Musical Furniture: The Game We Love to Play

It’s a running joke in my family that one of our unofficial side businesses is furniture moving.  That’s because we do it ALL. THE. TIME. We like to play furniture shuffle within our homes on a regular basis, always searching for a better arrangement that maximizes space, storage, etc. It’s part of our exercise plan. Kidding. Sort of.

Of course, the game is made more difficult by, you guessed it, musical furniture. I rarely see design bloggers working around grand pianos in small or modestly sized homes, so I thought I’d tackle this topic for our home and blog.

Musical instruments have particular needs. Climate control is important, so avoiding placement near sources of heat, cold, and moisture is vital. Dreams of baby grands gleaming in Victorian window bays shattered. Tragic, I know.  

When placing a grand piano near a wall (avoid those exterior ones, remember!), you’ll also want to allow enough room to open and raise the lid and to access all parts of it for cleaning and polishing, which typically means a minimum allowance of 12 inches away from the wall. Positioning the piano so that the long side runs parallel to the wall is more aesthetically and acoustically pleasing.

People with larger homes, multiple living rooms, and/or extra bedrooms/bonus rooms have it easy. Not so with the ‘Zoo. We have a three bedroom home with only one (not-so) great room, and we need every bedroom we have as a bedroom. No dedicated home office. No home gym. No music room. No home theater room. No basement. No bonus room. No playroom. No library. Just one modest living room with a little nook off to the side.When we bought the ‘Zoo, we were delighted that the living room had that extra nook so that my 5’ baby grand piano would only encroach upon the main walkway by a foot or so. Unfortunately, when the lid is not raised but flipped back, Chris frequently runs into its sharp corner. Sacrifices must be made right? Kidding. Definitely not for the best.

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To prevent further stabbings, we tried a number of different furniture arrangements in the living room over the past year or so, but nothing really felt like THE ONE. Consequently, during #flooringmarathon2015 I played around with furniture arrangements for when we could move everything from our personal “Room of Requirement” into the rest of the house. Here’s the rub:

  1. The piano has to stay in the main interior space and not in direct light or near a heat source. It cannot stay in its present position due to stabbings, nor can it be rotated in this spot without causing increased stabbings. If you are thinking that we could simply raise the lid and solve this stabbing problem, let me add that we have all tile floors and vaulted ceilings…and I’m fairly certain the neighbors can hear me playing/singing with the lid shut. I trained as a vocal performance major before shifting into education, and I’m fairly certain that my neighbors don’t dig opera…or anything remotely classical.
  2. The computer desk must be in the main interior space and receive some natural light but not suffer glare. I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that I don’t like working in bedrooms where relaxation is supposed to happen. Especially if said bedrooms get hot in the afternoon. 
  3. The black bookcase, like the piano, is visually and spatially dominant. It looks best when positioned against the long, tall walls of our home.  Who are we kidding? These are the only walls where it fits!IMG_4428
  4. Obviously, we need to have the sofa and love seat be in the living room if we want company. And we do. But our sofa is 92″ long.
  5. Also the TV. There is only one wall in the true living room area on which the TV fits and only one functional cable jack (not on that same wall, though, because that would make TOO MUCH SENSE). This area of the house is inaccessible for rewiring without tearing down the ceiling because there is no attic above it, so the TV cannot relocate to more spacious walls.  Awesome, right? I KNOW.IMG_4589
  6. The dining area is too small for the sitting area, and the dining set doesn’t fit in the current music nook.IMG_4375-1
  7. The thermostat also happens to be on one of the only tall long walls and could be blocked by the black bookcase, depending on its placement.
  8. No TV in the bedroom. I’m a firm believer that TV in the bedroom = less, well, ya know. Sleeping. Plus, our TV (an older model flat screen) emits some serious warmth, making our bedroom way too hot. And watching TV from the bed encourages bad back problems. Definitely don’t want more of those.
  9. I need room for exercising in front of the TV. Gyms = germs . I also am firmly opposed to exercise equipment in the bedroom or main living spaces. Call me a design snob, but it is what it is: Gym furniture is hideous. This doesn’t bother some people, and that’s to their advantage.  It kills me. Now, if someone could make a home gym disappear into an attractive armoire, then I’d be all for it. Hmmm…MY IDEA. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS CLAIMED.
  10. Last of all, we must be able to walk from area to area without gut stabbings. We are anti-stabbing in this family, as all families should be.
  11. We celebrate Christmas and inherited an artificial tree with a large diameter that also gets to be squeezed into our bursting-at-the-seams living room. Christmas doesn’t get sacrificed around here, so I always include a Christmas tree in my furniture arrangements, knowing that the arrangement will be more spacious without it the rest of the year but will have sufficient space for it during the Christmas season.

