ask me why I don’t just work in the design field!). Having a hobby can be a great distraction from day-to-day expectations and pressures.

4) It’s ok to cut something out of your life. I loved my part-time job, but it was meant to be more of a summer commitment for when I had shorter hours at work. I really enjoyed the social aspect and the extra cash, but after awhile, I realized I valued my catch-up time on weekends more. Since I don’t enjoy cramming a ton of activities into the work week (although I’ve definitely been doing this lately for whatever reason), weekends are truly my social/errand/workout/sleep in/freelance/blog/family time. As a result, I decided to quit my part-time job in order to have a little more “me time.” While I hate saying “no” to anything, it was the right decision for me.

How do you stay grounded during particularly busy times? I’d love any additional advice!

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Score a Gray Malin Print on Sale

If you’ve been looking to pull the trigger on a coveted Gray Malin print, you’re in luck! You’ve seen them on blog after blog or maybe even own Gray’s coffee table book (side note: I popped into his super crowded event at Salt and Sundry for a hot minute last week and was thrilled to see Gray IRL). Just need to add one to your home? Here’s how…from time to time, Gilt City offers deals where you can purchase a credit to shop at GrayMalin.com, and the savings are huge! I purchased a $249 print credit (this is how much most of his prints cost at minimum—eek—though the famous balloon art starts at $199) and only paid $129 thanks to the promo and applying an additional 20 percent off coupon for new Gilt City users. I still had to pay an additional $15 out of pocket for shipping via GrayMalin.com, but I was able to score an amazing print (after some deliberation, I picked this one) for about half the price! This is really a steal because the website rarely offers sales of any kind, and when they do occur, they’re often limited to a specific collection.

I absolutely cannot wait for it to arrive—my balloon art picture that I purchased in May already has a spot in my new apartment, and I can’t wait to add a signature beach photograph to the mix!

The next step is framing, which is tricky, because the print I ordered is 11.5 x 17, aka not a traditional frame size. Unfortunately, anyone who loves wall art knows that finding a good frame that doesn’t break the bank is half the battle. I’m not usually a big fan of custom framing due to the cost, but if you’re going to shell out $$$ for a nice piece of artwork, it seems reasonable to treat it to a special frame that will hold up over time! Rather than spending an extra $160 to have my print arrive pre-framed from Gray Malin, I did what I did last May, which was purchase a Groupon that I can use at a local frame shop. The one I purchased this time around only cost me $33 but covers up to $150 worth of framing costs (I’m hoping I won’t have to pay anything additional out of pocket!) and is good for use at a store right in Dupont! While framing can take two to three weeks (or longer), it’s worth the wait to have a nice-looking, professionally-framed print that you can keep for years to come.

Who’s ready to order a (or another) Gray Malin print via Gilt? If you get one, let me know what you pick!

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5 Home Decor Items from Nordstrom

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Nordstrom actually has some amazing home finds! I was browsing their new arrivals the other day and got sucked in…so much beautiful accent furniture and decor! I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite pieces below:

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1) This brass/bamboo-like table is certainly at the top of my wish list. I actually found a similar, smaller piece at the Georgetown Flea a few weeks ago, but I’m still lusting over this one. It would work well in a living room, or you could grab two and use them as chic bedside tables. Plus, at under $150, it’s quite affordable (especially compared to similar styles).

2) This little container is super affordable and would look great on a dresser. Use it to store bracelets/watches or even hair supplies!

3) Our apartment actually came with the cutest doormat from Target, but if we didn’t have one, I’d be all about this pineapple option (which is not only adorable but super appropriate, since pineapples = hospitality!).

4) Fall means cozy throw blankets are practically a requirement, and while this one is a bit of a splurge, it’s super cute.

5) I personally own this pillow and can attest to how great it is! Right now, it’s on our living room couch, but in my last apartment, it added the perfect extra pop of blue and white to my bedroom.

