Sunday, July 1, 2012

revise yourself: family room.

This past week, I bore witness to two momentous occasions. One, I managed to stay so consistently stressed and overheated for days on end that my limbs and face erupted in a rash. It's been spreading since Friday night, and if it hasn't abated by tomorrow, it's back to the dermatologist with me. You know, the same dermatologist who, less than a month ago, excused me from returning every six months to assess the lymphoma situation, since I was supposedly in the clear. (Excuse me while I wipe away the irony that's dripping all over my keyboard.)

And, momentous occasion number two, it was our third house-iversary on the 26th!

Moving day: June 26, 2009

I thought I'd mark the anniversary of us becoming homeowners with some rowdy before-and-afters. Because, really, who doesn't love a success-story-that's-still-in-progress-and-whose-outcome-is-dubious-at-best?! Some rooms have undergone tons of changes and need their own post (or series of posts, kitchen), while others haven't been touched that much (I'm looking at you, upstairs bathroom!).

So we'll dedicate this post to the family room, where J.J. and I undoubtedly spend the most time. It started out a cold, dark, dank room and endured a brief avocado period before I decided that the green read too gray most of the time. It needed to be lightened up. Like, to potentially-obscene levels (read: Big Bird yellow). The paint probably makes the biggest difference, but we've barely left an inch of this room untouched. (Um, other than the floor and the brick wall, that is.)

Starting on moving day, we tore down the rickety "built-in" bookshelves and removed the heavy drapery from the two windows and sliding glass door. A few weeks later, we replaced the windows throughout the house (thanks to the first-time homebuyers' tax credit of 2009!). They were original to the house and were (1) not equipped with LOCKS, (2) about as thick as your average piece of paper - you could actually feel the wind blow when standing next to them, and (3) outfitted with storm windows that came crashing down at unpredictable intervals. The new windows made a huge difference throughout the house, but purchasing them also meant we needed to save up before tackling anything else.

Our next big project in the family room was the mantle. Initially, I had visions of built-ins flanking the fireplace, but, thankfully, my mother-in-law gently encouraged me to wait until we knew the house a little better before making permanent changes. Wise idea. Instead, J.J. and his brother (a carpenter...who, unfortunately for us, lives in Oregon) spent way less money and time to build a fireplace mantle from a kit during our first summer in the house. This past winter, we bought a new fireplace face to replace the brassy doors with broken inner screens. And in between that time, we got married, which meant we were gifted some awesome accessories, and we were able to buy new furniture for the first time in our lives - couches, a coffee table, a television console, and a TV. I stained our hand-me-down bookshelves a deep cherry, rearranged the furniture multiple times, removed the iron gate between the family room and the kitchen, added artwork and new lighting, and placed the kitchen table in the room. The longest it's gone untouched is these last four months - and that's only because I've been working on the kitchen the entire time!

But let's allow the pictures to really do the talking here. We'll start with the wall opposite the sliding glass doors:

Super-cool bookshelves (and super-cool me,
and super-cool wood paneling) on moving day.
Same wall, different bookshelves (and falling-apart
TV cabinet that I plucked from the side of the road).
Proof that it was green for a hot minute (the green
looks so much better in pictures than it did in real life).
And the view these days! Actually, not even the most recent
view, since the kitchen cabinets are no longer honey-colored.

Moving on to the middle of the brick wall...

The fireplace, after the mantle was built, but before the face was replaced.
With the new face (and my pile of inspiration mags and photos to the left).
Kitchen table now in the family room. We love it there! 

And, finally, the third wall of the room:

On moving day...
...and now flanked by the cherry-stained bookcases.
One more view, for funsies.

The fourth wall, of course, doesn't exist, since the family room opens up to the kitchen, but here's a general before-and-after of that side of the room:

With sneak peeks of J.J., asleep on the couch, and my
sister, sweeping the stairs after we tore up the carpet.

It's an outdated "after" pic, since of course the kitchen is way different these days, but we'll save those "after" pictures for when the kitchen is finished (so, like, never). In the meantime, we're not entirely done with the family room. Still on the list?

  • Hoping to install a gas insert in the fireplace before this winter, since although we spend the most time in this room, it definitely gets the coldest (it's situated over an open crawl space). For us, building a fire turns out to be one of those things that's great in theory, but rarely happens in reality.
  • Painting/staining the kitchen table and buying new chairs. This will happen once I decide what colors I want! Currently leaning towards a white table with dark chairs, but this changes roughly four times a week, so...stay tuned.
  • Replace the rolling nightstand on which our snake's aquarium sits - hopefully before we have a mobile child who pulls the aquarium down and (a) hurts him/herself, and (b) frees the snake (please gods no).
  • Find rugs for the couch area and underneath the kitchen table (maybe?).
Other than those four projects, though, I don't anticipate any more major changes in the family room. Oh, wait - we do still plan on cutting an enormous hole in the middle of the room and dropping a hot tub in it (since, of course, it's over the crawl space). We'll add a sliding top to it, and the whole world will be jealous of our family room hot tub. ...Or not.

So that's one room down in this revision series...and, like, nine more to go! Plus the exterior of the house, which is currently a funky mix of crispy brown grass and lush, colorful vegetables (can you guess where we've been rationing our water during this drought?). It's so much fun for me to record the changes we've made, especially since it doesn't seem like three whole years have elapsed since closing day. Expect part two tomorrow, barring any drastic news from the dermatologist / any more work-related disasters!

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