I recently staged an apartment for sale, transforming a studio on Gramercy Park into the kind of place I’d like to live. Over the course of two weekends, I moved in some favorite pieces of furniture, then layered in “life” with new accessories and pieces I’ve collected over the years. By the end of it, I converted a once-disheveled bachelor pad back into an airy space for one.
This space also happens to be my old apartment – my first – purchased over a decade ago, as a youngin who knew little about real estate (and less about co-ops). While living there, I tried my hand at renovating, redoing the kitchen (Dad, your backsplash is still lookin’ good!) and made other updates with storage solutions and new lighting. The space suit me well for many years, teaching me in my 20s and 30s about living simply, minimalistically, in 450 square-feet.
Now that I’ve spent a few days converting it into a “listing”, part of me wants to move back in. It’s not necessarily because of the neighborhood charm or the space itself, but because of how I felt the day I completed the task, after hours of styling, steaming, arranging, and photographing. Letting myself sprawl out under the ceiling fan, legs aching, I looked around and felt proud of the results, a ruthlessly edited mixture of some of my favorite things.
But the added bonus was what I didn’t see: there was no clutter, no mail to open, no to-do lists, no TV to turn on, not even a good music option. And how freeing! I popped open a cookbook and let my mind drift, less focused on to do lists, obligations, worries, and more focused on good memories from my time there, what I had to let go of, what I hoped for the future, and where I was. Turns out that paring down and getting rid of visual clutter allowed me to get rid of mental clutter and be more mindful.
To be clear: I am not a minimalist. I like my things too much: my book, my old photos, my peep-toe heels from another life, my seltzer bottles collected from near and far. But I’ve gained a better understanding of the power of eliminating the other “stuff” that can sap my energy, and allow space for more joy to creep in. I haven’t read Marie Kondo’s book, but I have a feeling this was part of her gist.
I suppose that’s at the core of what I’m doing now, letting go of certain things, whether big (an apartment) or small. It’ll make space for whatever is to come. Freeing, indeed.