Tiny Apartment Love

Our ca. 1900 colonial revival house is divided into three apartments; two on the first floor and one on the second floor. Other houses in Burlington are chopped into 5-6 apartments, and it’s quite obvious based on the fire escapes, extra exits, carelessly inserted windows and doors… you get the idea. Aside from the terrible replacement windows, our house looks whole from the outside. However, this colonial revival house is moderately sized compared to the elaborate Queen Anne houses further down the street.

Now, when I say this colonial revival is divided into three apartments, I really should say two and one-half. Our apartment is more like a small studio, luckily it is more than one room. It is in the range of 350 square feet for two people and three (!!) cats. Really it should be for one small person and maybe one cat. Whatever, call us crazy.  We picked this place over the summer, with few other options, but decided this one would be our best bet because of the location, the southern exposure, permission to paint inside and permission to have cats. At the time it was not the prettiest apartment; it was dirty and bland. But, we could see the potential.  As we drove up here in August it suddenly struck me that I had signed a lease without ever looking at the bathroom. I panicked.  By the time we stepped foot in the apartment on a hot August day, dropped just a few of our bags and the (then) two cats, the space seemed full! How were we supposed to live in 350 square feet with one exceptionally small closet? (At least the bathroom was fine.)

We went to work: cleaning, scrubbing, painting, organizing, selling excess furniture, and moving boxes and boxes of books. (Since one of us, ahem, Vinny, is an English teacher, we live in our own personal library. Okay, there are some preservation books in there.) And by the time school started two weeks later, we were settled nicely and everything had found a place. Granted, our couch is a loveseat, and we don’t really have space for dinner guests, but it works for now.  Beyond grad school, it probably won’t be a functional space for us anymore. It’s a cozy, charming space, if you want real estate terms.

But for right now, Vinny and I love this place, particularly because we painted it the colors we wanted and put in a lot of work to make it sort of ours for a few years.  The kitchen floor has two different styles of linoleum, some of it cracked, and the floor is noticeably on an angle, but there is a breakfast nook in at the end of the galley. I love that our living is the former porch with all windows and a southern exposure. I love that it’s so small that heating it doesn’t cost too much. I love the strange built-in cabinets in the kitchen and the drawers underneath one set of shelves. I love the door frames and the clues to the previous arrangement inside the house. I even sort of the bathroom sink that is so old and stained by the separate hot and cold water faucets. Washing my face is a sport, trying not to burn or freeze my hands. See, character? And lots of it.

From the living room we get a glimpse of Lake Champlain and have beautiful sunsets. The houses across the street are beautiful and wherever we go, we walk through a historic district. And sure, maybe we could find something better or bigger (maybe not both), but we love it for all of its quirks and we are now experts on storage  in small spaces and making tiny places desirable. Wanting to stay in 350 square feet — talk about some tiny apartment, old house love.