Organizing ~ Decorating/Set Up (Now w/Updated Photos!) - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 36 Old 04-06-2007, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH and I have decided to stay in our city 2 bedroom apartment until all our debt is paid off. I am very on board with the decision and feel like a weight has been lifted.

However, I don't feel like our home is very "homey". It feels cluttered (although we don't have a lot of stuff) and seems more like a college apartment than a family home. I am not spacially or decorationally oriented AT ALL and I cannot paint any region of our apartment.

Any ideas of what I could do make it more "homey" and inviting?

***
UPDATED PHOTOS: We Decluttered, Freecycled and Rearranged. We haven't purchased anything yet but I think this is definitely an improvement)

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...5/DSCN1080.jpg
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...5/DSCN1081.jpg
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...5/DSCN1082.jpg
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...5/DSCN1083.jpg
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...5/DSCN1084.jpg
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...5/DSCN1085.jpg

***
As a side note I should also add that as much as we love our friends here they are WAY financially ahead of us since DH chose to go back to school. Some of the desire to change things around have come from me knowing our friends will be spending time at our home visiting when our baby is born and I want it to feel comfortable for all and also respectable. This seems slightly silly, I know I should not feel the need for validation of our frugal lifestyle, its just hard not to compare sometimes!

***
Photos - I tried to draw a little layout of the room. This is our living/dining/family room/playroom. Basically the only place people see when they come because other then kitchen/bed/bath its the only room we have!

Layout
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b1..._05/Layout.jpg

TV Wall
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...5/DSCN1074.jpg

Entry Way
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...5/DSCN1075.jpg

Bookshelf/Couch
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...5/DSCN1076.jpg

Couch/Baby Room Entry/Corner
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...5/DSCN1077.jpg

Dinning Table/Windows
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...5/DSCN1078.jpg

Printer/Computer Table/Corner
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b1...5/DSCN1079.jpg

Rachael ~ Wife to : DH ~ Son 4-24-07 ~ 6-24-08 ~ Daughter 7-22-09
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#2 of 36 Old 04-06-2007, 01:56 PM
 
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Maybe if you posted pictures it would be easier to help?

Jessika, wife to Turbo, mommy to Codi (12/04), Kayce (8/08), Colten (10/10), and a new little stork-suprise.gif coming 12/13 .

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#3 of 36 Old 04-06-2007, 03:15 PM
 
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I am going to keep an eye on this thread -- I am decorating challenged also. We've been in this house for 6 years and it still has bare walls except for a couple pics of the kids. I swear it is one of those talent sthat you have or you don't, so here's hoping you get some advice from those that have it!

Baking mama to dd (7.5), ds (6), ds (3.5) and someone new in April
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#4 of 36 Old 04-06-2007, 04:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by CityChic View Post
I am not spacially or decorationally oriented AT ALL and I cannot paint any region of our apartment.

Any ideas of what I could do make it more "homey" and inviting?
Is the not being able to paint a landlord restriction? If it is, you may be able to talk him into a neutral color other than what is currently on the wall. When we had renters in a property they showed us the colors and they were great. So we offered to help pay for the paint and they painted for free. So it worked out to our favor. Your landlord may feel the same way.

You may also decide it is worth painting and losing some of your security deposit. If you are going to be there long enough the cost verses enjoying your place may be worth the $. I rented somewhere for what I thought was going to be 2 years, ended up being 4 1/2 so I was pleased I painted my room to the color I wanted.
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#5 of 36 Old 04-06-2007, 06:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe if you posted pictures it would be easier to help?
I will work on this tonite!! I am specifically looking at the living room!

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Is the not being able to paint a landlord restriction? If it is, you may be able to talk him into a neutral color other than what is currently on the wall. When we had renters in a property they showed us the colors and they were great. So we offered to help pay for the paint and they painted for free. So it worked out to our favor. Your landlord may feel the same way.

