Apr 9, 2012

Furniture switcheroo, and some new plans

Hey all! Hope you had a great Easter! I ate way too much good food and candy, but it was worth it :)

Are you the kind of person who starts a new project before finishing the ones you have going on? Tell me I'm not the only one guilty of this! So, we've still got our office redo hanging out there (making progress with some curtains!), as well as a laundry room in progress (no new news on that front, except we got a rug), and, with our new sectional in the living room, we've been slowly working on updating that room (right now, we're trying to pick a new paint color -- more on that later in this post!).

So, despite all of these projects in the works, last weekend the hubs and I somehow ended up rearranging our furniture in our dining room. We have a formal dining room across from the kitchen that, well, rarely gets used. It's just the two of us most of the time, and we eat at the counter peninsula in the kitchen.

We also have this awkward space next to the kitchen. Since we moved in, we've been scratching our heads over what to do with it.

We stuck this little table in there mostly as a filler. We kept it mostly open because there's a door on the left that leads from the entryway, and on the right is the door to the deck, and we didn't walk to block the walkways.

I'd always thought about putting a couple chairs and a coffee table in there against the window, but I never pulled the trigger because, well, it just didn't seem quite right. I just couldn't imagine us doing a lot of sitting out there.

We had previously talked about putting the dining room table in here, but I nixed it right away. I don't really know why. I was worried about blocking off the walkway to the deck, and thought it would be weird for people to walk into the house and right into the dining room table. Plus, we had a perfectly lovely dining room! Why wouldn't we use it?

Anyways, fast forward a few months, and the hubs convinced me to give it another try. He started talking about turning the dining room into a cute little sitting room, and I just got excited. So, we moved the dining room table into this space next to the kitchen, and just try it out for a couple weeks. Well, I'm loving it!

Here's how it looks from the entryway:

Instead of centering it in the space, we edged it closer to the window, so there's plenty of room to walk into the house and walk through to the deck. I thought it would bug me that it's not centered, but it actually doesn't at all.

See? Plenty of walking area.

Our table actually has three sizes, since we have two leaves we can add. This is its smallest size. I think when we tried it the first time, we had one of the leaves in, and I just thought it looked too big. But in this size, I think it looks just right. At this size, it'll seat six, and it's only a few times a year we have larger brunch or dinner parties. And there is room to extend the table to its full length, although it's a little tight. But again, it'll be so infrequent that I don't think we'll miss having the large dining room for just those occasions.

I don't know why I was so against this just a few months ago, because I'm totally jazzed about it. We got to take the new setup for a test drive this past weekend when we had two friends over for dinner. They said eating next to the kitchen felt more intimate and casual, which is really what we're going for, since we're not fancy-party people. I'm just so happy about actually using this space instead of leaving it as wasted space! I'm hoping the hubs and I will use it more just the two of us -- why is it that having the table next to the kitchen makes it seem more usable than in the dining room? The table is still the same distance away! But for some reason, having it in the same room as the kitchen just makes it more welcoming.

We also took off a door that separated the entryway from the house. We never, ever used this door -- I think it's been closed maybe three times in the year and a half we've lived here. I could see it being kind of practical to keep cold air out of the house while coming in or out, but really, we never have the outdoor open that much. Since it was in the way of the table, we just took it off.

I don't have a good shot of what it looked like with the door, but you can get the sense here.

And I can't believe how much better it looks with the door off! It really visually interrupted the flow of the room. Of course, we have some repair work to do.

The door will eventually go downstairs in our laundry room, saving us from having to buy one for down there -- score!

So, what to do with our former dining room? After the hubs lured me into this new layout with talk of a cute sitting room, he started talking about a ping pong table...um, no, thank you! (He was kidding anyways...I think.) Right now we're thinking about a loveseat, a couple cute little chairs and a coffee table. It'll function better as a sitting area than the space where the table is now, because you can fit more furniture and accommodate more than two people. It'll be the perfect place to transition to after dinner is over for conversation and drinks. I'm picturing a little bar in the corner!

We also started talking about some kind of woodstove or fireplace. We've been pondering a way to put a backup source of heat in our house since we moved in. We have an oil furnace, but when the power goes out in the wintertime, the furnace doesn't run -- meaning our house could get cold enough for the pipes to freeze, which is very, very bad. Plus, a warm fireplace or stove is so nice and cozy in those cold winter months. :)

But, our house doesn't have a chimney, and we just could not come up with a place to accommodate a woodstove. Our house has lots of windows, leaving few walls big enough to fit a stove. But, this wall here could be just perfect for a stove. The other side of the wall is the entryway closet, which is deeper than a normal closet since it used to hold the washer and dryer. What does that mean? Extra space for a chimney.

Please ignore the random stuff in here and that paint swatch on the wall...

We're still working out the logistics, and a stove would be a few years down the road, but how great would it be to sit in there in the winter with a hot cocoa and a nice warm fire going? Yes, please! Plus, it'd be centrally located, meaning it could help heat the kitchen and the living room nicely.

The hubs is Mr. Practical and wants an efficient woodstove, while I'm dreaming of a crackling fireplace. Maybe we'll meet in the middle and get a gas fireplace that's low maintenance but also pretty to look at.

And though we don't have kids yet, we will someday, and we'd already talked about how great the formal dining room would be as a playroom. I can see a sitting room turning into a nice play place pretty easily (goodbye, bar!).

So, really, this decision to move the table out of the dining room is solving a lot of our problems: no more dead space next to the kitchen, better and more frequent use of the dining room space, and the ability to install a backup heat source.

What do we do next? Well, this room shares a wall with the living room, which we're already planning to paint. So, we'll be painting both the living room and this room the same color. I can't tell you how excited I am to get rid of these red walls.

We're planning to paint them a light blue-gray color. To differentiate the new sitting room from the living room, we want to install some wainscoting. I'm really excited to give this room a new look! Getting rid of the red will also be a check on my home goals for the year.

Our goal is to pick a paint color before next weekend so we can tackle the painting over the Patriots Day holiday weekend -- in Maine and Massachusetts, we celebrate Patriots Day (a nice reader last year informed me that Patriots Day is to commemorate Paul Revere's ride, as well as the first battles of the Revolutionary War), so, we have next Monday off. Hopefully the wainscoting will come shortly after.

Then will come the fun part -- picking furniture! I am totally smitten with Target's slipper and armless chair collections, like these (click the images to get to Target's website):

Target also has cute settees and armless loveseats like this one:

It's kind of funny -- the hubs and I agree on the big things, like values, life goals, etc. But when it comes to decorating, we rarely seem to agree, at least on the first go-round. Usually it takes lots of talking and compromising before we make a decision. So, the fact that we both really want one of these cowhide rugs from Ikea means we just have to buy one.

So, we'll be working on this while also wrapping up the office. The laundry room isn't a major priority, since it's functional and in the basement, which means no one ever sees it. I kind of feel like we're crazy here, but sometimes this is just how this house stuff goes, isn't it?

Wow -- if you've made it through this entire, blathering post, I'm seriously impressed. :)

Have you ditched your formal dining room  for another use? Or do you also take on new projects before finishing other ones?

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