Alan Mooiman

Sparkle Moose Lounge

February 2018

In the fall of 2015, my partner and I decided to move out of New York City and started looking at homes to buy in Portland, Maine. We looked at a bunch of places, amazed that we could buy something with multiple bedrooms. While we thought NYC itself wasn’t the right fit for us, there were certain elements of living there that we really enjoyed, and we couldn’t quite find something that fit our needs. But on the last day in town, we finally convinced a seller to show us an under-construction space that was being converted from a second-floor restaurant into two new condo units.

External photo of a the side of a brick building with a small street-adjacent courtyard in front of a door. The courtyard is dug up, with a pile of bricks on top of some dirt. Next to the courtyard is a single-story brick structure, attached to the main building but with fake terra-cotta roofing. There are dining chairs piled up inside the window, showing it hasn't been used in a while.

The future front dooor of our new home

A gutted floor of a building, apprpoximately 60ft wide and just as deep, with some support I-beams throughout. There's a pile of wood scraps in the middle of the space that looks like a ramp, possibly for sliding debris down from a higher floor

What it looked like the day we first saw our future home. Note that the far and left sides of this room would be a second apartment.

It was raw, but we could see the possibility. We went under contract the next morning. One smart stipulation by our realtors was that we had to be happy with the space layout, or we could pull out. Over the coming months, we worked with the developer and an architect to determine how to use the 1450 square feet best to create our dream home. We lived semi-nomadically then, so we started measuring every room we were in, figuring out the minimum and ideal widths of bedrooms, closets, and bathrooms. In every kitchen we entered, we kept notes about what we liked and what we didn’t. We had planning sessions over lighting, furniture layout, and where we’d mount a projector and keep the AV equipment.

We ended up with a beautiful 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom space with a giant open floor plan. We also got what must amount to a graduate degree at IKEA when we designed and built our kitchen cabinet plan ourselves; They don’t come with precise instructions at that level of customization!

Unfortunately, we realized that Portland was not the right city for us and moved back to NYC a year and a half, selling the place (for a tidy profit, thanks to our customizations). But it was a great experience, and we learned a ton.