Thursday, May 2, 2013

small, cozy space vs the cavernous room with no furniture

One of the problems with purging half your furniture and then buying a bigger new house is that you might end up with a room like this:

There is a sofa and a side table in the living room.  And that's about it.  (This lovely blank canvas is the room you walk into when you open the front door.  Welcome to my zen abode, and please seat yourself on a tatami mat.)  It is not currently in my budget (nor will it be for a while) to furnish this room.

I thought that this room would serve as the playroom for a while. You can see the play kitchen on the right side of the picture, and the rest of the toys are on the opposite wall.  All the toys are sort of in the middle of the room, and then there is a step up into the dining room.

The only problem with this room acting as the playroom is that the kids have zero desire to play in here.  "The stripe rug is SO ITCHY, MOM."  I removed the stripe rug, but to no avail.  The kids gravitate towards the furnished family room on the other side of the house, dragging their toys with them.

I think that the room probably feels a bit cavernous and empty to them.  It is a pretty big space, especially without furniture. Plus, my kids like to hide in closets and make tents under chairs--they like small, enclosed spaces.  Today I opened the pantry to find Princess and an orphanage of dollies playing on the floor.  "What are you doing in here?"  "I live in here."

As she has taken up residence in a closet that is under the stairs, we are expecting her admittance letter to Hogwarts in a few years.

Which brings me to the furnished, cozy family room.  It is not finished or decorated, but it does have a soft rug and furniture.  The day we moved in I had two bookshelves set up at the end of the room (I don't have a full picture, but you can see part of it.)

These were the shelves that had our decor items like ginger jars and thingamabobs in the last house. But, the more I thought about it, I wanted two things in that space that the decor-filled shelves would not provide.  First, I wanted the childrens books in the family room, and the other bookshelves in the room are already full.  Second, I wanted a place to hang the kids' art that wasn't in a hallway, and if we used low bookshelves it was a perfect spot.  I want this house to reflect how we live, not how decor looks pretty.  The decor needs to serve us, not the other way around.

So the decor shelves moved out to the garage (as did the decor, it remains for the moment in boxes in the garage), and two low bookshelves moved in.  I have plans for another Ikea narrow bookshelf between the two that will hold crayons and coloring books.

But!  Speaking of decor serving us, not the other way around...since my kids are bringing all the toys in here anyways.....I could move the toys into that corner, instead of the books.

Problems: where do the books go? I greatly miss the landing at the top of the stairs in the old house, where all these books lived in the last house.

Furniture placement and spatial arrangements are not one of my many skills. I generally get there in the end, but it can take me a year or more of living in a place before figuring out a good furniture arrangement.  I am sad that I am not one of the "here's my fully completed beautiful room with professionally taken photographs" kind of girl, but you will all have to suffer through being my sounding board for ideas.

What would you do?  Keep in mind you have no money to buy furniture.  (You might have the budget for a large teepee in the living room, that would be a fun cozy space, yes?)


  1. Can the the two wider tall book cases filled with the adult books fit on either side of the windows on the fireplace wall in the living room? Then you can move the couch to face the fireplace? That would fill up some of the space in the living room and make it seem like more is going on in there.

    That would open up the wall in the family room to have additional book cases for more kids books as they grow. In the mean time you can flank the Besta unit in the family room with the smaller kids bookcases next to the tall narrow bookcases. (If they are all Ikea it should work!) The toys should be able to go where the small book cases were and still be low enough to have an art gallery on that wall.

    I <3 Spacial Planning!

  2. I agree--turning your Living room into a "library" should work--and use the decor shelves, there, too. Definitely put the couch facing the fireplace--float it. A table behind it, facing the entrance way to make it more inviting to look at?

    It cn take a year or so to figure out how to set it up so the place functions well for you. There's really no rush. We will be patient!

  3. I forgot to mention, Emily Clarke did a nice little piece a few days back on how to place a bed under windows in a bedroom. Thought of you as I read it. Here it is:

    PS: That family room looks fabulous! Some artwork on that wall where the toys will be (made by the kids, of course) and some drapes and it is done. Great bones.

  4. Teepee: Yes! Absolutely!

    That's the only one of your questions I have a good answer to. I also need to live in a space before I really know. So my other advice is: Just live for a while. Make little tweaks as you see they need to be made. The big changes will reveal themselves over time.

    I'd so much rather read a real blog than a pretty one. Because you want your space to serve your life (rather than just be pretty) I don't think you can ever be that other kind of girl. This is a good thing.

  5. Since you have the pretty windows immediately adjacent to the fireplace, what about putting the two blue-backed bookcases in the corner? It looks like they'd just fit, and have a little room to spare for drapes. Definitely float the sofa (front facing the fireplace), put an armchair/pair of side chairs to the right of the fireplace to balance the bookshelves, and then move all of the kid stuff into the family room? Although I just love how awesome your family room looks right now, this might help solve the current bareness in your living room until your money tree starts producing tens and twenties.

  6. P.S. When your money tree starts giving you those tens and twenties, let us all know how you did it :o)

  7. loving the coziness of the second space, and love the SPACE of the first one!!! what a great room to work with!

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  9. Yes, live with it for a while. Over time, it will become more clear what to do with your living room. Mine is supposed to be a divided living/dining room area, but it's more a family library, relaxing space. No dining table at all.

    I do know that I'm very itchy to pull your couch away from the window and bring it further into the room, avoiding that "dance floor" feeling. Unless, of course, that's what your family is doing in there! ;)

  10. Am I the only one who LIKES the room looking simple and un-cluttered? Maybe get two or three ottomans (for you, since you have kids with lots of stuff, storage ottomans) so when you have company there's room for lots of people to sit. But tons of stuff doesn't need to be shoved in there; it looks nice as it is.

  11. Put the books on the Billy's that you will be having in your dining room. "They say" all rooms should have duel purposes. A library/dining room is one of my fantasies.


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