Saturday, August 16, 2008

Living Room Makeover

Since the Mister and I have returned home from our summer road trip, we've been trying to do little home improvement projects here and there. On our way back home from our trip we developed mixed emotions about the current state of our tiny little starter home here in sunny Tucson. (Makes me feel better when I call it a "starter home.")

While we were traveling, we stayed with friends and family along the way out as well as the way back. Only twice did we stay in a dive motel and for me, those were the times when I felt really great about our little house knowing that waiting for us back home was a yard looking like a jungle and a master bath with peeling wall paper. So many times I was in awe at the way other people live and keep their homes. Now, I'm sure, like me, they probably cleaned like mad before our arrival and then just acted like that's the way they always live. Ok, maybe that's just me. I certainly hope I don't make people feel like they need to clean and sanatize everything before coming to stay with them, but I know I do it myself so I can't blame someone if they do. (Just so you know, dustbunnies only make you human so I leave them alone on places like the rafters and lightbulbs. Consider yourself warned if you ever come to my house.)

Nate and I try to live as simply as possible. We both come from a family chock full of packrats, savers and collectors — pick your own label. Between the two of us, we have a lot of schtuff still, but I've been on a personal mission to reduce the load by purging and, well, just not buying schtuff as much as I can help it. That's why Nate does most of the shopping. He's much more disciplined than I. Whenever we go shopping, it is personal hell for me because I have to contiplate every penny I think about spending on something and whether or not it will contribute something to a landfill that really and truly doesn't need to be there. The only money we've spent on the house in the past 2 years has been for emergency things like plumbing repair. Hell, we still have painter's tape baked on a few of our windows that we have yet to scrape off. Needless to say, we've fallen behind and it's starting to eat at me. (Translation: I'm turning into a nag and need to vent about it so I don't drive the mister completely nuts.)

Before we got pregnant (and during), we knew that once the baby came, our lives would be turned upside down. We knew we wouldn't have the time, energy or money to do any home improvement projects and that the house would have to be put on hold for a while. Right now, we've come to a transitional period of time where Lucian is now old enough and the house has been babyproofed for the most part that he has a defined space where he can play and I don't have to constantly keep after him for touching things. That was a huuuuuge stress on us while we were on our road trip. Almost every place we went was not curious-toddler-friendly. There were a lot of Jeffrey moments which resulted in some new grey hairs.

When Lucian was a baby, it seemed that his swag just dominated the house. It felt like everywhere you looked — baby stuff. He slept in a crib in our room for over a year and a half. When we transitioned him out of our room and into his own, it was a weird feeling. The only thing in our bedroom that remained of him was some framed photos and his diaper bag. And, of course, HIM at 2 am. In our bed.

Yeah, so him sleeping in his own – now completely stocked with toys and kid stuff – bedroom is still not working out so well. He likes his room, I think, but he just doesn't want to stay in it for a whole night. This is why I still struggle with insomnia. Sometimes he'll go almost a whole week sleeping through a night, but then a couple of days will go by where he won't. It's just inconsistent. The road trip also spoiled him because he got used to sleeping with us, if not in bed with us, then on a little bed at the foot of our bed.

If that's not hot, I don't know what is.

We had to wait till it was nap time and then go sneak somewhere while we turned into teenagers at a drive through movie.

during the commercials.

no, commercials. Intermission is much longer.

Anyhow, so in order to make myself a little happier to combat the sleep deprivation nastiness, I thought a little living room makeover might do the trick. When Nate bought this house, he was still a bachelor so he did what any bachelor on a budget does and he got consignment furniture. I've always admired his thriftyness and the furniture was a good find at the time. The eightiestastic pattern nicely matched the teal carpet. Used furniture is also perfect for while you have a young family. Only problem is, it's starting to show it's age and wear. The loveseat sprang, well, a spring and every time you sat on it you got stabbed in the crotch. Yeah. Lovely. Rips and tears started showing up soon after Lucian learned how to climb up and then jump on the cushions. (ok, ok, I'll fess up, it was really from me stepping up onto the seat and over the arm so I wouldn't have to unwedge the perfect little jailing system I had going with the playpen, couch and loveseat to keep Lucian from wandering the rest of the house before we babyproofed.)

Another problem was created when we invested in a nice window treatment for the main window. The pattern and colors we chose went well with the carpet and walls, but not with the pattern on the furniture which came from the set of Miami Vice. So, we covered it. Badly. I got so sick and tired of the blankets and throws I was using because they never stayed in place and I couldn't get enough spare material that matched so the two pieces looked like a pair. It still looked like furniture from the set of Miami Vice with blankets thrown over.

Last Sunday, we went out in search of a solution even if that solution meant new/used furniture that didn't poke you in the ass anymore. We went to a couple of consignment shops with no luck. Just when we had given up, I said, let's go check out JC Penney and see if they still have the curtain sheers in the same red. For a while now, I've felt that the sheers on the window just weren't full enough looking, so I wanted to get one more. (Martha Stewart moment. It happens to the best of us.) While we were there, we took a look at the furniture department and depressed ourselves even more looking at the price tags on just the sofas alone. I hate their signage. Working in the advertising business so long has made me really cynical. They put this cute little sign on the coffee table that draws you in thinking it's a discounted price for the whole set, yet it's really just the price of the most expensive piece.

Anyhow, we went around the corner to the pillows section and there we hit the Jackpot.

Clearance slipcovers to the rescue!!!

Once the nice new slipcovers were on, it was so refreshing that Nate took another look at the love seat and was able to fix whatever it was that was causing the hardware to poke through the cushion. It no longer reclines, but who cares! No more instant vascetomies for our male guests!

In conclusion, we only spent just over $100.00 for this living room makeover. We kept the furniture we had and just improved it. I cleaned up the baby toys and relocated more of them to Lucian's room. I moved the playpen back into our bedroom because we only ever use it for discipline (we call it baby jail). We know we want to have another baby, so there is no use in trying to temporarily reclaim that now empty space in our bedroom and the playpen will convert back to the bassinet for that space. We do know now, from experience where the best place is for a baby swing in the living room, so this change works well for a future adaptation when the time comes.

Take a Tour of Our Living Room
Here are the results in a handy little slideshow. If it doesn't view or you like more details, you can click on a link and view the photos with captions. There is one photo in there from before to compare.

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