A Journey Author’s 450-Sq.-Foot Studio Condo Is a Cupboard of Curiosities

by Editors Staff

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Title: Alexandra Charitan
Location: Capitol Hill — Washington, D.C.
Measurement: 450 sq. ft
Sort of Residence: Studio house
Years Lived In: 2 years, renting

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Journey author, editor, photographer, designer, and self-proclaimed bookworm, Alexandra Charitan’s DC house is a patchwork of the entire lives she’s lived and the individuals and locations she has beloved. After spending years dwelling in NYC, with a brief stint again in her childhood residence in Ohio throughout the early days of the pandemic, she says her DC studio of two years is definitely the primary residence the place she’s had almost all of her possessions in a single place. The artifacts she chooses to maintain and show nearly at all times have a narrative or a reminiscence hooked up. And whereas she gravitates in direction of classic gadgets, she’s not notably married to any inside type or style, “if one thing strikes me, I’ll maintain it ceaselessly,” she writes.

She’s been informed by many who her “house has a museum or cupboard of curiosities vibe,” and it’s straightforward to see why. From lava lamps to one-of-a-kind people artwork she’s picked up on her numerous street journeys, one would possibly suppose they stumbled right into a roadside flea market. “I like discovering fascinating issues, however I like organizing, curating, and sharing them much more.” The truth is, in the event you look carefully, her bookshelves are like mini-exhibits — loosely reflecting completely different themes on every shelf. “My mind finds consolation in making connections and grouping objects, and I’m consistently transferring issues round; no area is protected from my limitless tinkering,” she explains. “It would take some time to search out the proper mixture of kind and performance, however the hunt is all a part of the enjoyable of constructing an deliberately joyful life out of seemingly disparate discarded treasures.”

In New York, I may barely afford to stay alone in a civilized area, and though I nonetheless solely have a studio, it feels palatial in comparison with previous flats. My landlord lives across the nook and is at all times keen to assist, teaching me the way to repair a tripped breaker, bringing in my newspaper, or giving everybody within the constructing champagne and fruit cake across the holidays. Capitol Hill looks like a small city in a manner that’s extra comforting than confining, and since I do business from home and spend a lot time alone, the sense of group right here has been a lifesaver.

Condo Remedy Survey:

My Model: Since I stay in a studio, I attempt to create distinct nooks with decor; the colours within the mattress ”room” are muted and calm (for me), whereas the frequent areas are extra vibrant and joyful. I stay on a quiet road so I like the large home windows — I don’t get a lot direct daylight which is completely nice for me as a result of I want string lights and lava lamps. I take a look at adorning any area as a piece in fixed progress. I spend a whole lot of time right here, principally alone, and get bored simply so I add and subtract issues or rearrange artwork and knick-knacks nearly each day. 

Inspiration: This house is a patchwork of the entire lives I’ve lived and the individuals and locations I’ve beloved over the previous 37 years. That is the primary time I’ve had nearly all of my possessions in a single place and nearly every little thing I select to maintain and show has a narrative or reminiscence hooked up to it. A number of the stuff I gravitate in direction of is classic, however I’m not married to any explicit type or decade; if one thing strikes me, I’ll maintain it ceaselessly. 

I’ve at all times beloved something that somebody clearly hung out on: crocheted gadgets, embroidery, paint-by-number work, block prints, and different one-of-a-kind people artwork items. I discover limitless inspiration in crafts historically made by housewives, grandmothers, and different traditionally undervalued ladies; you may be taught quite a bit in regards to the unrealistic expectations heaped on ladies over the centuries by listening to the objects that have been supposedly made for them, together with recipe books, dishware, and different home devices.

Favourite Component: My bookshelves. Constructed-ins are my dream, however I discovered these low-cost at Goal, they match completely, and I don’t must be treasured with them. Lots of people have informed me that my house has a museum or cupboard of curiosities vibe, and that’s an enormous praise. I like discovering fascinating issues, however I like organizing, curating, and sharing them much more. 

I lately took every little thing out of the bookshelves and reorganized all of it, which was time consuming and a little bit overwhelming, however in the end satisfying. I discovered books I forgot I had, and tried to create mini-exhibits loosely primarily based on a theme for every shelf. My mind finds consolation in making connections and grouping objects, and I’m consistently transferring issues round; no area is protected from my limitless tinkering.

Greatest Problem: There’s by no means sufficient area. I believe I is likely to be a type of fish who grows to fill no matter bowl they’re put in, however I don’t wish to unfold out essentially, I simply need more room so I can justify gathering extra stuff. I’d additionally love to have the ability to entertain however I can’t presently host various individuals at one time. I’m getting fairly good at taking part in Tetris with my trash treasures, however it might be good to have a bigger canvas — and a separate bed room, lavatory(s), and correct eating room for company. 

I acknowledge my very own constraints greater than any outsider, however nonetheless, my least favourite query to be requested is, “The place are you going to place that?” As a result of — generally surprising even to me — I nearly at all times discover a area. It helps that I’ve broadened the definition of “wall area” to incorporate doorways, home windows, and cupboard fronts (partially impressed by Julia Youngster’s Cambridge kitchen preserved within the Nationwide Museum of American Historical past). When I discovered the proper paint-by-number of DaVinci’s Final Supper at Goodwill, I hung it vertically on a door I by no means use as a result of it suits finest that manner, however now it feels regular to me. If I ever have the area to hold it horizontally, I believe I’ve to maintain “Jesus on the Aspect” (as one pal known as it).

