The Living Room. Sigh.

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.

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 2.27.11
    Mom said:

    Seriously? Funner? How many years of quality education have I paid for?

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      Oh GAWD, peeps! I KNOW funner isn’t a word. I also know that it should be.

  2. 2.27.11

    I initially was against the idea of changing the credenza, (it ties in nicely with the coffee table, right?) but after seeing the hairpin legs (saving to delicious!) I do think it would help. How would you finish them?

    As for hanging art and prints, I know I struggle with the same issue of committing to that hole I’m nailing in. Perhaps a nice art wall-shelf above your couch? I swear Anna at D16 posted on these but I couldn’t find it.

    Also I think the rug is terrific. If you decide to ditch it though, I would like to make the first bid.

  3. 2.27.11

    First, I kinda love that rug. Second, I think you should go with the hairpin legs. I’m scheming about ways to use them myself (and uh, how great is it that there’s a

  4. 2.27.11
    marcy said:

    hi– love your blog!

    I also agree with the hairpin legs. Had that credenza been equipped with sweet tapered danish-style legs, I would be on the total other side of the fence, but its a great piece and the legs aren’t really doing it any favors.

    If you’re starting out with plants you should try philodendron or peace lilies. Both grow fast (peace lilies also flower on a regular basis) and you can’t water them too much. I killed plants for years and these two gave me the courage to keep up with more. I also almost always put a draining plastic pot inside of the pretty pot, rather than planting directly in the pretty pot. If you’re starting out its hard to figure out how much to water, and a draining pot definitely ups your chances of surviving. If you do plant directly into the pretty pot, get one with a hole in the bottom, get a saucer, and fill the bottom few inches with rocks for drainage. Drainage is everything. Oh, and do not buy a fern– they are pretty but they will die if you look at them the wrong way. So will orchids.

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      Thanks for the recommendations! I’ll definitely look into them (I need something that can survive on VERY LITTLE natural daylight. It’s pretty dark in here!). I think I can figure out watering as long as I have something that can figure out how to grow in a cave.

  5. 2.27.11
    Shilo said:

    Woo barcart! Party at Dan’s house!

  6. 2.27.11
    Shilo said:

    p.s. your mom rules.

  7. 2.27.11
    Josh said:

    I’ve totally been blog-stalking you since one of your recent appearances on Apartment Therapy and have officially read your blog from cover to cover. This is my first comment, so “hi” and thanks for sharing the hard work you put into your place and your blog.

    The first pic looks a little stark, but the room is looking pretty fab from the other angles. The one thing that jumped out at me is that with all the slim legs and tall, pieces, the space could use something heavy and low to the ground to visually anchor things. I managed to take one interior design class in college but as it was taught by an old-schooler through the home ec department I was pretty dismissive. But the high, narrow legs thing vs. low and weighty is one of the lessons that made sense and stuck with me. They said that without a strong anchor, the room would feel wobbly. And I can feel a little of that going on in here. So maybe a nice solid, bulky coffee table would make a difference. I think you should head over to the Brick House and steal one of her massive burl tables!

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      Good tip, I agree! Yeah… I like my coffee table a lot, but there are PLENTY of bulkier things I’d love more. If I do the hairpin leg switch though, they’ll be pretty short so the credenza will become more bulky and maybe help ground things a bit. I’m a big burl fan in Morgan’s place, but I think I’d like to move away from so much wood in here.

  8. 2.27.11
    AnnW said:

    Daniel’s Mom, it gets worse. My daughter graduated from Gallatin at NYU ($200k plus) and still says Can I, instead of May I. Drives me crazy. Daniel, throw the art up on the wall. Don’t measure, just guess. You’ll be surprised what happens. A blank wall is worse than an imperfectly balanced wall. You can fill the empty holes with toothpaste. You are over thinking the living room.
    If you are going to have a bar, let’s not have an ordinary trolley. You can come up with something better than that. My only favorite bar was the brass baby crib in What’s New Pussy Cat in the late 60’s. Loved the Portland series. You should go to a different place every vacation.

  9. 2.27.11
    purejuice said:

    doris day is a manhattan career gal in “Pillow Talk” (ca. 1959 w rock hudson). she is an interior designer and has this HOTT apartment in which she sleeps in a single bed.

    she also has a HOTT bar cart which looks to have a HOTT chrome tea set on the top.

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      I need to rent that movie! Love sweet NYC apartments in older films (helloooo Single White Female and Fatal Attraction and and and and… so many. I just watched those though).