You may also decide it is worth painting and losing some of your security deposit. If you are going to be there long enough the cost verses enjoying your place may be worth the $. I rented somewhere for what I thought was going to be 2 years, ended up being 4 1/2 so I was pleased I painted my room to the color I wanted.
Landlord said if we wanted to paint we would have to sign a 5 yr lease (ha!) and then the building would come do it and that it would be the same awful white color it is now. However, DH and I should talk about painting anyway...I just really like our landlord and she hasn't raised our rent in 3 years!

Rachael ~ Wife to : DH ~ Son 4-24-07 ~ 6-24-08 ~ Daughter 7-22-09
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#6 of 36 Old 04-06-2007, 09:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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pics added!

Rachael ~ Wife to : DH ~ Son 4-24-07 ~ 6-24-08 ~ Daughter 7-22-09
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#7 of 36 Old 04-06-2007, 10:08 PM
 
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Some textiles would help. I'm thinking curtains, specifically but trying to get curtains tied together with the rug and futon. It doesn't all have to actually match but work together somehow. I like to have different pattern that have the same colors in them, personally.

Small furniture is great when you move a lot but big pieces make a place seem homier. Maybe think about looking at thrift stores or on Craigslist to find a big bookshelf to replace the two smaller ones?

You have the light wood futon frame, dining set, printer table, and coffee table. Then you have a small white shelf and a small black shelf. The TV stand is another wood color, matching the floor, and you have an older looking table/plant stand in a darker wood.

Since you have a lot of the lighter wood, you might look towards eventually getting a bigger shelf in a similar color. I do like dark woods, personally, because it is an older effect (think antiques) which makes me feel at home. The light wood is a more modern effect. Your rug is a more traditional style. Your throw pillows are modern.

So maybe think about what sort of look you want, modern or traditional, and keep your eyes open for good finds that you can use to replace your existing stuff that doesn't fit.

Mom to unschooling 4everboy since 8/01
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#8 of 36 Old 04-06-2007, 10:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Some textiles would help. I'm thinking curtains, specifically but trying to get curtains tied together with the rug and futon. It doesn't all have to actually match but work together somehow. I like to have different pattern that have the same colors in them, personally.

Small furniture is great when you move a lot but big pieces make a place seem homier. Maybe think about looking at thrift stores or on Craigslist to find a big bookshelf to replace the two smaller ones?

You have the light wood futon frame, dining set, printer table, and coffee table. Then you have a small white shelf and a small black shelf. The TV stand is another wood color, matching the floor, and you have an older looking table/plant stand in a darker wood.

Since you have a lot of the lighter wood, you might look towards eventually getting a bigger shelf in a similar color. I do like dark woods, personally, because it is an older effect (think antiques) which makes me feel at home. The light wood is a more modern effect. Your rug is a more traditional style. Your throw pillows are modern.

So maybe think about what sort of look you want, modern or traditional, and keep your eyes open for good finds that you can use to replace your existing stuff that doesn't fit.
Ah ha!!! I never even thought about how different the colors of everything were! This would be a huge start, to get everything looking the same!

I can move the white bookshelf into our bedroom. Do you think that would help?

THANK YOU!

Rachael ~ Wife to : DH ~ Son 4-24-07 ~ 6-24-08 ~ Daughter 7-22-09
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#9 of 36 Old 04-06-2007, 10:40 PM
 
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I think instead of the small picture frames you need a few larger ones with black frames- the silver just blends into the white walls.
Als0 take the pictures off the door.
LOVE your windows! I would do curtains tied in the middle- but thats my thing right now. lol.
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#10 of 36 Old 04-07-2007, 12:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think instead of the small picture frames you need a few larger ones with black frames- the silver just blends into the white walls.
Als0 take the pictures off the door.
LOVE your windows! I would do curtains tied in the middle- but thats my thing right now. lol.
I am thinking about taking that silver frame off the wall completely since it doesn't really go with anything (see pp).

Curtains seem to be one of the first steps!

