New York City
Flowers are seen in silhouette as the Empire State Building is seen through a rainy window at 7 World Trade Center in New York. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Growing up in laid back California, I dreamt about living in a vibrant metropolis like New York City. As part of the generation who just missed the New Kids on the Block boat, I was only a teenager when I began watching Sex and the City, much to my mother's dismay.

The show fueled my desire to live in the bustling world of high-powered executives, coffee shop baristas, artists and swarming tourists. It also made me long to grow up and have my own apartment where I could cram my tiny closet with clothes, and put picture frames and coffee mugs full of quarters (for laundry of course) on the bookcase.

I knew that New York was the place for me, but it took me ten years to get there. Finally, my boyfriend and I moved to New York this past spring. It didn't take long to find work, and it took even less time to find an apartment.

I knew what I wanted in an apartment, and there was no way I was going to let anything deter me from the vision I had.

The apartment had to have hardwood floors throughout. Carpet was a deal breaker. Along with many others in New York, high ceilings, white walls, beautiful molding, and exposed brick were all part of my criteria.

My boyfriend suggested that we check out some new buildings in Brooklyn, but I was hesitant. An old apartment has a story, a feeling, creaks in the floor -- a personality. However, these personality flaws also had drawbacks. 'Old' could mean decrepit. 'Personality' might mean homely. It was a gamble, but I was just ambitious enough to chance it.

People say third time's the charm, and it was. After looking at dumps and overly priced studios (unfairly listed as having one bedroom), I found The One.

Apartments come and go fast New York, and if you like something you must act hasty. Playing the field, like we do with romantic interests, will cost you an apartment, like it can a lover.

So we put a deposit down that day. Of course, there are things you have to be sure of before doing so. Hot water: check. Laundry nearby: check. Water pressure in shower and toilet: check. Rent-stabilized: check! Everything seemed perfect, so without hesitation we signed the lease.

Then the real work came -- choosing what to put in our modest 450-square-foot second floor walk-up. I began scanning Apartment Therapy and Etsy, where I could find inspiration.

Through my research, I came across some great ideas, like using old suitcases as storage components/decoration. I found custom tables made from reclaimed woods, and new uses for the common Mason jar. I decided to buy a few essential bowls and plates, and to add a unique element, I will create my own designs at a paint-your-own-ceramic studio like Color Me Mine or Once Upon A Dish, where I can personalize my remaining dishesware.

Now comes the fun part, and that is giving my late 19th century, perfectly imperfect and homey humble abode, its own personality.