home and adventure

We live in a neighborhood-y section of Brooklyn. We rent a small apartment above a store (owned by a sometimes-loud lady on the phone, who would probably describe us as often-loud and always running around). We have two bedrooms, one bathroom. A tiny, tiny kitchen. No outdoor space. No parking. We have a washing machine and dryer, no dishwasher. Mice. No roaches (for now). Traffic noise and street lights at night. We walk to get most things we need. We usually drive to seek adventure.

In our apartment several rooms need painting. Some baseboards need replacing. There are gaps around our heaters that the last tenants covered with duct tape and painted over to hide the patch. It’s not an apartment that would incite much envy, honestly. Relatives have come and feel bad that our place is so small and so Brooklyn-y.

But everything has a trade-off, right?

We’ve talked about buying a place. Heck, we’ve talked about buying a house. My dream is to buy a brownstone that really doesn’t need much renovation. A brownstone with a small backyard, a beautiful staircase in the front room (one of those old, gorgeous, ones with thick wood), a guest room on the ground floor, a front stoop. A big, airy, modern, inviting kitchen. A place to host Thanksgiving respectably.

Sometimes when I think about that fantasy brownstone, I remind myself that we could still have mice there. There may always be a few baseboards that need replacing. I might find myself patching a hole with duct tape and painting over it. There will always be things that are slightly off. It’s just how life is. It could always be a little bit better.

And when I think about the grand brownstone with its flaws here and there, it centers me. I still want the brownstone….but it’s nice here too. :) Its nice to live in a place that we can afford. Its nice that we can spend money on museum memberships and outings in our forever-adventerous city. I *think* if it came down to prioritizing adventure or prioritizing beauty and comfort…I’d like to think I’d chose adventure. I mean, I’m sure that answer would swing back and forth depending on where I’m at…but I think if I had to give up the fun outings to live in a beautiful brownstone, I’m not sure I’d want to. Though, of course, if the brownstone was standing right there, staring me in the face, I might just change my mind. ;)

I guess I’ve just been thinking about the investment and the payoff and tradeoff of our lives right now. I’ve been feeling grateful for the amount of adventure we have. And I’ve been feeling curious about what we are sacrificing for it, if anything.

I enjoy living in the city. I enjoy raising my kids here. Someone that grew up here once told me that New York is a great place to grow up if you are different. And I could see right away what he meant and how true that could be. I think about that a lot, as I raise my quirky kiddos. I can see lots of ways that this is a great place for them. And I’m glad to be here. Though I know living here means I am sacrificing a reliable place to park, a yard, many common comforts my friends and family have.

Lately when I think about what I want from my little urban home, I’ve been aiming at “small and nice”. Tidy. Clean. Comfortable. Organized. I purge often and voraciously. I change things here and there and notice that small changes can make a big difference. For the past several weeks, my frantic work schedule has meant that I haven’t been able to keep things up around here like as I’d like. So this past weekend, while Dave was sick in bed, I puttered around. I made curtains and framed new photos and moved a few things just-so. I have a few more changes I’d like to make, but already I feel like a breath of fresh air swept through here.

It can’t ALL be about adventure after all. For this homebody, a day off galavanting isn’t as much fun when I have to come home to an apartment that feels dusty and stale. And so right now I think I know the framework I’d like to build from: small, nice, adventurous. I know I can’t always get what I want. But strange as this sounds to my 5-year-ago self, it seems like I am a lot closer to having what I want than I realized. It’s kind of nice when it works out like that.

I made these yellow curtains this weekend and plan to add more yellow in here as inspiration strikes.

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About robyn

I stopped teaching Kindergarten in 2005 to become the mom of two crazy boys here in Brooklyn. At first I thought being a stay at home mom meant that I needed to pour all my time and energy directly into my sons, but I realized somewhere along the way that being a rockstar mom meant not only taking good care of my boys, but also taking good care of myself. And taking good care of myself means pursuing something creative...just about everyday. I started Made In Brooklyn to motivate myself in my creative goals as well as share my work with others and perhaps inspire them in their own creative journeys.
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13 Responses to home and adventure

  1. Mama V says:

    have you been inside a brownstone? they probably get less light than your apartment, if that helps. ;)

    we have friends who own here in the city and often complain about having no crumbs left for things outside of their mortgage. perspective! i’m sure your home-owning dreams will come true some day (somewhere), though…

    you and i now have twin living rooms. blue couch, lots of yellow accents (including curtains).

    • Robyn says:

      Funny V Mama, I’ve heard you mention that before about the light…and the brownstones I’ve been had huge windows and good light…but it makes me wonder if that was part of a strategic renovation by the new owners. :) I hear you though…they can be dark…and I do love my light. :)

  2. kirsten says:

    Lovely, spring color. Maybe you are missing the sunshine more than you realize. :)

  3. erin says:

    I love that funky yellow pattern.

  4. Susan says:


    And the curtains are pretty great, too :)

  5. LOVE the yellow curtains and that you framed that 4-square photo of you guys. It’s interesting to read your words here, Robyn, as I am always so envious of the weekend adventures you guys take. You are giving your boys such great experiences, and they know no different than living in your cozy, warm, safe Brooklyn apartment. And I always love reading about your adventures – inside your apartment and outside in all those parks and museums!

  6. Miss Vicki says:

    Loved the way the yellow curtains lightened up the room! I live the opposite life-on a dirt road in VT where the traffic is the daily milk truck going up to the dairy farm, so, I am surprised when I visit Brooklyn. I do love the ebb and flow of your neighborhood-the sound of the street as it winds down at bedtime and the way it wakes in the AM. I really love the sound of the buses. Curtains?-I don’t believe I have any!

  7. Mama V says:

    oh, but they are so beautiful from the outside!! maybe you could find one that is detached on one side so that there could be potential for more windows on the side. ;)

  8. Susan says:

    Our house isn’t a brownstone but, architecturally, it’s the same idea. Yeah, the light is a problem. And ours is detached on two sides! I think I’d really struggle in a true row house. And the second floor apartment gets so much more light just because it is a lot higher. They also have a couple more windows but getting up off the street helps a lot with the light. Your place is a pretty great deal for Brooklyn!

  9. Plume says:

    I hear you! I used to love living here before children. Now I like it, and even though I love the fact that there are so many things to do here, I still want to get out. I want space (not too much, though), and a yard. And a nice big kitchen too!

    Love your apartment layout, from the few pics you’ve posted. Mine faces a courtyard, we don’t get much natural light. We always need the light on, especially on dreary days like today.

  10. Marti says:

    I think the pattern on that yellow fabric is so, so beautiful. And I love the shade of yellow, too. Awesome choice! :)

    I really enjoyed reading this post. It’s nice to take a look at the bird’s eye view and see the whole picture. It’s grounding somehow.

  11. Marti says:

    Hmmm… seems like mixed metaphors to say that it’s grounding to take the bird’s eye view, huh?

    Oh well! :)

  12. Ladkyis says:

    Don’t ever come to the UK to live because the apartments here are so much smaller than yours. All the modern housing is tiny. A couch that two people can sit on and one small arm chair and the sitting rooms are full. Your apartment looks huge and those fabulous wooden floors!

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