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The Best Margaritas in DC

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It’s almost Friday…so let’s talk about something fun, like margaritas! Everywhere I’ve lived has had a few amazing margarita places (RIP Mexico, which was the name of one of my fave cheap spots in NYC that sadly closed). Philly had Distrito, El Rey, and El Vez (and even Mad Mex, that ultimate student hangout), and New York had everything from the aforementioned cheap spots (I was also a big fan of Blockheads, for whatever reason!) to trendier restaurants that also served great (although overpriced) margs.

I figured that while I don’t have pictures of all of them (just another excuse to go back, I guess), I’d do a little roundup of my favorite DC margarita spots. Honestly, even though the weather will soon be getting colder, I don’t plan to give up my favorite drink anytime soon!
In no particular order…
  • Los Cuates: This is a little spot near my apartment in Georgetown, although I think they have a few other locations. I’ve gone here on several dates (just keeping it real) and with friends, and they also have great happy hour specials (though sadly I haven’t taken advantage of ’em, because I’m not really a happy hour-goer these days!). Definitely pop in if you’re in the area.
  • El Centro: I’ve become a BIG fan of El Centro since moving back to DC. Their food is amazing and the margs have always been on point (once I ordered one frozen and the server brought me a regular, so she let me keep both…definitely did not finish them, because one alone is huge!).
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  • Banana Cafe and Piano Bar: I’d been itching to go here for ages after seeing pictures on Carrie and Shannon’s Instagram all the time, and we finally all went together a few weeks ago! The margs (pictured above) are huge…I Snapchatted mine to several friends, and everyone was curious about them!
I’m sure there are many more places I should be adding to this list, so keep me in the loop if I’m missing anything. I could seriously eat Tex Mex all day every day, and a good marg is really just the cherry on top of an amazing meal!
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Where to Score Cheap Midcentury Modern Furniture

Today’s topic is #mcm…nope, not “man crush Monday” (sorry) but instead, “midcentury modern” (bookmark the abbrev for your Craigslist searches! I was scrolling through my Instagram feed the other day when I came across an ad for Burlington Coat Factory, of all places, and there was a picture of a cute campaign nightstand. Now, while Burlington is definitely chaotic and not really the type of place I enjoy shopping because of the clutter (yes, this is coming from a girl who LOVES TJMaxx/HomeGoods), I happened to know that they have a website. So off I went to find the adorable campaign piece (which didn’t show up in my searches, unfortunately)…but while browsing, I came across some awesome midcentury modern pieces for CHEAP!

On Craigslist, midcentury modern pieces pop up all of the time, but the price range can really vary. I’m not as into this style of dresser, but it’s been growing on me lately, and seeing mcm pieces for a great price may just encourage me to bite the bullet!

Here’s what I found:

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With the nightstand, I’d probably replace the knobs with some fun ones from Anthropologie (or HomeGoods, etc…lots of stores sell them!). The plain brown ones are a little boring in my opinion, and a gold design or something similar could definitely make them look more glam.

Note: I was on Google images looking for these pieces because for whatever reason pictures weren’t showing up with the Burlington links as I was writing this post. I discovered that several other stories carry these pieces, but the prices are much higher (Kohl’s, for example, was selling the same dresser for $400!).

Moral of the story: Do your research, but then go ahead and shop your heart out as you decorate your midcentury modern-themed bedroom! Also, don’t discount somewhat random retailers until you see what they have to offer…I never in a million years would’ve thought these pieces would be sold at Burlington, but ya learn something new every day, I guess!

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From Weekend to Work

When I’m shopping for “fun things” (going out, parties, weekend trips, etc.) these days, I try to pick clothing that I can also wear to work. I definitely have my fair share of cute sleeveless tops that are reserved for weekends only, but practicality usually wins when I’m picking out clothes (though don’t get me wrong, I do love a good cold shoulder top!).