If this sounds like a cross between an LSAT question and a design dilemma, you’re right.

After much deliberation, we developed a new arrangement, and the piano moved. I decided to throw caution to the winds and take a leaf out of the luxury home design book by sliding the piano into the center of our open living room area, directly in the main thoroughfare of the house.

Crazy? Yep. Tight? Definitely. BUT…

  1.  The TV, flanked by bookcases, stays where it fits (and functions) best in the living room, and the bookcases (will) hide the tangle of cords currently housed in a Homer bucket.IMG_5468 Yep, we painted the walls again. This color is for keeps.  Note the FLOORS!
  2. I prefer floating sofas, but the piano will be floating instead. Sacrifices. At least the long, plain back of the sofa won’t be visible anymore. Plus, the cats like the back of the sofa for afternoon siestas, and I’m sure they’ll like the window seat effect.
  3. The desk receives some natural light but not too much, and is located where I can cook dinner on the stove and check email simultaneously. Stay tuned for more on this in a future post.
  4. The black bookcase leaves the dining room (score), but the dining table stays, which is ideal for grabbing seconds or dessert from the adjacent kitchen (double score). Keeping it real, people.IMG_3897
  5. The piano has enough ‘walkaround’ space to avoid stabbings and is now a featured furniture piece in our home, yet it feels more tucked away than it did before somehow.
  6. Best of all, the new arrangement creates room for a new “library nook,” complete with our black behemoth bookcase and a cozy chair with optional ottoman.  The piano bench can even be used for seating! Eventually, we may add our old coffee table for puzzles, games, etc., but right now, we are enjoying the openness.  We’ve always wanted a dedicated library, and this might be the best we can do for a long time. #bibliophiles

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And now, because it has taken us so long to accomplish #flooringmarathon2015 that the holiday season is upon us, I give you the Christmasy version of the new music/library nook so you can actually see the piano in its new location:

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Furniture Fridays: The Thrill of the Hunt

Over Labor Day weekend we cleared out our storage unit and brought all the furniture back to our home. Some pieces found homes on the newly tiled areas of the house, while the majority of pieces were unceremoniously stuffed into our front bedroom, now jokingly referred to as the Room of Requirement. #harrypotterfans

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Eventually, once the rest of our floors are finished, we’ll move some pieces back into the rest of the house. Others we hope to re-home via Craigslist and our neighborhood’s fall yard sale, as we really have too much furniture for our small home.

Perhaps this is why Chris was rather surprised when I brought home a new piece of furniture Friday. Crazy? Maybe, maybe not.

After nine years of marriage, we have amassed a collection of furniture, small and large, more and less useful. Although pieces with a smaller footprint are ideally sized for our home, we also need furniture with enough room to hold our belongings. Pieces that don’t serve a particularly useful purpose must go, whereas pieces like our behemoth of a black bookcase surprisingly must stay. #bibliophiles

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For awhile now, I’ve been looking for just the right piece of furniture to provide storage for our home “administration station.”  I’ve tried to use our existing furniture (and various combinations thereof) for this purpose to no avail, as our mail and papers usually end up piled up on various surfaces around the house. We pay our bills on time but procrastinate when it comes to all other things paper-related.

I’ve come to the realization that we suffer from three paper-oriented problems:

  1. Our administrative things do not fit in one location, and having to transfer them from one place to another adds an extra step to an already seemingly insurmountable task.  This is akin to people dropping coats in the floor instead of opening a closet door to hang them up. Most professional organizers recommend providing coat hooks instead, as it eliminates one extra step needed for task completion. But we have another problem…
  2. The equivalent of coat hooks when it comes to paperwork is keeping papers out in the open, such as in file sorters, stackable trays, etc., but seeing papers stresses me out, paralyzing me further and ensuring the piles will keep growing. But…
  3. Keeping files obscured in file cabinets or other closed containers means out of sight, out of mind. If we can’t see the papers, we don’t do anything with them either.

On a side note, isn’t interesting that our lack of action (allowing papers to pile up instead of dealing with them straight away) enables inanimate objects (stacks of papers) that are otherwise unable to act independently to wield power over us? By not going on the offensive against paperwork (aka procrastinating), we must always be on the defensive, perpetually fleeing from or fighting an inanimate object!   

So what’s a family to do?

