Apr 23, 2024

How do you fill a home?

I moved away from my parent's home for the first time back in April 2022 and found myself living alone in a small apartment in Toronto.

I vividly remember the place just smelling like cardboard boxes for the first month and feeling like the unit was pretty big at the time because there was so much empty space. I also didn’t even have a bed frame during this period, so I slept on my rug in a sleeping bag (which was incredibly good for my back).

This was also my first time really living on my own and I didn’t have many friends who were also moving out at the time so I was figuring a lot of things out for the first time by myself. Embarrassingly enough, I didn't even use the oven in this apartment until one year had passed. This is also when I found out that my landlord actually installed one of the most expensive and well-designed ovens you could ever ask for in a 1 bedroom apartment (to my landlord, thank you kindly).

If I had to highlight any specific choices I regretted, I would admit that it was my excessive over-reliance on IKEA furniture and rushing into buying things that I thought I needed right away. I found that the space took better shape when I allowed myself to just fill it up as time went on and allowed it to evolve naturally, rather than filling it with what I believed needed to be there. Now that I reflect on it, I wish I left the space emptier for longer.

I continued to fill the space up more with (fake and real, although mostly real) plants, furniture, and other mementos I picked up over the years.

I would bring people over and they would always mention something along the lines of how the space looked tidy and neat, and that it had accomplished some ideal aesthetic — however, the longer I lived here the more I realized that it wasn’t really my ideal aesthetic. To be honest, I don't know what my ideal aesthetic is. I have also come to realize that I don't think I'm supposed to know what my ideal aesthetic is. I've landed on the idea that at a high level, the design of your space is a continuous journey that evolves with you as you grow. And in "it ain't that deep" terms, I've outgrown this space.

If I’m being truthful, I’ve gotten pretty tired of how this space looks. I’m not fond of how everything looks too tidy and too neat. It's sterile. It almost feels as though this place hasn’t been lived in sometimes. It points at itself too much. I started to realize that I probably took too much inspiration from IKEA showrooms because it started to feel like one.

When I realized that this was an issue, I tried implementing small ways of indicating that people had passed by here. I created a polaroid photo wall where I made guests pay an entry fee by taking a photo to be immortalized in my hallway, I re-purposed my glass wall into a massive consent form collecting signatures, and I even gave permission to vandalize my bathroom by leaving a sharpie and some sticky notes on the toilet.

I also kept a really silly collection of all the soju bottles that were consumed over the years and only recently found a decent place to put them.

Despite my commentary — I really did love this space. I grew a lot and saw a lot of change in myself throughout my time here. This apartment has seen me at some of my lowest lows and also highest highs. I've made countless new friends and have also developed some of my strongest relationships in life here. I've learned more about myself but even more importantly I learned that I still have lots more to learn about myself.

I want to leave this place, but at the same time I'm scared of leaving.