Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Tour of Our Home

When we moved, we vowed to work really hard and get things done as soon as we could. That lasted for about 2 weeks. Then, especially after sickness and the craziness of heat, we were exhausted. So we started sleeping more and staying up late less. ;) But things have gradually gotten done, with a renewed push as we have the big trip to the US now just one week away!

So now, finally, though there are still things here and there that will always be "in progress," our new apartment has pretty much been cleaned and decorated to our liking. We actually spent money this time. Before, we were just grateful for what was there when we moved in, and to be honest, it had more things provided than this current one did! But there were also many things that made life harder or less of a homey atmosphere that we just put up with because it was too hard to find where to buy it, and cash flow was an issue when we first moved in, due to a lot of out-of-pocket costs with moving that, while reimbursed by Ryan's company, took months to go through the process for.

But this time, we decided it was important to make this place as much OUR home as we could, though it may only be ours for two years or so. But, we've learned that even just one year is a long time, and especially with winters bleak and hard to get outdoors in (mostly due to air quality), having a warm, happy, indoor atmosphere is doubly important. Besides, we both really enjoy decorating, so it's been fun! Sometimes even more so to know none of this will be our permanent home... we get to experiment with decorating and see what we like!

Most of the decor was sourced from IKEA, with as much as we could coming from the one secondhand store we know of in Shanghai (often used IKEA stuff!). We also ordered a few things off of Taobao, but being a website all in Chinese and not able to see the stuff in person before buying, it was always more of a risk.

The best choice was painting. Yes, we'll likely have to paint almost everything back to white when we move out. But the walls were in bad shape and needed to be painted anyway, and having color just makes everything feel warmer and less stark!

So... welcome to our home. :)

Entry-way. It's nice to have space for people to take shoes off before being in the main area. It also has great built-in shoe storage in the cabinet under the cubby holes on the left. 
This is great for making faces at your toddler as she sits in your lap to put on her shoes, as well as being a place for meaningful embroideries and compartments to store keys, wallets, etc. And yes, it often gets used to just set things down right when we walk in the door, but I try to keep it clear as much as possible!
Straight down the hallway... I really had fun working on the picture collage on the left. We tried to include photos meaningful of our life, from wedding to snowy Iowa to family to moving to China. I enjoyed finding frames at IKEA and worked on an arrangement with enough but not-too-much symmetry. I like how it turned out!
Our dining room, off to the right. Doubles as an office space, since the 3rd bedroom is about to be used as a nursery!
Off of the dining room is one balcony, housing our (tiny!) washing machine, stroller, and whatever else needs to be stored. We have a nice view of... LOTS of apartments. ;) And the entrance gate, which is kind of fun.
My kitchen. Less storage place than the last one (like what's up with no real drawers?) but I feel I was able to organize it more smartly. We invested in a bigger fridge, and it's really nice to have it right there in the kitchen to grab ingredients instead of having to go into the dining room like the last place (though we also have the small fridge that came with this apartment in the dining room, which is handy for other things!). I utilized some counter storage containers and put measuring cups and salt, pepper, and oil (used daily, almost meal-ly!) in easy to reach spots above the stove. And the openness without the doors... it just feels so nice. :)
I have very little counter space, which is a challenge when baking especially, but it's also really  nice having the Berkey filter near the sink, as I'm always having to fill up a container to pour over fruit and vegetables to wash them. Though I still miss having water pressure, I am happy that I very rarely accidentally use the sink! And it's right below where we keep glasses, so handy for getting water to drink too!

And we are so enjoying having curtains. It was a recurring request from Ryan at the other apartment, but we never had the where-with-all to make curtains or even know where to find a tension rod. Here, we made it a priority to have good curtains on all windows. Because when you live surrounded by hundreds of people who could see in your windows if they wanted, sometimes you just want to be able to block all eyes out and pretend you aren't surrounded. :)
The other side. The oven fits right next to the fridge, and yes, I even store things on top of the fridge. Got to use every surface you can! 
Looking from the kitchen to the living room. Ryan took the sliding glass doors off of the kitchen the day we moved in, and it's been SO nice to have an open kitchen! Makes it feel bigger and allows easy access in and out and a view of where the toddler is playing. Though she usually wants to play right there IN the kitchen if I'm in there. :)
The lighting in this place is pretty crazy. Yes, that is a continually-rotating tiny disco ball in our main living room light fixture. There is some lime green recess lighting in the living room too. The hall way lights have little colored flashing lights, and there is blue lighting in the hallway bathroom. Very interesting. But hey, at least children enjoy laying down and looking up at the spinning, colorful flashing lights!
The living room. Neither Ryan nor I would ever have gone with either orange walls or mauve couches. But, it's what we were given to start with, and it's been kind of fun to try and make it work (adding gray walls and rug helped a lot!), while knowing we won't have an orange living room forever. ;)
The IKEA pillow covers really helped tie things together, as did the sunrise painting we found on Taobao with our very colors in it!