Given three challenges, I thought that perhaps a singular, small, yet storage-rich piece of furniture dedicated to containing the disaster all in one location might improve matters a wee bit.  While running errands on Wednesday, I popped into a local consignment store and happened upon this treasure:

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At 48″ in length, it is well suited to our small space, but its drawers are deep and wide, providing sufficient storage for all of our things. I talked the salesperson into reducing the price and making a slight repair before bringing it home with me Friday. Before buying, I inspected the workmanship and the original furniture marker, which turns out to be John Widdicomb of Grand Rapids. Based on the particular label, our piece is from the 1940s–not exactly an antique but definitely vintage. Sometimes the thrill of the find is equal to the thrill of the hunt!

In the next post, I’ll explain how I plan to utilize this piece to improve our paper problem. As for now, Hermes has claimed it as his own.

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Furniture Fridays: Back in Black!

We’re back in black, baby.  Or rather, the bookcase is.  About a month ago, we mentioned the idea of painting this antique bookcase with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, here:

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At the time, we had no idea whether or not the current  coat of black lacquer contained lead, which was problematic because it was chipping…and our cats like to scratch against it (and recline on the top, looking down on all of us lesser mortals with disdain, pity, or something).  Our plan was to check for lead, and if we had lead, proceed with abatement and painting ASAP since we will be moving the furniture for floor demo and installation anyway.

Recently, at Sherwin Williams’ 40% off sale in April, I picked up a lead paint test kit. After both of us returned from our various work-related travels that have consumed most of May, we tested our bookcase for lead.  With our kit, you were supposed to squeeze and crush a vial containing a reagent that when rubbed against the potentially lead containing surface for 30 seconds would turn pink/red for lead.  The kit also included a false negative test patch so that if you had a negative result you could double check that the vial was not faulty.  Of course, the test patch has to contain lead for the false negative test to be valid, so following all precautions was essential to minimize exposure to hazardous materials. Chris performed the test, while I hovered over him to make sure he did it correctly observed at a safe distance.

We are excited to report that we are lead-free, baby! Now we don’t have to worry about fur babies ingesting lead from the chipping paint and can take our time deciding what to do paint-wise. We also now have the possibility of being able to strip the bookcase down and restore it to its original beauty, which we are also considering.  Another decision delayed, at least for a little while.  Plus, we won’t have to start another DIY project while trying to fence, paint, and tear up floors. Whew! For now, our bookcase is going to stay black, and we’re okay with that.

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Happy Friday, folks!

Furniture Fridays: Fine Dining

Furniture Fridays are back! Last time we posted a whole house update, our dining area looked like this, complete with hand-me-down light fixture and furniture from my parents:

IMG_3061Seemingly functional, but looks can be deceiving:  The china cabinet’s glass shelves were overly bendy, groaning from the weight of four modest place settings, and their jagged edges resulted in chipped china and hand lacerations. The table had the usual surface damage from years of use, and two of the legs had started to split.  It was still useable, but we knew it needed replacing. The chairs had some stains, the upholstery was coming apart at the seams, and two of them had been wallowed out by sleeping animals in multiple households.

The light fixture  from my parents was a replacement for the sad, single glass upside down bowl-like light that came with the house.  The bowl had been splattered with white paint from when the former owners/tenants/property managers’ workers must have neglected to cover or take down the light fixture when they spray painted the whole house renter white.  The light from my parents worked, but our CFL bulbs stuck out of it weirdly (look carefully in the picture above and you’ll see them!).  Plus, it hurt like crazy when you bumped your head on it, as we did regularly when getting up from the table, thanks to the typical builder placement of the light in the center of the room (not accounting for table length and china cabinet/buffet/sideboard placement in a house with only 1 eating area).

Well, those days of woe are behind us, because our dining area now looks like this:

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We donated the table and chairs to a local charity, moved the rug to the front bedroom, and plan to sell the china cabinet on Craigslist or at our upcoming neighborhood spring garage sale.  This really opened up the space horizontally and vertically.  We also rented scaffolding to be able to paint the two tall walls (Shake, Splatter, and Roll), replaced the light fixture, and got a new CUSTOM dining set from a local business.

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The turquoise paint on the south wall is Sherwin Williams Drizzle, the pale blue-gray paint on the west wall is Sherwin Williams Comfort Gray, and the chandy is the Hampton Bay Menlo Park 5-light Chandelier from Home Depot.

