My New York Apartment Judges Me.

By: Jen Shoop

The other evening, Mr. Magpie and I sat down to a late supper at home.  He had made Chicken with Vinegar from one of our favorite new cookbooks, and we served it with buttered green beans and mounds of white rice.  (Is there anything better than fluffy white rice?  Incidentally, we use our rice cooker close to weekly, but I’ve still been unable to convince Mr. Magpie to upgrade to this, which I’ve wanted for years because I am geekily obsessed with the Japanese brand Zojirushi, or this, which people lose their minds over.  Mr. Magpie rightly asserts: “If ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  So we’ll keep on keepin’ on with our 1980s era rice cooker, a monstrosity of white plastic that consistently burns the rice on the bottom, which, incidentally, I rather like.)  Though we usually time dinner to be ready shortly after mini has been put down and Tilly has been walked, this night, we didn’t sit down to eat until 9:45 p.m., and by the time we’d finished our plates, drained our wine glasses, savored a languorous conversation about school for mini, and enjoyed a few spoonfuls of Ample Hills ice cream (“right out of the bucket,” as Mr. Magpie says), the clock was pushing eleven and I was drained.

As I walked into the kitchen, I looked around with dread at the piles of pots and pans and utensils and heaved a sigh.

“You know what?  I’m not going to clean the kitchen tonight,” I asserted.  “I’m going to break my own rule.  I’m too tired.  I’ll just pile these in the sink and –”

The sink was full with dirtied bowls, a plate that had once housed raw chicken, and miscellaneous cups and cutlery.

“Well, I’ll just toss these in the dishwasher and –”

The dishwasher was packed, clean, and waiting to be emptied.

“Well, I’ll just empty the dishwasher and load these couple of things –”

As I unloaded the dishwasher, I found myself with no space to temporarily set the larger items.

“Well, I’ll just put some of the food stuff away that’s cluttering the counter –”

Thirty minutes later, the dishwasher was empty, the pots and pans were scrubbed, the counter was gleaming.

My New York City apartment had been judging me hard.  She would not permit me to break my own rules.  Her diminutive proportions mean that there’s no excess of space to just “let things lay” temporarily.

She’s a tiny tyrant.

She also deters me from baking : “But you’ll have to pull your stand mixer out of the cabinet and that’s a pain,” she asserts, a glimmer in her eye.  She hates when we travel: “You’ll need to go all the way down to the basement storage unit to get your suitcases.  What a pain.”  She’s curmudgeonly about seasons, too: “Ugh, do you really want to pull all of those overstuffed vac packs out of the top of your closet, dangerously threatening to crush you?  And where do you think you’ll store all of those bulky coats?”  And don’t even get her started about gatherings with more than two guests: “And just where do you think they’ll sit, missy?!”  She doesn’t seem to want us to grow our family: “Can you imagine squeezing another kid into this place?”  And she’s still bitter about our dog: “I told you it wasn’t a good idea to bring a 60-lb dog in here…do you know what it’s like to bring a muddy dog into a tiny apartment on a rainy day?!”

She’s kind of a sourpuss, come to think of it.

But then, she’s got a soft side, too.  Her stately crown molding and arches charm me even when I’m angsty.  Her quirky details — like a pass-through window from the kitchen to the dining room, and the ornate chandelier in the foyer, and the now-defunct house phone once used to call the porters and doormen from the apartment — hearken back to times past and fit the out-of-vogue formality to which Mr. Magpie and I still cling.  Her broad windows look out over a quiet courtyard sequestered from the thrum of the city, and she feels, to me, quietly and benevolently vigilant, like a kind but strict aunt sitting in a rocker on a front porch, waiting for me to come home.  She makes me feel safe.  She’s an escape from the city.  And once you’re in her good graces, you’re in them for good.

I think I’m going to call her Louise.

Does your apartment/house have a personality as big as Louise does?


My favorite home stuff — including a roundup of all of my favorite kitchen gear.

I’ve decided I want to refresh my living area by updating the throw pillow situation, and I’m leaning towards something a bit more bright and modern/whimsical since we tend toward the traditional elsewhere.  I have long been in love with Lee Jofa’s bunny print, and who doesn’t love Brunschwig & Fils’ Les Touches print?  I might layer one or the other in with some of these textured solid pillows from PB.  I also LOVE these and they’re on sale, but my favorite color is the stone white, which seems highly dangerous.

+I absolutely love this night stand.  The texture, the shape, the proportions, the hardware.  Perfect.

+Super chic, super affordable decorative pouf.

+Have you seen Sarah Bartholomew’s new collection with PB?!  I love so many pieces, but especially this pinboard, this dog bed, and this file box.

+This round mirror is so chic and so well-priced.

+A clever way to make the most of your space.  More space-saving ideas here from my Louise.

+Something else small and perfect.

+I am thinking about buying one of these for our undersink area.  It’s currently a bit like Tetris and I’m actually proud of how organized and tidy it is, but this would give us a lot more real estate to work with.

+I just discovered these pro-keepers and now I want all of them for everything — a couple of the minis for stuff like spice mixes — and then one of each of these specialized ones for different kinds of sugars (brown sugar, powdered sugar, granulated!)  Read the reviews!!!

+Unrelated to home decor, but what a SALE Rebecca Taylor is having!  I want this, this, and this.

+My favorite fridge organizer is on sale.  (#dorksunite)

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7 thoughts on “My New York Apartment Judges Me.

  1. Our apartment decided it was time for our dryer to give out mid load of laundry so we are spending Friday night at the laundry mat, my apartment and I are not friends at the moment. I think we are both tired of each other.

  2. I’ve really been wanting to get Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat! You like it?

    I don’t think our home has as big a personality as Louise does — haha! It definitely has its quirks and drawbacks, but it’s home — my first shared home with my partner — and I love it for that. I love that it has charming features like super high ceilings, a lot of natural light, and space for all of our books and art. 🙂

    1. MK! I do like Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat — she has exceptionally good instructions. I appreciate that she takes the time to explain why she does something and what it will do. I’ve learned a lot reading between the lines 🙂

      Your apartment sounds LOVELY. She sounds breezy and cozy at the same time. I dub her Daphne.


    2. Thanks so much! I’ll have to add it to my list of cookbooks to get, along with the Zuni Cafe cookbook … 🙂

      I love the name Daphne — it’s one of those that I love but might not ever use if I had to name a person — love this suggestion! xo

    1. Hi Kim! For all of my costume jewelry/statement earrings, I place them in these bags:


      And then store them in decorative boxes from Container Store (http://bit.ly/2NT3zp4). I find it’s so much easier, as I used to be scrambling through a tangle of necklaces, lost earring backs, etc. Now everything stays tidy and is easy to find. I keep my finer jewelry in a proper jewelry box I bought at Pottery Barn about a decade ago, very similar to this one they have currently:



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