Thanks for your thoughts!

Rachael ~ Wife to : DH ~ Son 4-24-07 ~ 6-24-08 ~ Daughter 7-22-09
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#11 of 36 Old 04-07-2007, 01:22 AM
 
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Okay, let me say first of all...that I love your place! hardwood floors, beautiful detailing I could go on. Consider yourself fortunate to have those gorgeous floors, imo they make everything look better. As for advice, everything that I was going to say has already been said (take pics off door, get larger bookcase, etc) I will go through more thoroughly and look come up with more exact advice when I have a minute. If you do paint, I would consider the Harmony (sherwin williams) line or something like it with no VOC's and low odor for the health of you and your baby (okay, and DH too!). And, since it's earth month for the planet, too!

Christina, mama to 2 sweet girls

12.19.05

10.26.12 (HBAC!)
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#12 of 36 Old 04-07-2007, 03:24 AM
 
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I was also going to suggest a bigger bookshelf. I see you're in Chicago, and therefore close to an IKEA. (woo-hoo!) I am a big fan of the EXPEDIT line, and they have a huge bookshelf with a bigger hole in the middle for a TV. I think it would look great in your place.

And if I were you, I'd take the plunge with painting. Just pick a color that the landlord would like when she finds out you did it, or one that's easy to paint over before you move (read: NOT red or dark blue). If you ultimately decide not to paint, then go with some color on the walls in other ways: paint large canvases, hang tapestries (heavier ones, so it doesn't look college-y again), something to that effect.

As for curtains, I would go with flat fabric panels that JUST cover the windows, as opposed to flowy, billow-y types.

Also... can you hang the plants? I think it would look really good, and would be one less piece of small furniture.

And for the computer/printer area, I'm thinking an armoire-style computer desk would be good to hide that stuff.

Oh, I just thought of something else... how attached to the coffe table are you? We got rid of ours and don't miss it. They aren't too fun to have with a baby around, and since you're short on space...

Since you're on a budget: CRAIGSLIST! Place ads for everything you want or need. A lot of people just give stuff away...
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#13 of 36 Old 04-07-2007, 09:13 AM
 
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a few thoughts

1. the first thing i see is the lack of color on the walls, and you've said that it isn't an option to paint. can you bring out some color with curtains? tapestrys? in my old apartment, i put a curtain rod behind my main couch (just on the wall, not a window) and then hung 5 thin table-runner-width "tapestries" on it. they were so colorful and gorgeous. if i had the right layout i'd do that in our current home. hm. maybe i will rearrange things so i can do that again. : anyway, i like symmetry so i had two sagey-green strips on the outside, then two bright orange strips going toward the middle, and the middle piece was a deep, rich purple. i LOVED IT! anyway, that's an idea.

2. most of your stuff is small-ish and against the walls (someone mentioned this before i think). you could define the spaces of the room a bit more by combining things (putting bookshelves together, etc). or looking for bigger pieces that have the "look" that you want. the combination of small furniture and bare walls make it seem less colorful than it is, kwim?

3. you can get a standing screen (with beautiful colors to address the color issue) to segment your office/computer area if that's a concern, or to create another nook of your room like a reading area...just break up the pattern of everything along the walls.

ack gotta go - your space is lovely and will be gorgeous when you're done with it!
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#14 of 36 Old 04-07-2007, 09:30 AM
 
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I was also going to suggest a bigger bookshelf. I see you're in Chicago, and therefore close to an IKEA. (woo-hoo!) I am a big fan of the EXPEDIT line, and they have a huge bookshelf with a bigger hole in the middle for a TV. I think it would look great in your place. .
I just wanted to comment on this, since we have this exact bookshelf. We love it and it does make our place look homier!!! BUT, you cannot fit a regular t.v. in the hole. Even the slim design t.v.'s won't fit. It will only fit a flat screen t.v. unless you cut a hole in the back and have it away from the wall, which we didn't want to do. So, we bought a new t.v. Just be aware.