    • 3.1.11

      Oh no you did NOT just refer to ‘Single White Female’ and ‘Fatal Attraction’ as “older films”!!!! Oh my god, I saw them both in the theater. IN HIGH SCHOOL.

    • 3.2.11
      Daniel said:

      You’re right. I’m older than ‘Single White Female’… but ‘Fatal Attraction’ was made in ’87, so it still qualifies (didn’t you know that September 27, 1989 is the universal cut-off between old and new?).

  10. 2.27.11
    purejuice said:

    sorry, the pic html is not coming thru. here’s the url.

  11. 2.27.11
    monogirl said:

    Hairpins, definitely. That way you could easily put the shims between the leg and the credenza itself however you need to. I found the easiest way for me to deal with “where to put art on the walls” question was to take photos of my living room, print them out on paper and then draw all over them. That way, I had an idea about where to put things without a lot of labor or holes in the walls.

    I feel you on the living room issue. I just bought an amoeba coffe table for $40 and I am going to make it work damnit! But it’s going to require some serious rearranging of the living room first.

  12. 2.27.11
    monogirl said:

    Hairpins, definitely. That way you can put the shim between the hairpin and the credenza itself as needed. As for the where to put the art problem, I took photos of my living room. Then I printed the photos on printer paper and drew on them. I was able to make a plan with very little labor and very few extra holes in the wall.

    I hear you on the living room issue. Mine has been neglected for other rooms and I just bought a new coffee table so cool, I must make it work!

  13. 2.27.11
    Sandra said:

    Dude, I love that yellow rug. It complements the colors of your wood furniture very nicely and I like that pattern. If you don’t want it I’ll gladly take it.
    Wish I had the patience to do all of the things you’re doing with your apartment. However, my boyfriend and I are thinking about making one of these: once we figure out how to hang it up properly instead of a non-hanging light. How did you deal with that?

  14. 2.27.11
    Cait @ Hernando House said:

    I have a chair problem, too.

    The welds on the hairpins I bought from aren”t very good. Hopefully you’ll have better luck if you decide to go that route.

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      hm, good to know! Yeah, those things need to be SOLID to hold up the weight of that credenza. Thanks!

  15. 2.28.11
    CindyE said:

    Well, again, I think your writing is outstanding. Love the first part…the “story”. I also love that you care so much for your little apartment. You want to help it be the best it can be. When I was quite young, my first place was, unfortunately, a old single wide trailer in a field across from a drive-in movie place. Can you imagine?! It was the 70’s…I was stoned most of the time. Like you, I really tried to work with it. I wallpapered, painted, knowing all along I would not be there long. It just mattered…it was my place, my nest. I think your apartment is a fine place and your doing a great job! A plant or two would be nice…living plants supposedly impart good energy.

  16. 2.28.11
    h said:

    HI there. Since no one has mentioned the area where the table used to be, I will address that area – it would look great with either a book shelf (could be low, could have no back), a smaller width credenza/storage unit, a cart (industrial? vintage 3-tier metal?), a sofa table (narrow depth) – all of these would give you a place for a table lamp, art work (which you could lean against the wall), a plant, your bar set up, etc… even a few floating wall shelves (lined up one on top of each other, starting low to mid wall).

    Anyhow – I LOVE your work so far, have been checking the blog for a while now. You have great style!


    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      I like the bookshelf idea, but I already have all that book storage in my bedroom. I think pictures make this room look deceptively large, so I’m wary of trying to stick another piece of furniture in here, though.

  17. 2.28.11
    CindyE said:

    Oh, by the way, my daughter graduated with degree in Philosophy. A gifted student. Last year, I discovered, that she didn’t know how many inches were in a yard. 32…34? Really??! I must say, she was quite defensive over it all. She can paint like a pro, though!

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      36! SEE I’M SMART. I need to stop using fake words though, apparently.

  18. 2.28.11
    augusta said:

    hola! I like the plans you have for this room and second Josh on the one weightey thing to kinda pull it in and go crazy with the art!
    did you watch clueless recently? I love that movie.
    Have you seen Party Girl?
    well, he he hello! Bar cart + great apartment = prepared for fab librarian fun! no shame in that.