I had originally planned to DIY a Mason Jar light fixture, but we decided that we didn’t want to go over-the-top with the farmhouse style.  The Hampton Bay Menlo Park fixture came with the two-story length of chain/wire we needed and had clean lines. The first one we got was a lemon (faulty wiring in one of the arms it seemed), but we took a risk and ordered a replacement with which we’ve been satisfied.  It’s not amazing by most lighting standards, but this is the best we could find in the < $200 price range at different retailers.  We just can’t justify spending $$$ for a light we don’t use that often, given that we mostly eat dinner by candlelight and get enough sun from the southern exposure to not need it during the day, even on cloudy days.  We will eventually replace the shades because the yellowish-beige is the only thing we don’t like about it, but chandy shades (especially the ones we want from Shades of Light) aren’t cheap.

IMG_4366-1We ordered the farmhouse table, bench, and chairs from a local business, Tide Life Southern Coastal Living, run by a husband and wife team.  Their work was recently featured on HGTV and the DiY network! They can make any wood furniture you want in any size and style you like, although they specialize in farmhouse styles similar to what Pottery Barn, West Elm, and Restoration Hardware offer (but for MUCH MUCH less!).  We were also able to get a 7 foot table and bench to match, which is not a standard size offered by most retailers.  The 7 foot table allows us to seat 8 people comfortably without making our smallish dining space feel cramped.  In Goldilocks parlance, the 6 foot would have been too small, the 8 foot too large, but the 7 foot is juuuuust right.  They offer all kinds of paint, stain, wash, and distress options.  We chose to do an espresso stained top for the table and bench, with white legs and chairs painted Bistro White in semi-gloss by Valspar.  They have used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in the past but typically use Valspar so that their customers can easily find paint for touch-ups as needed.  There is only one ASCP retailer in our area, and it isn’t conveniently located for most of Tide Life’s customers.  They do local deliveries but have recently traveled to other states in the Southeastern US to deliver, as their business has greatly expanded in the last few months.  Isn’t it amazing how a different table totally changes the look of this space?

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We love how the dark table top makes our china (Kate Spade Library Lane Aqua) pop, and the blue ridge of our china ties in nicely with our wall colors.  The napkins are from this post.  Now our dining area is a better reflection of our style and is more compatible with our beach lifestyle.  Next up is centering the chandelier, replacing the flooring with wood look tile, and adding some art.

As a final comparison:

                             Before                                                                           After

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And doesn’t a bowl of oranges just make it look that much more amazing? Now that’s more like it.

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Decision Diaries Meets Furniture Fridays: When to Call for Backup

To DIY or not to DIY, that is today’s question.  More specifically, when do we move things ourselves, and when do we call in the pros?  Chris is relatively strong for someone with a tall, slender build.  I’m surprisingly strong for my very small size, but we aren’t the most compatible movers with each other because of the difference in height, arm length, center of gravity, etc.  We can handle most of our furniture, but there are a few key pieces that require a call for backup.  Who you gonna call?  Ghostbusters!  My dad.

My family moved enough times in my childhood/adulthood that I learned to carry my share of the load, literally.  My mom had back problems, so typically my dad and I carried things while she held the door open and ran pet interference so that animals didn’t get trampled  underfoot in the way.  Good thing my dad is as strong as an ox.  Paul Bunyan’s ox, to be exact.   When he was young, a tractor ran over his chest and he survived with only a few cracked ribs. He was recruited for college weightlifting.  He singlehandedly lifted a 700 pound upright piano into a truck (he used both  hands, but you know what I mean).  My daddy’s a strong man, but there’s one item he said he would never move again (understandably) as he nears retirement age: my baby grand piano.

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Folks, if you have seriously heavy and/or priceless items like antiques, pianos, solid wood pieces, and appliances on upper floors with stair access only, weigh the costs of preventable medical bills versus hiring professional movers.  You can even hire movers just to pack, pack and load, load, haul stuff downstairs, unload, etc., even if you plan to rent a moving truck to drive yourself and your belongings cross-country.  Trust me, there are times when it pays to pay someone else to do your work for you, especially when those people do this for a living.  Chris, my dad, and I will be moving all of our furniture, with the exception of my piano, which I am glad to say has already safely arrived at the new house, thanks to the careful work of Modern Piano Moving.  We shelled out a little over a grand (pun intended) for the move, but we had factored this into our budget for moving expenses, knowing it would be well worth it.

http://www.modernpiano.com/

There are a few other heavy/awkward pieces of furniture for which we needed my dad’s help, primarily because these are items that needed to go down a steep, narrow flight of stairs with a 90 degree turn, a low ceiling, two awkward railings, and an inconveniently placed newel post.    Even though I will miss decorating stairs with festive garland and lights for Christmas, we are so glad to not have stairs in our new house for a number of other reasons (self-moving being one of those!).  First in the lineup is our solid mahogany bedroom furniture.   Then there’s the elliptical, which gives me quivers just thinking about the time I tried to move it by myself and it landed upside down (cue imaginary gif of bad seesaw experience with lightweight me flying up on one end and it, with its heavy flywheel, banging down on the other).  We don’t recommend moving furniture alone.