Alisha, Army wife to Nathan , Homeschooling mama to Scheeli (May 2003) , Bronwynn (Nov. 2004) :, Piper (Nov. 2007) , and Wesley (January 2010)
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#15 of 36 Old 04-07-2007, 10:43 AM
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- would swap sitting and dining areas. Doesn't make sense to bring food through living area to dining, unless you spend alot of time at table and not much on futon.

- honestly, if this is your first baby, I would quickly learn to sew (which is EASY!) and buy a sewing machine and make:

simple valance for front windows, simple curtains for front window, slipcover for futon in a brighter color or print. maybe some slipcovers for cushions for DR chairs, some throw pillow.

if you don't want to spend money on larger frames and matting for too small pics, group them very together to create a larger effect.

- consider getting furniture that is not so "leg-y" and more substantial. Since you are in Chicago, great deals can be found on your local craigs list, if you just check patiently.

- if this is your first, i predict either you will be spending much of your sleeping in the baby's room, or the baby will be spending much sleeping in your room so you make want to keep that in mind, in a what if this happens kind of way.
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#16 of 36 Old 04-07-2007, 10:58 AM
 
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Similar to Incamom's tapestry idea, you could buy some pretty fabric and stretch it like one does a canvas for painting. You could do a few of these as large as possible and group them together.

Think vertical with furniture. Tall things take up less floor space, maximize storage, and give you a place to put things out of reach. Having your printer and tv so accessible may be a problem once your little one is creeping. Also the lower shelves on a bookcase could be a problem (my ds loved pulling everything out). If you find a tall bookshelf, maybe you could put baskets on the lower shelves to store toys.

One other major need that came to mind is another comfy chair so when you have company everyone isn't lined up in a row on the couch. Just look for something small in scale without wide rolled arms.

Think about angling furniture. I've done stuff like put two bookcases back to back and sticking out into a room to define a space, as well

Mom to unschooling 4everboy since 8/01
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#17 of 36 Old 04-07-2007, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ladies you are amazing! Thank you for all your ideas I am so excited to get started on this project! It may take a few months because we are on a budget, but if we plan to spend the next 2-3 years here it will be worth it!

THANK YOU!!!

Rachael ~ Wife to : DH ~ Son 4-24-07 ~ 6-24-08 ~ Daughter 7-22-09
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#18 of 36 Old 04-07-2007, 01:17 PM
 
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We've gotten some great, reasonably priced, curtains at Family Dollar. So curtains to bring in a color scheme could work.

I like the tapestry, large colors on the wall ideas. If all work together you can add the color scheme to pillows on furniture and seat cushions for you kitchen chairs. Throw rugs as well.

Iron wall sconces where you can add candles add a bit of decor and color. Surprisingly Party lite has a wall sconce for $16 and it holds a hurricane candle. We got it because I LOVE candles. With a 3 year old have not been able to do light my usual candles so this hangs high enough and in a ring that the candle can't come out. We've filled the hurricane ourselves with our own wax after it was empty.

I know some designers would not like this idea, but we have also added some life & color with silk flowers and an artificial tall plant.

It would probably be worth a trip out to the Crate & Barrel Seconds/Clearance store in Naperville.
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#19 of 36 Old 04-07-2007, 02:28 PM
 
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It may take a few months because we are on a budget, but if we plan to spend the next 2-3 years here it will be worth it!

THANK YOU!!!
My one piece of advice was going to be to take your time, one little area at a time. Don't buy something just because you can't think of anything else. Search out yard sales, thrift stores, it's a great time of year for doing that! Have fun and remember that simple is often the easiest. See if you can use what you have as much as possible!

I actually am not a big fan of curtains, I try to bring color in with wall hangings/etc instead. Just a personal thing but I get more light in the rooms and less to clutter up small spaces. We had valances on six windows in our main living area, I took them down and felt like I was standing in a new room. Crazy, I know! If you're not sure have DH hold up some sheets around the windows and see what they look like before buying/making any . His arms will appreciate the work out .

