Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Madeover Living Room

The new couch is in place, and we absolutely love it. It's done wonders for our awkward living room. We never would have thought of getting a sectional before... we'd always thought our space was way too small to accommodate one. But it actually works great! It provides the same amount of seating as we had with the two couches, but it has a smaller overall footprint. It cuts off less of the entry to the living room, which gives the space a little more breathing room. I'm even noticing the room looks lighter, probably because the window isn't as blocked off by furniture!
We also added some new throw pillows in a cheerful floral pattern that never would have worked in our primary-color room before, but add a punch of color to the new, neutral sofa. They're actually just new pillow covers, that fit the pillows we had on the red sofa perfectly. I snapped them up at Target for only $3.50 a piece! I think they're surprisingly sophisticated for that price tag.
Here are the details of our new and improved living room:
Wall color:
-Pittsburgh Paint Lemongrass Sage
Trim and fireplace color:
-Benjamin Moore Stone Arrowhead
Sectional from www.slumberland.com
Entertainment center from www.ikea.com
Storage ottoman from www.target.com
Lamp from www.target.com
Pillow cushions from www.target.com
Artwork from www.etsy.com, my husband, and mother-in-law

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Couch!

We bought a new couch last night! We will be picking it up today. There will be updated photos of our living room to come shortly. I am planning a post with before and afters, as well as zooming in on some of the details. Our living room has changed a bit in the last few months, what with our fireplace makeover and now new furniture.
In the meantime, here is a photo from the Web site of our new sectional. I think it's going to do a lot for the space. Currently we have two sofas in an L-shape. While it provides plenty of seating for us and guests, it tends to close off our awkwardly shaped room. The sectional will provide the same amount of seating, but because part of it is a chaise, it will look less visually cluttered, and hopefully provide a bit of airiness to the space.
The best part is, we got a great deal! We went to the Slumberland clearance center (where we purchased the beloved yellow couch six years ago), and found the sectional for more than half off. It's a floor model, so we got a great deal. It has a small imperfection on the back, but it won't be visible, and was definitely worth the discount!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Grown Up Furniture

Our current couches scream college to me. Even though we got them both post-college. One is a hand me down IKEA Klippan sofa that the cats have scratched to hell. The other is my beloved yellow couch that I bought in January 2004. After several years of living with futons, I was so excited to buy a real couch. It was so bright and cheerful. We had couch shopped for a couple of months, and when I found this at the Slumberland Clearance Center, I immediately fell in love, and put a deposit down on it before Matt had even had a chance to see it. It has served us well...  it was the perfect couch to brighten up the generic, white-walled apartments we lived in. It inspired most of our decor in the condo. We chose the green walls in the living room as to not clash to terribly with the yellow, and the surrounding hallway and dining room walls are a butter yellow, to complement the couch.
But over the last couple of years, the couch has started to show its age. The cushions grew flat and uncomfortable, the back is worn and faded. It's gotten pretty stained since we had Sebastian. Many milk spills, spit up and jam hands have made it look worse for the wear. Yellow is a fun color for two 24 year olds. Not so much for 30 year old parents.
We need something more grown up, more stain resistant, and possibly better scaled to our awkward-sized living room. We just scored a brand new, dark brown leather storage ottoman from Goodwill (it was originally from Target and still had the tags on it, but it was half the price of the one at the store). I had received some birthday money, and tomorrow I will receive a decent bonus from work. Slumberland is having a huge sale this week only. It seems like the stars are aligning for us to buy some more grown up furniture.
I'm hoping to find something with clean lines, maybe in a light gray microfiber. A sofa and a matching chair would be great in our space. Hopefully the couch-gods will shine down upon us like they did with the yellow couch, and show us the right couch for this new, more grown up phase of our lives. If they do, I know I'll be excited. But a little part of me will be sad too. Because I'll no longer be the girl with the bright yellow couch and all the crazy colors in her living room. Am I ready to be a grown up?

