There are things in life you fall in love with at first sight. And there are others, that take time. I never believed in the latter.
"I love it or I don't, it's as simple as that," I told W.
"You know, things in life are not always black or white. Why do you always have to make them out to be," he repeated a phrase he often said to me.
It was difficult to imagine that I could ever fall in love with something I had never even liked. The first time I saw this apartment were through photos W had sent me while I was on vacation. Overcrowded with dark furniture that contrasted harshly with the white walls, with a not so wonderful view of a construction site nearby, I was anything but impressed.
But W saw something in it that I could not, and promised that we could make this apartment our own. I was hesitant but given the circumstances (after a whole month now of searching and seeing how enthusiastic he was), reluctantly accepted to give a conditional offer (approved once I see the apartment).
Upon my visit, the space seemed larger than a mere 50 square meters (540 square feet). We began to think creatively and that perhaps there were things we could do to make the qualities we love stand out.
With two large French windows, light filled the double sejour (two-room living room) from morning to night. So we decided on white furniture and curtains, with a dash of wooden hues, hoping that they would help reflect and emphasize the brightness of this space.
Four trips to IKEA found us most of our furniture. We then spent a good 25 hours together assembling them all. Unfortunately in France, furniture is so expensive that it's either a 1500 euro couch or IKEA (which isn't cheap either).
We bought a dark grey long-hair carpet to make the space feel larger. It was so comfy that upon installation, W laid all over it and claimed that he'd be happy sleeping there all night.
I bought a grey and white checkered blanket to match and decided that we needed a pop of color, so I chose purple cushions to match the paint on the old "fireplace" and shelves.
The lights (living room one not shown here) were originally just one bulb, I had to buy the lights myself and contract it out for someone to install them (this was a whole month long process in and of it self, talk about French delivery).
The kitchen is small by US standards and had not been equipped with anything except a stove. But after buying a fridge and washing machine, it actually became our best used space, perfect for two people to cook even with a little view of a neighbor's courtyard.
We were gifted very nice white silverware from W's mom, and so decided on only white silverware to keep it nice and simple. The only exception are the clay black bowls I got from a visit in Aix en Provence (perfect for rice).
On a trip to Nice in southern France, I found these lovely signs for toilettes and cuisine. In France, most toilets are separated from the bathroom (sink and shower). In our apartment, the toilet is conveniently located off of the main entrance hall, and our bathroom connects to the bedroom.
And yes! I found a little magazine toilet paper rack on Amazon...
In the entrance framed is this wonderful birthday gift from our close friends S and A - real shares of a French telegraph company that used to send messages between Paris and New York! S found it while browsing an old poster shop in Paris, and it was just all too appropriate.
The bedroom is probably the least decorated, with the typical balloon lamp everyone seems to own nowadays and a dark velvet curtain to keep out the light.
Last but not least, our two little balconies were in very dear need of some color. W's mom brought over some flowers (in addition to a whole week's worth of cooked food - signs of a typical Asian mother) to dress them up a bit before winter comes.
After three months of work building up this apartment from scratch, it's hard not to fall in love with it after all.
Things change, people change, seasons change too. Moving to another country is a bit like that - if we just look a little beyond our own lens, we could discover a whole new world.
Rent this apartment on Airbnb on certain dates of the year :)