After moving the sofa (again) several months ago, I finally got around to relocating the shelves. And then I styled them. As you do. Look I even made you a vignette next to the TV this time. Fancy pictures. Fancy pictures with poor lighting because, as we’ve discussed, I can’t get the house clean in daylight. Moving on.
I’ve moved the sofa from one side of the room to the other for about a year now, trying to decide if we wanted to duck under shelves to sit or use them as planned, as visual camouflage for the TV. Moving a sofa is far less work than taking down shelves and patching the wall. Especially when the room is only 12 feet wide.
It’s not like we didn’t know I was indecisive.
Once I finally decided that the room flowed best with the sectional against the wall instead of the windows, it was time to admit that the shelves had to move. I like the new location though, the shelves seem more intentional. And those vertical supports, which always drove me crazy, bug me far less with this arrangement. Probably because when I sit down at night I’m not staring at them the whole time.
Styling the shelves was much easier in the new site as well. I had a hard time deciding what to put on them before. They looked nice, but I found myself buying things to style them with and not using them to hold what we actually used. And while I’m all for pretty things, I like mixed use shelves. Now they are a nice mix of styled, but well read, books, objects, and games (and keys, kleenex, random kid stuff, magazines, etc. Like every other horizontal surface in my home).
I did buy a one new thing for these shelves. New to me at any rate.
Angry quail. Every home needs a pair of angry quail, yes?
So, I got a new rug for the living room. It is not gray (so weird. I know). I’ve had it for a while now, but there’s a problem. I can not keep the house clean enough to take pictures for you. Certainly not during the day, when the light is good. And I know you have all been waiting with bated breath for this decision since my last post on rugs a month ago. My problems, they are so big. Really, it’s a wonder I manage to get out of bed in the morning.
So, instead of a pretty, nicely styled photo I present to you: The Living Room at Night. With Clutter. (™) This blog. So full of inspiration.
It’s not awful, no, I did tidy up some for you. Moved the laundry basket out of the way so you didn’t have to see our underwear. Must keep some sense of mystery in the relationship after all. And the tornados had gone to bed by the time this was taken. Most of them anyway, the one on the couch peed on the rug soon after this. Jerk. Oh and yes, I rearranged the furniture. Again.
The rug is from Flor, the Vintage Vibe pattern. I’d coveted this style for a while, but it’s pricey. And it’s, well, white.Just after the last rug post,though, a few people alerted me to a sale on Zulily, which actually made this rug cheaper than the others I’d been considering. So, I put practicality aside and pulled the trigger. Given my rant about my family’s general disgustingness in the last rug post, this may have been a very bad decision. We’ve had it for almost a month though and so far, other than one tile needing to be rinsed for dog, we’ve managed not to ruin it. One month. Clearly I have high expectations.
It plays well with the gray rug and looks nice with the new coffee table (which is technically a side table, Crate and Barrel not being known for their small space designs). It also feels a little plusher than our previous flor rugs, which is nice as I’m finally putting some effort into implementing a no shoes in the house rule.
Up next, storage. Winter is a coming and we have no coat closet. Or any closet really. Last year I kind of made the space in the guest room work, but I can already see I’ll need a new solution this year. I think I may have to finally get a coat rack. I wish they made them in attractive styles, that didn’t cost a fortune and head a family’s worth of stuff. Oh well.
A final picture for you. Middle school. It spreads everywhere. Like a virus.
First, let us observe this, the rarest of sightings in a home with children – the tidy living space. Note the pillows resting on the sofa, the lack of legos, books and other ephemera strewn about. There are even, gasp, no shoes laying carelessly, either singly or in pairs. Do not look away, for in a moment all will be gone and it will have moved on to it’s preferred state – utter chaos. Note also that this rare sighting is only achieved in the evening, after the natives have retired.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way (it’s possible I watched too much Wild Kingdom as a child), let’s get down to business. Rug business. You may, if you’ve been carefully charting all 69,764,876,325,638 iterations of my living room, have noticed that the navy chevron rug is missing from this photo (and if you clicked that link you noticed that the brown sofas, gray sofa and green rug have also gone missing. I may have a problem). It has, unfortunately, fallen victim to our home. Tea spills, muddy feet, general life – all were threatening to drive it to an early grave. So I retired it to the guest room, where it livens up the space. And currently serves a landing spot for all the things I need to get rid of on craigslist.
