Creating a faux apartment

One month in at the firehouse and we’re actually starting to feel settled. I figured you deserved an update, lest you think we’re still in the odd state of limbo. Rest assured that we no longer stare at each other in the evening and ask “Do we really live here.” We’ve stopped flinching at every noise during a rain storm. I even walked into the master bedroom last week and thought “I’m happy we’re here.”

This feels like serious progress for just 30 days. I owe it in part to the faux apartment we’ve carved out of the upstairs. (P.S. I still find it very odd that we live in building that is so large that we can live in less than half of the square footage and still have too much room.) In case you ever find yourself “in between” or living in a semi construction zone, I thought I’d pass along some helpful tips on creating your own faux apartment.

Step 1: Set up a work station.


This is especially critical if you’re a small business owner. Re-establishing a connection to the world is key. For us, that meant plopping our computers on our two smallest desks and running the world’s longest network cable. The floor lamp sans shade or electrical hook up is totally optional.

Step 2. Make sure your pets/kids are comfortable.


For as much as we’re settled in, Mojo is not. The change from her fenced-yard, let-me-out-as-much-as-I-want (no-seriously-let-me-out-and-in-and-out) life to one where we stand guard while she does her business has totally thrown her for a loop. So far we’re three for three on weeks that she’s gone number 2 in the house. (She’s also managed to hit a different floor, basement included, each week. I shudder to imagine how she’ll make it to the roof to deliver this week’s gift. And now you officially know way too much about our dog’s bowel movements.) I’m sure she’ll figure it out and before long we’ll have a fenced yard again. (Woot!)

Step 3: Find a sanctuary.


This is actually the most important step in faux apartment creation and one we discussed at length before we moved. We knew we needed one space that was livable. It’s surely not done, but it’s a place where we can relax. For us, that meant our couch and TV. The chairs and arc lamp give it a bit of a finished feel.

Step 4: Unpack the essentials.


Our media center doubles as a bar. In it’s current state, the TV is totally blocking access to the booze storage. So we grabbed a few shelves that lived at the studio and set up a bar. It also served as a fun, totally free, totally easy way to add some life to the space.

Step 5: Organize the clutter.


We will be living out of boxes for the foreseeable future. This is not ideal for an organization freak like me. I combat my OCD twinges by making sure I know where things are, even if that spot is “the third box in the stack in the back in the captain’s bedroom.”

Step 6: Work with what you have.


I really never thought “a crappy half wall” and “moving box” side tables would ever fit into the realm of “work with what you have.” But these two things have proven to be surprisingly functional (and free and easy.)

Step 7: Don’t be to hard on yourself. You’re redoing a 5,000 square foot firehouse. Not everything has to be perfect at once.

Those are our learnings from 30 days as firehouse residents. Have you ever lived through a renovation or at some point you would call “in between”? If so, do you have any other tips for us?


  1. Man, poor Mojo. When ours was still living we moved a lot. Like, once a year minimum. Each new place she marked with her own special present (now you have TWO stories where I shared about my dog’s poo! What is wrong with me?), so been there, buddy. Hopefully the pup will start to feel settled in since you guys are finding your groove. I have no tips – when we renovated we did as much as we could to make the house still livable in some ways… we had running water, toilets, and access to our sofa, bed, and TV/computers, and that was about as much as we could ask for. Oh, except space, which you guys seem to have in spades. Kudos on the mini-flat. You gotta make the best of what you have, always, right?

    1. I’m sure she’ll get there. I just feel bad for her (and for everyone who now knows way to much about her poo.)

      Making the best is definitely key. Right now, I just ignore the complete construction zone I have to walk by to get to the kitchen 🙂

  2. Poor Mojo. 🙁 Things like that are really hard on pets. Well, on everybody, really, but so hard for a pet when they just don’t understand. Rotten Cats go nuts when we move a pile of laundry around here – can’t imagine what they’d do with real remodeling or a move!

    So great to see your space taking shape.

    1. Lol! The Rotten Cats would either completely love or strongly despise this place. There’s no carpet, but there is lots of room to play and many windows to sit in 🙂

  3. I think “unpacking the essentials” is all you really needed to do!

    1. 🙂

  4. Prioritize. You, and anyone else involved need to talk about what is important to each and find a way to get those things done first. What seems obvious to one, does not to another.

    1. Very good advice!

  5. […] Porter Paints friend suggested using a roller to smooth out the drips, but we knew that would be very, very obvious – maybe worse than the drips. So that night we did what anyone would do when hours of work seem for naught and hundreds of dollars of paint are seeping off the walls. We took full advantage of #4. […]

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