The very last week of March, Scott and I moved into a tiny 400 sq ft studio apartment that we intended to be in for at least a year. We were pretty confident we would be able to live comfortably in the small space with the beds and living area in the same area because we did it quite well in the apartment we had in Texas. I, however, did not have a job that caused me to come home and hit the bed by 6:30 pm. This situation was just not ideal for Scott since he really didn’t want to go to bed that early. But yet we really loved the tiny apartment in the historic building and were trying our best to deal with frustration.
The apartment building was built next to the Bellview School on 15th (Cherry Street) and Peoria. I have checked out various places of Tulsa history and have found this building to be the location where those who taught at Bellview School (later changed to Lincoln School) resided. At the time the school was built, it was just outside of the Tulsa City limits and the street was not known as 15th, but it was Cherry Street. This was in 1909 and Tulsa was just finding its place in the state. Orcutt Addition was the area where the school was located. You will find many old houses and apartment buildings from the 1900-1920’s in this area and all the street names have changed except for Utica. The Swan Lake Park is still there, but at one time it was an amusement park; alas, that is another story.
There are eight one bedroom apartments and four studios at this time. I am sure there were a few others down in the basement area, but spaces below are now storage for building maintenance and the laundry. All of the apartments have mostly the same historical decorations that are quite charming, but there is a quite a bit of difference in what the studio has versus the one bedrooms. I found the studios utterly charming and loved the experience of living in one.
The studios are basically one room with a seperate kitchen, hall area and bathroom; they do not feel terribly small. Having lived in our 547 sq ft Texas apartment within the bedroom, we thought this would be the perfect place and even were making plans to build a murphy bed! The photo above is the 400 sq ft Tulsa apartment while the photo just below this is the 547 sq ft Texas apartment.
As you can see, space is pretty much equal and the living was pretty much the same, except in the Tulsa apartment the beds were used at night and stood up during the day for ease of movement. We loved the situation we were in and really liked living in this manner when we were both on the same sleeping schedule.
One of the things I just loved about this Tulsa apartment was the fact that they had a huge closet in the main room. What tiny 400 sq ft apartment has a giant closet like this, especially in historically build buildings from the turn of the century? I was under the impression closets were never really built.
The surprise is, this was not originally a closet, it was a murphy bed! This is where a bed frame and mattress are stored in a closet or stand-alone storage unit that is pulled down to sleep on and put away when not in use. Unfortunately, the apartment owners decided it would be better to not have the murphy beds due to the “critters” that can be found in some beds, furniture and dark comfy places. As neat as it would have been to have one, it is probably best to have them gone. This enabled us to have a huge closet to store our totes of unsorted stuff.
One of the interesting things about this tiny apartment was the fact that all four of them had whats called a “dressing” room. This is where another closet was found and led to the bathroom. During the time this building was created, people had specific rooms they would dress in so the main living areas were not cluttered with non-essential pieces of furniture. This area was a huge space for us to put a dresser and have all of our clothes. At one time there was a door dividing the living and dressing areas, but only the henges remained.
The next set of doors had an even better surprise that had my heart all aflutter and was one of the reasons I really wanted this apartment in the first place, the kitchen. It was about the size of the dressing room and bathroom together and there was a true antique behind the glass doors.
This is a cast iron, porcelain kitchen unit! Of course, the stove is new, but the kitchen unit is original to the building and it came with a sweet bit of history. On the lower left side of the photo, you will notice a door, do you know what it is? I knew as soon as I saw it and I squealed with delight. Strange I know, but that’s the history person in me.
It was an ice box! An actual icebox that was still in amazing condition. I have just loved the fact that there was one in this historic apartment. Granted, I had no clue how to use one the way they did with these units, but, because an actual modern refrigerator was included in the kitchen, it would become a place to store items since there was not much room here. There were also so many other original-to-this-kitchen items that I was thrilled about.
All of the cabinet and drawers were in fantastic condition and it just boggled my mind as to how little these original apartment dwellers had when they came to teach at the new Bellview School in 1910. I could just imagine a teacher fixing themselves tea or a small meal after classes were over for the day.
The sink and faucet were also original to the apartment giving it all of the charms I was thrilled to be living in. Fortunately, the plumbing was not historic and worked really well such an established apartment.