Definatley check out Craigslist.com too, great stuff from people who don't want it anymore!
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#20 of 36 Old 04-07-2007, 03:26 PM
 
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Somebody posted a thread today where the furnishing are the decorating.
http://homeliving.blogspot.com/2007/...e-without.html

I can so see cottage look in your place because the paint color and the details of your place IMO just call for it.

Slip cover IMO would add a great deal to your place
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#21 of 36 Old 04-07-2007, 05:28 PM
 
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FYI: DON'T got to craigslist.COM... it's .ORG! Not a fun mistake to make, I assure you!
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#22 of 36 Old 04-07-2007, 05:43 PM
 
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Garage sales, yard sales, antique stores, freecycle, dollar stores, and thrift stores may help stretch the buck alittle bit. I think your apartment is very typical (in the sense of white walls, etc.) I think your place has alot of potential and many people gave you some good and useful advice.

Some things that I think make a home "homey" are personal details and items, pictures, artwork, curtains, lamps, flowers, vases, placemats, tablecloths, plants, etc. larger artwork might help!!! These items might help add some color to your apartment too! I think color will help add some character and spice to your apartment.

Decluttering and organizing might help too.

I don't know if you have kids but kids artwork when framed can look really cool.

Me 28, DH 30 , 2 Kitties and working towards having Baby #1. 
“The past has no power over the present moment.” Eckhart Tolle
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#23 of 36 Old 04-07-2007, 07:38 PM
 
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I didn't read through all the responses so you maybe already have gotten the same advice, but if you can't paint fabric blocks can do the same thing.
What I noticed was it just lacked color. I think it's a cute place though.

Sabrina , mom to 4 fab kids!

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#24 of 36 Old 04-07-2007, 07:58 PM
 
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Landlord said if we wanted to paint we would have to sign a 5 yr lease (ha!) and then the building would come do it and that it would be the same awful white color it is now. However, DH and I should talk about painting anyway...I just really like our landlord and she hasn't raised our rent in 3 years!
: Wait, if *you* want to paint, the building will paint? And they'll paint the walls the same color?

I think your living room is just fine. Is there anything in particular about your friends homes that you especially like?
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#25 of 36 Old 04-08-2007, 05:54 AM
 
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Your house does have some great bones, lovely floors, and nice architectural details, but I see what you mean that it has that college feel. I'm totally taking liberties and having fun decorating your room.

I'm "giving" you less than $600 budget to decorate the room, but you could completely change the look and feel of the room for less with a bit more resourcefulness (hello garage sales!), and you certainly wouldn't need to do it all at once.

The following items are from Craigslist. You can often negotiate a lower price, but I'll plan on these amounts to fit into the above budget. I don't know where you are exactly, and am not familiar with Chicago, so some of this may not be convenient to you, but it gives you an idea of what you can do with a small budget.

I used a color scheme of tan and red, since the sofas are tan and the rug (which I think is SO pretty!) is tan and red. A larger rug will anchor the room nicely. Of course, you could pick a different color scheme and make it work just as well. The warmer colors will make it cozier.

$200 - Sofa, chair and ottoman on Craigslist
$40 - Tan and red rug on Craigslist
$50 - TV armoire.
$50 - Desk with hutch to replace the printer table
$35 - End table (paint red to match the rug, instead of green)

$75 - Keep looking for it on Craigslist for a bigger book case. This one from IKEA matches the TV armoire, but is $150. Try to get it used for $75.

If you sew, you could make coordinating curtains, pillows, and a table cloth for very little. If not, you could buy them relatively cheap as well.

