Anyway, here is my grand plan for the living room.
The house itself is in good shape. We just don't have anything to put in it, and the stuff we have looks terrible. The fate of the former med student(s) is Ikea Purgatory, and Joe and I are certainly no exception. In fact, the only room that looks halfway decent is the playroom, and that's because it's a playroom and aesthetic sensibility plays second fiddle to comfy carpet and easy access to Legos. Here's a little before and after of the playroom--the former owners had used it as more of a solarium, which was very nice and very suited to their purposes as an older retired couple. We, however, need a place for the kids to amass their impressive array of colored plastic whatnots, and this seemed like as good of a place as any:
The dining room we are repurposing as a dining room-cum-living room, because we rarely eat in a formal dining room, and anyway, we need somewhere to put the TV. Here is what it looked like when the former owners lived here.
Obviously they took all their furniture and art, as well as their chandelier. We did a little more paring down by taking down the much-discussed mirrors, and now we're sort of halfway there with what we need to do with the room, given that we've set a moratorium on buying anything large-scale new for the house.
Instead of one oversized dining room (which we will never use), we split the space into two separate areas. We kept the dining space but moved it a little bit over towards the former mirror walls, and made the rest of the space into more of a living area using our old dog-pee couches. How do you make old couches look somewhat less terrible? Well, the grown-up answer is to reupholster them, but you overestimate the investment value of our furniture--these are really, really cheap couches. So for now, we just got some neutral, bright slipcovers, and I splurged on (well, splurged is the wrong word--they were pretty cheap--let's say sprung for ) some new couch cushions at Home Goods.
I got a neutral jute rug (on the recommendation of the lovely Miss AB Chao--we solicited her advice for the family room but then we ran out of money for anything new, and anyway, the family room became the box room and now it is extra terrible-looking, though STAY TUNED WORLD, we may get our acts together yet) and put it underneath our dining room table. The main reason I got it is to prevent the chairs from scratching up the hardwood floors, but it tries my compulsions every day--particularly my compulsions to make sure everything is at right angles at all times.
I put up this old poster that we had framed a while ago on the mantle, first because we have nothing else to put up, and secondly, because the colors are going to tie into my next project, which is to recover the dining room chairs with new fabric.
Our dining room tables look...sad. If you think I was just kidding about us having pee on all our furniture, well, obviously you don't have two little kids and a dog, because, for realsies, there is old pee everywhere. Kids just want to eat dinner and pee on a chair at the same time, apparently. IT IS THEIR WAY.
Yes, in retrospect, the decision to cover a dining room chair cushion in plain off-white was unfortunate, but look, this was way before I had so many messy beings in my life. But it's OK, because this weekend, I'm going to try to recover the chairs, a project that I've been putting off for (literally) the past two years. And I have a whole bottle of Scotch Guard now. And it's going to be awesome. Just try to pee now, you little detrusors. (No, wait...don't.) Here's the fabric I picked.
Anyway, we're trying to do one of those "big changes, small budget" things, and look, I'm not saying that it's going to look like the palace at Versailles, but at least it will look a little bit more updated and modern and kid-friendly. As long as there's two decent rooms that I can spend time in, I can deal with the fact that the rest of the house looks like some kind of cardboard shantytown.