Julia from Color Me Green reflects on how the unsettled New York City lifestyle lends itself to high consumption and turnover of furniture.
I recently moved apartments for the twelfth time since moving to New York City seven years ago. Living in New York City is to be haunted by the fear that there's no guarantee how long you can stay in an apartment, because you never know what kind of landlord negligence or rent increase or crazy roommate or crazy neighbors or breakup or whatever else will force you out of an apartment. All that moving around means (among many things) that I've made sure to pare down my things over the years, because the fewer things I have to move, the better. However, that only applies to my personal belongings like books, random files, memorabilia and other miscellany - which fit into about one box.
Furniture is a different story. The common rhetoric is that you don't buy as much furniture as an urban dweller because you can't fit as much furniture in a small apartment as you might in a larger home. However, New Yorkers tend to move a lot (although not as often as me personally), and each new apartment comes with different furniture needs, so you may end up going through a lot of furniture over the years.
For example, some apartments come with almost no cabinets or counter space (landlords putting the burden of expense on renters), which leads to buying kitchen carts and shelves, which I get rid of next time I move because the next apartment has lots of cabinets. But the apartment after that needs added kitchen storage again.
Likewise, we sold my boyfriend's bar table to replace it with my nicer dining table when we moved in together, but now that our new apartment has a separate kitchen and living area, we decided we needed a new bar table.
It's a little frustrating that belongings that worked fine before suddenly aren't enough to fill the nooks and crannies of a new apartment that call out to be decorated.
I've also had to shed a lot of furniture because of crappy apartment conditions. When I left one apartment with bed bugs, I threw out my mattress. We had to leave our most recent apartment because of mold, so we threw out our couches and all of our bedroom furniture (because of bed bugs as well as mold) and countless house things.
This time around, we are buying completely new furniture (lots of IKEA). It's sad, because most of our furniture previously were family hand-me-downs or used. I used to happily buy used furniture from salvation army or craiglist, or even take it off the street. Now that I have had bed bugs twice, I can't do it anymore. Although my environmental conscience would prefer to buy used, my peace of mind requires me to buy new.
It all makes me envious of people who have had the chance to just live in one home for years. Settling in place allows you to invest in furniture and decor that works for your space just once. I suppose, though, it also comes with the opportunity to hoard more than you need, or the desire to change things up after a while with new items.
What have been your experiences with moving or staying in place and how much furniture you've gone through?