What you see above is actually a rug pad. I’m having tremendous difficulty deciding on the next rug. It needs to be Flor tiles, we can’t handle a whole rug in this messy family. I need wash and wear, thank you very much. And within the Flor family, I would prefer it be from their “heavy” traffic line. Our last ones were medium though and they held up very well. I’m kind of digging the grey of the rug pad in the space though, so have been looking just at grey styles.
You guys. There is so much summer going on. Which is good and appropriate but really? I just want to lay in bed with a book for hours. Hours. Instead, I have rearranged my living room. Again. This time, mostly to keep myself occupied and in a space where I can keep an eye on all the shenanigans going on outside. And this late in the summer, there are many shenanigans. Also, I seem to have given up on the grammar entirely. Oh well.
In other big news, I think I may have fixed the rug issue. After living with bare floors for a few days they just felt too dark. And the space felt crowded with both chairs. And I didn’t like the black shelving thing I brought up (and never showed you, perhaps I’m showing some living room sharing restraint). However, on a trip to check out all the new collections from West Elm, Crate and Barrel, etc. (research, you know, very important), I stumbled upon a rug sale at the West Elm. So I bought a rug. As one must do, when one finds a rug sale.
I bought a white rug, despite lots of misgivings. And then. AND THEN. They gave me the wrong rug. Well, they gave me the right rug, but in gray. Which was really what I wanted but didn’t know was possible. So now, for you, I have many pictures. So many pictures. Ok, fine. Four more pictures. Which are probably four more than you really need of my living room with yet another configuration. And they’re a little awful because in order to have a clean living room I had to take them quite early. I like to pretend, however, that you are all highly enamored of my living room and really just wait with bated breath for the next segment in How the Living Room Turns.
Also, I rearranged some other things while I was at it, so there are pictures of that as well. But really, what this is documenting is the first time my house was clean and tidy, with pillows on the couch instead of shoes, a guitar, books, old snacks, etc. Summer. Season of clutter and dirt. So not all that different from the other seasons.
I’ve always been drawn to rooms without rugs. When we first refinished the floors, I avoided rugs entirely. Slowly though, I came to see them as a new way to incorporate pattern and color into the space. Lately though, I’ve been pinning more images like the one above. Rooms with bare floors are calling to me.
Although perhaps it’s just the idea of not constantly battling rug stains with all the little feet in and out who often don’t really stay long enough to bother taking off shoes. Or are running out the door with snacks that inevitably get spilled and then ground in before I see them.
So, today I experimented.
The front room with its current rug.
Now I can’t decide which I prefer. Or if I’ll want a rug back in a couple of months once things cool off. Or if I just want a different rug (yes, yes I do.). Rug opinionated readers – go.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that our house is never the same. I constantly rearrange the furniture, evaluate room function, play with storage. We live in a relatively small house with no closets and two children, it seems like our needs are constantly shifting. Last year I couldn’t get them out of the basement playroom, the swings and ladder were in frequent use and there was a fair amount of Wii playing. This year I can’t get them into the basement, everyone’s curled up in various chairs with books, playing with legos or board games, listening to music. There are dance parties too, but this year they must happen upstairs. So things need to shift. We need table space for games, floor space for legos and dancing and we need them in the living room. I need to think about how we will use the basement, because right now it seems to be a large wasted space. And that’s ok.
Homes should be fluid. I want my kids to be able to change how they use a space and to know that space will adapt to them and their needs. Furniture moves. Storage evolves. Walls, well they take a little more work, but they can move too. This, really, is why I keep showing you guys the ten million ways I rearrange our space. I think there’s a feeling out there that you have to get your house “right” and then it stays that way. I disagree. Not just because I happen to like rearranging things (although, yes), but also because I think static is non-responsive. Every family I know changes at least annually. Not just kids, dads take up tai chi, moms take up metallurgy. Someone loses a job, someone else gets a new one. Each of these shifts creates new patterns. Homes should adapt.