  19. 2.28.11
    Lena said:

    Your poor friend!
    What would you do with the other rug if you decide to keep this one? I would definitely say bring the other back, it really made the room look more finished. But really, you are too hard on yourself, the room still looks a lot better than before.
    With your chair hording tendency I would rethink you decision to go without a table. Just having several chairs stand around looks unfinished- grouping them around a table looks a lot more finished. Plus, I have to say the old table and its setup weren’t really inviting to eat, but maybe if you have a gorgeous setup you will feel more inclined to eat there? What about a cute round table? Maybe the ikea tulip knock-off? It would be the right thing to group various gorgeous chairs around it.

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      Yeah, either way this rug isn’t staying in here. The other one’s way better. I like the idea of it in my bedroom, maybe in the spring with a grey duvet cover, just to change things up. It’ll probably go in the second bedroom when I pull that room together soonish, though.

  20. 2.28.11
    Silke said:

    Paint. You definitely need paint. And some decent lighting on the ceiling and standing around in the room, maybe mounted to the walls in some cases. And you need a big plant to brighten up the room. And art, lots of art hanging ont he wall, maybe a big mirror to add some more light.

  21. 2.28.11
    Hayley said:

    Just cut the cork trivets to the size of the legs. Tiny circles that are the right thickness will do just the same job as a whole trivet, and you won’t even really be able to see them. In fact, cut two from one trivet and save the other for another project.

    • 2.28.11

      Doh! How brilliant is that.

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      The cork isn’t really dense enough to hold up to the weight of the credenza, unfortunately. They also aren’t providing enough height to level out the credenza (the floors are SO SLANTED on this wall!). It’s a very temporary solution.

  22. 2.28.11
    Gaidig said:

    I’m with Hayley, step 1 is just to cut the cork trivets down.

    Next, until you get your armed Eames shell chair ready to go, you should put one of those chairs near the couch, at an angle to it.

    I prefer the other rug, but I agree with you that it is better to do your projects on a rug that isn’t as nice.

    You need big art over the couch or on the adjacent wall to give the room some heft and a finished feeling. Then put a series of smaller pieces (maybe the crazy embroidery?) on the other wall.

    I also agree with Lena that a tulip table would go well in that corner. Something small and round would fill the space better and more useful than a rectangle up against the wall. You might not use it every day, but it would be good for dinner with guests and working on certain types of projects. Plus, it would be a good place to put the small chairs.

  23. 2.28.11
    Annika said:

    So nice with a living-room update. I see your point with the wood, it’s not always that easy to mix, though the pieces you have are absolutely lovely. Looking forward to see what you decide to do with the art. Would you be allowed to paint the walls btw?
    I vote for a bar-cart, can’t see how you can’t really.

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      Yeah, I like all the pieces, I’m just not feeling them together. I already painted the walls, and I’m REALLY not looking to do it again (and then AGAIN when I move). I’m going to work the white. I like the white.

  24. 2.28.11
    Matt said:

    I immediately noticed your inspired use of cork trivets because I’ve done the same thing before except I did mine because the table legs were uneven, not the floor :P

    I vote bar cart. A nice classy bottle of scotch + stylish vodka bottle + some glass tumblers = beautiful.

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      Right?! I want the gaudiest, most extravagant cut crystal decanters ever. I have some snazzy 50s/60s little tumblers and other bar stuff already, so it would be super fun to display them. Mad Men’s coming back to TV and I want to get in the spirit early.

  25. 2.28.11
    Julia said:

    Are you reading my mind? This is my exact dilemma at the moment, and your run-down is so helpful. I’m thinking a snake plant or dracaena marginata in the corner by the window could work. I believe they’re both low light.

    I agree. Since the room is small, you don’t want to stick too much furniture in there and too much wood is overwhelming. At the same time, I’m not going to lie, the biggest piece of furniture in my tiny living room is a massive burl and brass credenza with smoked glass to hold all that tastefully decantered booze, so two thumbs up to the bar cart!

  26. 2.28.11
    Haley said:

    First, I would like to say “hi” and that I think your fearlessness with design and your space is completely inspiring. Second, how about a wall of low book shelves? Or even a wall of tall bookshelves for that library look? I think that will help your room look more “lived in”. Also, I’m going to be slaughtered for suggesting this, but if you’re changing the credenza anyway, why not give is a fresh coat of glossy white paint? And if you paint the wall behind it something nice and bold, it would really pop. Lastly, if you are needing inspiration for art, I love 20× I can’t wait to see what you end up doing to the room!

  27. 2.28.11

    Love the new credenza. What if you cut the coaster to the size of the leg tip and glue/push-pin it on? You’ll get the room together, it just takes time!

