Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Furniture Turnover

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?


Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

Nothing beats moving for killing the consumer impulse. After moving, I feel like I never want to buy another possession ever again. That feeling lasts for months. A great way to curb purchases! The furniture thing is annoying though. I've mainly moved from house to house, and often from bigger to smaller. We've had the same sofas for 10+ years. I don't think I could buy anything upholstered/ stuffed used for the reasons you mention plus general sanitation. I am always shocked that people will buy mattresses used, honestly. Very sorry about your bed bug/ mold situations. It is nice to settle down (we purchased a home last year), but you do have to be very conscientious about hoarding. I've sworn I won't buy any more bookshelves and no more storage bins for the garage -- everything must fit in what we already have. My husband is a ruthless purger, so that helps.

P.S. Love NYC! Wish I had lived there when I was single.

Green Bean said...

That is such an interesting point! I agree with Betsy about never wanting to acquire another object after a move but I do remember that with every move usually comes the need for furniture to fit a different configuration or new need.

Thank God for Craigslist at least. Plus we have a local consignment center.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin