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?
Several idea boards ago, I promised to show you how to create rooms without buying new. I have a mix of things in my home, some that I saved for and purchased new, like our sofas, but most that were found with a general idea of what I was looking for and lots of time on Craigslist and in thrift stores. I live near Chicago, which means that generally I can find pretty much anything on CL, although not always for what I want to pay. I thought it would be fun to start a weekly feature where I search CL and show you what I would choose for a specific room. For now I’m searching the Chicago CL, but I’m open to searching other cities if this is interesting.
I’m starting with the living room, as that’s the room I’ve had the most requests for. I’m also limiting myself to only one IKEA item per room as an extra challenge. Here we go.
Everything on here was found Sunday on the Chicago Craigslist. Sources for all can be found on my Pinterest board. I’ll delete items weekly, so each week will have the current sources. Total cost for the room above, including the two sofas, $1995. Pre-bargaining, if you’re good with that sort of thing.
I started this idea board with the sofa, as that sets the tone for the living room. I found two really great ones this week, the navy Jasper from Room and Board (had to pick that one as I have two in my living room) and the beige one from Crate and Barrel. Both seem to be in like new condition. The Jasper is super cheap at $250 so somebody will grab that one quick. I then found the Pottery Barn rug, which would work well with either sofa. A cute secretary (which would be even better painted, perhaps lined inside with a fun paper and with new hardware), a mid-century console, a great round coffee table and a couple of interesting chairs (including a knock-off Eames like we have upstairs) round out the options. I even found a throw pillow and table lamp. And finally for extra storage, not on the idea board, some ubiquitous IKEA Billy bookcases.
So there you go. An entire living room, furnished on the cheap with like new items. What do you think? Do you use CL and thrift stores to round out your living spaces or do you prefer to buy new? And would you like to see more posts like this?
The addition of the new rug called for some restyling in the living room. I wanted to try a couple of things – to connect the bold navy in the rug into the rest of the room and to try Emily’s rule of three patterns per sofa. So, looking at her rules of pattern mixing, with scale and color scheme, I tried a triad out on the sofa.
Stripes, floral and a geometric. Different scales, all blues.
I had the two pillows there before, as you can see in the top photo. They were ok, but the addition of the throw really brings it together.
Once the sofa was appropriately patterned, it was time to style the console. I’ve meant to do this for a while, so I thought I’d show you a bit of the process. First, I gathered up everything I was considering for the top. I wanted white, as there’s a lot of dark color and pattern in the rest of this space.
Two trays, a couple vase-type items, MM. Obtuse and Acute (oui, French owls) and the wire cubes and wooden asterisk as potential textural contrasts. I began trying things together.
Too white, too short.
I added some books, but no. Weird proportions.
Trying a lantern for height. Still no, this time too much air space.
That’s better. Corralling everything on the larger tray, adding height with books and using the asterisk and cubes for texture against the vase and tray. I’d just pushed the owls and small vase to the side, but decided I liked them on that end together too.
So, new rug, with pillow and console styling. Much more pattern going on, but the color scheme is quite simple.
Anyone else been encouraged to mix patterns lately? What do you think of this new trend?
Hi there! How are you? I missed you guys last week. I kept busy though, check out some of the new blog features. New header and background (not entirely sold so it may go back), three columns instead of two, a page where all the idea boards are collected together. It still needs some tweaking, I need to figure out how to get the thumbnails to line up horizontally instead of vertically within the categories, but its a start. And a there’s brand new services page. That’s right, hire me and help pay for the new roof we were told we needed last week. My rates are very low. Plus more money equals more blogging about fun projects and inspiration. There are also bright and shiny new connect buttons on your left. Want to be friends? Tweeters? Pinterest buddies?
On to the great rug reveal. I know you’ve been on tenterhooks all week. Our lovely bare floors are above. We had them refinished dark a few years ago and I never see this much of them so I snapped a quick picture in between rugs. The guy who did them for us insisted that we’d hate them if we went dark and it would make the house feel tiny, but I think they turned out beautiful. They’re actually a bit darker than the photo shows, I always have to lighten things a bit so the couches don’t blend in.
Ze new rug. For the record, my family hates it. HATES it. Well, the small one hasn’t really expressed an opinion, but the rest of them have been vocal. Including my mother. Tasteless heathens, the lot of them. Pattern mixing is clearly too avant-garde for them. And considering the level of pattern mixing going on here (which is quite low), I think they’re over-reacting.
It coordinates nicely with the legos, don’t you think? I need to do a bit of console and pillow styling (and floor tidying) before I show you more photos.
I ordered this months ago with a 75% off coupon from rugs usa. They’re having another sale now, although this rug is only 35% off this time. The wait was a little painful, as I have the patience of a gnat, but if you can handle the backorder time its a great quality rug, especially for what I paid. I hadn’t thought about the bathroom ceiling when I ordered this and as there’s another chevron upstairs I’m a little concerned this might be too much. Most people don’t go upstairs though, so hopefully it doesn’t look like I can only live with one pattern.
Hope you all had wonderful weekends. Are you gearing up for school where you are? We have another two weeks till the tall one goes back and I’m hoping to fit in some fun before then.
I will confess, this is now my favorite room in the house. It used to be my least favorite space. Finding the right arrangement changed everything. Colors. Green rug, different shade of green chair, gray sofa with pattern, different shade of gray (no not that book) chair. Nothing matches, everything goes, to quote Stacey and Clinton. Blue throw on the chair and blue lamps on the desk to echo the blue on the other side of the room. Gray vases because, well I liked them. Funky shapes call to me. White tray to pick up some white from the sofa legs and trim.The bookshelf helps balance out the uneven room length as well as the visual weight of the fireplace. The desks behind add function to empty space and help balance that large window. Symmetrical, matching lamps give they eye a rest from all that doesn’t match. So, to summarize, repeating tones, pattern for interest, balancing shapes.
So, back to the living room. Is this weird for you? I have to confess, it’s a little weird for me. But at this point in the blog’s life I figure almost everyone reading has actually been in my living room at some point. And if you haven’t, I should probably have you over soon. Many of you are probably just shocked at how it looks cleaned up. Don’t worry, I didn’t dust. Cause that would be crazy.