This is the post at least my mom has been waiting for: a tour of my new house! It is also a post where I pretend that I’m a home or design blogger and discover that I’d probably fail miserably. Taking interior photos is harder than it looks. John and Sherry from Young House Love I am not. But I am happy with how cozy this home is, thanks in large part to IKEA and my increasing skill at internet shopping.
The new apartment is on the first floor, and this is the view from the doorway–outside this door is a hallway to the main entrance of the apartment building. The red papers on the door are Chinese New Year decorations, but I think they are actually from last year, because it was sitting empty at Chinese New Year this year.
The door opens into an open area that serves an the entryway and dining room. The black thing on the cart is my oven–built in ovens are really rare here because most people don’t bake at home. The water cooler holds my drinking water (the tap water isn’t good to drink).
To the right of the front door is the bathroom. The bathroom also holds the wash machine (not pictured). I do wonder what their thought process was when they chose the finishes for the bathroom. The floor is a tile with a design of lots of stones printed on it. The walls are a faux-marble tile with a ornate trim, and the ceiling features cartoonish flowers.
The closed door in the center of the photo of the dining room is a small storage room. Its most interesting feature is the psychedelic ceiling light. It isn’t nearly as pink when the light is off, which suggests it may have pink light bulbs? Should you want one of these beauties, my friend and I saw it in a home furnishings store on our furniture shopping expedition!
To the left of the storage room is the kitchen. It is galley style, pretty classic Chinese kitchen with a 2-burner stove. There is a microwave on a window sill across from the stove. There is a sink with hot water (not a given in China, although common in the newer buildings in Beijing), but no dishwasher. The refrigerator is a good size for China, but smaller than the average American refrigerator. It also has a freezer, which is again smaller than the average American one.
I do enjoy the very attractive cabinets. However, once I started putting things away I discovered there aren’t as many usable cabinets as it appears. A significant number of them are actually holding things like the gas meter and pipes to the hot water heater. At least they are tucked behind nice clean looking cabinets! To pay for gas, I have a card (credit card size) that I have to take to a particular bank to add money to. Then I bring the card home and insert it into that meter, which gives me more gas to use. Electricity is paid the same way (although the meter is in a closet outside the apartment). I ran out of electricity a few times in my last apartment because I wasn’t paying attention. I need to do better this time, especially since I have electricity and gas to pay attention to!
My magnet collection is displayed on the refrigerator.
Walking back out into the dining room, you look towards this little desk nook. The cabinet that is on the far left is a shoe cabinet, and this is just inside the door, so it also has some functions of an entryway. As you look towards the right, you can see the living room and bedroom.
And the living room! Except for the book case and the big white cabinet/wardrobe you can’t see in this photo (you can see a sliver of it in the photo above), the furnishings are all mine. I’m really happy to have the art hung. I bought the painting in the middle shortly after I arrived in China more than two years ago, but never got it hung in my last apartment because I hadn’t figured out where to get an appropriate frame. As I was thinking about it this time, I realized I might be able to get one online. And so I did some comparison shopping, chatted with one of the shops about the size of frame and mat to get, and ordered it. Now I finally have that lovely piece of art on my wall. I also ended up ordering 3 of the photos online, because I had trouble finding a local shop and then once I had them printed, I realized that they were actually too small. I was wishing for Shutterfly or something like that, so I searched online to see if China had any similar services. It turns out that they do. I also ordered the wooden end tables online. They got delivered in a wooden crate that the delivery guy pried open for me. The sofa, chair, rug, and lamps all came from IKEA (some now and some a few years ago).
Moving into the bedroom, we find my very comfortable bed. This is important to me, because Chinese beds are notoriously hard. Not like a firm mattress hard, like sleeping on a box spring or hunk of plywood hard. Most foreigners end up getting some kind of a piece of foam or other pad to make it more comfortable. Since I bought my own bed, I could pick my own mattress (thank you, IKEA) and got one that actually has some give to it. I’ve noticed I’m not as sore as I used to be, and I think the bed is the primary reason.
I love this pillow, partly because I spent a long time online to find it. I already had the pillow form, but wanted a new cover. Apparently its size (from IKEA) is not the normal size for rectangular pillows in China, because most of the pillow covers I looked at were for a smaller size. I was so happy when I found this one that was the right size and had a design I liked.
The view from the bed covers the dresser and out to the balcony. One of my favorite things about this view is the curtains. I got to pick those out, because this apartment didn’t have those, either. This set has blackout liners that I sewed in, which I’m really going to enjoy in a couple of months when the sun starts coming up at about 4:30 or 5am.
The “balcony” isn’t what most Americans think of as a balcony–it is enclosed, more like a 3-season room, but without space for much furniture or any sort of insulation. They are often used for storage (most apartments don’t have a storage room) and to hang clothes to dry. Some people also have plants on them or on the ledge outside. I have a little bit of storage out there and it serves as my clothesline/clothes dryer.
And finally, one shot of your friendly photographer. If you made it this far, you should probably come visit me and see it in person!