Tuesday, August 09, 2011

god bless the swedes

The real injustice of this week is that it's only Tuesday.  Oh my god, so tired.  Anyway, it's a really busy week at work, and since I'm on call this weekend so it's only due to get worse--however, to placate the voyeuristic and the design-minded, let me show you what we did with the family room of our house this weekend.

OK, so first, the before.  I don't have any good "before" photos, because who has time to take them, right? But here, for your viewing pleasure, are some pictures off the real estate website when the house was listed.  The notations were originally for Anna Beth, who I asked to lend a hand and fancy eye to the proceedings, but they serve as a pretty good general indication of how I felt about this room, which was that it was beige, tile-floored, and felt like a 1980's "modern" living room, which is to say: not very modern at all.  

Anyway, the former owners of this house were amazing and we're more fond of them than we probably have any right to be (seriously though, they are adorable), but an older retired couple with no kids has different living space considerations than we do. (Exhibit A: so many highly breakable things balanced atop so many other highly breakable and questionably balanced things.) It was a nice room they way they had it, and it has nice light both inside and out, but it just felt kind of beige and cold to me, and with all that tile, there was more than a little bathroom-y vibe to it all.

In my rich fantasy life, I thought of a lot of ways to warm up the room--replacing the tile floor with hardwood (or at least laminate) was one.  But we had a pretty tight budget to work with, and some fairly specific needs.  Mainly, we needed a convertible guest room.  Our house has three bedrooms and no basement, and therefore no dedicated guest space.  Granted, we've only had Joe's parents stay overnight up until this point, but remember also that Cal is getting into Sleepover Age and the desirability of an overnight rumpus room in which to put our Wii and contain the restless natives cannot be overstated.  So anyway, we basically needed a room where we could put a fold-out bed for grandparents; if the kids could use the room for recreation and chicanery the rest of the time, all the better.

Anyway, we worked on it this weekend, and this is what the room looks like now.

Again with the crazy rug.  I LIKE THE RUG, GUYS.  Originally I had gotten a jute rug for that area, but between the tile and the walls and the couch, everything just felt very neutral, and I just wanted something warm and vibrant to brighten up the room.  And if that rug looks familiar, it's because you've seen it here and here before.  (Yes, I realize there is still one moving box there by the door, but it's headed for Goodwill.)

A view from the other side.  I prefer empty space to furniture in general, but we needed something to put the TV on, and I insisted that whatever thing we got had doors to hide all the electronic detritus that lives near TVs (remote controls, Wii controllers, what have you). We have the TV balanced on a low open bookcase in the other room, and the sight of all those DVDs and wires flopping around in there is threatening to drive me slowly insane.  I blame too many episodes of "Hoarders" but the sight of clutter really makes me itch now--clutter behind closed doors, however, is still OK.  (The thing we have the TV on in this picture is actually a dining room sideboard from Ikea--Joe used his man skills to carve two holes in the back out of which to poke all our wires and connectors.)

Behind the couch and sitting area I put a little reading nook with all of the kids books, a furry rug, and some pillows to flop on.  Joe thinks it is redundant to have reading nook here when already we have a rocking chair near another pile of bookshelves in a different part of the house (we have what might be charitably described as a crapload of bookshelves), but I reminded him that READING IS FUNDAMENTAL and at any rate, I liked having all the kid's books in one spot, and on low shelves that they can reach.  I don't think I ever told you guys the story about how Cal once tried to climb up one of our bookshelves and ended up pulling the whole shelf down on top of himself (luckily there was actually very little in the bookshelf, which was a blessing but also probably contributed to the fact that it was so easy to tip over in the first place), but there you have it, Child Protective Services. All kids books on the low shelves, heaviest books on the bottom, strategic stabilizing brackets up top.  PHYSICS.

OK, anyway, I just wanted to show you guys what we had worked on.  It's not done yet, as obviously we have nothing to hang on the walls yet and clearly we have, like, way too many Billy bookcases (at present count we own six) but--there it is for now.

Tomorrow I have to present at our monthly M&M conference, which is always a wonderful learning experience but of course excruciating all the same.  To celebrate, or to at least appease, I indeed will be bringing in to work a giant jar of peanut butter M&Ms with the intent of quelling the seething masses.  Ask me tomorrow how that went over.


  1. Anonymous8:53 PM

    I love IKEA (and by association Sweden)! As a soon-to-be college freshman, it is my go-to place for all dorm room related furniture and accessories.

    A note: I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and although I realize I probably don’t meet its usual demographic standard, I find everything you write about fascinating. Your book was funny, heartwarming, and inspirational. I hope to emulate you as I pursue a career in medicine.

    Lea D.

  2. What a transformation! Looks great Michelle! My dad works for IKEA, so I'm always happy to see people enjoying their furniture. :)

  3. Looks great, and I love the rug. Before I clicked through, I just saw the "before" pictures and didn't realize they were from the original listing. I was going to keep it to myself, but I couldn't help thinking, "I didn't realize she had such terrible taste!"

  4. Looks great! I think the rug really works in the room. What color is your couch, and is it from IKEA, too?

  5. Anonymous12:33 AM

    I'm sorta in love with the strategically placed dinosaur ;)

  6. Awesome! you collect the Eyewitness books! I LOVED watching the shows on PBS when I was growing up too.

  7. The "man skills" comment was awesome!! I could not help having a flashback of Tim Allen and grunting!

    Grandparents on a fold out sofa? that should cut down of the length of the visits (do sleeper sofas still have that evil wicked bar running under the mattress that has been attributed to long term crabbiness?).

    I love the sole dinasaur keeping watch.

    I alao have to wonder if you crammed all the cords and controllers in the tv stand seconds before you snapped the photos. I just cannot imagine the room being that neat with two small boys about.

  8. I can't believe I did not discover your blog earlier. I also began blogging when I started medical school, and am now a 4th-year. I've enjoyed your past entries, and love how you combine personal with professional with vigor and skill. I put your book on my Amazon wish-list.

    Beautiful RUG -I love colorful rooms. Hospitals could learn something from your style.

    Also I wish you had been there when the surgeon told my 3rd-year medical student colleagues and I that eating during M&M was unprofessional. I also dreamed of M&M's at M&M. Love it!


  10. Heh, me too, kinda. Thanks, Dr. Chao.

  11. Nurse Bella12:25 AM

    Love the Billy bookcases - that's what we have in our house too! ... about 4 of them ... and I love the rug!!

  12. Love the rug!

    Billy bookcases - functional & reasonably priced!

    a couple of bean bags may be nice too for the reading nook...

  13. Anonymous8:09 AM

    Looks great! I am a bit worried about the white rug though... ;)

  14. Dear Dr. Michelle,

    It’s a great pleasure to read your blog. I find your post s so interesting. I did enjoyed reading it especially that is somewhat different on your usual work. I also think that the crazy rug made a great compliment on your room.

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    We would love for you to visit our community. It's free, takes seconds, and is designed for physicians only - completely free of industry bias and commercial interests.

    Ruby Abarcas
    On behalf of the Physician Nexus Team

  15. I think the vignetting in the After photos makes it look better. Still, it looks nice. Better, at least.

    Okay, it's fantastic.

  16. I have a site I think you will love:

    Ikea Hackers!!! Take Ikea units and really add the Y into DIY.


  17. Anonymous9:32 PM

    Love it! Bright. practical and homey. We have the same chairs. The cute little Eames chairs are much nicer than the giant leather Eames recliner from the old owners, imho. Good work!