Settling In: All The Ways I Wish I Could Make The Most Of Our Current Living Room

Today I feel like a cautious ray of sun peeking out of a dramatic autumn cloudbank. I feel like each word I say sticks and resonates like a dart in a quiet room. I feel a change on the wind. // Day two of this post has me feeling a little like a long-traveling ship that just spotted a distant shoreline. Home is on the horizon.

Photo by Nathan Fertig on Unsplash

Photo by Nathan Fertig on Unsplash

And it seems such a waste of time
If that's what it's all about
Mama, if that's movin' up then I'm movin' out.

- Mr. William Joel

I was feeling a little more loosey-goosey about my writing on Saturday night (the beer didn't hurt, either). I decided that it’s as good of a time as ever to paint a picture with my words (and images from the internet) of what my dream living room looks like.

This has been a two-parter, since I went well past the first hour yesterday, I'm spending another couple of hours on it this Sunday.

This brain dump is focused solely on my current apartment with a focus on longevity and moveability (styles that can translate to a new place someday). Our current "living room" is not so much a room as it is half of the main room in our apartment, where the couch starts and the TV ends. If you’re wondering what it looks like now, picture really high ceilings and wood floors covered with dumb rugs, and nothing but white, scuffed paint in between. It’s bleak.

So let’s imagine what it’ll look like when it’s a perfect oasis!

Starting from the bottom…

Let’s talk about rugs first. Our current IKEA rug looks like a rug you’d find obnoxious in a ten year old boy’s room. I would say I hate it, but it’s actually the only rug that’s fared well over the past three years: it’s easy to clean, has never stained, and hasn’t been eaten by the rabbits.

What I’d really like is a white shag rug, despite all of the warnings otherwise. I like the idea of a clean look. This rug on Amazon claims to be ivory white and stain resistant and has been my pick. In fact, I’m excited to see that the roughly 7x10 size is available in ivory after months of only having the 5x8. I’d love to get a larger rug for Bonnie, my rabbit, because she doesn’t know how to play on the wood floor so she lives exclusively on rugs. Her life is a game of lava.

I also play with the idea of a more colorful rug like this one, but I still want to keep it light. It all depends on what rug I want under my dining table on the other side of the room.

Paint points

I’ve been obsessed with Seasalt by Sherwin Williams. It might be too warm of a color, though, so I might need to go with a blue to make sure to avoid the “apartment yellow” that has long plagued me. Mountain Air looks like it might be a little cooler for me.

We’ve also talked about just repainting it all with a fresh coat of white (maybe in a semi-gloss since it’s all devastatingly chalky). I listen to home podcasts, you guys. I know these new terms.

No sit, Sherlock

Since couches are such a big ticket item, we’ll probably stick with our current IKEA baby for now, but if I’m dreaming, it would be amazing to have a sleeper sofa for guests. If anything, I’d love to get some updated mid-century legs like this for this Karlstad to make it a little more interesting.

Our current glass-topped coffee table drives me crazy, and in hindsight I never would have opted for it. It gets messy, and the metal is sharp and harsh against our geometric rug. I’d like something a little more natural and and organic like this oval sweetheart from West Elm. Or whatever similar one I find for ten dollars at a garage sale, or better yet—free on the side of the road.

My current writing desk is glass-topped too, and it just needs to go. We have far too many desks and tabletops and not nearly enough organization to responsibly handle all of them.

A quirky small sofa like this blue one would be fun, or a couple of side chairs so that we can host friends in a less awkward way than surrounding them on the couch that only fits three people.

And finally, a TV stand that’s more than just a tiny box would be nice. I like tall, white ones like this one (I know, putting myself at risk for the same trap of too much IKEA furniture again). It would provide a little more of a focal point on the wall and give us a little more height to start adding more complimentary wall hangings.

Speaking of wall hangings

WE NEED WALL HANGINGS. I’m sending out an SOS on this one. It wasn’t a priority when we moved out here, but now that we’ve been in this same apartment for three years I’m starting to feel the sad weight of our blank walls.

I keep scouring Shop Goodwill for art that catches my eye, since that looks like the least expensive way to get interesting and unique framed paintings. I haven’t poked around too much on eBay, and I want to shy away from getting wall hangings just for the sake of not having empty walls (although it’s almost gotten to that point a few times).

There are some amazing nerdy things over on Society 6, and I think I’ll go that direction for tabletop and smaller art prints versus focal pieces. I love little nods to shows we love like 30 Rock, Arrested Development, Rick & Morty, and The Office.

On an unrelated note, I’d love to get a portrait of a woman someday for my home—something that celebrates and empowers femininity. I don’t know why, but I feel like another “girl” in the house would be a powerful reminder to embrace both the bold and the soft.

I’d also love to get a big round mirror to get some more light circulating in our space. I love the giant gold mirror trend, and as long as we properly balance it, I think it’d really change the look of our room. Bringing in more natural light would make it an awesome space to bring plants into as well, pothos and air plants being my favorite (because I tend to neglect plants, I need hardy varieties), but I’m digging snake plants and monstera as well.

Textiles + curtains

Our current curtains are a bright and cheerful yellow, and I still love them. The only thing I’d probably do would be remove our vertical blinds and get some more sturdy curtain rods. Since we have such tall ceilings, I might even extend the curtains with another color for a blocked look. If we go through with a more green paint, I might consider switching over to white or cream linen curtains with a bold black rod.

Our pillow game is seriously underwhelming. A couple of tattered pillows from IKEA and a smurf head are all we have at the moment. (Ugh, I’m having a moment where I realize how unimportant all this truly is—we have more smurf heads than many people in the world will ever get and I’m complaining).

I’m personally not happy that our pillows are feather pillows. I’ll keep them on hand so that the animal-created product doesn’t get thrown away in vain, but I’ll be way more selective about the material in my next pillows. A couple new pillowcases like these ones and a few additional throw pillows would up our couch comfort game significantly. I love so much about the pillows from The Citizenry, but the price point is way beyond even my dream budget.

A couple of simple velvet solids and maybe some graphic ones would make it a much more dynamic sitting situation. I also love those faux fur ones, but maybe just a little faux sheepskin draped on the back of the couch would get less physical contact and not get as gross.

The cherry on top

Ultimately, I want a space that’s customized and functional, but I want a few extra touches to make it feel like it’s a real, curated home. Baskets, coasters, candles, cool coffee table books. I know we’re working with limited space, but it’s felt so empty for years and I want it to feel welcoming. Not just to us, but to our guests.

I’ve actually been avoiding entertaining folks because I’m so self-conscious about how much of a bachelor pad this space feels sometimes. Not that that's bad...it's just not a place I feel proud of.

In all honesty, it’s been at least six months since we’ve had a gathering at our place. Typing that out gives me all the feels—we’ve been busy, but not that busy. I’m sure that my lack of enthusiasm about my own apartment has contributed to these doldrums. I love welcoming people and treating them to a wonderful afternoon/evening and I’d like to do it again someday soon. But I can’t even pretend that our space is hospitable or conducive to long, sweet coffee dates or comforting family meals or memorable game nights.

So there you have it! It’s exciting and overwhelming to think about, but verbalizing what I want and why I want it is far more helpful than just a Pinterest board.

What room needs the most love in your house/apartment?