I have lived in old apartments my entire adult life, and given my generation's home ownership prospects, it's likely that will continue for my foreseeable future. Apartment living is mostly fine, and I've learned how to make each space my own. I follow the lead of comedian/homemaker Amy Sedaris, who writes off her security deposit as simply a "personality fee." In my years of renting I've painted, upgraded sink hardware, and even improvised some open shelving in apartments.
Get a rug. Not just the small kind you put in front of your sink. Like, get a big area rug that covers your kitchen floor.
I can sense the sharp intake of breath many of you took that after reading that advice. Once, I too stood on the grossed-out side of the kitchen rug debate. But that was before I moved into an apartment with corpse-grey, mostly-cracked, truly heinous kitchen tile. As someone who spends a decent amount of time in their kitchen, having a space I enjoy is important to me. My need for a beautiful workspace outweighed the apprehension I felt about covering my kitchen floor in textile.
Even though my first kitchen rug was purchased in a state of desperation, I've since learned the distinct pleasures of having a covered kitchen floor. Besides keeping my feet warm on chilly Brooklyn mornings, my kitchen rug has held up under dinner party prep, baking projects, tipsy houseguests, and the general wear and tear of living with a dog. If anything, having a rug in the kitchen makes me a more careful cook, and reminds me to tidy up more often. And if I ever spill water on the floor, I'm less likely to slip on it. Most importantly, I hardly ever think about the grey menace living under the rug. It was the right call.
If you're looking to join the ranks of the kitchen rug converts, I've got some tips:
1. Choose a Flat Weave Rug
Maybe you've been especially weirded out by this article because you've imagined me standing with my feet planted in a shag rug, pushing tomatoes through a food mill while sipping a glass of red wine. I'm not crazy crazy. Find a hardy flat-weave rug that has less places for the inevitable spill to seep into, and one that can stand up to a spot cleaning. Opt for natural fibers like wool because they're easier to clean. A dark color palate will probably do you right because it won't show every flaw in between thorough cleanings.
2. Get on a First-Name Basis with a rug cleaner
Calling a local rug cleaner felt like a big adult move, up there with opening a joint checking account and making a car payment. Call around, find someone you like, and set a standing appointment to get the rug cleaned twice a year. And for in-between spot cleanups of the wine kind? I'm pretty partial to this one that senior food editor Anna Stockwell swears by.
280.00, World Market
3. Save the spendy rug for the bedroom
My current kitchen rug is from the "as-is" section from IKEA. It already had one smudge on it from the showroom, and I got that out as soon as I got it home. My kitchen rug is a workhorse, and I didn't want one I had to be precious with. Even the hardiest kitchen rugs are going to bite the dust eventually, so save the luxe one for the room that gets less foot traffic.
If you live in a house you own, or your rental has inoffensive kitchen flooring, I couldn't be happier for you. But for the rest of us, please know you have kitchen flooring options. You might just have to grow a thicker skin to enjoy them.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious