Shambles.

We did some rearranging recently, by which I mean that I’m an asshole.

When Max moved into this apartment, the one piece of furniture he brought with him was his desk. He didn’t have tons of furniture before we lived together, and somehow I’d accumulated a lot, and when it came down to individual pieces (chairs, mostly) and the limited space we have, my stuff pretty much just won out. Like magic! I had nothing to do with it except probably everything.

But the desk came along because we figured that it fit in with my stuff well enough and it would probably be smart if we both had desks. My desk went in the bedroom and his went in the living room. Like so, from a few months ago:

I know it’s hard to tell from this picture, but between the really deep desk and all the stuff on it, the huge fake Eames lounge chair, the side table, and all of the lamps, the living room was just feeling crowded and cramped. On top of that was the biggest bulletin board of all time that’s leaning to the left of the desk, which I made for Max because he asked really nice and paid for the materials and I felt guilty for making him bring all his other stuff home to Buffalo instead of home to his new apartment. Personally, I’m not a fan of bulletin boards or inspiration boards or whatever you want to call them (I like the term “dust collectors,” myself), but I made it anyway. And then complained about it all the time, but the point is that I let it happen because that’s just the sort of giving, loving, compromising person I am.

After living with this arrangement for a while, we got to talking about different options. Max still loved his desk (the discontinued Pratt desk from West Elm), but admittedly didn’t use it terribly often and conceded that it wasn’t really working in our space. I NEVER used my desk because the only time I’m ever really interested in sitting at a desk is when I’m working really late at night, but that’s when Max is in bed and I’m camped in the living room. Where I did not have a desk. Also my desk was always covered in crap because I never used it. So there was that.

I don’t remember the exact terms of the deal we eventually settled on, but I know it involved him taking his desk home to Buffalo (he still has it, for the “dream house”), so I agreed. Hopefully I’ve lived up to whatever I agreed upon? I am the fucking worst.

And I sold the chair on Craigslist because it was just too big and I had other plans. More on those plans in a later post.

So Max’s desk moved to Buffalo, we agreed to move my desk out of the bedroom and into the living room, and big chair went to some German dude and his wife.

One day, when I got home, Max had even taken everything off the bulletin board and moved it out of the apartment, too! I swear I didn’t even ask for that one. Not directly, anyway.

For fuck’s sake, somebody just waste me already, I deserve it.

I know it’s probably still hard to tell from pictures, but this arrangement is much better. This desk is only about 16″ deep, so it definitely helps with the whole cramped feeling we had going on before. The diamond chair sitting in the other corner was not the “other plans” I had in mind, but it’s working for now. Sort of.

It’s definitely nice to have less stuff, but this still doesn’t feel right. Right now the kitchen is still a horror show, but when that’s done, I fantasize about just getting rid of desks altogether and using our kitchen table as a single multi-purpose surface. It’s a small apartment, so having redundant pieces of furniture just seems stupid? We do use this desk sometimes, but would I really miss it? Aside from the whole crafted-it-with-my-own-two-hands thing. I’m still pretty proud of that thing, I’ll be honest, but I think I’d be okay with seeing it go, too.

But I don’t know. What I feel like we really need is STORAGE, and this desk don’t have it. Sure, there are a few drawers, but it would be amazing to have more. Like some kind of side table next to the couch with lots of space to shove crap would be pretty swell, and probably a better use of our limited real estate than this desk.

But I have so much indecision.

The other thing is that it’s just really long. Like, it still fits in the space, obviously, but I keep feeling tempted to just cut a foot or two off the length of the top, reattach the legs, and then just have an really mini desk. But is that even worth it? Will I still like the proportions? Will it just be too small to even be useful anymore?

SHAMBLES. My living room and my brain are in shambles over this whole debacle. But there are bigger fish to fry around these parts, proverbially speaking, so I guess I’ll just ignore it for another few months and continue to stew.

So what did we learn? 1. Don’t date me, I’m horrible. 2. Avoidance and neglect is usually the answer.

Great.


75 Comments

  1. Well, to be fair, I did lean on Max a bit about the desk, too. So we’re both assholes.

  2. I think this desk looks good there, by the way.

  3. The room looks like it has much more space to breathe. But I’m glad he has space in buffalo to store the other desk for the dream house. It’s always nice when you can put a beloved piece of furniture into storage instead of letting it go.

  4. Looks good! But how do the shelves look in the bedroom without the desk beneath? Kind of glad to see the fake Eames gone, its not my favourite peace and especially not in the white (?) colour (I have seen a worn light brown that I liked or upholstered in other fabric, but I really don’t like the black or this whitish) and it was a bit much going on. The wire chair is nice because it is so light. Can’t imagine you selling that desk but I think I get a lot more attached to stuff. Like, I am probably more attached to that desk than you are and you built it yourself and got famous because of it!

  5. 3. You are my #2 favourite design blogger ever. (Sorry, Anna @ D16 is my #1 – I hope you understand.)

  6. I might not want to date you but you can come and decorate my house anytime! I look forward to reading your blog. Your ideas and commentary always make me think and laugh. I think that’s a pretty good combination.

  7. I have mixed feelings about inspiration boards. I think they can look really nice but ultimately I think they say more about how you want to present yourself to the world than actually serve the purpose of inspiring you on a daily basis. But maybe I’m just not doing it right.

    Also, don’t worry about the shambles. We’ve all been there. I’m sure people think I’m overdramatic about my space, but in the end I know that the problems I’m identifying are real, hard to solve and really do matter. Keep up the good work.

    Love the change, btw.

  8. I love the space- and I agree that the new chair works much better. The fiddle leaf fig adds so much to the space!

  9. Letting go of his desk and bulletin board AND agreeing to the tree? That man really loves you.

    I think you should go ahead and lop off about 10″ off that desk and reattach the legs. It would look fine for the desk, and better for your living room. Proportion is everything.

  10. I really like the desk there! And I think the propotions would be even better if you woud cut a bit off.

  11. My husband doesn’t quite get my desire (who am I kidding – NEED) to constantly rearrange and freshen our home even after 15+ years and three houses. So baby steps, Buddy. Also, if you decide to sell your now-famous desk, think about auctioning it off for charity. Love your blog, btw.

    • I don’t think the desk is really worth anything! The bottom drawer kind of sticks and the paint on the top really needs to be redone…but maybe.

  12. I love that fiddle leaf fig and you have the perfect spot for it. The room is lovely. That light! Those floors!

    (I kep talking to my mother about wanting a FLF but not having the right spot for it. She finally realized what I was saying – for months she thought it was a fiddly fig.)

  13. I’m attached to the desk too. Why does the paint need to be redone?

    • Painted surfaces just aren’t that durable, so between a few chips in the paint, some staining on the top that won’t seem to come out, and a part where one of Max’s dumb oil diffusers spilled and then ATE A HOLE through the top couple layers of poly/paint, it’s not looking so hot up close. If I were going to do it again, I probably would have gone with an oil-based paint, as I think those tend to be stronger. Or just cut down a laminate countertop, or tried to use sheet laminate on top of wood.

      • Thanks, that’s what I was wondering. What would you do different.

  14. Dude, it’s all about the standup desk with a bazzillion drawers to keep all your stuff. OR get one of those ikea kitchen tables that folds down from the wall to use as a desk when needed and find some awesome storage pieces for a side/corner table.

    • I was thinking about the teeny tiny IKEA PS Laptop Station (like a mini metal locker that folds down for a work surface), but it looks like it’s been discontinued! Poo.

      But maybe something like that, or something else that’s not visually imposing.

  15. storage – how about a some kind of window seat with storage (either low drawer units with cushions or buildins with doors)

    ikea makes a great laptop stand that can be titled up and slide next to the sofa – it also serves as a great side table.

    more drawers is always great – a nice dresser along the wall next to the sofa

    sorry to see the big chair go – it looked comfortable but there is more AIR in the room .

    cant wait to see the kitchen (what more?) and the bedroom sans desk.

    • I’ve often thought about doing a built-in window seat/storage thing, but it’s a HUGE project, particularly with my limited carpentry skills. The shape of the space is weird because the windows are recessed deeper than the walls, the floors aren’t level, and it would just be a ton of insane angles to contend with. I also don’t really want to mess with the architectural details that would be covered up (moldings, floor inlay, etc.). There are some modular shelves I’ve seen (can’t find a link, boo!) that I would like along that wall, but they’re $$ and I think would end up looking bad, given the slope of the floors.

  16. Well……the plant looks happy!

    • It’s doing OK!!! I still haven’t addressed the drainage issues that a lot of commenters brought up when I posted about it, but I’ll do it soon. If that thing dies, my life will be OVER.

      • Could you just drill some holes in the bottom and sit the whole thing on a nice, giant plate?

        P.S. that tree is incredible! I wish the corner of my living room was sunny so I could have a pretty fig tree, but my sunlight pours straight into the middle of the room and skips the corners.

      • The planter actually has a plug in the bottom, so I can probably just take that out. I need to buy a BIG saucer though, the planter is huge!

      • If you google “giant plant saucer” you’ll see a bunch of options – most of them are either cheap crappy ones that need rocks added to actually allow for drainage, or $50 nice saucers, but there are options.

      • Good to know! There are a few garden places around my apartment, so I’ll probably stop in those at some point, I’m sure they have options. But if that fails, I’ll do the online thing.

  17. Don’t get me wrong; I like a good bit of interior design, DIY’ing, and assorted mid-centuryisms, but I mainly come here for the laughs. I somehow ran into your blog near it’s birth and have been watching it from afar, like a really absent surrogate sibling. Keep doing what you’re doing (please).

  18. *its
    I hate myself right now.

  19. Also, to clarify, I meant I come to read your blog in order to laugh WITH you, not AT you or your endeavors. Sorry if my initial comment sounded horrible. Also, for digging myself into a hole publicly and falsely inflating your comment tally.

    • HAHA, your original comment (and the proceeding ones) didn’t come off horrible at all, I’m flattered! Thank you, Naomi.

      • This whole comment thread made me laugh because it reminded me of an awkward hole I would dig myself into.

  20. I had an old coffee table that I painted the top of- and sealed with minwax clear poly. I probably did about 5 coats (sanded in between of course). Worked really well to keep the paint sealed!

    • Maybe I just needed to do more poly! I think I maybe did two?

      • I tend to do a minimum of 5 coats when I finish anything with poly- but 7 is even better, especially for surfaces that get a lot of wear.

      • I really need to work on developing some more patience, haha! 7 coats…that would take, like, more than an hour!

  21. I guess I’m the only one sad to see the fake Eames lounge chair go. I have one in my apartment that I think I would cry if someone told me I had to sell it. But I never sit in it, and quite frankly it takes up an enormous amounts of space. So I understand your decision, but its so hard to let go of fads. I think it hears me type this message right now because its looking at me with very sad button eyes…

    • Yeah, that was the thing…the chair was cushy but after living with it for a while, it actually wasn’t all that comfortable and I just didn’t use it often, and I definitely wasn’t attached to it enough to hold onto something THAT big if it wasn’t getting used. The diamond chair that’s there now is a stop-gap…

    • No, I liked it, too! Actually, I like the whole “cramped” before a tad bit more than the clean white after. But I think that’s solely due to a) the pretty picture and b) my uncureable nostalgia.
      @ Daniel: If you are really unsure about cutting your desk, test it by altering pictures of it. I play around with photoshop a lot before I start cutting fabric or furniture, and it really helps! (I even draw maps before moving furniture…)

  22. I like the remixed room even better than the first one. You’re really good at “editing” your spaces. Don’t be too hard on yourself about needing to change things around physically. In the big picture, “stuff” doesn’t matter; relationships do!

  23. Your self-built desk is how I found your blog, by way of Apartment Therapy. My boyfriend was in the market for a smaller desk than his old, black-laminated particleboard behemoth, so I Googled “unique desk” and …. have been hanging out here ever since. I read all of your archived blog entries and all of Max’s too. By the way, he seems to have stopped blogging after he moved in with you; is there a connection? Anyhoo, if you decide to get rid of your desk, and I vote NO, one of your readers will probably be thrilled to give it a home. I live too far away, unfortunately, and my boyfriend now has a desk, a glass-topped Parson table from Room & Board. Not unique, but it can double as a dining table!

    I noticed you have a different coffee table in the “after” picture. What happened to the round one?

    • You read Max’s whole blog??? I haven’t even done that!

      I think he still wants to keep his blog active, and I don’t think his lack of updates really has to do with ME directly, but we just have a lot more stuff going on and I don’t think he really thinks of it as a priority. You’d have to ask him, though. He also started blogging over at Design*Sponge, which is very exciting, but I think blogging professionally AND personally is a lot of blogging, even for him!

