Sunday, January 07, 2007

Living Room 2.0

Our living room had a long gestation. Or, perhaps more accurately, a difficult adolescence.

Alex designed our house, and he did a good job. I picked up some home design catalogs for 50 cents at the library book sale, and he took a couple of plans he found in the catalogs and combined them into a design that he liked.

He spent a lot of time playing with it on the computer and I mostly tried to ignore him, since at that time I had no interest in moving back to Costa Rica. When he had a plan that he liked, he finally called me over to the laptop and showed me the design.

I surprised myself by liking it very much. It had character. It had style. It wasn't just a cinder block box. And somehow, the thought of building a house that nice suddenly made the thought of moving back to Costa Rica a lot more palatable. There had been nothing particularly wrong with the house we had lived in prior to moving up to the states, but this...this was a Very Nice House.

So I added some minimal input (More windows! More! Bwahahahaha! More!) and he took care of the rest. When we moved into it, it was almost exactly like his design (don't ever build a house without being there. Trust me.) And, it was a lot bigger than I had imagined.

The square footage is just...really, really abundant. Which is nice, for the most part. But it's actually a problem in the living room, which we've never been able to arrange satisfactorily. We have a living room set (sofa, coffee table & two chairs) and a round dining table with four chairs, and no matter how I arranged them, they always looked kind of lost in all that space.

Anyway, a while after Alex came home in September, I suggested moving the television from our bedroom down to the living room. I thought it would be nice if getting into bed weren't always something one did with one's thumb on the remote, and while I know he really enjoys watching the news (simultaneously with whatever's on the other 12 channels) in the evening, if I'm not in the right frame of mind it can really wreck my own transition into blissful slumber.

He didn't think it sounded like that great an idea, so I just dropped it. Then two weeks ago he came up to me with this revolutionary new thought: what if we were to put the television in the living room??? Well, I thought we could give it a try, so we did.

Before moving back to Costa Rica, you see, he had gone to Wal-Mart and bought a home theater system. He shipped it here in a box with a bunch of other stuff that arrived a month or so ago, and apparently he had gotten the urge to try it out. The configuration of the bedroom, however, didn't really lend itself to the proper placement of the five little speakers that need to be arrayed about in a magical mystery configuration.

And you know what? We all like it down there. We spent the afternoon hooking red cables to red terminals and blue cables to blue terminals and Tab A and Slot B and, having given up on caring much about the living room furniture, I just shoved it into position across from the television, then sat down with the girls and watched their favorite movie. Which sounded great with the home theater, by the way.

And when we were finished with that nice, snuggly family time, we stood up, looked around and said, "Damn if this furniture doesn't look pretty good, sitting there where it is!"

After a week, Alex and I went down to the town and bought a small entertainment unit that can comfortably hold all of our consumer electronics and I spent another afternoon fitting Tab A into Slot B, this time adding masking tape to show which of the four identical plugs in the power strip belongs to which of the not-so-identical aparati above. I even had a pack of actual cable ties that I put to good use so the back of the thing looks a little less like a plate of multicolored spaghetti.

While we were visiting furniture stores and comparing entertainment units, it occurred to us to ask about couches. You see, we have this old ratty couch (not the one in the living room) that we had been planning to reupholster. We picked out fabric last week, but hadn't bought it yet because we needed to talk to whoever was going to do the work and find out how many meters of fabric it would actually take.

So in passing, while looking at entertainment units (and nightstands), we asked the guy at one place about the sofas. They don't usually sell just the sofa, because they receive them as part of a living room set. But this place works directly with the manufacturers, and any given couch can be ordered as a stand-alone. Just for the heck of it, we asked how much this particular one was, and it turned out to be about 30% less than we were getting ready to spend on repairing the old ratty one. And then we sat down on it and it was soooo comfortable.

It's actually a love seat - a two-holer, you could say. And it's got a simpler design that we both like better than the one we were going to redo. And it's solid blue, which matches our other furniture. And when the girls watch their bedtime video, their feet won't have to touch in the middle of the couch because they'll each have their own couch.

Boy was that a no-brainer.

Unfortunately, we couldn't bring both the sofa and the entertainment unit home on the same day because, well, we have a roof rack but there are limits. So we'll have to go back for the sofa on Monday.

But I think the living room has finally come of age. We've started using it again for the first time since we built the house, and even sat down around the coffee table and played animal Bingo with the girls before bed the other night.

I took a picture for you, and while I was taking it I noticed that an appropriate song was playing on the radio.


meredith January 07, 2007 1:39 PM  

I love that song! It looks like your "Our house" is indeed a very very nice house :)

Dad January 07, 2007 2:57 PM  

Wow - that DOES look good!

All you need to do is to change "two cats" for "three dogs" and you're home free.

Where will the new couch go? And, on the matter of ["And when the girls watch their bedtime video, their feet won't have to touch in the middle of the couch because they'll each have their own couch"] how will it be determined which girl gets the new couch on any particular night?

I'm wondering about lighting for the table in its new location. Could you maybe get a bracket lamp and mount it on one of the spindles of the railing above? Or is it close enough to the double lamp above where the sofa used to be to get enough light from that?

Our tree is still up, too, and we're going to leave it up a few more days. I mean, we were gone for most of 11 days over the holidays, and scarcely had time to enjoy it. We (well, Mom) did take down the house decorations yesterday. I participate by carrying boxes and unpacking/repacking the attic.


Sandy January 07, 2007 5:19 PM  

you sure know how to start trouble! LOL

Jennifer January 07, 2007 5:39 PM  

We don't actually ever use that table, so the point is moot.

And the girls can jolly well take turns on the couches, or lose the video fighting over it.

(Takes more than Dad to start trouble around here!)

Julie January 08, 2007 11:53 AM  

Looks very living-ish, congratulations! And it's fun to hear more of your story. I didn't realize you lived back in the States for a while and that your house was self-designed. Cool!

Erin January 08, 2007 2:48 PM  

I'm with Julie, it's very fun to hear more of the back story. Your living room looks very nice and homey. It's amazing how sometimes things shouldn't be thought about too much. Form following function and all that.

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