Welcome to A Tiny Apt…
Starters for something small, stylish, adaptable, and (most likely) vintage.
Full disclosure: I’ve written and rewritten this letter about 400 times. I’ve spoken to veteran editors, email pros, good friends, and one or two lucky folks who got to hear me read one or more meandering (possibly awful) versions of this aloud. As a longtime editor, I know this process well...version after version...cut after cut.
But sometimes, you just have to start over. At the beginning. Which is where we are now, or where I am right now. Right here.
A Tiny Apt. has been the name of this newsletter from the start. I’m not sure why—it’s just what I kept coming back to as I wrote and wrote and began to get reacquainted with life through a litany of big changes. I wouldn’t say I’m specifically obsessed with small spaces or Tiny anything (maybe a bit). I think it’s more likely the questions that smaller spaces or spaces with restrictions or challenges have always made me ask myself, particularly over the past two years—about what works and how I want to live, in my home, in myself, and out in the world. For me, it’s not just about a sofa and chic storage or painting a recessed wall (which is pretty much always a good idea). It’s more this idea of economy of scale—doing a lot with a little, shifting gears, working a problem like a shelf, a tiny nook, or an outfit in the best, most creative, most personal way that you can.
Which leads me here. A Tiny Apt. (ATA for short) will be me inviting you into my home every week: sometimes to look at a corner that’s been reorganized; sometimes to talk about personal style and special pieces; sometimes to talk about new-old coffee mugs or a pile of vintage textiles; and sometimes to talk about heavier stuff like grief, desire, and starting over. Sometimes we’ll just be having tea or a cocktail with a friend who might be able to teach us something useful, maybe unexpected. And, as the world (finally) turns its attention to the importance and urgency of a more circular economy, buying second-hand, and being more thoughtful about resources, there’s a bigger reason to start looking at our environments—what we have in them and how we use them—a little differently, too.
As for me, I do, in fact, live in a tiny apartment (at least by U.S. standards)—about 800 square-feet. And I always have, going back to where I grew up, sharing a 1,500 square-foot multi-generational home on Long Island with my grandparents upstairs, whose own tiny apartment was probably 400 square-feet on a good day. It’s very possible I’ve learned a lot about navigating life and working through difficult things by also adapting, living, and ultimately finding a sense of home and safety in challenging, often smaller spaces. Places I had to find myself in, even if there was no room for me. Maybe that’s why so many of us bring our memories of homes we grew up in and homes we visited, loved, or felt fear or shame in for the first time into the homes we make ourselves. For a lot of us, we’ve been conditioned over lifetimes—especially if we grew up with scarcity—to believe that bigger and more means better. Nowhere along the line were we told that less might be a good thing, that something small could be luxurious. A teacup kind of grand, lovely and rare…even abundant.
Like many of you (and now, more than ever before) my own apartment has been a workshop and a refuge—something I could always get my arms around, even when it felt like the ground wouldn’t stop moving. It’s the first home my partner, Kevin, and I ever owned, renovated (as cheaply/imaginatively as we could), and designed to be ours. It’s where we became a family, when our three-legged cat Phoebe and our daughter Raffi joined the team. And, it’s been the one place that has always hugged me back, no matter what…even on the days I didn’t feel like I deserved it. My home doesn’t judge me, even when I can’t get out of bed—or occasionally, want to vanish completely. In many ways, this particular tiny apartment has saved me. And maybe, at moments, your home has saved you, too.
These past two years when we’ve all spent inordinate amounts of time at home, I began to see my own walls differently, paying more attention to light changing and the kinds of chairs my daughter wanted to sit on the most. I started getting rid of things I never thought I would—from clothes to family heirlooms to friends I mistook for family. I looked at myself more closely in the mirror and started to question choices I’d made out of fear or a desire to look a certain way or be something I wasn’t ever sure I was. Your home never lies to you...at any given moment, it’s more than happy to share the truth of what you really want your life to be, even if you’re afraid to say it out loud.
I want this newsletter to be a place to say those things out loud. To share them, to allow ourselves to feel a little bit of awe together, whether that’s from a short essay, a quick closet tour, or a collection of spectacularly useful tiny tables. I hope in some way, through conversations, ideas or problems to solve, beautiful things, weird things, discoveries on the sidewalk and elsewhere, this newsletter can become a place of sharing, even wonder. And hopefully, finding a deeper sense of connection and home in our spaces, no matter what that looks like right now…or what we want that to become.
So, wherever you are on the path to making your environment, style, or life a little more of what you really want, I hope we can discover what that looks like together. Thanks for making it this far and hopefully subscribing to A Tiny Apt.
In terms of all the beautiful things ATA subscribers will receive—free or paid—I’m still figuring that out. But, right now, here’s where I’ve landed: Free subscribers will receive my Tuesday newsletter—an efficiently short-ish dispatch from ATA HQ on space, home, life, and personal style (and likely a fun vintage giveaway here and there, too).
Paid subscribers will receive my Tuesday newsletter, a monthly Weekend roundup of musings, resources, and/or thrifted discoveries, advice (solicited and unsolicited), potential 1:1 style support (let’s do it!), and eventually the ATA podcast, featuring conversations with people I’m inspired by or curious about, and I hope you are, too.
Above all else, thank you so much for being here and reading all the way down to the very bottom…I’m so happy for what’s to come. xxCb