Room for Improvement

Floorplan Tetris, inherited decor and more NYC living space woes

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Boilers that won’t break the bank, storage that won’t shrink your space, and contractors who know what they're doing: is that too much to ask? Five New Yorkers share their city living lamentations:

Rising temperatures, not monthly fees: "Recently, we didn’t have heat for three days. It was because of a supposedly minor issue with our boiler’s reset button. I don’t know much, but I know when it comes to boilers, there is no such thing as a minor issue. So, I’d really like to have sufficient heat in my apartment, and a new boiler for the building. And I’d like my maintenance to not go up again because of it." - Jackie, Morningside Heights

Mind the storage: "My apartment is overflowing with furniture we’ve inherited over the years. Good stuff, but there’s just too much of it. I like some of the stuff, but now I feel like all my choices in decorating were dictated by what furniture and decor pieces were given to us over the years. I’m not talking about IKEA stuff either. I’d love to put them in actual storage and redo the entire apartment with fresh furniture. But the cost of that is also inconceivable to us right now." - Jonie, Upper West Side

Exit strategy: "We have just finished our renovation and guess what, already there needs to be a major improvement. For reasons known only to himself, our crooked contractor allowed his floor guy to lay the floating floor in such a way that the door to our emergency exit can’t open. The bottom of the door does not clear the new height of the floor.  Can you believe it? The move in is delayed till we get it sorted out." - Sue, Harlem

Working around the reno rules:"I’d love to have our kitchen redone entirely. I’d like to open up the kitchen wall and have a combined kitchen/dining area. I think it would make the whole apartment feel airier and more spacious. Unfortunately, the co-op does not like the idea of expanding wet areas into dry areas. So we’ll have to figure out a way around their silly rules!" - Maia, Astoria

Gaming the floorplan: "I would love new, built-in closet space in the bedroom. Or at least [be able to] use all of our vertical space and have closets running from floor to ceiling. If only the bedroom weren’t already so small. Another option would be installing clothes storage into the little alcove just before the bedroom. But then we’d have to move the door to the bathroom. Either way, we need more storage, and either way, we’ll be doing some kind of construction. I lay awake nights playing a kind of floorplan Tetris; I imagine all the ways I can move openings and walls and reconfigure the space so that it works and we don’t have to move." - Allan, Washington Heights


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