Warm memories of my first apartment

Does a particular home in your past bring especially warm memories? What made the place so special? I’d love to hear about it in the comments, or better yet, on your blog — especially if you have photos you can share.

Last month I shared this post about my first apartment, with some photos from just after I moved in. That place was special not just because it was really nice for the money, but because I did a lot of growing up there.

I just found some photos from after I’d filled the apartment with furniture and decorated the place, and I want to share them.

Here I am, relaxing in the big brown La-Z-Boy in my living room. I was 25.


Here’s a view of my bedroom. I was never crazy about that wallpaper. The framed Disney images on the wall were gifts from my Uncle Jack when I was a boy. He drew them himself. The dresser was an antique-store find. Despite being probably 50 years old then, it was like new. It was such a pleasure to use! I still have it, but when I got it back after the divorce I was sad to see how battered and scratched it had become. One of these days I’l just replace it with something else that doesn’t come with bad memories.


When I moved in, my bathroom walls were hot pink above the tile. I asked if that could be changed, so my landlady hired a fellow to peel off nine layers of wallpaper, mud the walls smooth, and put up new wallpaper. My dad, who made a living making custom wood furniture, made the cabinet that hangs on the wall. I still use it in my bathroom today.


I used to rearrange my furniture three or four times a year. In the process, I’d clean thoroughly. I took these photos of my living room after one such rearrangement to record the fresh and clean. I had begun to accumulate a little original art. The painting on the left is by Dean Porter, a family friend and former Director of the Snite Museum of Art at Notre Dame. The painting on the right is by a longtime friend who still paints.


This view from just inside the front door shows the coat closet and the hallway. I always hated that yellow checked wallpaper in the hallway, but my landlady said that it was too new to replace.


Every arrangement of my living room involved my La-Z-Boy being directly across from my TV. Except for the TV and the futon, every other piece of furniture in the room came from used-furniture stores or was given to me. Notice the corner shelf filled with old cameras! I recognize my Kodak Duaflex II and a bunch of Brownies: a Starflash, a Starmatic, a Reflex Synchro Model, and a Six-20. I was fascinated with prewar folding cameras then and several of mine are on the shelf. I also see a couple box cameras. I had probably a hundred more cameras, stored in boxes in a closet.


The apartment lacked central air; a lone window air conditioner was my only defense against hot days. That was more AC than I’d ever had before, though, and I was perfectly happy with it. The doll on my speaker is John Lennon dressed in his Sgt. Pepper getup. The speakers were Infinity Studio Monitor 100s. Audiophiles panned them, but I liked them fine. My receiver, an NAD 7125, could easily outpower these speakers. Still have that receiver; replaced the speakers a few years ago with something smaller and sweeter.


As you can see, maroon, green, and blue was my living room color scheme. Those are such early-90s colors! The coffee table and end tables served for a long time but during my marriage were pretty badly abused. The coffee table came back to me post-divorce in such bad shape that I just threw it away. The end tables were battered but serviceable; I used them until just a couple years ago.

It felt good at the time to furnish and decorate my home. I still feel like I made it look like more than the little money I had available to put into it. I was happy and comfortable in my little home.


6 responses to “Warm memories of my first apartment”

  1. Walter Czyz Avatar
    Walter Czyz

    That was a very nicely furnished apartment for only being 25 years old. I remember the futon fad in the early eighties as well. I have a similar antique dresser which one had round fixtures like yours has. There are round scratches/marks where there are now ugly tiny modern knobs. If you ever get rid of that dresser, I’d love to but the hardware! My first apartment in college consisted of a couple of lazy boys and a lamp all found curb side at the college town I lived in. Just like the old Volkswagen commercial where the two guys drive around and find a couch only to later dump it because it smelled so bad.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My home is kind of my sanctuary and I like to make it as nice as I can reasonably (i.e., with cash) afford. That futon wasn’t very good, but the one I bought to replace it was. I still have that one and fall asleep on it in the family room most nights.

  2. pesoto74 Avatar

    Looks like a nice place to come home to. I have to admit that the futon I once had was one of the most comfortable pieces of furniture that I have used.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That futon was so-so in comfort. The one I bought to replace it has a much better mattress and is a wonderful sleeper.

  3. davidvanilla Avatar

    Nice place. You did build a sactuary for yourself. I may share a bit about a first place.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I kind of hoped I’d spark you to tell some stories! You tell good stories.

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