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Renting VERY small duplex-800 sq. ft-DEPRESSED- 2/1/1 - Mama is going nuts!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Ok..so i am not trying to sound like a whiny baby here YET I need some help!  First of all let me start by saying that I am a GOOD decorator, (so i have been told) and a clean "freak".  We have down sized being as I am looking for a job and we are living just on my husband's income.  We needed something that we could afford so we went from a 2/2 - that was over 1400 sq. feet to this duplex which is LESS than 800 sq. ft.


Ok - so....we have a garage which is a huge PLUS and that is where the washer/dryer goes.  We also have made "closet space" on the one wall for my husband's clothes that he really doesn't wear too often...as well as my own clothes.  We have any of the kids toys in the garage too that they don't play with often. 


I have boy/girl twins - 5-1/2 yrs. old.  I also have a REALLY nice screened in porch which is my sanctuary and a small fenced in back yard.  It doesn't sound bad, right?  Well...our Landlord definitely didn't keep up with this place and it has not only a VERY dropped ceiling which is yellow from stains, (we can't clean them - we have tried) - and are NOT allowed to paint.  The walls are this eggshell color...EVERYWHERE.  The bathroom is RIGHT off the kitchen...aka...no privacy. The kitchen is tiny which is fine  - no garbage disposal or dishwasher - floor is parquet...(a plus) - bedrooms' flooring is the same color as the walls in berber carpet.


There is next to NO lighting in the house which i KNOW makes a HUGE difference.  I put new blinds on all the windows as well as pretty, light colored curtains to make the rooms appear larger.  IF ONLY I COULD PAINT.  We all feel like we are in this tiny box when we are all together.  I FINALLY realized that it is the HOUSE that is depressing me so much.  I thought i was going insane. 


I eliminated the kitchen table and chairs because it simply didn't fit in our house.  We have two sofas...small entertainment center...no coffee table, (we have a 100 lb. golden retriever - he is our coffee table, haha) - two end tables and a VERY small side table in the kitchen.  I keep everything clean and free of clutter.  The kids room is large..we gave them the master because of all their toys.  Their room is the ONLY room besides the porch that i feel comfortable in.  IF the appliances were updated...the ceiling wasn't dropped and we could paint - or do upgrades ourself...this place wouldn't be half bad.  BUT we were desperate to find something quick and settled on this place. 


I feel horrible but the only place that is comfortable besides the kids room is the porch bc of the vaulted celing out here....(which is where I keep my laptop and do most of any communicating). 


Do i just sweat it out until July when our lease is up?  When I FINALLY land a job will it get better bc i won't be home all the time??  I feel like a crazy lady...i vacume too much, (twice a day) - clean constantly (kids are out of school on holiday break) and do dishes constantly.  OH - we also do NOT have a car...we are waiting until we get our income tax to buy one.  We had to give up that luxury too because we needed to really cut back.  SO - i can't just leave when i want to....roll down the windows and listen to my music which used to really help me mood wise.  My neighbor on the other side is elderly...so i can't really play music too loud over here otherwise i would!

My husband thinks we should put one of the couches in the garage to help out with space.  If we do that....then it looks too empty.  I tried to give the house some character by adding greenery where i could...put down some pretty rugs, etc.  Yet - when i open the front door...it is clean...but then the ceiling gets to me...and yes - there are actual hand prints on the ceiling from someone that did cartwheels or something before we lived here.  We took ALL the ceiling tiles down and bleached them.  From all the years of "wear and tear" it didn't do ANYTHING.  If i could just paint ONE wall I would in a heart beat...what a difference clean, fresh paint makes..BUT - Landlord gave us a big fat no when we asked.


I should be thankful that we have a place of our own...i know that...and I AM - but - i feel like this place is SUCKING me in.  HELP!  Any suggestions so appreciated.  Or is there anyone else out there in the same "boat" i am in??

post #2 of 11

I can totally relate. We are a family of 5 stuck in an ugly ~900 sq ft apartment and it drives me crazy. We also have the stained dropped ceiling, BUT we also have faux wood paneling in most of the living room, old linoleum in the kitchen, and a small unfenced yard which is always a muddy mess since the landlord tried to level it out by literally dumping a truckload of dirt over the grass. It is depressing as all heck. It helps a bit to add pops of color and a focal point to draw your eyes away from the eyesores and cheer up the room. Do you have any art or framed photos on the walls? Could you add an area rug? More lights? I know it's hard to make room in a tight budget for things like that, but since you mentioned waiting for your income tax refund, maybe you could set aside a small amount of that money and put it toward making your apartment a happier place for you to be. One last thought - would your landlord perhaps agree to let you paint if you agreed, in writing, to paint over your color in the original eggshell color before you moved out?