Last but not certainly not least, there’s the evil twins: the washing machine and dryer.  You should have seen us get those things up the stairs in our townhome originally.  We literally rolled them end-over-end because there was no other way to get them up the stairs, and I’m still amazed that we succeeded. (We don’t recommend this method AT ALL.)  As we prepped to move them back downstairs, Chris and I had visions nightmares of these things picking up momentum and slamming clean through the drywall on the landing where the turn has to be made, hence why we called for backup.

Good news: We were able to move everything safely downstairs without damaging the furniture, the walls, or ourselves.  Now our furniture is all emptied and downstairs, ready for loading, which will happen in a couple of weeks.   We are all getting older, though, so time will tell whether or not we have to start calling in the real pros at some point.  Hopefully we won’t be moving again any time soon, though. *Fingers crossed*

Furniture Fridays: Caster(ed), the Friendly Furniture

Confession: I love furniture with casters.  In fact, sometimes I wonder why all furniture doesn’t come with casters.  So for the first Furniture Friday post, let’s talk casters and why they make furniture friendly!

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Top Ten Reasons All Furniture Should Be on Casters:

  1. Cleaning: I may not be Susie Q. Homemaker, but I am rather OCD, especially when it comes to a clean home.  It is my sworn mission to launch frequent cleaning assaults on dust mites lurking in the carpets and upholstery in particular.  Unfortunately, instead of mass-cleaning in one fell swoop, I find myself turning the vacuum cleaner on and off constantly while I move furniture around to make sure all areas of the carpet and rugs get vacuumed properly. Trust me: There is simple satisfaction in being able to relocate furniture with a nudge while continuing to vacuum, instead of waiting for your spouse to help you move the 92″ sofa where the dust mites are marshaling their troops (or wrenching your back trying to strong-arm it one-handed yourself: See #4). Oh sure, I may not move the furniture every time I clean, but I’d really like to avoid the nightmares about dust bunniculas that haunt me when I don’t move the furniture.
  2. Clutter Magnets (also known as Kids): We don’t have kids yet, but I know a lot of blogger buddies and friends who do.  From what I can tell, the average child leaves a room looking like an F5 tornado swept through recently.   In the FEMA-worthy clean-up that follows, some toys are never found in the wreckage: Presumably they took shelter under a sturdy piece of furniture and are still in the back corner, cowering in fear of being sucked into the tornado by giant, grabbing hands covered in marker and saliva (and who knows what else).  Of course, this leads to the inevitable meltdown when your kids set out to build the perfect Lego masterpiece, only to discover that a few essential pieces are missing.  Utter frustration.  Flash forward a few years when you move into a larger home to accommodate your growing family and discover those missing pieces under the bedroom dresser.  Someone in the family shouts, “My Legoooooooooos!” and then, because the Legos have already been packed, those stray pieces get thrown in a random box, never to be seen again…at least until the next move when you are empty nesters downsizing and your children are “too old” to play with Legos because they are now (gasp) adults.  Then, because you are a sentimental parent (or maybe you are the adult children who secretly still love your Legos and want to save every piece of your childhood), you end up with a Ziploc bag of random toy parts in a drawer in the guest room and Hogwarts in a box under your bed, waiting for (grand)children (someday).  Okay, fine.  I bought the Harry Potter Legos when I was in college.  But still.  #NeverTooOldForLegos
  3. Companions (i.e., your other children): We do have animal companions in the form of two spoiled cats.  They have toys, too. Lots of small toys that squeak, shake, jingle, or roll, typically under things out of reach (Note: This picture clearly shows a ball within human reach, but you get the idea).  IMG_2332How many of you have a pet that pouts when his/her favorite toy is under something and he/she can’t reach it?  My cat just falls asleep where his toy is lost, but he’s not exactly an active breed.  My husband’s cat, however, is a different story entirely.  She will whine and fidget in front of a piece of furniture until someone rescues her toy from underneath it, which is usually rather quickly because a Siamesesque shriek is hard to ignore (Siamesesque because she is a rescue cat that has seal-point Siamese markings, but we think she isn’t a purebred).  Usually this rescue mission involves a contortionist act with a Swiffer duster and shoulder dislocation, which brings us to #4.
  4. Critical Injuries: How many people land themselves a visit to the chiropractor trying to unearth toys for sobbing children and whining pets?  If you are a DIYer, go ahead and triple that number.  DIYers probably experience an above average number of accidents (and ER trips) resulting from assuming they have super-human powers (but come on, everyone’s favorite superheroes have a weakness here or there, so aren’t DIYers allowed a few tragic flaws, too?).  A trip to the ER is fairly expensive these days, so if you are a DIYer with pets and children, stock up on Aleve. You’ll need it unless you have mobile furniture that reduces the frequency of opportunities for neck strain and shoulder separation.
