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Archive for the ‘Home Decorating’ Category

I’m in a lot of pain today, and I’m feeling discouraged and blue. The mild physical therapy I just started has badly inflamed my back, and there are few things more pity-party inducing than yet another failed solution for chronic pain. So, I thought it would be a good time to write about two pictures I have in my home that always make me smile — even on days like today.

Picture A:

What a face! It works like instant Prozac every time.

My heart is melting. His squinty right eye. His wrinkled nose. His funny little puckered mouth. His hairy double chin! What a delight.

I picked up this print for $2 at a local church’s semi-annual rummage sale, and now it hangs in my sunroom/studio.

Picture B:

Another rummage-sale find. $4, maybe? This little friend hangs out above my kitchen sink.

Even though it’s almost 100 degrees outside, I can’t bear to put him away.

There now, I may be feeling better already. Perhaps I’ll tackle the last bit of my life coaching inventory now. . .

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In case you need a refresher, here’s my terrifying “before” shot:

Now, hold your breath, because just 7 days and $115 later, behold the transformation:

Can you believe that?? I’m still in shock — glorious, happy shock, but shock.

The chair and foot rest came first. New at Ikea, they cost about $140, plus tax. I picked them up off Craigslist for $40. The man who sold them to me listed the set for $45, but when I arrived, before I could say anything, he offered, “How about just $40, since you had to drive so far.” Um, sure, that works for me. $40 it is. I handed over the money, and then he proceeded to tell me all the reasons I might not want the chair. It could have dust in it, you know. They vacuumed it regularly, and it probably got only a week’s worth of use, but you just never know how much dust is still there. Then he looked it over for defects. A scratch on the leg. And the dust — oh, the dust! Poor fellow. I’m very pleased with my purchase anyway. I’m not crazy about the oatmeal color of the cushion, and I prefer the look of birch veneer, but for $40, I’m not complaining. It is very comfortable and takes up far less space than my old reading chair:

Next on Craigslist, I found an Ikea Expedit bookcase that works vertically or horizontally with four baskets. Retail? $122. I carted it away for $50 ($10 off the asking price). I’ve found it very useful to show up before offering less money. Anyone who’s done much Craigslisting understands the frustration of the no-show. You can get a dozen emails, but no one will appear in person. So when someone finally does land on your doorstep, you’d better believe you’ll take a little less!

Getting the darn thing home in our Honda Fit, though, was quite a challenge. By the time my brother and I wedged it into the back of the car far enough to latch the hatch, the front seats were so close to the dashboard that our foreheads almost touched the windshield. We laughed hysterically as we struggled to arrange ourselves. Finally, after regaining our composure and with my knees in my chest and my elbows barely functional, we trucked home very, very slowly. I’ve rarely felt so aware of my mortality; we felt we might fly through the windshield at any moment. I’m glad it’s over.

Finally, the unfinished desk with storage space popped up on Craigslist for only $25. I don’t know how much it cost new, but I’m sure I got a steal of a deal. The top sags a bit in the middle on one side because the lady had been storing a giant television on top of it. Annoying, but since I want to do crafts and other messy things on it, I think it will be just fine. I don’t need a showpiece.

I feel extremely pleased with my progress so far and look forward to finishing the room. I achieved everything Justice and I put on our wish list:

  • Storage space — the bookcase with baskets, plus the nifty drawers and cabinet space in the desk
  • Horizontal work space for two — two people can sit and work together comfortably at the desk, so long as the chairs are staggered
  • Comfortable reading place — my new chair is an absolute dream
  • Comfortable place to write — this has been solved since these pictures were taken. I’ll post about my solution in the next post.
  • Nice place to entertain a friend — it would be a stretch to call the current folding desk chairs “comfortable,” but I’m on the lookout for replacements. As soon as we get them, we’ll have met this goal too. At least I already have the perfect tea set to use!

Now it’s time to do some decorating — walls, curtains, pillows, slip covers, mirrors, art, and accessories. My favorite part!

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Much to my delight, I’m finally transforming our sun room into my very own tree-top studio (I live on the second floor, and all my windows look out into tree branches. I love it!). I’m trying to make more room in my life for creative pursuits, and creating a practical, comfortable space in our home for that is one of my first steps.

This is how the room used to look, when I envisioned it as merely a reading room:

It’s nice and bright but good for only one purpose. Writing in that chair is impossible, as are drawing, painting, collaging, sewing, and all the other things I want to incorporate into my daily life. This arrangement also wastes a lot of space, which you can see in later photos.

I decided to re-vamp this room a few months ago but, given all the preparations for the Europe trip, I postponed the makeover until my return — in retrospect, a very wise decision. Still, before I left for Rome, J and I sat down together and wrote a wish list for the room. We agreed that horizontal creative work space for two, a comfortable chair for reading and writing, pleasant seating for two (perhaps for me to share tea with a friend, while J plays video games in the living room), and extra storage space would be just right. Yet with only 8 feet by 13 feet to work with, chopped up by three doorways (one of them double-wide), a closet that juts out into the room, five windows, a window a/c unit that can’t be blocked, and an important walkway for through traffic, it seemed impossible. Add the tiniest of budgets, and the whole things became perfectly laughable.

But I’m a determined girl, with vision and hope and courage, and I refused to give up. My husband, bless him, didn’t try to dissuade me; he just smiled. Good man.

Flash forward to last Monday, Day 1 of my makeover project. Brace yourself; it isn’t pretty:

This is the “confronting reality” part. Whew. I break out in a cold sweat just looking at that photo. That is my sun room, one week ago, littered with traveling junk, paperwork, empty boxes, full boxes, clothing donations, and whatnot.

More ugliness:

Here’s the other end of the room, with all the wasted space. That door leads downstairs to our cars, so I need to keep the walkway fairly clear for our comings and goings. (That open space to our right leads through our bedroom to the rest of the apartment.) There’s also a small closet built out into the room to the right of the back door, which is what’s propping up the rebounder I never use. It’s a tough corner.

This is how the room looks from our bedroom door:

Glass-paned doors used to separate the two rooms (you may have noticed the doors propped against the windows in a picture above), but we removed them to allow more air flow and to open up the space. We don’t have a lot of square footage, and extra divisions just make the space feel smaller.

The good news is that I’ve been hard at work for 8 days, and I’m proud to report that it looks completely different back there now. I can’t wait to show you the progress I’ve made!

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