Thursday, October 18, 2007

Growing pains and challenges...

You know that feeling that you get when you walk into someone's home and feel instantly welcome and at home? Your surrounded by their color scheme and a home decor style just reaches out and touches your soul. The room spaces are well-drined and co-ordinate beautifully with one another. Well lately, I haven't been feeling that in our home, mainly due to the fact that we have remodeled and redecorated almost every room in our home except our living room area.

Why? Because our living room has always been a challenge to me decorating-wise. It says, "big, rectangular box" to me with so many problems. There's no defined entry way, no architechural details, and the traffic pattern throughout the space is a designer's worst nightmare! I believe I may have referred to this in the past but anyways, let me share some of our home's history and some of the dilemma's we've faced and somehow managed to overcome.

Originally, when Don's dad built our home in the 1950's, this area of town was all country. There were no cities limits like we have currently, no "low-income housing" project to the west of us, no middle-income housing development to the east... just a WIDE OPEN COUNTRY space. But anyways, Don's father originally purchased two acres of land and built our current home on one of them. The second acre was used for gardening, raising chickens, a farm animal or two, and the views back then, must have been spectacular, especially with the one open field we have to the rear of our property! {what I wouldn't give to have that now! Although, I still count my blessing to have an acre of land in the city!}

Anyways, our home was originally a one floor plan, two-bedroom, ranch style home. Over the years and as his family grew, a few remodels were made to convert the home to a story and a half containing of a half basement/half crawlspace, and a large walk-in attic over the rest of the house.

Where our living room is currently, then was two separate rooms. One half was Don's parents bedroom, and the other half served as their living room. Neither rooms were large by themselves, but fast forward a few years to when another large addition was added onto the east side that consisted a hallway that leads to a stairway of a half basement under the addition, access to a rear entrance to our current rear deck, and access to two bedrooms on the ground floor. Another addition was added onto the rear of the house to enlarge the kitchen with an additional room. Those changes allowed for the currently area, known as our living room to be opened up into one.... well, a rather large, long, narrow, rectangular box!

Over the years, Don's family has either owned or inhabited this home. His father passed away, his mother and sister's families lived here for many years, until they decided they desired more of a country setting since the city limits changed and the housing developments were made. The home was used as a rental property for a few years prior to Don's purchasing it from his family.

Don lived in the home for many years with his ex-wife and son, Shawn. Shawn was raised here, until he grew and left home to strike out on his own. In the meantime, Don and his wife, Karen divorced and she re-married and relocated to California. Shortly afterwards, my marriage feel apart and since Don and I had always been the best of friends, I moved in with him and we began our lives together.

Ever since I moved in, we've made many changes to the home. We relocated the washer and dryer to the guest bedroom, now known as Alexxis's nursery. A wall and bi-fold doors were added to contain them. Walls were painted, carpet was added. Shortly after, we remodeled the kitchen, adding new kitchen cabinets, counter tops, and wood flooring. We added the rear deck that stretches across the entire length of the rear of the house. We, then, closed off of the doorways to a bedroom leading off the rear hallway, and opened up the two room to create one large master-style suite without a bathroom. Since it's only Don and I, we have no intentions of selling our home, we're both beyond the "starting a new family" stage, we had no need for three bedrooms, so we decided to make ourselves cozy! Well, that is except for the living room area.

As I've mentioned, this area of our home has always been my worst nightmare. It's long... 29'; narrow... 11'6". It features our home's front entrance with no well defined foyer area, centered along the south wall; the traffic pattern leads into the kitchen across the room, which "invisibly" divides the two spaces.

Over the course of the years, we've painted {many times!}, added two walls of hickory paneling and faux crowning molding to provide some sense of architectural detail, and have basically struggled to get it "just right!"

Another challenge we've faced is that the opposite end of the room,which I consider the TV viewing area, for lack of a better term... consists of a traffic pattern leading to the hallway and bedrooms. The room is situated on the south-west corner of the house so obtaining natural lighting into the space has always been a consideration when we've attempted decorating it.

