Here’s a peek into my apartment in Geneva, which I’m grateful to call home during these times.
I moved in around late November 2020 after taking over the lease from the previous tenant, who had advertised the place on Facebook. It’s a one-bedroom apartment in normal people speak, but here in Switzerland apartments are referred to by the total number of rooms. Geneva is even more unusual in that it counts the kitchen as a separate room, so this is what’s known as a “three-piece apartment”.
The location is great: I’m a short walk from Lake Geneva, which has a small, fake beach. There is a direct bus to the train station across the lake, which takes about 20 minutes door-to-door. The neighborhood is packed with shops but also oddly fairly calm, consisting mostly of young families and old ladies in fur coats walking their tiny dogs.
The rent is 2000 Swiss francs / month, equivalent to around 2200 in USD, for about 55 m² of space. Water and heat are included in the rent. Fiber internet costs 40 francs per month, and electricity charges have been inconsistent so far, but the last bill I received was around 30 francs for two months of usage. Finally, I pay around 250 francs per year for renter’s insurance, which also covers theft outside the apartment.
Let’s get into it!
Entryway and living room
My front door serves a catch-all for the items that I reach for before going outside — jacket, bag, umbrella and mask.
To the left of the door is my living room. On this side, I have a large wardrobe that I purchased from the previous tenant for 50 francs. It houses my coats, bags, shoes, and slippers for house guests. Anything that doesn’t fit in here, I keep in my personal storage unit in the basement of the apartment building (it’s called a cave and yes, there is something very Cask of Amontillado about it).
Instead of a sofa, I have a tatami mat and a bean bag, which make for a cozy combination. I’ve actually really enjoyed sitting on the floor and find it quite relaxing. In the bean bag is a stuffed shiba inu I bought in Thailand in December 2019. It doubles as a scented pillow and emits a warm, floral fragrance. In the corner is a bamboo laptop stand, which I keep folded flat so that it can serve as a tray for tea and snacks.
This is the background that people see behind me when I’m on Zoom calls. I get asked a lot about the poster — it’s a replica of a famous poster that John Lennon and Yoko Ono created in the ’60s and ’70s as part of their advocacy against the Vietnam War. It says War is over! / (If you want it) / Love, John & Yoko.
If I had to describe my aesthetic, I would say “8-year-old child of an NYC lifestyle mom blogger”. I prefer Japanese and Scandinavian styles that are bright, simple and minimal, but I also like pops of color, especially red, to break up the monotony. Here’s a peek at my old apartment in DC, which has a similar but more cool-toned look.
I live on the top floor of the building, which is why the ceiling of the living room is sloped. It looks low, but I can actually walk all the way to the black floor lamp shown in the photo below before I have to stoop or duck my head. (I’m 5’5, or about 166cm, for reference.) During the months of November to January, when the sky in Geneva is grey and cloudy, the natural light situation in the apartment is not great. But since this is what’s known as a traversant apartment — one with windows on both ends, east and west – the lighting is normally pretty good. Lumineux, as the French would say.
This is my work from home corner. We’ve been under a national telework mandate for a few months now, and it seems unlikely to change soon. Fortunately, my work was willing to cover the purchase of WFH equipment, so I bought a 21-inch monitor, a desk, and a chair. It’s been really helpful having this entirely separate space dedicated to work, whereas in my previous apartment I had to work at my dining table, and it was harder to make that clean mental disconnect when it was time to sign off.
Turning back around to the other side of the apartment, we have the dining area and the kitchen.
The mini prayer flags were handmade by Tibetan refugees. I got them from the gift shop of the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art, where I volunteered for a few years at the information desk.
I’m proud of myself for assembling almost all of the furniture in this apartment by myself (except for the bed base, which required power tools and were built by the movers). I built all of the tables, chairs, and shelves, including this trolley, which holds a microwave, toaster oven and steamer. The art above the microwave was from the same set as the church photo from the living room (both are from Spain).
My favorite thing about this apartment is that the kitchen is in a completely open layout. A lot of apartments in Geneva have a weird E-shaped layout, where every room branches off by itself from the hallway, and it doesn’t feel like one cohesive space. I vastly prefer this approach. As you can see, though, the bedroom is fairly close to the kitchen, so whenever I cook I try to remember to close the bedroom door to insulate it from the smells.
The kitchen has an induction stove, which I absolutely love. I was lucky that all of my cookware was compatible with it, with the exception of my moka pot, which I have to put inside my cast iron skillet in order for the heat to transfer. On the countertop, I keep soy sauce, hemp oil, peanut oil, and olive oil for cooking. I also keep eggs out on the counter, because apparently refrigerating eggs is not a thing here.
Turning next to the hallway between the kitchen and the bedroom. Since I don’t have a washing machine hookup in this apartment (I think), I bought a small semi-automatic washing machine that works perfectly for one person. It’s semi-automatic in that I have to load and drain the water myself, but the machine will take care of washing and rinsing.
To the left of the hallway is the bathroom. Unlike my previous apartment, which had the bathtub and toilet in separate rooms (a classic Swiss configuration), this one has everything in one room. The shower stall is small but practical.
And finally the bedroom. It’s a fairly small space, but one of the walls is literally entirely composed of cupboards, so there is a lot of storage space.
Above the bed is a dreamcatcher that I bought in an artisan shop in Cali, Colombia.
The laundry basket is technically from the kid’s section, but the lion was too adorable to pass up. Again, perfectly sized for one person. The mirror was a find from the local flea market in Plainpalais.
This is actually supposed to be a bathroom shelf, but it fits well in the bedroom. I keep all of my skincare and hair care supplies in a large basket.
And there you have it! If you’re curious about some of the parts I didn’t show, like how I organize the insides of cupboards and closets, there are some photos in this post from earlier in the year.