Proudest DIY: Once I was first arranging my largest gallery wall, I had a big clean area that wanted a bit of artwork (clean partitions make me nervous!). I rapidly painted leftover cardboard with phrases from John Lewis’ final New York Occasions op-ed, and I nonetheless learn it each day: “Odd individuals with extraordinary imaginative and prescient can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I name good hassle, mandatory hassle.” 

I additionally took an IKEA moon lamp (a free curb discover) and turned it right into a banana with a little bit paint, modeling clay, and googly eyes. I hung it within the kitchen above the bowl the place I maintain my actual bananas — and the dishwasher, the place I maintain my pretend ones. It value me nothing however a couple of minutes of time proved my principle that just about something may be immediately improved with a great pair of googly eyes.

Greatest Indulgence: Once I moved from New York Metropolis, I left all of my IKEA furnishings behind, so I owned nearly nothing once I arrived in D.C. My first (and largest) purchases have been my sofa and mattress (each from Floyd). A pal of mine had each — together with eating room chairs from Article — so I used to be a lazy shopper and simply copied her, with a special shade scheme. 

I additionally splurged on a Casper mattress as a result of they arrive in a smallish field, vacuum sealed in an area bag-type factor and I needed to decide it up and carry it into my house alone — and since I’m brainwashed from years of seeing their advertisements on the subway. I’m nonetheless aggravated at how costly all of it was, however I’ve by no means regretted both; I spend most of my time laying or sitting on each, and having high quality furnishings makes me really feel like a (considerably profitable) grownup. I don’t belief myself to depart my gentle mint inexperienced sofa uncovered (I eat too many Cheetos), however fortunately I additionally gather granny sq. blankets and colourful linens, which I can swap to make it really feel like a model new sofa.

Is there one thing distinctive about your property or the way in which you employ it? I take advantage of my dishwasher for storage: presently it’s stuffed with purple hots, pretend fruit, and particular vacation gadgets I don’t use fairly often, like a recently-acquired Tom and Jerry milkglass punch bowl set. I don’t have many garments or sneakers, so I take advantage of my massive walk-in closet as an workplace and a classic dentist cupboard for overflow lavatory and linen storage. Regardless of being simply steps from my mattress (a bonus as a result of I’m not a morning individual), having a devoted work area helps me focus and separate my skilled and private lives. 

At evening, I activate my string lights and novelty lamps, open my kitchen window, sit in an outdated workplace chair (additionally a free curb discover) and write. With my industrial trash can, Coca-Cola menu board, and Equipment-Cat Klocks, I really feel as if I’m in my very own private after-hours diner or speakeasy. I believe having so many distinct areas has helped me not utterly lose my thoughts spending a lot time (and several other stretches of Covid quarantine) in simply 450 sq. ft. Generally I joke that I’ve an “eight-room studio house,” however I’ve set it as much as kind of perform that manner with an entryway, eating room, lounge, diner, bar, bed room, workplace, and loo. 

What are your favourite merchandise you will have purchased in your residence and why? If I used to be sponsored by two firms it might be Swiffer and Command hooks. One other query individuals ask steadily is “How do you mud every little thing?” There may be much less road grime right here than in New York, however I’m nonetheless in a relentless battle with mud. I like Mrs. Meyer’s seasonal scents (Apple Cider dish cleaning soap within the fall and Iowa Pine within the winter) and my favourite multi-surface cleaner is the Snowdrop scent. For anybody into thrifting, Goo Gone, Magic Erasers, and outdated toothbrushes are a should; researching, cleansing, and sustaining my treasures is all a part of the enjoyable of being a collector.

I clearly don’t have an issue placing nail holes within the partitions of my leases, however I strive to not be too damaging. Command hooks (and the velcro poster strips for gentle gadgets, like embroidery or framed artwork with out glass) are the hidden heroes of my house: Tiny gentle clips make stringing lights round home windows and cabinets tremendous straightforward, they usually’ve doubled my “wall” area by permitting me to hold extra artwork on doorways, cupboard fronts, and ceramic tile with out damaging them. 

Please describe any useful, inspiring, sensible, or simply plain helpful small area maximizing and/or organizing ideas you will have: My first free curb discover in D.C. was a small bookshelf, which inserts completely in my entryway; I take advantage of it to carry sneakers. On high, a steel trash can (that includes the U.S. Presidents up till Nixon) holds face masks and umbrellas, and I put my mail in a serviette holder. I’ve little or no in-bathroom storage, however I maintain additional towels and most of my toiletries within the dental cupboard within the walk-in closet. 

A pile of protest indicators lives below my mattress and my radiator makes an ideal plant shelf (I’ve central warmth, so that they’re at all times turned off). The 2 cabinets above my desk maintain my archives: stationery, outdated photographs, and scrapbooks. I additionally love gathering fascinating containers — my beloved Borders (RIP) procuring basket, a steel file field with printed wooden grain, or mid-century kitchen canister units — which assist me disguise any mess.

Lastly, what’s your best possible residence secret or adorning recommendation? I believe Marie Kondo was clearly onto one thing when she wrote that issues in your house ought to deliver you pleasure. Lots of people interpreted that to imply minimalism, which I believe is deceptive: I do know some individuals might even see me as nothing however a pack rat, however I’m truly very intentional about what I deliver into my house. Nearly nothing I personal is strictly utilitarian; I’ve lamps formed like a dinosaur, a globe, and a model bust, chairs which are each stunning and cozy, and classic dishware that I take advantage of day by day. It would take some time to search out the proper mixture of kind and performance, however the hunt is all a part of the enjoyable of constructing an deliberately joyful life out of seemingly disparate discarded treasures. 

Supply: Condo Remedy

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