Well, probably needless to say, but I'm going to anyways... is that we don't have a whole a lot of money to change this space, so I have to take that into consideration. For years, I've made due with what I currently own to decorate with. It's not uncommon for me to re-arrange furniture, taking home decor elements out of one room and utilizing them into another. So, I began taking that possibility into consideration.

I looked at what "our home" means to both of us and discovered that our home is... our shelter, our sanctuary from the outside world; it's a place of refuge, of comfort, a place where we can return to, to nourish our souls.It's where we, as a couple, live, laugh, and love with our family and friends. And I quickly realized, that when I/we/company enters our home, our living room isn't reflecting that. Instead, its a very eclectic mix of this and that! There's no real defined style or theme. So, I began looking at what we need to keep in the space, what we can change inexpensively, and began soul-searching for what it is we desire within the space.

Several things I discovered, I no longer love. The big screen TV, for instance. Oh, I love the large screen, but I wouldn't have purchased the black and silver finish it is encased within. Can we afford to change it? No. So, what if, instead of fighting it, I learn to love it, learn to embrace it, instead of struggling with it?
How can I make that possible? What can I do to achieve that, became my next question.

As I wandered around our home, I made my way into the kitchen to refill my coffee, when out of nowhere it hit me. As I looked around, I noticed the use of black and white within the space, and how scattered here it there it somehow pulled the room together. Can I make that happen in our living room? I thought about how I had painted our kitchen red last year and suddenly remembered, paint isn't too awful expensive and a good place to begin. So, I began considering some of the color choices I've made in other areas of our home. I realized I loved the beige color in our bedroom, how I always thought I'd like to change the Behr Restful green in my studio to a light or medium shade of beige one day. Then, it hit me! What if I took the artwork and some of my favorite pieces I've created out of my studio and utilized them in the living room? That was it! The solution, I'd been striving for. I could see it, in my mind's eyes, well until I realized that I needed to include Don in this decision. How would he feel with this? Would he enjoy it as much as I seemed to be while entertaining this idea? Well, there was only one way to find out and that was to talk to him about it. As I thought about it, I wondered how do I make him see what I see? So, I grabbed some magazines, browsed rooms online that I felt drawn to, noted what attracted me and discussed it with him. And the good news is that he is as excited about decorating this space as I am!

We discussed what we couldn't afford to change, what elements we'd keep, what we could do with some of the elements we didn't like. We discussed lighting and paint and... so many other things. We noticed a few obstacles, like the pattern on our furniture, options to change it, like slipcovers and even purchasing new! So we went out yesterday to browse and begin exploring some of those things. We visited a furniture store, a home improvement store to picked out paint samples, looked at lighting. Not desiring to limit ourselves we decided to check out another home improvement store near us for options available there.

As we were looking at paint samples and had chosen a few, I decided to seek a friends opinion of what I desired for the space. Terry, a friend of ours, works in the paint department of this particular store, so I explained to him what I could see in my minds eye. I showed him the color samples Don and I had chosen and Terry said, "Wait a minute!" and ventured over to a counter nearby. Can you imagine our surprise when we realized he had two gallons of one of our chosen colors? Someone had chosen it, too, and changed their minds on purchasing it! And the best part? We could purchase it for $5.00 a gallon! It is more than enough paint for the space so we purchased it!

Figuring, we had saved some money on paint... we made our way to another home decor store to look at shelving ledges. Well, we didn't find the ledges we were after, but I did discover some jacquard curtains that will allow me to keep the existing sheer curtains we have in the room and they co-ordinate beautifully with the color scheme and design we're desiring to achieve.

Anyways, it's a start! We've paint, new curtains that work with what we already have, and we're enjoying all the possibilities. Later today, we're heading back to a furniture store in Dalton, Ohio that we'd previously visited in hopes of finding the "just right" coffee table and end stands. The company there will also custom design furniture so we plan to discuss some storage solutions for the electrical components that accompany the TV. We're thinking with some planning, some legwork, some elbow-grease, and a little money we will finally have that living room that's warm and welcoming. The one that says, "Welcome home" to us and "Welcome to our family and friends." I can't wait to "invite you in!" but have decided since we'll be working on the area, we'll just spare you the construction zone, LOL! We do hope to share some bits and pieces as finish them along the way and will reveal the final redecorating with you when it's complete.

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