      Oh, and good eyes! The round coffee table was actually just on loan to me…I bought it for my friend and it just ended up sticking around longer than I thought. This is just my old coffee table, which I took the legs off of and hid behind the sofa for about 6 months! It’s good to have it back.

  24. As a west coast, married, heterosexual mother of three with a back-yard flock of laying hens, two dogs, a cat, and a tank full of fish (who what-ever-the-fuck, I don’t take care of them, that’s my husband’s only job apart from his actual job), I love coming to your blog to see what you’ve done to your house/self/partner/dog(s). Go on! Do what ever with the desk! Those of us who are still using our parents cast-off furniture from the 80′s because we made poor life choices in regards to contraception salute you! Live the dream! I even loved the fake Eames, because, fuck it! Fake everything! My derelict California ranch house demands it!
    But seriously: if I could shuttle my less desirable pieces to Buffalo, I would. And I’m buying a fiddle leaf while my husband isn’t looking.

  25. The proces of awareness comes slowly but certainly. In my experience sometimes you have to experience what you don’t want in order to know what you do want. In furniture and relationships.
    I have lived with a gentle kind loving man for a long time now. I understand your enthousiasm for making things right and beautiful for the two of you so you can live happily ever after, but you do have to hear the kind man you’re living with in the proces. But you know his desk is not sold or dumped (where is the bulletinboard (I really liked that by the way)?) so you didn’t do anything that can’t be remedied. Be kind to Max (and to yourself as well). But you can’t expect Max to live in a place that does not reflect his taste or needs as well as yours.
    You guys need a bigger place, really. It will come (like awareness).
    Have a wonderful day!!!

    • Thanks, Simone. Like pretty much everything on this blog, this post is intended to be humorous and self-deprecating. Max and I both have strong opinions when it comes to interiors (and everything else!), and I think we both respect that. We talk E V E R Y T H I N G out, and everything is about compromise. I know it seems like I’m calling all the shots because I’m the one who documents it and I’m the one doing the projects and whatnot, but that just isn’t the case. But at the end of the day, we both love where we live even if it isn’t 100% either of our tastes, and that’s the most important thing.

      • you’re doing most of the work, aren’t you? I think that would be a dream of many people, somebody deciding & doing the work for them! I think its called hiring an interior designer:-) People even pay money for that, so really Max should be grateful that he doesn’t have to pay for your services ;-)

  26. Please don’t get rid of your desk. I’m attached. Shortening it by a foot might make some sense. But I love it and all that it began. I will store it if need be. However, if you want to auction it for charity, I loved that idea. I’m all about philanthropy.

  27. LOVE the desk. wish i could find a vintage desk that’s similar. haven’t found one yet. here’s hoping!

  28. um..can you ship the desk to me in ventura, california? I love it!

  29. I fully support this move. Love the new look.

    I need to do something similar, except for the part where I want to move everything out of my house and then pick only a few things to move back in. If only that didn’t sound like seven million metric tons of hard work.

  30. If your ears were burning yesterday, it was probably because I was thrifting with my boyfriend in Chicago, and every time I saw a filthy, rusty, super cheap midcentury modern piece, I would say “ooh, Daniel of Manhattan Nest would LOVE this…”
    Lots of furniture makeover potential here in the midwest… sadly I don’t have your fixit skills or vision (YET). xo

  31. what a lovely living room- sooo much air now! I love that fig leave and would love to add one to my pad but I am a plant killer. I have bad plant karma forever!

  32. If you feel like driving to Mansfield, MA I’ll let you store stuff in my garage for FREE! With one caveat (natch): I get to decorate my house with your stuff. Curently, I am in the midst of remodeling a 1915 home. The previous owner lived there for 75 years so you can imagine how outdated my place is (can’t you?).

    :-)

  33. Daniel – don’t sweat it. The thing is, that desk was perfect for your previous bedroom space. When you made it, you had that room and your needs in mind. Now you have moved on to a new home, and you (and Max, bless him) have different needs.

    I know what it’s like to hang on to things because you feel a) attached b) it might be useful! c) look! I made this! … but I have a feeling that getting rid of it will feel very cathartic. And hey! You’ll have an open space in your home to move things around. And just maybe you’ll find some rad new thrift piece that you will have warm fuzzy feelings for.

    p.s. Auctioning off the desk for charity or a worthy cause like a local dog shelter is an AWESOME idea!!