Lived In

This weekend I uttered a sentence that nearly knocked Matt over. "Our house is messy today, but I kind of like it. It's cozy."
I am a neatnik at heart. Matt teases me all the time about my hyberbole when it comes to the state of our home: "The house is a total disaster!" He throws away a piece of junk mail and runs the vacuum. "Phew, the house looks so much better!"
When I started this blog, I had spent a lot of time watching shows on HGTV, and lurking on design blogs like www.younghouselove.com. I thought this would inspire me to fix up our condo and address some of the nagging issues that have been bothering me. And I did do some things: We've been making over our bedroom (a post is still to come on that), and we painted our fireplace, which really gave the whole living space a fresh, new look. But these blogs and TV shows - and even my OWN blog - have made me feel inadequate more than they've made me feel good about our house. Because right now, our house is messy. Which means I don't want to blog, because I don't feel the condo is photo-worthy. And I just feel sad and depressed that my house doesn't look clean and organized like the houses I see online, on TV and in magazines.
But there's no denying that the house is just going to be a little disheveled in the foreseeable future. We have a one year old, whose favorite game is throwing anything he can get his hands on into the bathtub. And eating Chex out of a snack trap, and then waving the crumbs at the cats. And pulling out every toy he owns, only to play for the rest of the afternoon with a box of disposable lens cleaners.
So yesterday, I was assessing the state of our bedroom. The bed was made, with our wonderful new linens, but there was a pile of laundry waiting to be put away, and a cat napping next to it. Hovering on the ceiling was a Thomas the Tank Engine balloon. On the bedside table was a car shaped like an alligator. A pink bouncy ball was on our dresser.
But outside it was sprinkling, and inside the radio was playing softly in the living room, a chicken was roasting in the crockpot in the kitchen, and Matt and Sebastian were reading a story in his nursery chair. It was Sunday afternoon, we had no where to go, and no one was coming over. We could just be in our space - burrow in and take naps, eat dinner, snuggle and watch DVDs. My house is never going to be picture-perfect. But it is full of life and happiness.

Entertaining in Small Spaces

I've always been big on throwing parties. My parents are the complete opposite of me... I don't think they organized a party in my entire childhood. I don't know where my penchant for celebrations came from exactly, but around the time I became a teenager, I started planning elaborate parties... from sleepovers with carefully chosen snacks and movies, to my first ever boy/girl party in the Christmas of 1993, with my stero dragged out into the living room to play the mix tape I spent months working on, to the Hawaiian themed high school graduation party I threw myself in our backyard.
Once I moved out on my own, I became well-known in my social group for being the party planner... I threw fancy dinner parties, costume dance parties, game nights, wine and cheese tastings and cooking get togethers. There's nothing I enjoy more than gathering all the people I care about into my home, feeding them good food and fun drinks, and filling the air with good conversation and racuous laughter.
You don't need a large space to throw a good party. While I'd love to have a backyard for barbecues and bonfires, I've held plenty of great get togethers inside my small condo walls. In fact, I often think our parties are even better in our condo than if we had a big house - it forces people to stay in one space mingling instead of spreading out.
Here are some tips on how to throw a great party, even if you live in a small space:
-Before the party, clean, clean, clean! Yes, it will get messed up moments after your first guests arrive, but a clean space looks bigger and more inviting.
-Move some furniture for optimum party flow. I always put my coffee table in the bedroom (where coats and cats are also corraled) to open up the living room. Sometimes I push the dining room table against the bookcase in the dining room and use it as a buffet table for food (and that way fewer people will sit down at the table, and instead mingle and talk).
-Lighting at a party is important. Add a dimmer switch to lights to allow for adjustment. Or light candles and/or a fire in the fireplace if you have one.
-Know your limits. If a large group in your small space will stress you out, keep the guest list small. We had close to 40 people come to my son's birthday party, and that was about my limit for our condo. I have a great time and feel like the ultimate hostess with a group of 15-25.
-Set out food in multiple areas. People always congregate in the kitchen. So I try to put some foods out in the dining room, and sometimes drinks on our game cabinet in the dining room/entry to the living room. People STILL favor the kitchen, but it still forces them to move around a little bit.
-Make a playlist and keep the TV off. I hate it when people turn on the TV to play video games, or watch movies at a party. It usually divides up the party between the gamers/non-gamers and causes everyone to stare at the tube. So I do my best to have music playing so the TV stays off.
Thrown any good parties lately? What are some things that worked well, or not so well?