  28. 2.28.11
    Amanda said:

    I may be tarred and feathered for this suggestion, but I think the wood-overload is mostly due to the credenza. It has a “I tried to match the floors and failed” look. So here is my suggestion: Paint it. I can feel every non-wood painter/furniture-lover in the world glaring at me, eek! The shape of that credenza is frickin awesome and it gets a little lost because it blends in (yet still manages to clash with) the floor. You could pick from any one of a number of really great sixties aka mad men inspired colors or even a stencil (gasp..oh the horror). Anyway, what ever you decide will be awesome. Your blog has inspired many little renovation projects of my own. Thanks! Have fun!

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      Trust me, I’m not the person who’s going to get all precious about painting wood! I’ve thought about it, but I just don’t think this is piece is right for painting (tambour doors, integrated wood handles, etc.). But I’m also not super sentimental about keeping my furniture if I find something new that I like better (plus, I can sell this thing for WAY more than I bought it for on Craigslist), so I’m always open to finding something different, too!

  29. 2.28.11
    bliss said:

    fake words make the world go ’round. i think they call that “faworama”

  30. 2.28.11
    Mom said:

    Ok, I must apologize for jumping all over you for the made up word. First of all, I know that your writing is top notch and that you could make a career out of that if you really wanted to. Second, it may be an inherited thing that you get from your Aunt Janis. She makes up so many words, so often, that we’ve come to call them Janisisms. Everyone just winks and smiles coyly, nodding and thinking to themselves, ahhhh, another Janisism. I just hope it’s not contagious.

  31. 2.28.11
    Monica said:

    I actually have the same problem with uneven floors, so my entertainment center tilted forward the way your buffet does. My initial solution was post-it note pads under the front legs, but I eventually settled on the little felt pads they make so your furniture doesn’t scratch the floor, and that works great and looked pretty innocuous. Plus a package of them is like $1 almost anywhere.

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      I’d totally do that, too, but these floors are CRAZY. It’s seriously like an inch difference… can’t really make that up with a little felt pad! Oh, to dream.

  32. 2.28.11
    simone said:

    Hi Daniel;
    I love the credenza as it is.
    I think the problem with this space is that functionaly it basicly is a hallway between the bedrooms and the kitchen/ entrance. If you print your floorplan and draw all the ways you walk through this space onto it with a magic marker you can see what I mean (there will be little space where you don’t walk). That is a very unsettling thing for a space. I would try to find a way to channel the dynamic to a limited area. Maybe asign two functions to the space (sitting and dining does feel the most natural) and use that to do that. F.i.: put a nice easy chair on the corner of the rug between the couch and the credenza and walk outside of the seating area you created that way.

    For decoration: we found a huge art poster (1,1m by 1,75m, bought at a museum) stuck it to a 8mm MDF board with wallpaper glue and put a wooden edge (1,5 inch) around the back to thicken the wood. We covered the sides with silver duct-tape so we wouldn’t have to paint it (because we are lazy people). We just set this on the floor leaning against a wall in our living, no drilling in walls needed. If you can’t find one big poster you can make a collage of several smaller ones on a panel.

  33. 2.28.11
    simone said:

    Hi Daniel;
    I love the credenza as it is.
    I think the problem with this space is that functionaly it basicly is a hallway between the bedrooms and the kitchen/ entrance. If you print your floorplan and draw all the ways you walk through this space onto it with a magic marker you can see what I mean (there will be little space where you don’t walk). That is a very unsettling thing for a space. I would try to find a way to channel the way you walk through the room to a limited area. Maybe asign two functions to the space (sitting and dining does feel the most natural) and use that to do that. F.i.: put a nice easy chair on the corner of the rug between the couch and the credenza and walk outside of the seating area you created that way.

    For decoration: we found a huge art poster (1,1m by 1,75m, bought at a museum) stuck it to a 8mm MDF board with wallpaper glue and put a wooden edge (1,5 inch) around the back to thicken the wood. We covered the sides with silver duct-tape so we wouldn’t have to paint it (because we are lazy people). We just set this on the floor leaning against a wall in our living, no drilling in walls needed. If you can’t find one big poster you can make a collage of several smaller ones on a panel.

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      Yep, traffic flow definitely has a HUGE part to play in why this room is so awkward. I’ve tried a few different layouts, but this is the only one that makes sense (if my couch was smaller, I might be able to get away with some other formulation).

