May 31, 2012

The Books. The Rug. The Drapes.

We live in a newer tract home, where the front room is meant to be split into a living area/dining room. Except that a formal dining area is the last thing our family would use, and I have a real pet peeve for opening the front door and immediately seeing the typical dining table/china hutch combo. I've always decorated this room as one big space.  The living room acts as my library and sitting room, and it's a little more formal than the family room.  This is where we retreat to read, nap or get some quiet, away from the TV/stereo/kitchen chaos in the family room.

But I'm getting way ahead of myself. Let's back up and, as Maria Von Trapp would say, start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). 

So, it was high time to finally clean out my books and the closed cabinets on our bookshelf unit. (Ikea, natch, purchased eight years ago.)  Like a lot of people who read design blogs and magazines, I decided at one point to get all cutesy and arrange my books by color. (Even if, deep in my English-major soul, I knew it was so, so wrong. For me, anyway.)


Spoiler alert: Post-purge, not all of the books seen here made it back into my collection.  The jumbled, cluttered insides behind just one set of doors:
 Books, ceramics, and so many candles, for someone who rarely burns them.

Well, it ALL came out, onto my living room floor.
It was a lot of books. It took a lot of time to sort through them (and read them, and greet some long lost friends, and scold myself for the ones purchased and still unread.) Plus, I sorted through picture frames, candles, candle holders, vases, etc. etc.

Finally, days and days and four boxes of donated books later,  I put it all back together.
Cleaner, organized shelves. Now one space hold candles and candle holders only, not a mad jumble of crap. One door holds all Christmas: books, candles, frames. All in one place.
After the Purge: Books are sorted by theme or subject, not colors. Whew.  The suitcase on the left column is a Crosby record player, and on the shelf above are a few albums from our large collection. 

So this is where things stood, post-purge. Everything in the room was cleaned up, dusted, and returned to normal.

Except that I couldn't stand it.  All of the elements that bother me about the room felt overwhelming and embarrassing.  The big expanse of wall-to-wall carpet, the blue, high-water drapes, the very specific pattern on our furniture set (a set! Ugh!), the kitschy, retro silver legs on the chair & sofa...I was over it, all of it. DONE. Somebody call in a bulldozer, or the Salvation Army, and let's move on and go shopping for some new furniture.  And put in new hardwood flooring, while we're at it.

HA. HA. HA. Aren't I funny?  Nothing, and nobody, was going anywhere.  Time to re-arrange.
I moved the couch back over to the window wall (it's spent time there before), and brought the chairs in closer, for a more intimate seating area. Then I took the 5x8 brown rug out of our family room, and used it here to further define the space, and break up all that beige carpet. (Bonus: this will also force the issue of needing a bigger, 8x10 rug in the family room.) 

It was an improvement, but it could be better. I stared at the blue drapes. There are white sheers behind them.  How very JC Penney's of me!  My future plans for this room include deep blue paint on the white wall, and textured, white linen curtains against that, with bamboo shades to block the intense sunlight.   But until that happens, I assumed the drapes had to stay, like permanent fixtures.  Or not.  What if I took them down now?
Hmmm. Not bad, not bad at all. In fact, I was pretty excited by all the light, and how open and younger the room suddenly felt.  And just like that, those drapes that have been there since we moved in and I first decorated this room, came down.  Along with lots of dust, spiders and cobwebs. 

Let there be light!  What a relief to be rid of those drapes.  Now the sheers can flutter and waft when our late-afternoon breezes kick up:
(Look in that back corner by the narrow window, and you'll spy the latest update in the lampshade dance.) 

So the moral of this episode is: sometimes (most times) you have to live and work with what you've got, and sometimes, you've gotta work hard to wrestle a space that you love out of pieces you've evolved away from.

The other side of the room:
Summer is bearing down, and I'll have to buy those bamboo/matchstick shades  soon, to keep the room and my family from roasting. (Those windows face south/southwest.)  But I'm so relieved the room is done (for now) and I can rest, read, and chat in a space that once, again, I love (again, for now).
Thanks for coming along. 

I'm linking up with Jules at Pancakes and French Fries every Thursday as part of her 2012 William Morris Project.


  1. Aside from a job well done, I just have to say that I love your home and furniture choices-classic, simple and inviting. I want to sit on the couch and feel the breeze!

    1. Oh, thank so much And yes, the breeze is lovely. C'mon over! :-)

  2. I feel like I have bulldozer moments all the time! I love that you used what you had and made a huge change!

    1. Thanks Alice! The bulldozer urge was awfully strong this time around.

  3. I had to laugh when I read the bulldozer idea. I had been dreamily looking at just the photos first thinking how much I love your mid-century style and admiring the electronic pieces and the upholstery. So, I would like to place my vote for no bulldozing!

  4. Oh thank you, May! No, no bulldozing over here, and I do still like many of the elements in my room, too.

  5. Those changes made a big difference. But let me gently say that there is still a lot of blue in that room. And while I love me some blue, maybe a throw pillow or two would make a big difference to break up the blue. Perhaps a light grey and white, or beige, or yellow. And I think your idea of the bamboo blinds layered with the white curtains will make a HUGE change, too. Can't wait to see it!

    1. Ms. Amy, I totally agree, and in fact, have been looking for some new throw pillows. (Not so easy to find the ones I want, without any pattern.) Down the road, I also plan to replace the solid blue chair. Not sure how all this blue came into my life. Never considered it my favorite color, but my house will tell you otherwise!

  6. Fabulous. It looks much cozier now: much more inviting.


Thanks for commenting! :)

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