  5. Company: As an only child, my childhood involved having lots of people over to my house for pool parties and sleepovers.  Wouldn’t games of Twister have been much easier if the furniture easily rolled back?  Nowadays, when we get together with my husband’s family, the inevitable Xbox 360 dance marathons or Wii Sports games involve lots of action and the need for lots of space.  Furniture relocation for game nights is a cinch if everything rolls in/out.  
     Roll it out for dance sessions and roll it back in place for boardgames. Because who wants to injure their backs before the dance marathon happens? Not this kid, especially since Kinect dance-offs are the only thing I usually win when playing games with my husband’s extremely competitive family.  My family is only competitive when it comes to SEC football, but piling a bunch of people into a room to yell at the TV watch football comfortably would be helped by rolling furniture, too!
  6. Christmas/Holidays: Company frequently coincides with the holidays, no matter what holiday you might be celebrating.  More people = more furniture and less room for it.  If you celebrate Christmas like we do, there may also be the addition of a tree or two (or several).   Trees need space, which involves moving even more furniture. Casters make Christmas (and Christmas decorating) a happier time.  And who doesn’t want to have a happy holiday?
  7. Creative Whims: Decorating for Christmas certainly necessitates furniture finagling to fit everything and everyone in the room together cozily yet happily.  However, if you are like me, a creative whim to change decor and rearrange furniture can strike at any moment–not just the holidays.   Casters make it possible to cater to your creative whims, especially if creative inspiration usually strikes you when you’re home alone but don’t want to wait to try out your new idea until reinforcements arrive.
  8. Cross-country Moving: Whether moving cross-country or cross-city, you may not always have the financial resources to hire a professional moving company or be fortunate enough to have your company pay for movers if relocating to a new job/job site.  I have lived in 5 states and have moved 14 times in 29 years.  Only twice did those moves involve professional movers.  Moving furniture would be much simpler if everything rolled so that you could save your strength for lifting across thresholds and up ridiculously narrow ramps and staircases.  Plus, you wouldn’t have to use those small, rolling dollies that seem prone to wiggle out from under furniture at the worst possible times and are best suited for pet skateboards (or beds, in this case, thanks to the soft towel laid on top to protect the sofa in transit to make it more comfortable).  IMG_2331
  9. Critters: The Great Mouse Roach Hunt: This section is not for the faint of heart.  We currently live in a townhouse with neighbors on both sides.  We have perfectly wonderful neighbors on one side, and interesting neighbors on the other (interesting: a Southern female euphemism for less than savory).  These interesting neighbors have habits that seem to invite critters of the six- and eight-legged variety.  I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that the combination of a mild winter and dry summer plus those neighbors has led to critters finding their way to our home, too.  We have regular pest control services (and our service provider is absolutely fantastic!), but last weekend we saw a ginormous roach emerge from the floorboard along the wall we share with those neighbors.  Neither of us had seen a roach that big since dorm days.  It zoomed under furniture, up walls, and even attempted to fly-hop across the kitchen before we trapped it. I completely lost my head and stood on our new storage ottoman from Target (with casters, of course) while my brave husband went after it.  I am normally only that creeped out by spiders, centipedes, and snakes, but this thing was as freaked out as we were, which made it that much worse.  If all the furniture had been on casters, we would have been able to end The Great Roach Hunt more quickly. Blech.  At least it wasn’t one of those infamous German cockroaches. Exponential blech.IMG_2282
  10. Couching: This last one may be a new one for some of you.  If you grew up as a suburbanite, perhaps you may or may not have participated in (or been the recipient of) a toilet-papering/rolling/TPing of someone’s house.  What you may not have done is “couch” someone’s house.  This involves the traditional toilet paper, accompanied by various and sundry other random things deposited in the victim’s yard, including: traffic cones, street signs, toilets, and couches.  (All of these things found their way into my yard at some point during my high school years.  You know who you are). 😉  Things like toilets and couches were allegedly scrounged from people’s yards who had set them out to be hauled away to the dump (translate: NASTY condition).  Things like traffic cones and street signs, well, you can figure those out.  Not legal, folks.  Don’t do it.  Now,  I would imagine that sneaking a couch into someone’s yard would be made much easier if you could simply roll a couch down someone’s driveway and run/drive off, rather than carefully placing it on the front porch.  Of course, maybe that would be taking some of the fun out of it, if, in fact, couching is a fun activity.  My dad played a good joke on the people who “couched” our yard one chilly night in late October that involved a toilet and a gigantic pumpkin, and let’s just say, there were no more couches or toilets in our yard for a long time afterwards.  Maybe this is why I love pumpkins so much.  At any rate, I’m not endorsing couching, but as an OCD person, I wanted a list of 10 reasons, and this came to mind as something humorous/bizarre/unique to add to the list when I was thinking about why you would want casters for moving furniture more quickly and easily.

