Looking for an apartment this spring, at the beginning of the New York City death spiral, was not for the faint of heart. “It’s always like this!” friends assured me, as I found myself being outbid (????) for rental units, or learning that totally mediocre studio apartments in Crown Heights were renting for $3000. Two people rented the drab two-bedroom I had been leasing (for a COVID-discount deal of $2750) for nearly $4000, without so much as stepping foot in the unit or even seeing pictures of it. “You’ll find a place!” everyone told me. They were right, but it took me having to literally run down the street to beat out other viewing appointments for a random showing I found on Craigslist and then throwing $1000 at the apartment application portal with just the faintest hope in my heart that it might work out and nobody else beat me to the punch. (I later found out it was a photo-finish race to apply for the apartment: I beat out the next applicant by like, minutes).
My apartment is not without its quirks, though it is a rent-stabilized 2-bedroom apartment for just under $2000 on the Crown Heights/Prospect Heights border, so in this economy I guess I can’t really complain. What I can do, however, is change it in slight ways to be the exact space I need it to be. Here are some of the things I have done thus far, a few months into my lease, that fall under the guise of “home improvement.”
No dishwasher? No problem.
My kitchen is what one would call “no frills,” but most important to me, it does not share a room with a living room. It’s its own room, a galley kitchen, and it’s quite spacious even for me, a person who owns three Dutch ovens for some reason. I cook a lot, and as such, I needed a dishwasher solution. Plus I’ve now lived in two apartments with a dishwasher, and I’m spoiled. I need my appliance treats. I have friends who swear by countertop dishwasher models, but they’re quite small, and they take up counter space. Why not, I reasoned, by a full-size dishwasher and hook it up to my sink myself? So that’s what I did: I bought a dishwasher on Amazon. It has wheels that lock, which made it easy to move around my kitchen, scooting it between the counter space and the refrigerator. I bartered cat sitting labor with my friend Paris, who in exchange offered to hook up my dishwasher to the plumbing under the sink. In total it took 20 minutes of effort and I don’t have to wash dishes by hand if I don’t want to. Plus it adds several square feet of counter…