I was going to a college friend’s party a few weekends ago and was kind of bored with my existing shirt options, plus, I was long overdue for a trip to Mustard Seed. Off I went, and I left with two great pieces that were only $14 each! One was this scalloped top from J.Crew, shown below (it’s always been insanely popular among bloggers, so I don’t know what took me so long to try it). I absolutely love how it looks on. I think the reason I was holding back is because sometimes tops like this can be a little loose on me, as I’m fairly small-chested. Note: I ended up sizing down to a 0 (normally I would probably wear a 2-4 in their tops, depending on the style), paired it with a strapless bra, and it fit great. Not too tight, not too baggy…I love it and may have to stock up on more! These tops seem to frequently go on sale, so now that I know which size to order, I’m good to go. I’m not seeing the exact scalloped style online at the moment, but here’s a similar option. The best part? You could totally wear one to work under a blazer.
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Of course, there are times when going out means showing a little more skin and just having more fun with prints, cuts, and colors than you do during the normal work week, and that makes sense! Why dress like you’re headed to the office when it’s your day off? However, it’s always helpful to have a few options in your closet that can work all week long, such as these picks:
Ok, I'm kind of in love with the sleeves on this J.Crew Factory option!
Ok, I’m kind of in love with the sleeves on this J.Crew Factory option!
Clearly ruffles are already a theme in this post. The black is so versatile!
Clearly ruffles are already a theme in this post. The black is so versatile!
The leopard lover in me is swooning over this!
The leopard lover in me is swooning over this option!

 

While I personally don't like how I look wearing peplum, this top is definitely a cute one. The best part? It's made from sweatshirt material...so if you'd rather be in bed than at the bar, you can have the best of both worlds. It's perfect for casual Fridays, too!
While I personally don’t like how I look wearing peplum, this top is definitely a cute one. The best part? It’s made from sweatshirt material…so if you’d rather be in bed than at the bar, you can have the best of both worlds. It’s perfect for casual Fridays, too!

 

I honestly love this shirt in all of its colors (gingham!) but the red is perfect for fall events.
I honestly love this shirt in all of its colors (gingham!) but the red is perfect for fall events.
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I Tried It…Bumble BFF

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I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts folder for a loooong time, and I’m finally just going to go ahead and publish it. Why the delay? Because let’s face it, whenever one talks about using an app for anything social, I feel like there’s always some sort of stigma about it. I’ve read blog posts by women who’ve met their now-husbands on Tinder and admit that they could not bring themselves to share the “true story” with their readers for quite awhile. But, it seems that more people use apps (at least for dating, not necessarily for meeting friends!) than those who don’t, so we shouldn’t be ashamed. In reality, apps can be a great (not to mention convenient and low-pressure) way to connect with likeminded people, whether your intentions are romantic or purely platonic. Which brings me to…

My experience using Bumble BFF. Let me explain:

First, if you haven’t heard of Bumble the dating app, you’ve probably been married/in a relationship for a long time or are living under a rock Google it. Ok, you’re back! So, Bumble also has this fun feature where you can meet friends, and it’s called Bumble BFF. You just have to change your app settings and you can switch back and forth between swiping for romantic prospects and being on on BFF mode (where, if you’re a girl, you’ll be shown only other girls who are also looking for friends). What’s the point? Maybe you’re going on tons of Bumble dates but are also looking for new girlfriends to call for brunch or a manicure. Maybe you’re in a happy relationship but need a break from all of that bro time, or maybe you’re looking to avoid dating altogether but wouldn’t mind meeting a few new people here and there, no romantic strings attached. Sound like you? Keep reading! If you feel like you have enough friends already, go ahead and skip this post. 😉 I totally get the feeling of being overbooked, but I don’t think anybody can ever have too many friends. Watching the way my mom and her crew have rallied around one of their friends who is ill has really driven this point home!

I’ve successfully met up with three girls from Bumble BFF, and while I totally agree that the concept is a little weird (apps for dating are awkward enough to explain sometimes…and now there’s an app for FRIENDS?!), I’ve had a blast meeting people so far. In fact, I’m grabbing drinks at the rosé garden with a Bumble BFF on Friday and heading to a birthday party for another one on Saturday (we hung out last weekend, too!). So far, so good. Here’s a little background on why I tried Bumble BFF and what I’ve learned:

1) I’ve always loved having girlfriends. Of course I’d love to make more guy friends, too, but it can be more difficult (for obvious reasons). I had an amazing group of girlfriends in college, but we’re scattered all across the country now, and I’m sad! I do have several close friends nearby, but I genuinely like meeting new people and my existing friends would also like to meet new people! Since I’m technically “new-ish” in DC, I’m hoping to expand my social circle (although unlike in college, it’s unlikely all of my friends will know–or even get along with–one another, which is totally ok. It’s part of adulthood!). Finally, in our 20s, people move around so frequently that I don’t think it hurts to know TOO many people. For all I know, half of the DC friends I have now will be living elsewhere in 3-5 years.