Can you think of any more reasons why casters would simplify/improve your home/work/life (preferably a better reason than #10)?  Please share!

The Curse of the Many-Legged Giants

Chris and I are currently losing a battle with many-legged giants in our house.  No, I don’t mean mutant wolf spiders or centipedes.  We’re talking furniture, folks.  I am constantly frustrated by the lack of flexibility we have with our furniture arrangement in our current living situation (rental condo), and we are both dreading the forthcoming day when we become a two-person moving crew and have to haul all of our giant pieces of furniture down narrow halls and stairs, around insanely tight corners with low overheads, and into a moving truck.  But wait, how did the giants get here in the first place?

A long time ago, back when we were engaged, Chris and I selected this bed to be our future bed:   PB farmhouse

Picture courtesy of Pottery Barn:

http://www.potterybarn.com/products/farmhouse-bed/?pkey=cfarmhouse-bedroom-collection&#038;

Two and a half years after we were married (and extremely tired of using my old twin beds pushed together and covered with a king-sized foam mattress thing), we finally bit the bullet and bought the king-size version on sale.  Enter Giant #1.  Our bed is a gentle giant, though.  We absolutely love our bed and wouldn’t trade, sell, or give it away to anyone EVER.  Of course, our love affair is made more complete by the mattress set we bought for it.  Seriously, every time we lie down it is like going to a luxury spa retreat.  It is, by far, the best investment we have made furniture-wise, so we are perfectly content with our gentle giant.

Not so with the large (pun intended) majority of the rest of our furniture, which includes the following:

Gifts/Freebies from Amy’s parents:

  • 5′ baby grand piano
  • chair-and-a-half known as “the comfy chair”
  • oversized loveseat
  • dining table with two leaves
  • china cabinet
  • antique buffet
  • chest of drawers
  • two nightstands
  • double bed with full sized dresser, mirror, chest, and nightstand
  • computer desk
  • glass table
  • microwave cart
  • (2) different cube bookshelves (2 x 4)
  • 3-panel room divider
  • cat condo

Purchases:

  • Kenmore Washer and Dryer (on sale from Sears)
  • TV stand from Bombay (on clearance)
  • Extra long Pottery Barn Seabury suede sofa (floor sample purchased for 70% off)
  • Pottery Barn project table (on sale)
  • Pottery Barn Farmhouse Tallboy dresser (on sale)
  • elliptical workout machine (on sale)
  • Pottery Barn teen media stand (on sale)
  • Pier 1 wicker chaise (on sale)
  • (2) Pier 1 bar stools (on sale)
  • (3) Pier 1 counter stools (Craigslist)
  • Pier 1 mail center (on sale)
  • (2) different cube bookshelves (1 x 3; 3 x 3) (Target or Linens ‘N’ Things)
  • 2 bookshelves (Target on sale)
  • 1 media armoire (Target on sale)
  • 2 side tables (Target on clearance)
  • metal pantry storage rack (don’t remember, but it was cheap)
  • 4 Gorilla racks for garage (Sam’s Club)
  • storage bench (Target on sale)
  • craft storage organizer (craft store on sale)
  • cat condo (Pet Smart on sale)
  • grill (Wal-Mart on sale)
  • bistro sized patio set (Target on sale)

Notice some trends?  We do.

Trend #1: Our home = Goodwill Donation Center.