There are things you love that stay constant, those you figure out how to use regardless. My grandparents dining table is horrible as a family table. But its the only thing of theirs I have, I want it in a place where I can see it daily. Right now it works really well as a nightstand next to our ridiculously tall bed. Our gray patterned couch is tricky to fit in every living room arrangement, but I like the reaction it gets when people come to my home for the first time, so every time I rearrange things I make it work. It’s important to take stock of the spaces in your home regularly, especially when you live in a small home, and ask yourself, is this working? And of course you can’t just constantly buy new stuff. I like to shop my house, see how else something can be used. Some things get put away for a while till I need them again. Others have served their time and head out to Craigslist.
I’m showing you the picture above so you can get a sense of time (also, look at my little baby). I have several friends with little ones who seem to feel that their house will never look good. Others who recently bought ugly houses because they were cheap (housing is expensive up here) and are finding, as we did, that it’s harder to live long-term with ugly than they thought. For years (years!) people would walk into our house assuming we’d just moved in and try to hide their surprise when I said we’d lived here for 3 or 4 years. In their defense, there were holes in the floor from where we’d moved walls, no molding around the windows and holes in the drywall from poor measuring. You can see above that this room was the play space for a long time, so the first thing you saw when you came in was a brightly colored mess.
Those first few years all our house money was spent making the place function, doing the kitchen and bathroom, moving walls, etc. There was no money for furniture or decorating. And note the absence of photos for 3 years. Had a premature baby, redid the siding and backyard and cleaned out the basement to make a playroom. I’m sure this room changed, but not significantly. We finally got around to fixing the floors (holes+crawling baby=no good) and the drywall (open electrical + baby = no good) 4 years after we moved in. After that the front room stayed as mostly open space for a while before our renovation plan was finally able to turn to decorating. We painted, got furniture, rugs, etc. And all the while, the space accommodated the family. Bike repair, tea parties, legos, dance parties. This room has seen it all.
This is a long, long post just to say make your house work for you. Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. There is no end point in evolution. If you’re still reading, thank you. And I’d love to hear your house stories. Am I the only one who’s taken almost 10 years to decorate a room?
I hung the curtains on Friday. That’s right. I hung them. A Valentine’s Day present for Finn (we’re sooooo romantic). Know what else? These are not going to fall down. Also, they are level. My ceilings however, are not. Joys of old homes. In addition to hanging the curtains I also removed quite a few cobwebs and noted that the moldings needed to be re-caulked. Added to the list. The very bottom of the list. Maybe that’s what I’ll get him for Christmas.
More pictures. I moved our former dining table into the front corner. We need a little more space to spread out for school and projects. Seeing how little space it takes up here makes me realize that our dining room is truly tiny.
Moving the coffee table to this space has really anchored things. And I moved my painting from in front of the curtains (it fell down and I placed it on the mantel to get it out of the way). I like it there though, its nice to have a change.
The curtains do make the space look a little smaller. They also make it feel finished and grounded (can I say that about something that hangs?). They carry the navy from the rug and chair into the front of the room without being match-y and add an extra dose of pattern. I worried that they would be too much with the sofa, but I think like it. Shockingly, so does Finn. He hated the pattern on the rug at first so I didn’t even ask him before I put these up (anyone else do that?). I’m still not sure if I like how they make the space feel a little smaller, but I think I just need to get used to it. We shall see.
It’s been what, 2 months since I rearranged the living room? You had to know this was coming.
So when last we saw things, it was just after the Great Couch Switcheroo (coming soon to a theatre near you) and the Strandmon chair addition. Moving the Karlstad upstairs continues to be one of the best ideas ever, but it wasn’t working up against the windows. So one day when Finn was out, I pulled a fast one. It had to be when he was gone, because this new arrangement involved moving the TV, which was bolted to the wall. There was no way he was going to go for that unless I could just surprise him with the amazingness already finished. Plus, I wasn’t sure it was going to work, I thought moving the sectional so that the chaise stuck out into the walking path might make everything more awkward. Turns out, this makes the room seem much much bigger.
