The offbeat occupant: Becca, Offbeat intern, programmer, songwriter, quasi-crafter, cook, & pug cuddler
Other occupants: Becca’s husband Adam, sister Jessi, and dog Maverick
Lives in: Sunnyside, Queens, New York, NY USA
Let’s start with the neighborhood. What’s it like where you live? We used to live in hipsterville aka Williamsburg Brooklyn. Due to financial issues, we went looking for cheap apartments ANYWHERE in New York City. We happened upon Sunnyside, which we’d never heard of at the time, and now we’re Sunnyside evangelists.
Sunnyside is the most diverse neighborhood in the most diversite borough (Queens) in the most diverse city (New York) in the world! Which is awesome. Our neighbors include an old Italian couple, an Indian family, an Eastern European/Chinese family, and young professionals in the condos across the street. There are lots of asian and latin american restaurants on the main drags — Queen Blvd and Greenpoint Ave — a block away. New York magazine recently rated it the third best neighborhood in New York City.
We live 1.5 blocks from the subway and are a 15 minute ride into Manhattan. We can take the bus back to Williamsburg and are near Astoria (Greek neighborhood) as well as Jackson Heights (great Asian food) and Flushing (the real China town).
What makes your home offbeat? Our apartment is pretty eclectic and very colorful. I like to have little things out that make me smile – pictures, Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles, bumble bees (my family calls me “Bee”), and things like that. I have a lot of STUFF and my feeling is that if it’s not displayed, I’ll forget about it and never use it.
I love the retro 50s thing as well as punk and rockabilly so there’s lots of leopard print, pin ups and “Rock & Roll” stuff.
When I travel, I like to buy art, usually folk art. I think it’s a great, lasting memory to have in our home, so there are lots of paintings and other things from all over the world — Argentine, Peru, Spain, Italy, France, and Jamaica among others.
We love to read and love music so we have a huge collection of books, cds, tapes, and records on display.
Since Adam and I got married less than a year ago, the apartment is filled with wedding stuff – pictures, decorations, etc. My dad says it’s too much, but I figure that as we progress through life some of it will get replaced with momentos from other momentous occasions.
What are the biggest home decor/occupational challenges you’ve faced, and how did you solve them? Our home serves a variety of purposes: home (duh), office, music room, and gym. That’s hard, but when my sister moved in last August it got even harder. We moved everything out of the office/music room.
The office got moved into the living room. There were entrances to the kitchen on both sides of the room, so I blocked one with a shelving unit on the kitchen side and a shower curtain/hanging-records on the living room side. This went a long way to define the space.
The music stuff landed in our bedroom. It doesn’t get used as much as it used to and we often use it in the living room, but it mostly does the trick. When we added the music stuff to the bedroom, we were left with a pile of crap – my craft stuff, leftover wedding stuff, and other accumulated things — luckily this was under control after a weekend of organization.
Adam and I work out at home sometimes so we have a step, weights, a yoga mat, and other gym accouterments. After getting really annoyed with having it out, I hid it underneath a small shelving unit under the TV, which makes it accessible and easy to put away.
What’s your favorite feature of your home? I love so much of it! But my favorite is our art/stuff-on-the-walls — I just love that everywhere I go in the apartment, I’m reminded of places I’ve been.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from this home? Generally, a challenge for us is that we have different views on organization: Adam wants things away and I want them in containers or a certain spot and if there isn’t one, then I’ll leave it out until I find a place for it. Now that we have more space than we did in Brooklyn, it’s exasperated the issue. There’s more space so I get lazy about organizing and there’s more to clean so Adam gets frustrated.
Our solution has been:
- I let it go when Adam puts things away no matter where he puts them
- I then organize in big bursts and try to go over with him where I’ve put things and why. I’ve found that acknowledging that I’m the problem and I’m the crazy one who needs to have a specific place for things helps to keep it from sounding like “you need to put this stuff HERE.”
The futon in the living room was my parents — well the mattress was. The frame they gave us broke so we got a new one and now the mattress is dying. It can barely stay up at this point and it’s super uncomfortable.
I really want a couch, so I didn’t want to spend the money on a new futon mattress. We don’t really have any real furniture that we purchased new — almost all of it is hand-me-downs. I feel like it’s time for a big-girl couch!
When discussing with Adam, he told me that he was planning on getting one for my birthday! (Best husband evar!) We haven’t looked too much, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be red and be some sort of sectional.
What advice do you have for other Offbeat dwellers? Your first apartment in a new city sucks. Keep it simple and not too expensive; then you can scope out where you’d like to live and what’s important to you.
In small spaces, it’s all about dividing the room in some way — arrange the couch in the middle of the room to create a room divider; close off an entrance with shelves or a curtain.
Also, milk crates are the most useful organizational tool ever — shelves, baskets for recycled paper or gloves or whatever.
Lastly, know yourself – organization is all about catering to your own bullshit. Know what you need to get yourself to do what needs to be done, whether it’s going through the mail in a timely fashion or keeping the table clean.
- Rock & Roll pillows, pot holders, and laptop bag and “Morning Sunshine” curtains were all made by my sister
- Record player spoon rest by Circ Ceramics
- Recycled glass, cassette tape soap dispenser by Bread and Badger
- Wall chalkboard decal by Braden’s Grace Wall Art
- Turquoise and red bowls by Mary Judy
- Awesome leopard print & red serving bowl and platter (not shown) by Chutney Blake Designs
- Vases by MAMR Designs
- Fabric covered tubs by Brody and Ma