vykim's Profile

Display Name: vykim
Member Since: 8/27/07

Latest Comments...

I'm with SherryBinNH -- why is a bathroom or a powder room off the kitchen so awful?

This isn't just a "rental" problem. The first condo I owned also had this problem. I would have loved to have a powder room off the kitchen in that place!

Our solution was to not furnish the bedroom as a bedroom, but rather a TV room with a futon in it. Yup, that means in my first owned condo, I slept on a futon! It was an expensive, comfortable futon though and I was sorry to sell it later. This solution was possible because we had a massive walk-in closet that held all our clothes, so dressers weren't necessary.

It worked pretty well too -- when we had people over, they looked at the whole place and then asked where the bedroom was.

How to Make the Most of Typical Rental Features: The Only Bathroom is Through the Bedroom
7/25/14 01:33 PM

I'm a renter with a super-simple lease: the only "fine print" is that any changes must be made with the landlords' approval.

And it just makes sense: they've used the same electrician, plumber, exterminator, and handy people for over 25 years. If something needs to be done, they have a team already in place that they've worked with and trust. I don't have such people on hand.

That said, they promised that they'd approve just about anything in advance, as long as I used their guys. As proof, they pointed to the built-in kitchen island: one of the prior tenants asked for it, designed it, and they had it built. It's really gorgeous and it fits in this house perfectly. I can't imagine our kitchen without it.

And true to that promise, in the two years since we moved in, they haven't said "no" to anything. We've been allowed to paint every room of the house the colors of our choice (no limitations), replace one kitchen upper cabinet with shelving, add wainscoting, redo the caulking in the master bathroom, and remove one bedroom door. Oh, and install a huge container, edible garden in the patio.

Look, I understand the "better to beg for forgiveness" adage. But I think it only works if the person from whom you are begging forgiveness will definitely forgive you! I can pull that kind of stuff with family. I won't try that on business relationships. And the landlord-tenant relationship is a business relationship.

Radical Renters: When Renters Make Big Changes
7/23/14 08:32 PM

The alternative to painting rental doors:

1. Remove the rental doors from the hinges and put them in storage.*
2. Buy your own doors and decorate at will.
3. Replace your doors with the rental doors before you leave.

Doors are fungible and the ones you buy can be used elsewhere after you move. That way everyone is happy.

(*If you don't have storage room, perhaps a friend does?)

5 DIY Ways to Upgrade Rental Closet Doors Renters Solutions
7/18/14 12:18 PM

I'm in Chicago and I find rent (and housing costs generally) is an open topic of conversation. Part of it is that there are few "insane" deals because there really isn't rent control here. I'm paying under market right now, but my landlords do that deliberately because they like having a ton of candidates to choose from when an apartment becomes available. Still, my place isn't an insane deal, it's a good deal.

I have a friend in NYC who does have an insane deal (let's just say between $400 and $800 for a Midtown studio). I know his rent because we've been friends for 10+ years, I know how he got that deal (totally legit), and I'm not going to broadcast it among our circle of friends in NYC (why drive everyone else crazy?). That said, everyone asks him and he's fine with being asked and giving a vague response. He's also very helpful if you want to try to find a similar deal (just be prepared to be on waiting lists for years and staying under income limits during that time).

Among my friends world-wide, I find discussing housing costs are not taboo. For those who own in the US, property prices (and property taxes) are public record, so why be coy? For renters (like me), I find it useful to share such information when considering a move (or when someone is considering a move to my neck of the woods).

Would You (Could You?!?) Talk About Your Rent with Your Neighbors? Renter's Solutions
7/18/14 12:10 PM

My cat scratches everything BUT leather (we think she doesn't like how it feels), so I would have said go with leather...

I love the linen chesterfield that emoss posted -- you get the fabric, he gets the tufting...

Can You Help Us Find a $1000 Couch We Can Agree On? Good Questions
7/18/14 11:40 AM

Interesting on how opinions differ -- I think the bookcases make it look like a home. Then again, I've never had enough bookcases (we have 9 eight-foot tall bookcases and I'm always looking for more...).

Creating a Balanced Live-Work Space in Small Carriage House? Good Questions
7/18/14 11:37 AM

You weren't reading closely enough. He's clearly not advocating keeping all money in cash. (Diversification is rule #1!)

And generally, the only wealthy people I know either (1) started their own business or (2) inherited from someone who started their own business.

(That's not to say that everyone I know who started a business became wealthy. But I am saying that it's really hard to get rich when someone else is paying you. Unless you're getting paid in stock options... in which case you own part of the business...)

Is Home Ownership Still Part of The American Dream?
7/10/14 11:42 PM

There's a lot here that I agree with (but fair warning -- this dude is a former Wall Street guy with the potty mouth to prove it):


Generally, we diversify our investments quite a bit, across risk tolerances. Diversification is the #1 reason why we'll probably never own real estate again: it's just too much $$ in one basket.

Is Home Ownership Still Part of The American Dream?
7/9/14 03:24 PM

We bought our first condo when I was 23 and bought the second condo when I was 27. Now we're in our late 30's and happily renting again. It turned out that we're like to rent: we like having someone come and fix the faucet. Or replace the dryer. Or rebuild the chimney. Or tuckpoint the house...

It helps that we have an ideal rental: we can paint to our hearts' content (which is the ONLY change we ever made to our condos) and I found an entire house (which, for an urban location, is so hard to find!). Plus our landlords love us because we actually maintain the property (we're the first tenants in years to not have a recurring ant problem, I maintain the flowerbeds in front of the house, and we shovel the snow in the winter) and so we haven't had a rent increase in two years.