      And yes, I want some big art! I actually have a little plan in the works about that…

    • 2.28.11
      Simone said:

      If it were not a rented house I would recommend knocking down the wall between the living and the second bedroom, make a diningarea where your couch is now and put your seating area in the current second bedroom. It would give you more light and the walk between the bedroom and kitchen would fall very naturally between these two zones.
      And then I’d put a really comfortable reading chair in front of the current livingroom window and read a really great book.
      I recommend The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi but to some that is too controversial (I laughed my pants off reading it).

  34. 2.28.11
    bekah said:

    Thank god, a post! I was worried you might have fallen and hit your head while working in the bathroom!

    Love the rug, you have great beginnings for a beautiful living room!

  35. 2.28.11
    Christian said:

    the rug is AWESOME! keep it forever!

  36. 2.28.11
    Nina said:

    I think you need something to bring in / reflect light around the room. I would either put a big mirror on the wall by the window or a group of those fifties/sixties convex mirrors. Then add a bar cart underneath something with a lot of reflective surfaces – shiny metal and mirrored trays.

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      I agree! I forgot to write that but yes, I think a mirror is part of the plan as well. Definitely need to take advantage of any little scraps of natural daylight that window can impart.

  37. 2.28.11

    First of all, I love that rug. I’ve been going back and forth about a rug for my living room and can’t really find anything I like that doesn’t cost a fortune. Maybe I should be cruising ebay for deals? (Or maybe that will get me in trouble.)

    Anyway, I love the bar cart idea, all glam and shiny! The best part is you are young enough for booze in the living room to look festive and “ready for a party at any moment!” instead of a sad lush on the way to being an alcoholic, so I say go for it. ;)

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      Ebay can be GREAT for rugs! Sometimes the shipping will kill you… but I think this one was a total of about $30 after shipping. The deals are out there!

  38. 2.28.11
    kirsten said:

    Dare I ask, have you ever considered adding an accent wall color to the wall behind the couch? I have a feeling the answer is “hells no!” But it would create a major focal point.

    The general rule for comparatives and superlatives is that you go from -er and -est to “more” and “most” when the word is over two syllables. That would make “funner” a legitimate word and correct usage of that rule. There is always some grammar rule that can make a gaffe seem like profound knowledge.

  39. 2.28.11
    Harold Osler said:

    Hi–I’ve been reading your blog ever since I came across it and have really enjoyed it. Apart from the envy over various thrifting finds. Why is it we all love to read about other people’s thrift bonanzas even when we could choke them for being so lucky?

    As someone who finally figured out that plants were not my big thing(way back in the 70s) I suggest dracenas, mother-in-law tongues and swedish ivy. The dracenas especially will do well–I’ve managed to keep mine going for several years.

    See if you can find some old Apartment Life magazines from the 70s–we used to live for their ideas and photos. It needs to be re-born.

    I love the idea of a bar cart–with your knack and luck I’m sure you’ll find something fabulous.

    Looking forward to seeing more.

  40. 2.28.11
    Louise said:

    I support the hairpin legs.

  41. 2.28.11
    h said:

    hm, I looked at the photos again. I guess you are right – it may be smaller in the room than it appears from certain shots. I actually like the view which is head on of the art piece + white chair. So, maybe a cushion or folded balanket on the chair with enough color / grey / black / pattern / what ever you like, to compilment your color scheme, but enough of ‘it’ so that it is visible and creates a bit of a presence on the chair, and thus the area below the large art will not look ‘blank’ … I still think a floating shelf or 2 (starting fairly low / close to floor if doing more than one – you could do maybe 3 total ) – not necessarily to hold books, but perhaps your bar set up, vase(s), lamp, some storage boxes when you eventually have things you need to keep, but don’t want to look at (taxes or old school projects or remote controls or whatever). (Re the boxes – you know the nice ones — no big plastic crates or anything like that!! Of course I know you won’t… but you know the type, they are often fabric, or paper or wood), etc.

    Maybe you could do the chair thing, your art, plant (tree-ish type thing) and a basket / bin (with your style) and spare throws and / or pillows or magazines/newpapers in it ??? You could scootch the container to the other side of the radiator nook… Maybe even a floor lamp or pendant…

    You could also see about one of those clear or translucent sofa tables/console tables (ie CB2 probably has them for reference images and I bet you could find something vintage/craig’s list or what have you) & place it under the large art peice.

