Moving phase two: Decorating

Humdrum 55

A couple months ago I wrote about moving into a new apartment. Well I did it! This letter is coming to you from my very own room, a den at the back of the apartment, overlooking the backyard. I stare at a brick wall across the alley. Part of me wishes there was a mural painted on it so I’d have something to look at besides weathered beige.

This past month has been a slog of unpacking, organizing, reorganizing. But also shopping! And decorating! I bought the home decor magazine Domino to get inspiration about colors and patterns and furniture. Despite the mostly black palette I wear day-to-day, I wanted a vibrant, colorful living space. No beige furniture for me.

I’m an adult woman with disposable income, and I’ve never been in the position to buy my own couch. What I’ve had before either belonged to a roommate, was part of a furnished apartment, or was a hand-me-down. No more! I bought an orange couch I’d been coveting on Article. But the shopping didn’t stop there. I want all those things (carpets! shower curtains! bathroom storage shelves!) that make your home feel like your home, not some place you’re paying to live in for a time.

But my god, can’t it just be over? All of it? Over the past three weeks my partner and I also purchased a dining room table with chairs, a sideboard, a console table. I finally got a new dresser for myself. I’ve spent weekends scoured Wayfair and West Elm and Ikea. It’s been fun to fantasize but now comes the boring work of measuring and comparing prices and assembling furniture. I must have really thought I could blink and the apartment would be spontaneously decorated. I didn’t realize how tedious and drawn out this process could be. Plus the constant reorganizing. As soon as one piece of furniture is bought, the realization comes that the arrangement of the apartment is now all off and the bookshelves must be moved to make room. And I didn’t even need to get into the complexities of choosing paint. (Advantages of being a renter, after all). 

Now I have this feeling of being a boring shut in. Being outside in Chicago is finally pleasant. I’d rather be at the beach reading, or checking out one of the million summer festivals that spring up in the city in summer. Not thinking about how the hall closet could be better organized.

I contemplate a couple unpacked boxes still lingering in the living room and think this is OK. Those few haphazard shelves, I can deal with them. Shove them against the walls so they’re out of the way and I can pretend they’re invisible. All that really matters is I have a roof over my head and a decent toothbrush. 

But no. I love visiting friends in their clean, well-organized abodes, with comfortable couches and cool artwork carefully hung on the walls and potted plants by the windows. Nary a cardboard box to be seen. These tidy places smell better than unkempt ones too. They’re where I feel comfortable to hangout. That’s what I want, a place to be, not a place where I have to ignore. 

So I remind myself, “it’ll be worth it,” when I spend Friday night reorganizing bookshelves, Sunday night putting a table together. There are 80 things I want to do instead. But making a lovely home is worth it.

Reading | Watching | Listening

Caught up on Catastrophe, which is my favorite, both for awesome outfits and hilarious Real Talk about life and relationships. Bonding about friendship and desires of all kinds. Losers about “failures” in sports. Finally started the Romancelandia podcast Fated Mates (h/t Molly Schlemmer for the rec!). And speaking of romance… the books Love Game and Three-Way Split are great fun. The essay The Pink on bottom surgery, being a woman, and feminism.

About this newsletter

Humdrum is written by Christina Brandon. She is really excited to buy a bunch of plants for the new living room. You can purchase her memoir about teaching English in China through Amazon. Connect with her by replying to this email or jumping on Twitter or Instagram. And tell friends to subscribe!