So instead of buying a house to build equity, we're renting well below the cost of ownership and putting aside the difference in investments that are MUCH more liquid.

In the meantime, we have friends who are about to put $30K into structural work in their house. We have lots of friends who are still under water. We have friends who just spent $75K on a kitchen renovation.

There is still a part of me that would like to own again in the future. But the more I talk to friends about their houses/condos/co-ops, the more I think we're right to rent below market and save the cash...

Is Home Ownership Still Part of The American Dream?
7/8/14 05:34 PM

I sleep with the bedroom windows open, but there's no freakin' way I'd ever leave any doors open. Aside from security, there's my indoor cat to consider: not only do I not want her to get out, but I don't want the neighborhood stray to waltz in and antagonize her.

Would You Sleep With The Doors Open?
6/27/14 05:03 PM

I love that!

Before & After: These Grunge-Era Chairs Reach Their True Nirvana
6/20/14 12:28 PM

Very cute! Now I want to do the same thing this weekend!

Before & After: A Linen Closet Surprise
6/19/14 12:37 PM

Such a nice job on the pavers!

Laura's Backyard Renovation: The Home Stretch Renovation Diary
6/18/14 01:29 PM

In 17 years, I've moved 9 times. I've done a lot of what's been talked about here: purge, label, color-code, first night box, first day box, etc.

Another thing I do is set a deadline for unpacking. I give myself two weeks to unpack. If I can't find a proper place for something within two weeks, out it goes.

To give me serious motivation, during my last move I scheduled the cable/internet guy the same day as my move. I arrived at the new place at 10am, the cable guy came at 2pm. That gave us 4 hours to set up the living room, our a/v system, and our router. While the cable guy did his thing, we set up the kitchen. By 7pm, we had wi-fi and an unpacked kitchen. By 10pm, curtains were in place in the bedroom, the bed was made, and our basic bathroom toiletries were in place. Thanks to this super-productive first day, it only took me about a week to unpack!

Smart Tips for People Who Move Frequently
6/12/14 12:36 PM

For a few years, we lived in a duplex down, 3-bed condo with my mother-in-law. We purchased it specifically because it had two master suites on two separate floors. She had mobility issues, so she was on the first floor and we were on the garden-level. The third bedroom was also downstairs, so we took advantage of both rooms' closets.

Other than that, I've only lived with my spouse as an adult and I like sharing a bedroom with him (he doesn't snore loudly and he says I don't snore at all). Right now, we have 2 bedrooms, so the bedroom with the most wall space became the office/library (we have a lot of bookcases).

How Did You Decide Who Gets Which Bedroom?
6/10/14 08:39 PM

It depends on the reason for the trip and how many people are traveling.

When I'm traveling in a group of 4 or more, usually renting a house or an apartment is much cheaper than 2 or 3 hotel rooms. It's also more relaxing: everyone has their own bedroom, but we also have common spaces (living room, kitchen) in which we can gather together.

If it's just me and my husband, an apartment can still be great (although usually more expensive than a hotel room). In Paris, we always stay in an apartment within walking distance of our favorite market so that we can hit cheese stands and a wine shop for a nice dinner at "home" at least once.

But if it's just me for work, a good hotel is definitely preferable.

Hotel Escape vs. Living Like a Local: How Do You Travel?
6/9/14 12:53 PM

As much as we love to eat out, we cook (for two) 5-6 nights each week.

One of our favorite budget tricks in the winter is to buy a whole chicken, to be eaten over three meals. The day we buy it, we butcher it into dark quarters (that's one meal, often roasted with root veggies), chicken breasts (that's the second meal), and then we throw the remaining meat and carcass into the stock pot. We make broth, harvesting the meat after the broth is strained, and the leftover cooked meat goes into our third meal (often pot pie or chicken salad or stir fry or soup). And, of course, the broth is used for soup that week. In the winter, it's a nice Sunday ritual to have the house smelling like chicken broth!

Of course, in the summer, it's harder to find uses for broth as we're less inclined to want soup. So we usually only use the whole chicken for two meals (and grill the meat) instead of three. But summer also allows us to save money by growing our salad greens and herbs, so the cost is at least off-set by that!

Eat at Home: Tips, Projects and No-Fail Strategies to Save Money and Avoid Eating Out
5/23/14 03:32 PM

When we moved into our current home, we went from a reasonably-sized kitchen with a HUGE pantry to a tiny one with very little storage (exactly one upper cabinet, one lower cabinet, and one drawer).

So, like others here, we pared down our kitchen stuff to a minimum.

But our savior is the Hoosier cabinet I picked up on Craigslist. It became our pantry, our second counter top, our baking tools storage, our small appliance garage, and it even provided us with the proverbial kitchen "junk" drawer. Not to mention that it's also a charming piece of furniture and a fun piece of history!


How I Maximized Storage Space for Kitchen Tools in Our Small Apartment Kitchen Organization
5/23/14 02:58 PM

In our last apartment, the water pressure was terrible. A $30 high pressure shower head fixed that problem!

In our current apartment, the lighting was less than optimal. Instead of installing a chandelier, we got a plug-in pendant light from West Elm (on sale!). All we needed to install it was a couple of eye screws! So much easier and, since we love this pendant, it's nice that we can take it with us when we leave.

5 Easy, High-Impact Rental Decorating Ideas (That Can Move With You)
5/23/14 02:14 PM


Before & After: A Well-Loved Table Gets A Long Awaited Update
5/21/14 07:28 PM