Apartment Therapy has been running a “my first home” series which got me reminiscing about all the different places I’ve called home and thinking about what I’d do differently knowing what I know now.
My first rental was shared with three of my close friends during our final year at University of Hawaii. I slept on the floor on a single folding mattress I bought from Daiei and rode a moped to school. We made a makeshift walk in closet behind a beam in the living room with rolling racks and sheets. It was a tight squeeze for four and hard on our friendship. If I had to do it over? I’d forget about moving off campus and enjoy one last year of crazy fun dorm living. You’re only young once.
After graduation there was the brand new unit in a three story building in Maikiki. I wish I could go back in time and tell my 23 year old self to step away from the Mop and Glo. I forfeited my entire deposit because the landlord, who was definitely not glowing, had to strip the waxy film off all the floors.
Next was a 400 square foot studio at King’s Gate. The bonus was a huge window overlooking the UH baseball diamond. My furnishings consisted of two futon bed/couch contraptions and a poor quality dresser. Looking back I could’ve done so much better with my little urban studio. A bed in the corner with graphic linens, a comfy loveseat and some nice shelving would’ve been more home and less crash pad.
Then in my mid 20s, the future ex hubby and I bought a one bedroom condo in Hawaii Kai at the Mauna Luan. I absolutely loved the joint. The grounds were incredible, 24 hour security, covered parking, two pools and a ton of barbecues and jacuzzis. So, what would I do differently? Save my pennies to renovate. Years later, we moved out and the sister in law moved in. With our thumbs up to do as she pleased, she put in beautiful grey with a lavender tone carpet, tinted the windows and stripped off the 70s wall treatment (don’t even know how to describe it, looked like someone separated mop strands and glued it randomly everywhere). At the big reveal, we were like “wow! is this our place?”.
Next was a 2,175 square foot three bedroom house in Kaimuki with a huge master bedroom. We ditched the futons and added some great Danish furniture. The problem with all this space? I filled it up, but not in a good way. Too much clothes and other stuff I could’ve done without. Ditching the cluttered closets overflow and instead focusing on personal touches, art on the walls, putting some function into the spare bedroom and high value investments like flooring would’ve made this spacious home shine even more and been ultimately more satisfying.
Lastly was my little two bedroom rental on 9th Avenue in Palolo. Fairly new and in great shape with tiny rooms and very little storage in the kitchen and absolutely no storage in the bathroom. I learned several things from this space. Number one is grey carpet, grey drapes and grey linens in the bedroom is too much grey! Geez, lighten up already. In my defense when I ordered the drapes online, I thought they’d be more purple. The other thing I learned is no matter how cute the place and how great the location I need privacy. I was attached to the owners home with only a door separating my living area and their bedroom hallway. I had to traipse past their bedroom window to get to my entry and my bedroom windows faced their back yard, if the curtains were open, it was show time. Constantly felt “watched” for infractions or activities which might use too much water or electricity.
What’s the morale of this story? Don’t be in a rush to grow up, make your house a home, possessions and fulfillment can have an inverse relationship and don’t believe the property manager when he says the owners on the other side of the wall are hardly ever home.