Saturday, August 15, 2009

anatomy of a living room, cheap and cheerful edition

When we're bored with a space, which seems to occur with alarming frequency, we often just move things around the house until we like it better. Seriously, people have been known to get up in the morning here and find a completely different space (creativity breeds insomnia, sometimes). But sometimes, we need more, and in these trying economic times, we wanted to see if we could make a room cozy, and warm, and fun -- a home with heart -- on the cheap. So we did! This is a comfy living space, jam packed with games and craft materials, pleasant to hang out in with kids and friends . . . and we set it up for very little money. Here's how we did it: first, we bought a pair of sweet settees at an estate sale. (Caveat: give it the sniff test, and look really carefully at the piece in strong light -- reupholstery, though we love it, tends to be very expensive.) These were less than $200 for both, and set up facing each other like this, they foster conversation, and feel a little bit like a railway carriage . . . next, we threw a woolly tartan blanket over an old ottoman we had, and plopped a tray on top for drinks and things. Perfect for putting the feet up; in fact, I'm doing that now! Next, a leather morrocan pouf with crazy gilt pictures, bought at the flea market for $20 and buffed up with saddle soap. Voila, extra seating, especially loved by kids. The console table was a restoration hardware floor model find, cheap, and we loaded it up with one of the kid's collections of old globes (steal from kids' spaces in your house! they're full of things with fun and energy!) Our littlest one has been using the slate fireplace surround as a chalkboard -- why not? It's slate! We can't bring ourselves to erase his funny portraits. The little tables at each side of the fireplace are shell inlaid, not from a pricey boutique, but from homegoods (be careful, homegoods can be great, but limit your purchases to what you absolutely love). Each table holds a glass sphere lamp, bought at Pier One for cheap, cheap (but change out the shades: these were on sale at Anthropologie). The mantle features a $45 red framed 1950s map of the United States, found at an estate sale. A big old trunk (bought at a country auction for $80) with its original owner's name carved on the top stores toys, and on top, an old wooden breadbox with handles holds loads and loads of matchbox cars. Educational AND fun. We've stuffed one of the built in bookshelves with games -- there's no TV in this room, but we don't need it, and neither do you. The other bookshelf is lined with maps and full of books and family photos. Surround yourself with things you love, things that reflect your family's spirit, and mix new with things that have a history of their own. You'll be enriched by these inexpensive things; it just takes a little imagination.


  1. hey it's wonderful...
    i like it...really

  2. Love love love the settees and light fixture!

  3. Kristin, you spotted the only expensive item in that whole room -- that vintage Italian chandelier -- I live with a lot of boys and I'm afraid they have to put up with extreme girliness in light fixtures! I love them, even in a modern room. Tiny sofas were a total score, though! LA