Good luck!

post #3 of 11

is your landlord even saying no to white paint?

post #4 of 11

I know in college we would hang fabric over the wall (like wallpaper, I suppose) but it was very easy to take down.  We used to just staple it up - it works really well with as an accent wall.   You could also frame big pieces of fabric and hang them in coordinating patterns.   A lot of "shabby chic" decorators like all white everything and it actually looks pretty good if you can put color in other places.  The ceiling you probably can't do too much about, but lighting can be helped by getting lots of floor lamps, desk lamps - you could even put twinkle lights up.  I saw a great design idea on pinterest where someone hung icicle lights vertically from a rod (so, 5-6 vertical strands) and put a curtain in front of it (so you couldn't really see the lights and wires).  It really looked pretty. 


Good luck - renting is always an adventure!

post #5 of 11
Check the website for The Nate show. He has great ideas for when you can't paint. I'd pick the one thing that bugs you the most... stains on the ceiling would be it for me, and tell the landlord it must be fixed. He should at least let you paint over stained ceiling tiles. I'd get rid of one couch and pick up some mismatched chairs at a thrift store, maybe paint them a fun color. But July isn't too far off, so hang in there and do what you can with what you have.
post #6 of 11

Several Waldorf schools I've seen have soft-colored fabric draped over the ceiling--I can't seem to find an image online, but it looks very pretty.


If the weather in your area is mild, I would focus on being outside, creating a fun garden in pots that can move with you this summer.  Tending even just a few herbs, veggies, and flowers can be so healing.  Focusing on putting your energy into something living could help with the feeling that you are being sucked into the duplex, plus by going outside you'll get light, fresh air, and more space to live in.

post #7 of 11

I've lived in apartments most of my life and since the kids have been born. Is there a reason the landlord won't let you paint the stained ceiling? is there a tenant board you could seek advice from? It just seems really unreasonable to me. All the landlords we've ever had (some better than others) let us paint over dirty/stained walls! they were glad we were willing to do it ourselves and usually covered the cost of paint.


We live in an eggshell apt (we do love it though). to add colour I put cheap throw cushions, bright duvet covers, art, bright vinyl tablecloths, etc. I do find the light walls soothing though.


But i would pursue the stain issue, because that would bother me a lot. Just because we rent doesn't mean we don't deserve to love our home.


Good luck!

post #8 of 11


Random thoughts:
The kids are short, so low ceilings shouldn't bother them as much as they bother you, so: Is it too late to un-do the decision where you gave them the master bedroom? You should be able to spend time in the one room where you feel comfortable. If this looks impossible because of storage, maybe you could store their clothes and their less-used toys in the master bedroom?
Can you make a "thing" of lots and lots and lots of plug-in lights? String lots of little white Christmas lights, too? Even if budget forbids buying a bunch of various kinds of lights, you could put a "wanted" out on FreeCycle.
And, while you're at it how about a ton of mirrors?
And, as others have suggested, fabric on walls in addition to the windows, and maybe even on the ceiling? Come to think of it, if you've had the ceiling tiles out, is it possible to just cut paper or cardboard to the same shape, and hang that below the tiles on whatever structure supports the ceiling tiles? (Not, obviously, if that would cause a risk of fire or something...)
On the music question, have you considered wireless headphones?
post #9 of 11

If I were you, I would look into the cost of replacing the ceiling tiles outright--they are the kind that drop into the frame, right?  Take some "before" pictures, just in case of landlord silliness.  Or store the stained ones bagged in the garage; when you move put them back in the ceiling, and sell the good ones on Craigslist.


We've (unintentionally) gone the route of trying to cover up our apartment's dull paint and carpet with clutter.





post #10 of 11

Did you pay a lot in a deposit? Are you willing to forget getting the deposit back? If so, I'd paint anyway. I'd take before and after pictures, just to prove you didn't damage anything, and I'd paint it.


I have a house about the same size as yours and it's making me crazy, too. It's 600ish square feet, two bed, one bath, and there is one closet in the whole house. I'm losing it. It doesn't matter how clean it is, if a person leaves a pair of socks on the living room floor the entire place looks like a dump. I'm totally feeling your dilema.

post #11 of 11

would something like this work for you ?  its removable  http://www.muralsyourway.com/table-on-the-harbor-mural/

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