Same view, post sofa switch. Weird, yes? This actually got changed fairly quickly, but I have no photographic evidence of that from the same vantage point. Probably because of the Christmas tree that would have been in the way.
And today. It’s tricky to get a shot of this narrow space, I might go stand on a table to get a better one for you next time the space is clean. Which should be sometime in 2016.
The front space, by our entry. Moving the coffee table in front of the fireplace has made the entire area much more functional. Legos, puzzles, glasses of wine – we use that space so much more now. And it makes a clear division for lego play, I move the table out a bit and ask the kids to play with their legos by the fireplace so we can still move around the space.
And the book reading, TV watching, family snuggling side. Basket of yarn at the ready for my little crafters. (Not for me.)
I thought I might need a new coffee table, but I like just having the little wooden side table float in front. It adds a nice texture and is easily moved for dance parties when Roan must bust a move. Like Jagger (why did I buy that song for him?).
I’m sure I’ll tweak things some more (and I still need to figure out the curtains), but this is one of the more functional arrangements we’ve had. Have you changed up anything for the new year?
Remember the burning living room sofa question? Well we did it, we moved the “nice” Room and Board sofas to the basement and the cheap Ikea sectional upstairs.
I know, the program that makes these is a little buggy, but you get the idea.
Harder to photograph well with my current camera and not as pretty. But significantly more functional.
The layout was a bit of a trick with the parameters I gave myself. The desks under the window had to stay there, as Finn and the kids use them a lot for projects. I really wanted the gray patterned sofa to stay in the living room as well, as its one of my favorite pieces in the house. And I’d picked up a new chair that I wanted to work into the space. It took more time than I’d expected to figure out how to accommodate these three things in a functional and attractive way, but I think its working. For now. I may add a side table by the small sofa to anchor it and give the space some texture, but it would have to be very small.
As far as finishing up the sectional so stops screaming IKEA, I’ve ordered the mid-century legs from here for the Karlstad hack and I have buttons and extra fabric to tuft the sectional. The legs are on backorder and should be here mid-December. The tufting, well, we’ll see how long that takes me.
The new layout is much more functional for our family. The other arrangement looked good from all angles (when tidy), which I miss, but having the sofas in the middle of the very narrow room was severely limiting. There was only about 30 inches between the sofa and the shelves in the “hallway”. The sectional, with its new cover, is much more comfortable for lounging and reading, something we’ll be doing more of as we head into the cold winter months here. It also creates more open floor space, important for legos, dance parties, etc. And really, I need the living room to be functional and not limiting. But I also have to like looking at it everyday.
I like our coffee table, but might switch it out. Maybe something low and on wheels, that could roll under the couch when we wanted more floor space. And you’ll notice the new chair in the front of the room. I went to Ikea last week to return curtains and ended up winning one of their new Strandmon arm chairs as part of their anniversary celebrations or some such. I got it in the navy velveteen and it’s really lovely. Super comfy too. As you can see in the gif above, I tried to make it work with the sectional so I could sit in it to watch TV, but it just didn’t fit.
What do you think? Where do you compromise on form and function?
I’ve tried to figure out some changes for the living room for a while now. Our living room looks great, but it isn’t very comfortable. And the section by our TV has become very, very brown. Brown couches, brown console, brown shelves. I tried with the rugs and the pillows, but it’s still bleh. Looks pretty good in pictures, but it’s driving me a little nuts in person. And while I love the look of our Room and Board couches, they just aren’t that comfortable for lounging. I’ve thought of a sectional, but I can’t justify that purchase. And I’m concerned that with my constant desire to rearrange things, I might hate the immobility of a sectional. Then I remembered. I have a sectional. In the basement.
We have an Ikea Karlstad loveseat with chaise in the lounge area down there. You can’t tell from this picture, but the cover is a disaster. That’s an easy fix though, with Ikea. I’m wondering if, with a few tweaks, switching up the seating my solve some of my issues. The Karlstad is really comfortable. Much, much more so that the Jasper sofas. I’d get the dark gray cover and new mid-century legs from Etsy. Probably add another chaise on the other side so we can all fit. And then get the cushions tufted, so it looks like the C&B Petrie sofa. Like so.
What do you think? Am I crazy for even thinking about this?