I’m an only child, so when my parents downsized after I flew the coop, they gave us a lot of their (bigger) furniture.  This list doesn’t even include the Pier 1 wicker loveseat and chair and a jungle green leather sofa they gave us that we’ve already passed to others!  Chris and I love a clean, spacious home, but our sentimental hearts beat wildly at times, resulting in conversations like the following:

Mom: I’m giving the comfy chair away to Goodwill.

Me: What?!

Mom: It just doesn’t go with my new style, and I don’t really have room for it anyway.

Me: But it is such a great chair with so many memories!

Mom: I know, but I’m giving it away unless you want it.

(Chris in the background): Tell her we’ll take it.

Me: We’ll take it.

This is also how we amass random home decor from Chris’s grandmother and my parents.  In fact, every time we visit Chris’s grandmother, we bring home a carload full, and I frequently receive boxes of my mom’s old teaching stuff, family photos, home decorating accessories, knickknacks, linens, etc. that I tend to sort through before sending to Goodwill or selling.  I also inherited 14 place settings of china from a relative, in addition to 2 we received as a gift from Chris’s grandmother and the 10 we received as part of our wedding registry.  I’m the only child of a mother whose only sibling has already passed, so I will also inherit her china…and her mother’s china…(you can see where this is going, can’t you?).  With that much china, I should be able to open a restaurant soon, which is good since I’ll need the restaurant space to store it all!

Lorie Marrero, creator of the Clutter Diet (check it out here: http://www.clutterdiet.com/) recommends stopping clutter before it enters your home.  Great advice!  When you are trying to be frugal and not spend money on things, though, it is hard to pass on “perfectly good” items, especially items you don’t have as a young-ish couple..and if some of these items tend to be made better than they are now.  For example, we have gone through two butter dishes since being married 7 years ago, including a Le Creuset one!  Our Corningware dishes have hairline fissures…not so with my grandmother and mother’s dishes (the ones with the blue emblem on them) that will probably outlast us all.  Maybe they will make cool homes for the cockroaches at the end of the world.

Trend #2: Modern farmhouse style = no room in the inn, or at least, in the condo.

Chris and I have very eclectic taste but trend towards a cross between European farmhouse and mid-century modern.  When we were homeowners, this was not a problem.  Our first home had a spacious, open concept that was perfect for our tendency to prefer big furniture designed for large spaces.  Unfortunately, I decided to go back to school in an urban area where housing is $$$.  In fact, our city is one of the few places where the housing market has continued to swell despite the general economic/housing market situation.  Our rent even went up this year (le sigh).   Suffice it to say, we live in a “spacious” 3 BR/2BA condo that feels like the size of a mouse hole with our furniture in it.  We even had to buy in the “suburbs” and spend more on our rent than our original home mortgage to have room enough for all our stuff.  Problem? Definitely.  But what could we have parted with?

Trend #3: Furniture sales = furniture clutter.

After making some disappointing investments in some cheaper engineered wood products, we decided to go solid wood with the rest of our purchases in hopes of lasting quality.  In trying to buy quality for lower prices, we tend to shop sales.  The only problem here is that shopping leads to purchases, which leads to space problems…which leads to the need to reclaim some of it by parting with some pieces (and probably replacing some with smaller pieces, eventually).  The creeping giant of Guilt seems pleased to hang out in our space…guilt over things purchased that are functioning yet take up too much space…guilt over things purchased that were not good investments (all in the name of saving money)…guilt over giving away free, “perfectly good” furniture  and having to replace these items with smaller ones (read: purchase things to replace free things).  The handmadehome has a great article on guilt, by the way.  It’s an older blog post, but copy/paste the link and it should work: http://www.thehandmadehome.net/2013/01/lazy-gals-survival-guide-guilt-vs-conviction/

Trend #4: Parting is such sweet sorrow.

We have been clearing out clutter for about a year and a half, and we have done some serious purging…of everything except the furniture.  My clothes used to take up two closets, a dresser, and a chest (that’s what happens when you don’t grow and can still wear your clothes from high school).  Now I use a chest and share the master closet with my husband.  Craft supplies have been used or donated to teachers.  I’ve even parted with some books, which is incredibly difficult since I’m a bibliophile.  The final frontier is the furniture, but the giants have to go.  Trouble is, we are struggling with what to give away, sell, and repurpose, especially since almost all of these pieces see frequent use or will, once we have kids and need additional bedroom furniture, seating, and such (read: near future).

Anyone else have some giants that need to find a new cave home?  Any ideas on how to conquer our giants?