So many wonderful things we found original to this tiny bit of an apartment that made living here a pleasure, but that happiness was going to sour a little in less than a month of us moving in. I had started a new job with a company who does resets of displays in a multiuse store and the work is exhausting. I would spend hours working on ladders and lifting product to shelves that I had previously moved to fit a “plan-a-gram” and I was coming home exhausted and worn out. First thing I would do was soak in a very hot tub with Epsom salt, then I would eat and then pull down my bed and fall asleep and all before 6:30 pm. This did not go well for Scott. He was feeling as if he had to be silent and not stir much. Of course, I couldn’t seem to get him to understand that it would never have disturbed me, I was too exhausted. Because of this, he had decided to look at the one bedroom apartment next door to our tiny apartment. He was thrilled and wanted to move. The apartment owner was happy about this turn of events and allowed us to move.
The move only took a few hours since we really don’t own too much. The apartment has it’s own bit of charm because the former tenant had painted an accent color throughout the apartment. It, at first was a bit overwhelming, but I have found I am quite fond of it and wonder how to add my own touch of style to it. We both like the space we have gained and there are still some nice historical touches that make me happy to be in the larger space.
One such is this little niche next to the door. At first, I thought it was a place for a phone; however, at the time the building was built, telephones were not in homes. So, I still have not figured out what it was for, but I am using it as a landing strip and Dr. Who alter. It works well for this.
The doors are original to the apartment and I love that there are still the glass knobs. I, unfortunately, have found it is definitely not a door that keeps the sound out. We are hoping to get the door replaced someday, but for now, we will continue to say it is wonderful to have such historic charm.
In the hallway, located where the kitchen is, most of the outer apartments have these niches in them. There is a corresponding door on the opposite side of the wall. It was definitely a mystery to us and it took a little research to figure it all out.
Turns out it is called a “milk door.” This is where the milkman would deliver milk and pick up the empty milk bottles! Once I knew what it was, I was very thrilled to know the owner had decided to keep them inside the kitchens. Our milk door is closed up from the outside so the only place you can see this bit of history is from inside the apartment. We decided this would be the perfect place to put Cordie’s food and treats. Since there is not a lot of storage in the kitchen, this was the perfect spot.
The kitchen in this one bedroom does not have the same amount of charm as the tiny apartment, but it is still nice. It has the same, but larger kitchen cabinets, but a more modern lower counter with sink. I must say I am thrilled about a larger sink, it has made washing dishes so much easier. Scott is still getting used to the kitchen area because there still is not as much prep surface. We are still in the process of making it home.
It is such a very long kitchen, but I am realizing that the section just before the working area is just about sized right for a small round table. I remember a photo I saw once where the table was just large enough for two plates and that was it, with a man sitting next to it. People at the turn of the century did not sit in front of the television and eat like we do today; they sat at a table and took in their meals. We are still looking for something small enough, but will probably build a folding table so we can use it and then put it away. Space is a premium around this apartment and we are always looking for an interesting way to have the things we need using the least amount of space.
I had not realized how much I have missed having a bedroom. I was finally able to go to bed as early as I wished without worrying about putting Scott out. He was able to stay up as long as he wished without worrying he would disturb me from my sleep. The best part was we did not have to put the bed away the next morning; just simply make the bed and get on with the day. Such a wonderful feeling. It had been so long since we were able to do this and I am finally able to use the quilt my grandmother and mother made for me so long ago.
Because we have so much more space in the living room, we are able to have two dedicated desks for Scott and me to work at. I have been working on the laptop on my lap for so long, I had forgotten how nice it was to have a clean, uncluttered desk to work at. It has made working on the website so much easier. We will be putting up a few individual shelves eventually and artwork, but we have the perfect accented wall to do just that.
One of the things a fellow tenant commented on is that we have our apartment flipped. I was a bit confused by what she said and she invited me to her apartment on the other side of the building. She has put her living area in the room we are using as a bedroom while using the biggest room for her bedroom. I was stunned. However, isn’t that what they did at the time when this building was new? The one bedroom apartments also have the huge murphy bed closets so this originally the bedroom! I was stunned; after all my studying on history living conditions, why had I not realized this!
When this building was built, there was no air conditioning except for the natural rise of heat and fall of cool. I often wondered how people kept cool during the years before air conditioning and this apartment was an education in just that. Because of the high ceilings, cross ventilation, and large double opening windows they were able to keep the heat down. The room we used as a bedroom has four huge windows that were put there for just that purpose. Unfortunately, because we are using it as a bedroom, we are having to put a large cover over the west windows because of the summer sun and bright street lights. This causes the “turn of the century” air conditioning to not work as well. I wonder if Scott would go for switching the rooms…
I am loving that we moved to the one bedroom apartment next door to the tiny studio. We have gained a little bit of normalcy back and we are able to function a bit better, but I think Scott decided he wanted the apartment because of the view.
I think I agree with him.
If you want to view the original photos, please visit the album for this post on our Flickr page: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmfJXJBF
Thanks for visiting us and see ya soon,