Jordan and I didn’t pack much furniture to bring to France and most of it is in storage. We weren’t sure what our apartment would look like, and didn’t know the size or spaces we would have available. Not wanting to risk bringing over furniture that we would have to get rid of, we opted to only bring the following pieces: our bed, two nightstands, guest bed, two dressers, couch, and coffee table. That’s it!
Looking back, I question some of our choices. Why did we only bring 6 plates and not more? Why didn’t we bring any wine glasses? Where is the guest bedroom nightstand? Why did we bring all of our silverware, when we have about 30 knives? Where is our ironing board? Our photo albums? Our dish towels? Each time we are convinced something is missing, we look at the packing manifest and see that we clearly put most of these items in storage.
While our AirBnb was in the chic, central part of Lyon, our apartment is in a modern, newer area and is closer to the edge of Lyon. We live in the 2nd arrondissement, the largest in Lyon. Our apartment is a T4 and is around 1000 square feet. It has three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and two balconies. It’s the perfect size for us! The layout of our apartment really makes no sense. The smallest bedroom, which is more like the size of a walk-in closet, has a full bathroom (with a toilet) attached to it. The largest bedroom, which has it’s own balcony, has no closet at all! We ended up making the smallest bedroom our closet / dressing room. It’s also rare for an apartment of this size to have more than one bathroom, and in most French apartments, the toilet is in a separate room from the shower. We knew we had lucked out when we learned this apartment had more than one bathroom!
Before we moved in, we had to purchase some appliances that weren’t included in our rental: a fridge, dishwasher, microwave, and washer/dryer combo. Our apartment came with a fully equipped kitchen (cabinets included!) and the stove and oven were also included. We spent a day going to an appliance shop in the area, Darty, and picked out all new appliances to purchase. It’s standard in France for the washer and dryer to be the same unit. Our washer/dryer combo in our AirBnB did not actually dry our clothes, so this was the one thing we researched to make sure we bought one that worked. Everything else we just picked out in the store based on what we liked. When we are only going to have something for two years, it takes away all the decision-making pressure. The hardest part of the experience was speaking to someone in French to actually purchase the items. I was able to go up to someone and tell them in French that I wanted to buy appliances, and eventually I got ushered to two people who helped us (yes, they needed two people!). Once we had help, it was easy enough to go around the store and point at what we had picked out and make the purchase.
We were able to get our new appliances and shipping container items delivered a few days after our lease started. The movers put all the furniture from our shipping container where we requested, so all we had to do was unpack the remaining boxes, which were mostly kitchen items and clothes. I also decided it was a good idea to bring around 30 pairs of shoes, but I found space for all of them! (Who knows what adventures we may have… I’ve got to be prepared!)
Once we got all of our items unpacked, we could easily tell what we needed to fill the space. We didn’t want to spend a ton of money on furniture and decided to buy what we needed at IKEA. This was going to be Jordan’s first IKEA experience! We went to IKEA on the first day that it reopened in France after being closed for 2+ months due to COVID-19, along with everyone else in Lyon. We arrived just as the store was opening and there was already a line a couple hundred people deep. Thankfully, we only had to wait about 30 minutes to get in the store. I had everything picked out online beforehand to hopefully make the experience as smooth as possible. I had found an image online for inspiration and created a vision board for help. I’m not great at decorating so I needed all the help I could get! My sister loves having plants in her home, and I convinced Jordan that we needed plants in our apartment too. Ours are fake, so there’s no pressure to try and keep them alive!
Below are some photos of our apartment for you to enjoy now that we are all settled. Our walls are intentionally empty; the goal is to find local artwork for all the places we travel to (hopefully) to help fill our walls.
You’ll notice some quirks about our apartment, namely the giant pink wall in our entryway and the fact that the lightbulbs just hang from the ceiling. We replaced two lights with light fixtures, but the rest are seriously just a bulb going to the ceiling. Our apartment does not have air conditioning, so we bought a portable unit to have in our living room. You can see in one of the photos how Jordan engineered the sliding doors to allow for the vent to go outside without sacrificing our precious cold air! One thing that we love about our apartment is the electric shutters on all the windows. When the shutters are closed, it looks like it’s pitch black outside even in the middle of the day. It’s been great for sleeping and helps keep our place cool during the day!
The important thing to note is that we do have a guest room set up. Whenever it’s possible again, visitors are welcome!