    I think some sort of greenery might be fab in that area too – I didn’t read every comment, but I think someone mentioned that. A great pot with something green, could be tall? Or leafy? I see in my head what I am talking about – too bad I can’t beam it straight to you.

    Well, whatever you do, I am sure it will be very lovely.


  42. 2.28.11
    h said:

    oh yeah – I keep forgetting to add this – to raise your credenza – no need for the felt thingies which you said were too thin and no need to do all that work cutting cork circles. They have these awesome furniture glides that are solid plastic or some sort of material that is hard. They can be cut to fit (but not labor intensive like the cork – just cut a little rectangle smaller), but come in many sizes and shapes.

    If you _did_ keep the legs you have, they will have one size that should fit with no trimming necessary. These things are called “Magic Sliders”. I’d say they are maybe a 1/4 ” thick. You stick them on the bottom of your furniture with double stick type tape (it came in the package) – so lets say you needed to raise the front an inch, I’d just get extras ( however many you need), and stick them together, then stick it on the legs that need it. I got mine at Home Depot and also got them at a small neighborhood hardware store. They are great – they slide Heavy items like butter!!!! No muscles required. I cut tiny pieces to fit under hairpin legs on a storage bench I have. So far they have stuck on them, but then again, I haven’t moved it much. anyhow, I think it is a great idea so you can level & move the thing ya know? And won’t require too much work… But if you get the hair pin legs, just stick a shim between the mounting plate and the bottom of the credenza before you screw it all together — but you probably already planned on this anyways.

    They have round ones, rectangular ones, square ones, ones with screws and nails – well you can see them if you go to their website

    ok, good luck with all

  43. 2.28.11
    Emily said:

    I keep thinking about the layout. I know you said this is the only one that works but I’m trying to wrap my brain around your floor plan and your furniture and move things around in my head anyway.

    I totally want to make a SketchUp plan for you!

    And I’m going to be the rude person who doesn’t like that rug in your space – I think it draws too much attention to the yellow-green tones in your floor. Bring back the oriental rug!

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      It’s okay, I don’t like it in here either! I don’t plan on keeping it in this room (and never did!), it was just easy to plop down to see if I even liked it at all or if I was just going to turn around and sell it! The old one is definitely coming back very soon, it’s way better.

      Yeah, I’ve made some sketchup (well, really photoshop since I don’t know sketchup, but same thing). There was one other layout that I liked on the computer, but when I tried it in real life it was super awkward and didn’t look very good. I don’t like this layout because it just seems so…. obvious? I don’t like the couch staring directly at the TV thing, but I just don’t think there’s another way! That said, you’re more than welcome to go crazy thinking of alternatives I might have missed…

  44. 2.28.11
    Chandler said:

    1. I think you mean, “I have this BEST friend…”
    2. BAR CART BAR CART BAR CART so we can get drunk and fight stylishly.
    3. I like the rug!

    I’m excited to see how the chairs turn out!

    • 2.28.11
      Chandler said:

      By the way, I’m totally impressed you remember that event. I completely forgot. I think they call that ‘Repression’ in psychological circles.

    • 2.28.11
      Daniel said:

      1. I was trying to protect your identity, in case you didn’t want this story to be in any way associated with you. (by the way, anyone reading this comment, that whole episode was NOT about Chandler.)
      2. Ditto girl. That’s what I was thinking.

      By the way, I catalog everything you say in preparation for the day you let me ghostwrite your memoirs. LOVEYOUMISSYOUBFFFF.

  45. 3.1.11
    Nicole said:

    The floor thing made me think of this awesome story/comic about an IKEA dresser in a house with uneven floors:

    Scroll down for the actual story :)

  46. 3.1.11
    Lena said:

    If you are thinking about going the ikea fauxdenza route, this is another possibility I like:

  47. 3.1.11

    Clearly you need a black wall.

  48. 3.2.11
    KellyM said:

    I just have one question first….would your mother be open to adopting me???? I have a basic college education and I promise not to issue any Janisims if she will come hang out with me.

    BAR CART…but I had to laugh out loud at BRI’s comment about you looking young and all that with the bar cart as opposed to an aging booze hound like I would but I want one desperately…but then again with teenagers in the house it might be like an open invitation…

    Love the old rug and just hang some pictures dammit…or is the damnit MOM?

    Some great fabric panels flanking the windows to give it some pattern and color in that nook?

