Seven Twenty Eight and a Half
I look through the couple dozen pictures I’ve collected of my condo and wonder why I’d want to move from this place. To avoid second-guessing my decision to put my home up for sale, I compose a list of reasons I want to move. I hope the exercise will reassure me I’m doing the right thing. Here’s my list so far:
Annoyances with the condo:
- antiquated plumbing
- clanking radiators
- old windows
- thick gooey layers of paint on the trim work
- a cold draft that whips under the kitchen door in wintertime
Frustrations with the neighbors:
- the smell of pot that seeps up through the floorboards every evening from the neighbors below
- a fire in the condo above which forced me out of my home for three months
- the sleep-depriving, late-night echoes of a neighbor’s television set
- a myopic homeowners association
Aggravations with the location:
- hideous parking arrangements
- back alley chaos
- commotion from a nearby Nissan dealership
- gradual decay of streets, sidewalks, and nearby condo buildings
- insanity at the local grocery stores
- gnarly traffic on Dempster Street
The list is long and I grow tired of writing it all down. I give up. The important thing to realize is that I really am ready to move.
I take snapshots of each room from various angles. The pictures make the place look larger than it is. In reality, the condo is surprisingly small—cozy I used to say. Lately, it feels stifling. Another reason to move. I finish my list and set it aside. I go from room to room remembering, appreciating, and most of all beginning to let go of this space.
The living room is my favorite of all the rooms in my condo. The chunky radiator heats the space well during Chicago’s frigid winters. The room’s proportions are at once comfortably spacious and cozy. The windows look out over a charming, thoughtfully landscaped courtyard. In the springtime, the sweet fragrance of lilac and magnolia blossoms drifts up in through open windows. I will miss this room and hope it will serve as a template for my future living room.
The kitchen is another room in my condo of which I’m quite fond. The previous owner refitted the kitchen with the help of de Giulio Kitchen Design. When I bought the condo, I didn’t pay this selling point much thought. I didn’t really care if Coco Chanel or Louis Vuitton or Bob the Builder designed it. But after living in the condo for a while, I realized the kitchen is thoughtfully designed and that despite being a tiny galley, it is comfortable to work in.
Although the condo has only one bathroom (an obvious limitation), it is cute and inviting. When I moved in, I replaced the sink and toilet. This small upgrade refreshed the room and made it felt clean and new. Additionally, I love the Chicago tiles on the floor and the alley-facing window in the shower. Too many bathrooms these days are damp interior rooms that rely on artificial light. But this little loo is bright, cheerful, and naturally lit (at least during the day).
The one room that I always struggled with was the dining room. It’s pretty much just the room that you walk through to get to other more important places: kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom. Consequently, the dining room never served a purpose of its own until I started working from home. At that point, I converted every scrap of its square footage into my home office. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been a great office. I never figured out where to put the desk (the bright windows shed a glare on my monitor regardless of furniture arrangement). After years of trying to make this room function in some way, I’m convinced it’s just a wide, windowed hallway.
Speaking of hallways, there is one charming little hallway tucked away in the back corner of the condo. Because the unit is situated in the corner of the building, the layout is compromised. One obvious fumble is the placement of the bathroom, which is squeezed into the small space between the bedroom and the adjacent condo. This arrangement results in a quirky dark corridor.
I improved the hallway as best as I knew how, with a coat of robin’s egg colored paint and a few cheerful pictures. The space remains a little dark, but these simple improvements make it interesting and provide a welcome vibe of solitude for the bathroom.
Finally, there is the bedroom. Thankfully this is a room of ample size and relative calm. The only drawback is that it tends be noisy. Located at the rear corner of the building, the bedroom receives a nonstop assortment of noises from the back alley.
Overall, as is true for many things in life, this little condo has its advantages and its disadvantages. But for much of the time I’ve lived here, I’ve been quite content. It’s just time to go.