I have this friend who attended an all-girls high school in which, nestled among the blackberry-tapping, short-skirt-wearing, highlighted-hair-sporting throngs of trendy ditzy teenaged girls sat a young woman who just didn’t quite fit. She was one of those endearing people who blissfully viewed the world through several lenses of social unawareness, and acted accordingly. To the right audience, she might have been described as sweet or adorable, but this wasn’t that kind of school. This is the school that prides itself on, allegedly, providing the basis for the plot of the film Mean Girls. So when somebody says the wrong things at the wrong times, manages to screw up her outfits despite a school uniform, and styles her hair in variously odd ways, such behavior is not taken lightly. If awkwardness was a crime, she’d have been detained.
There’s a point here and I’m getting to it. Rather than ostracize her completely, the ladies of this fine institution banded together in an either beautiful or completely fucked up way, depending on which way you look at it. This girl became their cause. While the real issues of the world may have held little concern for them, here was a problem staring them in the face. They could fix this, they reasoned, and in the process disguise all of their superficial, judgmental instincts as saintlike acts of philanthropy. Her transformation eventually culminated in a sort of odd tribalistic debut ceremony, in which she emerged with her hair tamed, her body clad in new, more revealing clothing, and her make-up done by the giving hands of her band of 16 year old wranglers. Prompted to strut down a makeshift runway to display her new look, it became patently clear that she was still that awkward girl underneath it all. But she was now easier to look at, and that was enough for her peers to pat themselves on the back for a job well done.
My living room is kind of like that awkward girl. And clearly what I need to do is channel my inner teenaged bitch, stop pretending it’s going to fix itself, and pull this place together. It might still be a weird room—woefully slanted floors, a window that only lets nice light in for a total of five glorious minutes everyday, and doorways galore—but I’d like to get to a place where I can at least pretend that I know what I’m doing with it.
Even though I’ve lived here for just over nine months now, this room hasn’t seemed to notice. Part of the reason, I think, is that between all the projects that have happened in the kitchen, the bathroom, and my bedroom, the living room just hasn’t seen a lot of concerted effort. I’ve bought things. I’ve moved them around. I’ve gotten rid of some stuff. Art has been hung, then taken down. It has changed quite a bit, but doesn’t really seem to move forward (well, that’s not entirely true. At least it looks better than it did here). Consequently, rather than the dazzling picture of awesome I had dreamed it would have morphed into by this point, it serves largely as a highly functioning passthrough in which I tend to tear shit apart and watch Jeopardy!, usually at the same time.
The kilim rug was a $12 impulse buy from Ebay that I’m testing out in here before I decide if I like it or not. I’m still not totally sure (and DEFINITELY a much bigger fan of the antique oriental rug my uncle gave me, regardless), but it’s a good alternative to have on the floor while a few little projects are in progress and things get messy every now and again.
I picked up this credenza for a totally decent-by-NYC-standards 90 smackers a couple of months ago. It wasn’t in the best shape, but a good cleaning and some attention with a wood touch-up pen seriously went a long way towards making some pretty impressive gauges and scratches nearly disappear, while saving me the hellish task of trying to refinish the whole thing.
See that? The front legs are sitting on cork trivets from IKEA. Classy, right? The floors literally slant about an inch between the wall and the front edge of the credenza, so I need to find a more permanent solution to level things out (no, the credenza is in no way constructed to become wall-mounted. Maybe I should have gone with a fauxdenza instead?).
This is the wall where the dining table used to sit, but I was over it. I found that aside from very rare occasions, I just never used it and it was pretty ugly besides, so I’m okay with accepting the fact that I’d rather take my meals on the couch.
Now that the dining table’s gone, though, this corner is pretty awkward and has basically become a place to collect stray chairs. I have a chair problem.
So here’s what I’m thinking:
1. The walls: I need art. I actually have a decent amount of art, but I tend to go through a lot of indecision over where to hang it. But these walls are naked so I need to just hang some stuff and play around with it.
2. The sofa: I’m thinking a couple comfy throw pillows. I may or may not have some fabric already that I like for this, but that should be easy enough either way.
3. The credenza: I know somebody, or maybe more than one somebody, is going to want to slaughter me for even suggesting this, but I might replace the legs with some steel hairpins. That way, I could fairly easily make it sit level on the crazy floors (some shimming and whatnot underneath) and lower it a couple inches because right now it’s feeling a bit tall in relation to the sofa. And personally, I won’t miss the tapered wooden legs.
4. Lighting & Stuff: Would you believe I still haven’t done anything with the overhead light? I also think this room could benefit from a nice floor lamp, since I really don’t like using the ceiling fixture but the only alternative is one lamp. You know what else would help things? Some PLANTS. I really like plants and I’m fairly confident I could keep one or several alive if I put my mind to it. This also brings with it the opportunity to buy pretty pots.
5. Furniture: Aside from dealing with the credenza, all the wood in this room is driving me a little nuts. I think that little Lane side table’s days are numbered, and I wouldn’t be totally opposed to finding a new coffee table if something amazing were to fall into my lap. I also think I’m going to order a rocking base for the new armed Eames shell chair from Portland (currently undergoing some serious rehab) and stick that in the corner of the room. Then I thought this morning: wouldn’t a bar cart be kind of awesome? Maybe one that’s brassy and delicious? I can’t decide it that makes me an alcoholic, a hipster stereotype, or a well-prepared host, but I still like the idea. Booze is fun but finding ways to display it is even funner.