  34. i agree. less can definitely be more.

    but, i hate to tell you, once the weather turns cold and that radiator starts kicking up some heat… you may need to find a different spot for the fiddle fig.

    i totally related to your previous post, every time mine drops a leaf or develops a spot of brown, i panic. i really need forgiving plants, the kind that droop as a signal to water them and then, once you do, spring miraculously back into shape no worse for the wear. i think i have it down with the fig, but that large, expensive plant is definitely keeping me on my toes.

  35. I think the new arrangement looks a lot better although I’m sorry that it has left you in shambles.

    I feel a bit in shambles with my new living arrangements – while I love the place and especially the terrace, it’s always difficult to put yourself into furnished accommodation. I’m trying to find a way to marry the stuff already provided with a couple of new pieces to make it suit us but I’m not a designer despite my innumerable hours spent watching HGTV and reading design blogs. I guess what I’m trying to say is, come to Norway and help?! Please.

  36. Oh, and there is another thing that beautifies your room. You limited the colors that are around here. I am glad that that red thing is gone, more white stuff is included and I love your cross pillow. Quite door16esk, if I dare to say…

  37. I havent read the other comments, so this may have been suggested before.Why not stick a cheap or (an other) drawer unit on the other side of the desk for more storage space. I like the desk and thinking cutting it would spoil it… maybe a relocation as well, all that light seems waisted somehow.

  38. Oh, the new arrangement looks lovely! Just getting rid of the huge chair seems to have helped lots.

    Also, avoidance and neglect, especially in/of the job market have magically worked for me too. For some reason, people keep offering me jobs when I whine about my lack of money long and loud enough.

  39. Mekko looks so cute on the sofa – look how her front leg is tucked between her back legs – adora-bull!!

    Anyway, you have inspired me to remove the desk from my bedroom and reorganize that space to make it less crowded. I can’t wait to get home from work today to work on that.

    And I think the white tabletop looks really good in the livingroom – better than the brown desk.

  40. You should cut enough off the desk top so that it fits the width of the window. I think the whole disproportionate desk/chair/window widths are jangling your nerves.
    And could Mekko BE anymore relaxed?! One more cushion/afghan/throw pillow and she may slip into an upholstery induced coma:)

  41. I just want to say that having just come back from maternity leave and caught up on all your posts….I seriously missed you and you seriously are hilarious and you rock. I swear I’m not a freakazoid either.

  42. Love the new space. It’s bright, light and airy, and just the right balance of minimal and personal. Would LOVE to know the paint colors on the wall, it’s just what I’m hoping to do with my new space. So glad I found your blog (via the comments section in apartmenttherapy…which reminds me that I came here to look up pipe shelving unit closet thingy but have been distracted in the most lovely ways)

    • The living room paint color is Benjamin Moore Paper White! All the paint colors are listed on the FAQ page :-)

  43. Even if you are an asshole—or so you say—you are one with splendid taste!
    xo,
    shegogets

  44. My husband always complains, that I throw out all his stuff… which I do. Seriously, some of it was quite hideous, but it’s not like we didn’t discuss it beforehand.

    I just hope he doesn’t read this.

    Anyway, regarding desks, I myself swear by secretary desks. Getting rid of our two huge desks and replacing them with vintage secretary desks, one seventies swedish, one fifties german, was the best furniture change I ever made. Open the lid, and there you have a cozy workspace. Close the lid, all the work and all the mess is gone. I love it! The ones we have are quite large and sturdy, but while searching I came a across any number of quite small and elegant danish teak varieties from the sixties.

  45. Great! that’s called a well organized room. Actually my room is also messy and looking to re-arrange it soon. I think I should call you for the help. ;)

  46. I totally feel you on the maximizing space in a little apartment point. I live in a 45 sq meter (484 sq ft) apartment with my bf and two cats and just recently sniped a cheap table on eBay for the intended purpose of a kitchen table upgrade (I found my current one on the street and thought I was ready to move on up), but I ended up using it as a desk because the kitchen chairs just don’t fit under it. Damn. Until this point, the kitchen table had been doubling as a desk forcing us to eat on the couch when it was too swamped to clean in a jiffy. I didn’t even realize that I needed a desk until I started to reflect at how messy my life had become…

    Anyway, I love your blog and your annoying dilemmas seem to be very similar to mine. I feel you man.

  47. I love the makeover and your blog! Very entertaining. Can I ask where you got the cross pillow on the wire chair?

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