2) We’re constantly evolving and growing up and realizing that the people we hang out with don’t need to be exactly like us, etc, etc. People will joke that every girl on Bumble BFF has the same “basic” profile (something like “I love brunch, working out, and Real Housewives!”), but it turns out that the three girls I’ve met IRL have incredibly interesting, diverse backgrounds. One works in healthcare, is married, and is a fellow Lilly/blog lover, one recently returned from serving in the Peace Corps–where she was stationed with my best friend from high school (!), and one happens to work in higher education, the same field in which I got my master’s! While everyone’s profile may look “generic” to some degree, don’t discount anyone–you’re bound to meet some interesting, friendly, fun people.

3) There is so much less pressure than with dating. No need to “define the relationship,” dress up super cute, or worry about getting food stuck in your teeth. I’ve found that by just being myself, I’ve made some really interesting connections with people (it helps that I’m a lot more outgoing than I was growing up…this type of situation would’ve been pure torture). I’ve also met some of these people’s DC friends, which has been wonderful. And the friend I’m seeing on Friday recently went to the wedding of another girl she met on Bumble BFF over a year ago (she and her husband have even taken vacations with the couple!). While the whole “Bumble” aspect will probably feel a bit weird at first, you’ll soon go from being “Bumble friends” to just regular friends, promise.

Still reading? Absolutely freaked out by this or think it’s a neat idea? I’d love to hear your thoughts! I’m also intrigued by Danielle’s “find a friend in your city” posts, which have been very popular. There’s actually a DC group that does a bunch of cool activities, and while I haven’t been able to attend anything so far, I’m hoping to pop by something in the next month or so!

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DC Apartment Hunting Tips

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This will hopefully be an even more detailed post at some point (maybe with Carrie!) but since several people have asked (and the end of the month is creeping up, which means it’s prime apartment hunting time), I figured I’d share a quick roundup of tips here in terms of what helped us during our search.

A disclaimer: There were a few times where I just wasn’t sure if we’d find something we loved before October 1 (I’d already given my current building notice that I would move out by that day), but thankfully, Carrie currently lives at home, and my parents live nearby, so we both had backup options. However, I wasn’t thrilled about the idea about paying to move my stuff home only to move it back into an apartment only a few weeks later, should we have found something for November 1. I’m glad that I can skip that step (and the stress that commute would bring!), although I’m thankful that my parents let me know that I could always crash with them for a bit if needed. 😉

When searching for apartments, we realized early on that we were both drawn to older buildings with character. I don’t know about you, but I’d always kind of pictured living with a roommate to mean living in a one-level unit in a modern high rise with two bedrooms, a living room, and a small kitchen area (and maybe some amenities, like a washer and dryer). However, DC is full of charming homes–and while they may not have the little luxuries that so many people love, like a front desk, gym, or swimming pool, they make up for this in terms of design. For example, we first (back in August!) looked at a row house on the Hill that had TWO living spaces, three bedrooms upstairs (although one was really more like a closet!), and *pocket doors* (I didn’t know what these were at the time, but I learned they’re something to be coveted!). Even better, it was very affordable with two people and would’ve been a steal should we have found a third roommate. We were pumped.

However, after grabbing gigantic margaritas and spending a few hours thinking about the place, we realized that it had its share of flaws. The upstairs bedrooms were covered in thick, brown carpet and had yellow walls, one was significantly bigger than the other two, the apartment was at least a 20 minute walk from the nearest metro, and utilities would certainly be high in such a big old house. We realized that maybe it wasn’t such a steal after all, because we didn’t want to be paying $$$ for electricity each month or relying on buses/Ubers because of the inconvenience of the metro. On to the next one, we decided!

