Room for Improvement

Room for Improvement: Ghosts, countertops & genius mice

By Kelly Kreth  |
November 17, 2010 - 1:59PM

What's the one thing you would change about your apartment if you could? Five New Yorkers dish:

  • No more lazy windows I rent a co-op from my mother and if I could change anything about the apartment, I would replace all the windows. Our windows are terrible and even though they are double-paned, appear very cheap. They don't close or open properly, so it is difficult to keep warm in the winter and keep the air conditioning functioning properly during the summer. This winter I will have to get insulation from Home Depot and put it over all the windows, which is certainly ugly, but it's only October and we are already freezing. Also I care a lot about the environment and surely this isn't very green. I suppose what we need to do is complain to the co-op board ourselves, but that seems like such a huge hassle and my mother doesn't want us to ruffle any feathers. Whenever I bring it up to my mother, she just threatens to sell the apartment so I've learned to keep my mouth shut.  -- Eden, executive assistant/student, Morningside Heights 4BR rental, $3,000/mo
  • Exorcise the ghosts As much as I was thrilled to find a cheap apartment close to my daughter's school, almost as soon as we moved in I noticed something weird. I'm certainly not one of those people who believe in paranormal activity, but one of the first few weeks we were there I was laying in bed dozing off and I felt someone sit at the edge of the bed. It jarred me fully awake and I ran to turn the lights on. I asked my daughter if she had seen anything and she said no but that the room had gotten unusually cold. From then on, almost nightly I'd have similar occurrences. I once felt someone pull my arm really hard while I was awake in the dark. I have taken to sleeping with the lights on. My daughter started having similar things happen to her and she would sleep in bed with me. Right before something like this would happen the room would get chilly. It has gotten so bad I asked the landlord if anyone had ever complained of something similar and I expected her to look at me like I was nuts. Instead, she seemed nervous and said that if I was worried if anyone died in the apartment no one had. The one thing I'd change about this apartment is I would banish this "ghost" or whatever more sane word you could come up with to describe it. We are currently looking to move even though we have only been here three months.  -- Jackie, office cleaner, 1BR basement rental, Ridgewood, Brooklyn, $700 per month
  • Address the shocking lack of countertop space I have finally gotten my own studio and am thrilled, but the one thing that is not thrilling is that there is no countertop in my kitchen. There's a stove, then four inches of space and the sink. I had to buy a giant cutting board from The Container Store (God's gift for tiny spaces) and strategically move it from the top of my stove to covering my sink, depending on what part I need to be using. The top of my fridge comes in handy to put things on as well! -- Nicole, personal assistant, studio in elevator building, Upper East Side, $1550 per month
  • Evict the genius mice Mice have chewed their way through our large potted palm tree, and the worst offense was coming home to find some mouse droppings in my bed--utterly unnerving! Currently, we've spotted a rotation of critters in different shapes and colors variations. There's one in particular that seems to have a swagger in his step and has demonstrated superior intelligence and bravery, even playing dead once when we came face-to-face as he sat on top of the radiator. My landlord has brought people in from time-to-time to search for unplugged holes and to leave us some glue traps. We've had no choice but to try to take the matter in our own hands. My roommate and I have morphed into something reminiscent of Bill Murray in Caddy Shack in his pursuit of the gopher. We caught one in a glue trap last spring, which I decided may be more mentally traumatic than having them run around. Since they  continue to do a fantastic job of avoiding traps while openly mocking us, I think it may be time to make peace and accept them as pets. -- Laurie, sales, 3BR walk-up rental, East Village, $2500
  • Renovate our red-headed stepchild of a kitchen When my wife and I moved into our co-op we only had enough money to renovate either the bathroom or kitchen. We decided to do the bathroom; it's totally pimped out with five shower heads and a large-screen tv. But that still leaves us with an unrenovated kitchen. The worst part is the oven door can't be opened fully without hitting the dishwasher and vice versa. -- Robert, actor, 1BR duplex co-op, Hell's Kitchen, $650K+

If you would like to tell Kelly the one thing you'd change about your apartment, and possibly appear in a future Room for Improvement, please email her at [email protected].


Kelly Kreth

Contributing writer

Contributing writer Kelly Kreth has been a freelance journalist, essayist, and columnist for more than two decades. Her real estate articles have appeared in The Real Deal, Luxury Listings, Our Town, and amNewYork. A long-time New York City renter who loves a good deal, Kreth currently lives in a coveted rent-stabilized apartment in a luxury building on the Upper East Side.

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