Add curtains with texture (four panels, about $60), a cozy blanket ($10). Hang a warm, framed art piece or tapestry over the sofa and over the TV (art is so subjective, but look on Craigslist, overstock.com, etsy.com, make something larger yourself, frame a poster, etc.) Throw a table cloth on the table with a vase of fresh flowers (and move the lamp and computers off the table!) A large mirror would be nice next to the door rather than the bookshelf and small pictures, since it will reflect back the light from the windows. Try stores like Big Lots!, Marshalls, Ross, or Tuesday Morning for this kind of thing.

As for layout:
Swap the sofa to the opposite wall, where the TV is, and put the TV where the sofa is with the chair at an angle next to it. Use the ottoman as a coffee table or additional seating as needed. (We have this set up and it's very convenient.) Otherwise, if you're keeping the futon and not adding a chair, put a tall houseplant next to the TV. Put the TV in an armoire so it isn't the focal point of the room and the electronics are contained. A

Hang a larger piece of art or a tapestry over the sofa. Add an end table with a lamp and a few framed photos next to the sofa, then the bookshelf and narrow, tall desk to contain the clutter.
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#26 of 36 Old 04-08-2007, 12:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Your house does have some great bones, lovely floors, and nice architectural details, but I see what you mean that it has that college feel. I'm totally taking liberties and having fun decorating your room.

I'm "giving" you less than $600 budget to decorate the room, but you could completely change the look and feel of the room for less with a bit more resourcefulness (hello garage sales!), and you certainly wouldn't need to do it all at once.
This is too much fun! You ladies have wonderful ideas! So far I have gotten rid of the printer table and clutter. We moved the printer on top of the file cabinet in the baby room (which baby probably won't see much of since we plan on co-sleeping...).

We cleaned out the corner by the TV and got rid of all the baskets and bags, we listed stuff on freecycle and tossed everything else.

We moved the table where the white bookshelf was and put that bookshelf against the window. We also got rid of those old candles on the bookshelf and put the little table lamp on it.

We also tossed a huge stack of magazines. Its looking a lot less cluttered and we haven't even purchased anything yet!!

I'll try to get more pics up soon!

Rachael ~ Wife to : DH ~ Son 4-24-07 ~ 6-24-08 ~ Daughter 7-22-09
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#27 of 36 Old 04-09-2007, 11:53 AM
 
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Looking forward to photos.

Mom to unschooling 4everboy since 8/01
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#28 of 36 Old 04-09-2007, 01:23 PM
 
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What a lovely apartment! I am looking forward to more pictures.

I think some color on the walls (fabric, prints, or even photos in frames painted a color and grouped) would help you out a lot. Also a larger brighter rug.

Amy at Stone Fence Farm
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#29 of 36 Old 04-09-2007, 03:14 PM
 
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This would be a lot easier if I lived there and could just come over and look! I'm good with that sort of thing!!

One thing I have to say, is that just rearranging things can do a lot without spending a cent! Also, changing the lighting can really change things. We recently put our house on the market, so we moved some things around and added two new lamps, removed one hanging light, and moved another lamp to another section of the room and moved a coffee table and moved our futon over a foot or two, and it really changed the whole feel of the room!

I know you've already gotten some of this advice but I won't bother to sort through the whole thread, I'll just tell you my first impressions.

1) Definitely a unit for the TV, books, decorative items would probably solve about half of your problem and give a much more polished and sophisticated look. At the very least, change the location/direction of your TV--maybe put it on a diagonal in a corner somewhere so it's not such a focal point/right smack in the center of the room. And a large, tall bookshelf instead of several shorter, more "college-y" ones.

2) I would make that bay window where you currently have the dining table a seating area--move whatever couch/chair you have there and make it a living room/conversation area. That is a great window, and would be nice to sit by it and chat and have a cup of coffee or something. The table doesn't do it justice.

3) I would get a nice bright tablecloth for that table.

That's my thought so far.
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#30 of 36 Old 04-10-2007, 02:10 PM
 
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Instead of standard blinds, I love to hang fabric roman shades. Ikea sells them CHEAP.
http://www.ikea.com/webapp/wcs/store...umber=60093968
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