Well…we looked at several “next ones” before finding our place in Dupont, and we learned a lot along the way! I feel silly bolding the tips below because they all seem very obvious, but trust me, they all fall into the category of “easier said than done,” so I’ll include ’em anyway.

First, pictures can be deceiving–both for better or for worse. While we were pleasantly surprised in some cases (we liked our place even more than we did in the pictures, which was saying a lot, because we were pretty into it from the first glance!), we also could tell when rooms/angles had been photoshopped a bit too much. One apartment we visited was so small that we left after about 30 seconds, and it was definitely a bummer because it appeared pretty comfortable in the pictures! Keep in mind that updates (even ones that seem pretty major) can certainly be made once you sign commit or sign a lease. In our place, for example, the owner will be adding a wall and door to my room (because there currently isn’t one!) and will take care of a couple of light fixtures.

Our general motto, though, was that most places would be worth scoping out in person. Even if it seemed pretty unlikely we’d live in a particular area or fall in love with a certain place, we wanted to scope it out anyway just so that we wouldn’t have any regrets down the line.

Second, do your research on a neighborhood before falling in love with a home. This may seem obvious–and as my mom reminded me, they say “location, location, location!” for a reason–but sometimes a house just looks so darn cute that it’s easy to forget that it’s in a crime-ridden area, is super far from transportation…or in one case for us, both! Trust me, you’ll always say, “I could never live there, it’s too _____” (loud, far away, unsafe, boring…) until you find the perfect little place and think “Ok, I could make this work!” Look at actual data online but also do some ethnographic research of your own (the soc major in me is coming out…). I seriously felt like I was turning into my mother when I approached the three young guys who lived next door to one of the homes we were planning to view, but they were all super friendly and knowledgable (one even introduced us to his fiancé so that we could get a female perspective on the neighborhood!). If it’s a weekend and/or time isn’t a major issue, take public transportation from place to place or from your office directly to the apartment. It’s good to fully understand how that process will work, especially if you’re like us and plan to take the metro on a daily basis. It’s also an easy way to see a neighborhood (we took a bus from Eastern Market up to Truxton Circle, for example), and could get a better sense of what was going on in each of those areas.

Lastly (for now), choose your rental sites accordingly. If, like us, you’re also in the market for an older home, I’d recommend looking on Craigslist rather than searching on traditional websites like HotPads or Apartments.com. These generally seem to feature more modern complexes that are professionally managed, whereas oftentimes when we were touring an older building, we were meeting with the owner herself. Craigslist is constantly being updated and it can be somewhat first come, first serve, but as a whole, DC rentals move much slower than other cities, like New York. You may feel like you’ve exhausted all of your online search options, but just be patient…the perfect place may pop up at any given moment! I came across our place at 11:30 pm on a Tuesday evening (I don’t even know why I was still awake…) and saw that it had been listed for a day. I called the agent around 9 am the next morning and she left me a message while I was in a school assembly! I basically bolted out of there when it ended, discussed details, and set up a time to view the place that evening. Carrie and I went into the appointment being prepared to sign a lease (we had a good feeling it would be the “one” and even arrived a bit early), and the agent was literally turning other people away after we said, “We’ll take it!”

I’d also suggest not limiting your search to a particular budget (on the computer, that is…definitely stick to a number in real life, haha!). Sometimes places are negotiable or the price can vary depending on the number of occupants. If you fall in love with a place, it doesn’t hurt to ask! Ours, for example, was listed for much more than we could afford, but after speaking with the agent, I learned that this would be the price for three tenants, and for two, it would be significantly lower. If I had limited my Craigslist search to a certain number, I likely never would’ve discovered our home!

One last thing to keep in mind is that if you do like older homes, note that these are often better equipped for families/couples rather than two separate adults. Many of the places we viewed were listed as two bedrooms, but while they had beautiful master bedrooms, the second room was often much smaller. Of course, you and your roommate could always decide that someone would pay more for the larger room, but the other person has to be willing to fit his/her life into a small space. We lucked out with our place because it had two large, separate living areas, and we were each happy with the one we chose. However, the arrangement wouldn’t be ideal for everyone!

Happy apartment hunting, and stay tuned for lots of moving/decorating posts in the days/weeks to come!

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