Tag Archives: home renovation

Today: Home, sweet condo.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Over the past two years, our condo has experienced quite the evolution.  Nick and I were relaxing in the living room recently, with Clark wedged in between us, talking about how much we had accomplished, and planning for the next few projects.  His sage bit of advice for new homeowners? 

Take some time to really live in your space before making big changes.

During year one, the condo looked much like it did when we bought it, except it had our stuff in it, and not the previous owners’ stuff.  I bought a collapsible step stool, which can be carried from room to room by its clever handle, and is essential for a 5 foot 4 incher living in a home with 13 foot ceilings.  We purchased new furniture (a leather sofa, two wing back chairs, and a modern glass coffee table).  Oh, and a rug that turned out to be quite larger than we expected (but the perfect size for our bedroom).

Nick triumphed over the random pendant lamp (the previous owner of our condo claimed it was adjustable… ’twas not) hanging from the equally random soffit in the living room and replaced it with something more normal.  I stood back, gripped by equal parts awe and terror as my then-boyfriend touched electrical wires.  Side note: anytime I hear the word soffit, I think of sock ’em boppers (more fun than a pillow fight).

After adding a small dog and his large collection of toys, plus a year’s worth of accumulated things, to our household, we started to get a better handle on how we actually live and a better sense of how we might like to live.  We hired an interior designer to help us turn our drawings, lists, magazine clippings and bookmarked websites into reality.  She recommended a general contractor and cabinet maker, and give us a few ideas for sourcing furniture, fabrics and accessories.  Eventually, we also found a wall paper-er and a painter.  To quote our beloved (by me, obvi) Secretary of State, it takes a village to raise a living room.

We went through several rounds of plans, but eventually, the built-ins and bookshelves of our dreams were complete.  The soffit was extended, a new wall was built between the kitchen and living room, the television was mounted on the wall, and we were able to enjoy our new fireplace just in time for our second Christmas in Southie.

With the tarps down and ladders gone, we got to work on the prettier projects.  We ordered wallpaper from London, which proved to be both frivolous and perfect at the same time.  Nick moved his salt water fish tank to storage (R.I.P., Mr. Shrimpers) and I found the perfect faux bois rug to place under our glass table (or as Clark likes to think of it, his clubhouse).  I felt my French degree was justified by that purchase alone.  We searched for furniture that better fit the scale of our condo, giving us more seating for entertaining, and a place to enjoy cozy dinners at home.  After marveling at people taking actual naps on the display beds at Ikea, we found a counter height table and a pair of sleek white chairs to match.  We also snagged two complimenting chairs that can easily be stashed in our front hall closet when we aren’t throwing lavish four person dinner parties (at our most recent “lavish dinner party” I nearly poisoned Nick, my sister-in-law and my brother).

I made an impulse purchase one afternoon, assuming Nick would love a photograph of cowboys surveying a Prada store in the middle of the desert as much as I did.  Same goes for those sculptural drinking glasses.  Oh, and my attempts at “pops of color.”  Nest building is a learning process, it would seem.   Actual communication is always better than mind reading.  Unless you’re a mind reader.  In which case, they’re probably equally valid.  Needless to say, those cowboys helped me to learn a valuable lesson.  You know how I found out Nick hated this Rainbow Brite chandelier I fell hard for?  I asked him.

Back to the cowboys.  I had no idea custom framing took a century to complete (and additionally, costs nearly as much as the artwork itself).  The measuring process alone aged me by several years.  I appreciate double-checking, but triple- and quadruple-checking just plain ol’ makes me nervous.  We selected sleek brushed silver frames for my cowboys (Nick eventually came around, yeeehaaaaw) and two beach stone prints from Boothbay Harbor.  Apparently, I had reason (for once) to be nervous.  One of our three prints went missing for two months during the framing process.  You can’t win ’em all.

On the same day I decided to test out Crest Whitestrips Advanced (just say no), we spent three hours at Jordan’s Furniture.  As I felt what remained of my tooth enamel slowly and painfully die, Nick felt various microfibers and brocades.  Having already lost one battle with “up to 8 shades whiter” that day, I blinked through my own tears to select a more muted tone for our new sectional (Tuscan pearl, perfect for a couple with a dark brown dog…) whilst Nick and the saleswoman talked measurements and configurations.

Upon returning home, I took a painkiller and whined about my chompers while Nick worked his Craigslist magic and was not murdered by strangers quickly sold our nearly new sofa and chairs to strangers.  We enjoyed a sort of urban camping while awaiting our second furniture delivery in as many years.

When the sofa arrived, on the hottest day of the summer thus far, I nearly wept (as memories of my aching teeth flooded back… just kidding… although I am not kidding about banning those infernal whitestrips from stores).  It was perfect.  Our little home had come so far.  In a matter of days, Nick had installed new uplighting along the brick wall and one of our Buddhas took up residence on the window sill.

We settled on paint colors, including my much sought after pop of Martha Stewart color in the kitchen.  We found a cozy blanket to match the sofa, the perfect new dog bed for Clark, and various bins and canisters for our built-ins.  We have but a few more items to check off the list, including procuring a side table, something for the mantle, and something to grace the wall between our windows.

Though it took some time, and a lot of hard work (Nick deserves the majority of credit, to be sure), our living room has become our sanctuary in the city.  It is the perfect place to entertain friends, play fetch with Clark and his toy of the moment, ice and foam roll after long runs, enjoy Harry Potter movie marathons, play The Michael Jackson Experience on the wii, curl up with a good book, or simply relax with one another.

We’re doing a whole lot of living in our new living room.

Also On Tap for Today:

Which room in your home is your favorite?  Where do you spend the most time?