Many of you have been asking about the status of our apartment renovation. This pic was taken at the beginning of September, so…yeah. Not quite ready yet. We are told that a lot of the work, like the built-ins, are already made off-site so it should come together more quickly than it appears. Since this picture was taken, the painting and floors has been completed. The bathroom tile was done but now there are some mistakes that need to be fixed. We have ordered most of the furniture but are still making selections on some items. The new kitchen appliances have been delivered but are not yet installed.
So, where are we currently living and what’s going on while we wait?
All month long on Instagram stories, I’ve been posting from inside our tiny temporary apartment, and then back at the house, and everyone seems really confused. I get questions every day like — “Where are you?” and “What’s going on???” So, I decided to do an official Q&A to keep everyone on top of the situation.
Here are your questions answered:
WHAT’S GOING ON?????
Our apartment is currently being renovated so we are staying in a studio apartment owned by my sister’s husband’s family until it is finished. The renovation was supposed to be done over the summer, but it is taking longer than expected. On the weekends, we go to our summer house on Long Island.
Why not just live at the house and visit the city?
Our kids go to school in NYC so we come back at the beginning of the school year. Plus, we are city people so we enjoy being in Manhattan for the majority of the time. I would go crazy living in the suburbs year round.
How far a drive is it to your house from the city?
With no traffic, 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Is your sister and her kids staying in the studio with you?
No, they live in another apartment in the same building.
What does your sister usually use the apartment for?
She used to live in it before they upgraded to a new apartment in the same building. Then they rented it for a few years, but recently, their building made a new rule that banned sublets and said that only family members could stay in your apartment. Worked out for us!
Sorry if this is too personal, but how does paying to renovate work if you don’t own your apartment?
We do own our apartment. We live in a condo which means that all the apartments are owned by individuals. You still need to get your renovations approved by the management company and the city, which is why we are only doing a facelift. There will be no moving of walls or structural changes. We also decided not to change from a tub to a stand-up shower in the master bath because that would have required plans from an architect and a much larger approval process to rip out the tub. We didn’t want to spend the time and money to do it.
Why the house and the apartment? Is that common for NYC?
Having an apartment in the city and a house in the country is the dream of many NYC residents. Many people we know own a weekend house somewhere, whether it be Long Island, Upstate NY, Connecticut, etc. I feel very fortunate that we were able to make it happen four years ago. I actually would have preferred using the money to buy a bigger apartment, but when we looked, we quickly discovered that the cost of an extra bedroom in Manhattan can be more than an entire house outside the city. Also, Mike really had a need to get out of the city on the weekends and buying the house helped us stay in the city long term. I ended up loving it too.
How much longer will you be in limbo?
It should only be a few more weeks. Hopefully furniture will arrive as soon as the renovation is done, but it’s difficult to coordinate when things keep changing.
How are you staying sane?
It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. When we stayed at the studio on random nights during the summer, it was a nightmare trying to get everyone to bed in the same room, but now that we are in a routine and it’s a stricter schedule, it’s gotten much better. It’s also really nice being able to see my sister and her family every day.
Why is construction taking forever?
I think most renovation projects take longer than expected because unforeseeable things come up along the way. For instance, yesterday when sanding the floor, they discovered that a long wood step in the living room isn’t actually wood, which means it can’t be sanded and restained. That means we have to replace the step which adds time. That’s just one example.
Second example! Yesterday we also discovered that one of the chevron tiles was doubled and broke the chevron pattern in the master bathroom. Now, I could let that go and let it kill me slowly over time. Or I could have them fix it and add another day or two. I chose to fix it.
Do you have to go to bed when the kids go to bed? If not, how do you manage in the studio?
When it’s time for the kids to go to bed, we shut the lights and all lie down in our beds to relax. I usually lie with the girls and Mike will be doing something on his iPad on the big bed. Sometimes we all end up falling asleep for the night and sometimes the kids will fall asleep first and then Mike and I will get back up, sit on the couch and turn on the TV. If the volume is low, it doesn’t wake them.
I’d love to know how you balance the apartment and the house. Do you have clothing at each home? Toys?
Normally we have stuff in both places. Toys, toiletries, kitchen stuff, linens, etc. so that all we need to bring is clothes. I tend to keep our nicer clothes in the city and our shittier stuff at the house. Then if we are going to do anything that requires a nicer outfit, I’ll pack that. We don’t have a lot of space in our apartment and pretty much no storage, so in total we probably have the same amount of stuff as anyone else.
Wait. Did I miss something or are you now in a totally different apartment?
Last week, our friends Lucy and Eric invited us to stay with them for a week. They have a really big space and our kids are friends, so it’s been really fun staying with them for the past few days. They invited us to stay this week too. We said yes, but we are also trying not to overstay our welcome!
Are you as excited as I am about the BIG REVEAL???
YES! Although, I’ve been imagining a reveal where everything is finished and perfect, but Emma Beryl, our decorator from HomePolish, recently let me down gently. She said that kind of thing only happens on television. It’s going to be a new space, then a new space with furniture and then it’s going to more gradually become a finished home.
Let me know if you have any other questions you have in the comments below!
Also, I want to say that I am exceptionally nervous about how everything is going to turn out because I’ve never done a big renovation like this before and posting it all so publicly is a lot of pressure. Fingers crossed that it all looks amazing in the end!
You can follow along in real time on @mommyshorts on Instagram.