  49. 3.2.11
    kmkat said:

    That corner that is currently collecting chairs would be a great place for some plants. That’s what I thought when you mentioned the corner needed something, and then later you mentioned plants. So get on it, ‘kay? Well, you might want to wait for warmer weather — very few plants (like, none) are fond of being transported through sub-freezing temperatures.

  50. 3.3.11
    jenn said:

    I come from a totally different design aesthetic than you, so if this makes you groan, I’ll understand.

    Hang that rug on the wall. Work from there. That whole areas needs a really big impact item – my answer would be a wall of shelves, but you have the rug…

    Two cents, unsolicited. Consider yourself rich.

  51. 3.4.11
    Van said:

    It’s not that bad so far! You’ll add art and settle in nicely. We all have that shameful room we don’t want people to see. I’ve personally neglected my bedroom…can’t wait to make that ugly duckling shine..

    Since you have the space, I’d say an additional couch/few matching chairs would provide nice seating and really warm up your living room/make it cozy.

  52. 3.4.11
    Fionnuala said:

    I don’t have anything in the way of advice here, rather a big slap on the back — Daniel, for a young guy (presumably on something of a budget) who hasn’t been in this apartment long at all, for this room to be your “awkward girl” room rather than, say, your pride and joy … that’s doing pretty well.

    But, yeah, stick things on your wall.

  53. 3.5.11

    1. Agree with Emily, bring back that oriental!
    2. I think that corner where your chairs are all hanging out needs to be cleaned up before you add anything to it. I’m visualizing a petite folding screen (super thin profile, painted to match your walls) that comes to just above the edge of the radiator, to eliminate the visual clutter. This image is not exactly what I mean but it’s the best I could find to show the thin profile:
    After seeing you mad skills I’m sure you could whip it up in, like, 30 minutes.
    That corner seems to me like a great place to put a low slung lounge chair with a reading lamp and a side table. Enjoy those glorious 5 minutes of sunshine!

    3. Mirror, mirror, mirror! What about a mirror to “mirror” your window and bounce that light into the living room? Place it perpendicular to the window.

    Clearly I am all about that corner and have no contributions for the rest of the room, sorry.

    Love your writing Daniel!

  54. 3.5.11
    Alyssa said:

    I feel the same way about my living room right now. I need paaaaaint.

  55. 3.6.11
    Corner said:

    My vote is for a retro booze cart under the picture and a nice lounge chair by the window to enjoy said booze. I want to see your insane thifting skills find you an Eames, ready, set, go!

    • 3.6.11
      Daniel said:

      I want to see that too!

  56. 3.6.11
    Sean said:

    Have you thought about a cover for the radiator? I’m new to your blog so I don’t know much about your space, but that corner where the chairs are seems like a nice place to read (with the window right there) so if that radiator could be covered you could treat it like a table. If the cover was large enough, you could add a cushion and have a window seat, though I don’t know what the view is like from that window =)

  57. 3.6.11
    Sean said:
  58. 3.7.11
    Sana said:

    Let me tell you..#4. The plants make a huge difference in my place. I once had a client who said plants were cheesy and I was dumbfounded. I thought, I guess so, if you don’t like clean air.

    There are some fig trees you can have indoors that grow big and beautiful. (Like to the ceiling). I’m just saying, Daniel… :)

  59. 3.7.11
    catherine said:

    Just my suggestions:
    1.) 2 FAT horizontal stripes (with maybe 3 thin ones in another color to make it cohesive) all the way around the room at about eye level. This would pull together the room since there are chopped up walls. Pull colors from your rug/coach/or pillows. (only two colors). It is very modern and it does NOT need to be bright colors.
    2.) I would move a larger chair (I think you have that one in your bedroom with the pad???) to one of the corners of the coffee table, angled facing the sofa so you have more of a seating area. It can always be turned around to watch TV.
    3.) I would move the end table to the other end of the sofa so you do not have that empty corner. and acquire another end table when you can.
    4.) Hang art work right on top of the painted stripes
    5.) would love to see the bar cart angled over by the radiator/window. Hard to tell it that would work but it would make a nice bar “area”.
    6.) LUV that credenza. Put on whatever legs you want. It is YOURS.
    Luv your blog, Cat

  60. 3.8.11
    Lena said:

    How about a shelf on top (or hung a little bit above) of the radiator? I think it might reduce the impact of the radiator a little and you could put a few pretty things or plants on it. Or maybe books so you can read on the chair next to the window?

