I’ve constructed many imaginary houses for myself over the years. There have been hobbit holes, houseboats, New England-style country homes, cabins in the woods, and one spherical-shaped oddity made entirely of glass, with a rainforest, a river, and a series of rooms connected by rope ladders inside. But I had never given a thought to what I might do with an apartment until I found myself in a bird’s nest in suburban Sydney. And now, here I am setting up apartment no. 2.
I didn’t choose most of what went into my apartment in Marrickville – I just took what other people wanted to get rid of. Vienna doesn’t have the Inner West’s tradition of leaving unwanted furniture by the side of the road with the knowledge that it will be gone within the hour. And if there’s a cheap used furniture market, I don’t have the language skills to find it. So I ended up going the new and cheap route instead of the used and cheap route, which, in Vienna (as in most of the rest of the Western world) means Ikea.
I like Ikea. I like the clean, organised look and the € 0.70 horse dogs. I believe there is a time and a place for Ikea; I’d go for something different if I were decking out a cozy country cabin, but for my little apartment, it is economically and stylistically appropriate. Now that my new empty space has become a real home with a bed and plates and everything, I would like to give you a tour.
When you come in the door, the closet is to your right. The door stays closed all the time to prevent Pi from using my nice dresses as a scratching post. The wall to your left holds a map of Australia marked with all the places I have been. I used to have a marked-up map of Europe too, but it disappeared.
Also to your right is the bathroom, which features a bath/shower with a green shower curtain, which I love with all my heart and soul because I’ve never owned a shower curtain before. My towels are green and bright yellow, so it kind of feels like you’re in a spring garden. The big space at the end of the hall currently holds a cat crate, a cardboard box full of winter mitts, hats, and scarves, and two empty boxes that are waiting to be deconstructed and taken down to the recycling bin.
The main room is a combination of bedroom, study, dining room, and living room. Here is the bedroom corner:
I assembled the bed myself. Somehow I ended up with four extra screws. Do you think that’s okay? The sheet and duvet cover are made of flannel and cost me €14. I love them more than life itself, possibly even more than I love my shower curtain, because they keep me toasty warm at night. As we all know, a cold Laura is a Laura who is despondent and miserable, while a warm Laura is a Laura who is full of all the joy in the world.
I positioned my desk so that I could see out the window while I work. I won’t be able to line up my books on top the way I normally do, but that wouldn’t work anyway as it’s not a very big desk. What to do with my books is something I still have time to ponder, since they aren’t due to arrive from Australia for another couple months. The little wooden figure was given to me by one of my friends in Sydney, a fellow PhD student. It represents love of learning and I think it’s beautiful. My little clock gadget tells me it’s 20° C inside. So why am I still cold?
My desk is also ideally positioned so that I can turn my computer around and rewatch episodes of Doctor Who while lounging on the couch. I haven’t owned a couch before and I’m not used to having to choose between places to sit. In Marrickville there was a (broken) deskchair, an (uncomfortable) piano chair, and a (more uncomfortable) folding chair at the breakfast table. The pictures above the couch went up yesterday. They are key to my cheerful yellow-and-green theme and represent both Australian (left & middle) and Canadian (right & middle) flora. Hanging in the window, carefully positioned so as to be just out of reach of the cat, is my prize egg that I bought at the Schonbrunn Ostermarkt on Saturday. It hangs there as a beacon of hope that one day, spring will come to Austria. It is snowing as I write this (Easter morning), so clearly Mother Nature hasn’t yet heard my plea.
I love my kitchen. It has heaps and heaps of counterspace (at least compared to what I had in Marrickville), an electric oven and stove that heat at the speed of light, and a dishwasher. I’m not too sure what to do with the dishwasher since I only own two plates and one bowl, but it’s nice to have it there. The table was one of my best Ikea finds. It was hidden among the big expensive tables, and at only €20, it was cheaper than even the smaller ones. The picture on the wall is a piece of Aboriginal art that I got in Sydney.
I will write more about my neighbourhood as I familiarise myself with it. At present, my mental map of Döbling consists of one major street (mine) dotted with a few landmarks – cafes I need to try, the Schubert geburtshaus, grocery stores, the Italian restaurant next door, and the hardware shop I can see out my window.
The only thing that would make my flat better would be if I had Internet. It has taken me almost a whole week to post this because I have no Internet. Such pain. Not as bad as it would be if I didn't have a shower curtain, but still...