Step into my parlor

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, we performed no less than a full organ transplant. That was an exhausting and exhilarating effort. (And no, we still have not selected pendant lights or hung the range hood or painted the pantry door. There were other things happening this summer, like, oh, the spouse almost single-handedly building 200+ linear feet of cedar privacy fence.)

The living room, though — I’d call that effort a full package spa treatment with deep tissue massage. It was relatively simple, but required thoughtfulness and a little muscle. (And two rug purchases. New kitten + new diet + shag rug = unspeakable disaster.)

We started with a dark, dingy, box with filthy wall-to-wall carpeting. Note ugly ceiling fan. The former inhabitants must have been very short — our ceilings are only eight feet high. Not happening.

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The carpets came up early in the renovation process, making way for the wood floors. The whole house was sprayed the same color (Sherwin Williams West Highland White) before we moved in.
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The fan came down, my sister washed the fireplace bricks, and that was it for the living room — moving day arrived. We dumped our couch against a wall and then pretty much ignored this space while we dug out from boxes and nursed ourselves back from the crush of our second move in a year. If it takes five years to hear the sound of a tape gun again, it will be too soon.

But I kept staring at that back wall. It was crying out for built-in shelves, a home for my 17-box book collection. For a fleeting second, we considered getting carpenter bids. What can I say … IKEA hacking came to the rescue again. We bought four of the new 15-inch deep Billy shelves, plus a set of wardrobe doors that luckily fit a unit that was miraculously the right size for our television. (We had to hide the TV. We have our disagreements, but a refusal to build the Altar to the Television God is one thing on which we vehemently agree.)

To bring the shelves wall-to-wall was a matter of measure thrice, cut once — the width of two end units had to be trimmed by several inches. About two hours with our friend the allen wrench, and up they went.

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You know that feeling when you make one relatively small change, and it’s like a door has swung open, cheerful spring breezes sail into the room, and everything akimbo clicks into place? It was like that. We’d made the room smaller, but more square — and it immediately felt bigger, warmer, more purposeful.

That’s when I went to town tearing open those 17 boxes, unpacking my long-stored collection of typewriters, tucking meaningful tchotchkes into place. My inner librarian fairly hummed with pleasure. The kid’s desk and art table slid in neatly under the window. The couch was rotated. Lamps were placed, my childhood coffee table (handmade by my dad) brought into the scene. And it was ours.

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Each of these beautiful machines has a story. The sweetheart at the bottom right is an Olympia SM3 — I figured out that it’s the same make and model as the one embedded in the 11th Doctor’s TARDIS console, only in a more unusual burgundy color.20130625-221215.jpg

Part of the philosophy section. Deep thoughts, friends.2013-10-04 13.09.09

Table by dad. Embroidery/knitting basket inherited from my grandmother. (It still has a few of her unfinished crewel-work projects inside — and gorgeous needles from Germany.)2013-10-04 13.07.39

A lot of magic happens here.
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It’s passed the Christmas tree test, the sick day test, the movie night test, and the dinner party test. In the winter months, the rising sunlight slants straight through the large window for a couple of hours and makes the floors glow. It’s a good room.

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