Thursday, December 8, 2011

Living Room Overhaul, Part I

The final room on deck for the Complete House Overhaul was the living room, which seems kind of odd, since it's the first room you come into (after passing through the mudroom) and the room visitors are most likely to spend time in, but that's just how it worked out.

I tend to clean in bulldozer fashion, starting in one corner of the house and pushing all the detritus ahead of me. So it has been on a much larger scale with this whole house overhaul, and much of the clutter that had been evicted from other rooms had sort of found a temporary landing place in the living room. Add that to the fact that I kind of neglected general weekly housekeeping since March, and this is what I had to contend with:

I kind of cheated and got started on the living room in November, cleaning and tidying the weekends before and after Thanksgiving. I did all the usual decluttering, dusting, vacuuming and mopping every nook and cranny like in the other rooms (I even kept on mopping right through the kitchen which I have not mopped, apparently, in months), and C patched and painted two walls that had never gotten their third coat, but much remains undone, and won't happen this month. But I want to throw out there my plans for the room in hopes that it will keep me moving forward and getting this room done in the next few months.

In this corner of the room, I'd like to put a tall corner cabinet (though that will deprive me of some high-value photo-hanging real estate) and under one of the windows, I'd like a low cabinet or bookshelf to hold the kids' toys and the TV (C has been lobbying for me to buy him a flat-screen TV for Christmas. I don't believe in spending money on TV--we're on our third hand-me down--however the smaller profile would be nice and a new TV would be free of PBDEs). Hmmm...

2011 was supposed to be The Year of the Couch. This is the fourth hand-me down couch we've owned and I truly hate it--it's ugly and uncomfortable and I can't stand all the loose pillows that end up on the floor 18,000 times a day. My dream couch has a camel back, scrolled arms, claw feet and is upholstered in midnight blue velvet (like something you might find on the set of a film adaptation of a Jane Austen novel). And doesn't contain chemical flame retardants or stain-proofing. And has never had anyone's butt (or cats or dogs) on it. Do you know where I can find such a couch?

I would like new art work above the mantel. Nothing against Modigliani's lady in blue, but I'm kind of tired of her. I'd really like a piece of original art in bright colors. And speaking of mantels, I would like one of those too. I was going to go to a landscaping company and buy a long, narrow, flat stone to lay atop the uneven, unfinished bricks, but suddenly it was winter and I'd missed landscaping season. First thing next spring.

We eliminated a big, ugly old rolltop desk (which served only as a clutter collector) and a filing cabinet from this wall. We have big plans for it that I will tell you all about when those plans arrive (any day now, I think). Right now it plays host to M's guitars (tell me, why does a ten-year-old need three guitars?) and various ukeleles and mandolins (don't look at the left side of the picture, or you'll see my desk is still quite cluttered). 

I bought one of those stair-step baskets that for some reason I remember being The Thing in the 80s (maybe they were on some TV show?) so that instead of piles and piles of toys creating a deadly trap on the bottom six stairs, the boys' junk all goes in the basket and when it's full, they're supposed to take it up and put things away (supposed being the operative word here). I also want to get one of these drying racks for the space near the wood stove, for drying mittens and snow pants.

This little art corner has been a perennial problem. I think some kind of cabinet or at least book shelves would make it a little less chaotic.

So, as you can see, still a bit of work needs (OK, wants) doing in here, but for now it is reasonably tidy and cozy (and freshly decorated for Christmas). The original goal when I started all this was to get my house so clean it would just stay that way. I have found along the way that it's easier to keep things clean when you have less stuff. So the decluttering has helped immensely. Also I've been working on just tidying things up as needed--cleaning the sink in the bathroom when it's dirty rather than thinking, oh I better do that Saturday, or picking up (and putting away) items as I pass through a room, or taking five minutes in the evening to tackle a "hot spot." Now I think I can get back to my weekly House Bewitching and be able to stay on top of things without putting too much time into house work.

Here are the Total House Overhaul Archives (in case you missed out on any of the clean-and-declutter excitement the first time around).

My Room Part I and Part II
The Boys' Room Part I and Part II
The Kitchen
The Sunroom
The Mudroom

I would like to say that this concludes my flurry of organization, but there's still the basement... 


  1. Your living room looks cheery and bright, and now that you've figured out the things you want/need, you might just find them. Good luck!

  2. It looks great! You've done so much with your house this year.

    And when you find the source for that couch, let me know!

  3. I've just caught up on the amazing house overhaul. This may be a new goal for me for 2012. (It's always a goal...just one that peters out around February.) The changes in these photos are inspiring and reassuring - congratulations.

  4. I left a comment earlier but it's not here. I love how your home looks, and it's so funny how I look at your sofa and your lady in blue and think "I need to find those things somewhere!" and you want to get rid of them. Your home is so inviting and cozy, and I love looking through your archives! (Hang on, is that a creepy thing to admit? I'm not stalking you, I promise! ;) )

  5. Thank you everyone! It does feel so cozy now that I have tamed some of the chaos.

    Motherlogue--you know, I found it worked great to tackle one room per month, maintaining a mental image of what I wanted to accomplish in that room. The rest of the house went into shambles while I focused on that one room, but now it's all pretty much clean (to my standards, which I have to say are not my grandmother's!)

    Miri--Not creepy at all! I love looking through other people's blog histories. That's what they're out there for. Thanks for giving me some perspective on my lady in blue and couch (though really I have to tell you the couch is very uncomfortable and the kids throw the pillows all over the living room every day!)


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