  61. 3.9.11
    Fenn said:

    I haven’t read all the comments, so forgive me if this has been said before. I have a credenza from about the same time period as yours that has metal caps on the bottoms of the legs. These caps have that fabulous option to screw in or out for height, like many fridges and stoves have. I think it is possible to find such a solution for you, assuming the hairpins would mar the look of your credenza. (I don’t fully understand how the hair pins would work.)

    Also, I think your walls need some color! And maybe the art goes up and comes down because you’re not in love with the art.

  62. 3.9.11

    Can’t wait to see what you do with the room!!!

    I kind of love that yellow rug. If you’re going to part with it, I will totally take it off your hands (and I’m also on the UES!)

  63. 3.9.11
    Jess said:

    I’m not a fan of too much wood, either. I’m drowning in it, myself, living in an apartment furnished by the complex from which I rent. It’s hideous, but I can’t change it. Ah, alas. Your living room is charming, though, even if it’s still in transition. Love that print in the corner, too.

  64. 3.15.11
    Amy said:

    Wow.. you’re good. I discovered your blog about a month ago, and fell in love with your writing. The pictures and decor are fun illustrations too;-) Didn’t you have carpet before? You mean serious business with this place. I’m going to have to go back and read and laugh my way through everything I missed. Loving it!

  65. 3.15.11
    Kaytee said:

    I say hack the legs off of the credenza, get out your stud finder and attach it to the wall. It will look less heavy if actually floating and it will be easier to vacuum underneath it.

  66. 3.15.11

    I vote for some shelving on the back wall. That way you can not only store things you can vingette and change things up. I’m assuming you don’t want to commit to any one piece of art for a length period. You can try things out this way.

  67. 3.19.11
    Jenica said:

    As a current college student trying to turn my funky old apartment into a home, I love your blog. I’ve pretty much decided to blog-stalk you, as a result. You’re welcome.

    #1: Yes, you really need some art up on those walls, but I’m not sure that the flash cards you got are it. Surely you can find an art student who will barter in exchange for your mad thrifting skills-perhaps you could find them a chair? Or, I might vote for a wall shelf. I saw one a while ago made from sonotube sections and veneer that was genius.

    #2 Definitely more pillows. Maybe a stack of floor pillows in the corner for when guests come over.

    #3 Yes to the hairpins, as long as you can’t see the shims.

    #4 I too have a horrible overhead light (also, it’s a fan!) in my apartment that has yet to be dealt with. We use a lot of table lamps. That said, I think the lamp you have is a little too tall when placed next to such a low couch. Also, not a huge fan of the side table in your space
    As far as plants go, spider plants are pretty hard to kill. Most likely, they also conjure imagery of overgrown plants hanging from macrame encased planters in your great aunts living room, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I promise.

    #5 Love the coffee table, and the bar cart idea. Or maybe a record table? I love the rug, but bring the old one back. Good job on your decorating restraint. I always aspire to something of that nature, but my couch may or may not have upwards of 8 throw pillows and a white faux fur throw. Whatever, sometimes you’ve gotta choose comfort.

  68. 3.21.11
    Jen said:

    The bar cart idea is so enticing, very difficult to resist. But I am troubled that you don’t a have an eating table. You should. Eating dinner seated on your couch just muddles your whole dining experience — and Daniel, you strike me as someone who should have dining experiences. A compromise: a drop leaf table (IKEA has one which can be attached to the wall), topped by a longer narrow tray (chrome if you’d like), to display your bar. Not as sexy as the bar cart, I know, but it doesn’t take up as much room.

  69. 3.25.11
    trish said:

    LUUUUUV, the credenza, would love to find one just like it to use as a buffet in my dining room. My husband is ready to kill me and doesn’t understand why our house has to look like 1950 when everyone else’s looks like Pottery Barn. Gag. IMPORTANT IDEA – I think I have an idea that you’d love for your big blank wall. In my foyer I took about 10 round mirrors, all thrift store finds except for a couple Ikea or Target ones, all round except one pink square one to be different. I have an old dresser I use as a front hallway table that I painted turquoise blue. The mirrors are all above it stretched across the wall, up to the ceiling. Have one 50’s Sputnik one, one that is way old and antique, one that is newer/sparkly like mosaic, it’s awesome. Can send you a pic if you want. Think it would be perfect for your place and you could collect them over time until you get the collection you like. I am also thinking of throwing in one or two small pieces of artwork.

  70. 4.15.11

    im sure my comment will get lost…but love the space. keep it up