And I must say, the somewhat reclining couch on the right has been a wonderful treat for a pregnant momma with an aching back... Don't need to move anything to be able to put your feet up!
We finally got a canvas painting that worked really well ordered from Taobao, and the IKEA clock (thankful orange is an in color these days!) and other touches here and there help. Ryan's thinking we might put something on the left side, but we haven't decided yet. And, it's fun to have the baby swing (borrowed from friends) out as we look forward to our new little girl joining us soon and how baby things will fit in the scheme of things!
I got this table and chairs used, never realizing just how much Hadassah would LOVE them! Daily - almost hourly - she'll ask "have a picnic with Hadassah?" We'll sit and put the fake food together and then chop it in half, add our "spices" and taste the "soup" over and over. She loves it.
How we dry our laundry. After over a year of hanging everything up, I'm used to it, mostly. ;) Helps that summer means things dry in a day usually! This balcony area also doubles as storage space.
Looking across towards the other rooms
Hadassah/Guest bathroom. It's not great in terms of stained floors and sticky drawers, but it's functional!
The nursery! Will be guest room when we have visitors as well. Currently it's full of baby items friends from church have given us to borrow - we've hardly had to buy anything, and probably have more accessories than we did with Hadassah!
The wall has a picture of Ryan & me pregnant with Hadassah holding a "B-A-B-Y" block sign, and a picture of Hadassah as a baby. There's an empty frame waiting to add a picture of Eliana. :)
When Hadassah transitions to her "big girl bed" after our trip, the crib will move into this spot. For the first while, Ellie will sleep in this little folding bassinet or a pack n' play. The moon is a (yet to be fully installed) small light that will provide soft light for night time feedings and diaper changes. Like with Hadassah, above Ellie's bed will hang the "I will lie down and sleep in peace" embroidery I made. :)
The rocking chair currently in Hadassah's room will move in here, for many nursing sessions ahead! And the closest has great shelves for storing baby things, Hadassah clothes, and craft supplies.
The master bed/bath is off to the left. We went with light blue and white and really love how it all turned out!

The big picture is a picture we self-timed on our honeymoon at our cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains.... Really like how one big picture on the wall looks! The white bedding keeps things feeling fresh and is nice amid pollution around outside. The huge piece of furniture is great for clothes and storing everything from extra books to electronics...
More white touches on the dresser. Bonus points if you can spot the little girl trying to stay out of the way of mommy's pictures ;)
The white curtains, complete with a roll-down black-out shade, is just so nice! And I'm really thankful for the taller and full-size ironing board here, as well as a basket below to store clothes to be ironed (all of Ryan's work clothes since we don't have a dryer!) and the iron. I've found the little things make a big difference!
Our room has a window seat that seems like a perfect spot to make comfy for devotions, but nothing's happened so far. And... you can kind of see and be seen by tons of people if you sit in it, so who knows if it will ever really be used. Hadassah likes looking out to the play ground and beyond to where she can see the "subway choo choo" come and go.  Right now it's handy for storing the huge pregnancy pillow someone gave us (that works great for getting massages!)
Hadassah's girly pink room just makes me happy :)
The rocking chair will be moved to the nursery, but right now Hadassah enjoys being held in it for stories and playing in it other times. :) A friend from church gave it to us for free - said we are the 6th family it's been passed to. Yet it's still in great condition and super comfortable! I am very grateful.

We got her little chest at IKEA to hold clothes and toys. Fun to have little furniture!
Someone who we bought other stuff from also had this cute little wicker chair, which I couldn't resist. The box holds some books and she loves to turn her flower light on and off. Sometimes I'll hear her go back to her room and peek in and she'll be sitting there. :)
She still enjoys her crib, so she has two beds in her room for now. Eventually it will go to baby's room, and then she'll have more space for a dollhouse or something! And she likes the fun animal posters on the wall, often pointing them out.
The "big girl bed" we got used, something someone made custom. So custom that it didn't fit through the doorway and Ryan and the truck driver had to disassemble it while stuck in a doorway. ;) But it is pretty cool, with storage space underneath, a little ladder Hadassah enjoys climbing up and down, and some star cut-outs! The flower/butterfly growth chart we got free, and some family pictures on the wall make her room a happy, garden-y place.

All-in-all, we are very thankful for our new apartment! It needed a LOT of work when we moved in, but it has been worth it to have a place that truly feels like home. Coming back after 2 months in the US won't be so hard when we have such a warm, inviting place to return to!

And hey, if you're ever in the area, we love to have visitors! :D


  1. Great job Anna (and Ryan) making it a home. It looks like a great place to raise your growing family :-)

  2. Your apt is lovely and very home-y! I love the gray colors in the kitchen and living room. Gray is a very "in" color right now. I really like the gray with the orange in the living room and I love the orange and gray curtains, and the way the painting and split canvas sunset and other accessories have orange in them. I hope this apt has better heat and better sealed windows than the last one did. The warm orange color will make you feel warmer this winter! The striped ceilings in the kitchen and bath are neat! Love the little girls rooms too! Great job! For drying your clothes on the balcony... this winter, would it help speed up the drying time to have a fan running out there in the winter? --Donna Jo

    1. Thanks so much! I enjoy the specific comments too - makes me happy! You're right that orange will make things feel warmer - hadn't thought of that! And I think, even if insulation still isn't great, that the fact that there are fewer windows to the outside will help this place be warmer. And the windows we have *seem* to be sealed better than the other place's. So, hoping it's warmer! And good idea on the fan. I may have to try and see!

  3. Wow, what a beautiful place... at least according to the pictures! I don't know if this helps or not, but it is HUGE compared to apts in Japan in the 80's. :o) The kitchen has tons of counter space! It all depends on what you're comparing it to.
    Sheri Duff

    1. It definitely is large for an apartment! It helps that we are in the "suburbs" of Shanghai... The downtown apartments I've been in are usually a lot smaller! But yes, it's all a matter of perspective!

  4. Lovely Anna - looks so homey! And wow, big! For some reason I always pictured all apartments in Asia as tiny! ~Jessi