Welcome to the living room. We decided to tackle this project head on in January, and in our typical style, we’re getting around to it mid-February. I’ll give you a bit of a tour of where we are and a few hints about where we’re headed. We’ve been slowly packing up the pieces of this room in an effort to start fresh with a clean slate.
The packing began during the last big snow storm, and for every thing wrapped up and put into a box, one more thing was brought into the fray to work on by E. The shelves on the wall were a score almost a decade ago – they were a floor sale item. We’ve had them filled with photos and mementos of our time living in Italy and South Africa, but they don’t hold much, and always seemed to need dusting. Our storage needs for books greatly exceed these three shelves.
Here’s the corner now where the leather storage bench currently sits, most often piled high with the backpacks and diaper bags for the following day.
Above it hang my three favorite photos from our wedding, now boxed up and waiting for readmission. This bench serves a great purpose – it actually stores quite a few games and toys, but the reality is the things inside are not easy to access – the bench always has something sitting on it that requires moving first – so the toys that are in there are mostly neglected. And if there is one thing that drives me crazy, it’s having things around that we don’t use.
The view into the dining room from the living room. If it were an easy fix, the first thing I would do is enlarge this opening between the two rooms. We actually did enlarge it – there used to be a 3′-0″ wide door between this room and the next (remember, this was just a three room unit originally), and we made the opening 5′-0″ instead. If it were an easy and not outrageously expensive and time-consuming fix, I’d spend a few weekends scouring local salvage places for an old pocket door and reframe this wall to hold it. Then, when the baby demands her third helping of eggs and sausage and oatmeal and individually segmented grapefruit with a glass of hand-squeezed grapefruit juice on the side (she did, in fact, eat that for breakfast this very morning), I’d announce that I was escaping for a moment to the library, slide the door shut and drink my coffee in peace. I exaggerate, I know, but a pocket door would be lovely and perfectly in keeping with the slightly grander homes of the same period.
Here it is, mid-pack. You can see the actual clutter of toys and stuff before being moved, and the visual clutter of the room. The large cabinet holds our TV and various other electronics, and for the most part the doors are kept closed. This is all coming out of this room – which opens up some possibilities for this wardrobe to actually become just that. If you look through the opening, you’ll see the corner of a winter coat peeking out. (You’ll also see the temporary snow-bound office, but ignore that.) Just on the other side of that wall hangs the most undersized coat hook with the largest amount of coats that can possibly hang on it. Which means that every time someone walks by, at least one of the coats fall off the hooks onto the floor. We have a room that must do double duty – entry hall and living space. The result isn’t always pretty – particularly in the winter.
This last wall has the original mantel with a period cast iron summer front from a local antiques shop. The mirror is nice, but this wall really lacks any appeal. The color in the room is very drab and hasn’t been painted in almost eleven years. This was the first room we really moved into, and we’ve never done more to it than just the basics. The biggest decorating effort comes around each year in December when we squeeze the largest evergreen into the space and cover it with lights. Every January, once the tree is gone, it looks a little less inviting. Neither of us are really moved by the color of the mantel. The summer front is nice, but although painted a traditional black, the details are really lost. The marble hearth is a salvaged piece, and the trim is all original. I love the picture rail, and we use it. We wish we had a working fireplace but have no idea the condition of the existing flue. The floors are in great shape. The windows aren’t bad (although single glazed and drafty). Replacing them is a big commitment, and would require the replacement of our bedroom windows as well for continuity on the front of the house.
This is actually the neat version of the shoe / boot corner. This is not the norm. For people that do not actually own very many shoes at all, they seem to multiply under feet at the entrance to our house.
This might have been the first piece of furniture that we bought together – and this has been a good couch. It has held up well for a decade, and I’m sure it will eventually find a good home somewhere else. I’d like something a little smaller in here, and in a completely different color. The room has a really nice size and volume to it with the high ceilings and almost perfect square shape, but it’s not the easiest to lay out furniture in with room to move between the pieces and still navigate the front door. Plus, this couch is all we’ve got in here, and I think our extended family is getting sick of sitting on the floor while hanging out with us. Our friends don’t even bother.
And rug – just fine, but not the right fit or color for this space any more. We definitely want a rug in here – a place to throw a game board on, or build a train track, but it needs to be larger, and square and there will be no fringe. Guaranteed.
The winner of the most boring award goes to the ceiling light. It’s a really nice light from Restoration Hardware, and it certainly was an improvement over the bare bulb. I think we actually might have purchased it on our honeymoon in Vancouver – we did a bit of damage in a Restoration Hardware sale up there. Undersized and under-inspired – I want something that hangs down lower, is lighter and airier and a light that will help define the seating area of the space a little better. I think I’ve got just the thing.
Ceiling Light from Normann Copenhagen – scored for a sweet deal. Of course, we can’t do everything on the wish list below (and really – that’s my wish list, not necessarily ours), but I do hope to get a little bit further towards this, from what you’ve seen above. And on that note – I’m off to work on those bookshelf drawings a bit more.
Stay tuned for progress…