Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Progress on the Living Room Front

One of the benefits of Spring Break is that a person has a somewhat looser schedule (or, to be accurate, really no schedule at all) and turns to pondering such matters as how to get light into the living room, how to make the couch less scratchy to sit on, and how to create more desk space.
Thinking mainly of the latter, I visited a couple of local Goodwill stores in search of a narrow table that could sit over the bedroom radiator and provide a space for the laptop and scanner. Well, whether it is despite or because of the huge number of Goodwill stores in the greater Pittsburgh area, the furniture selection was extremely limited. One ornamental table looked vaguely possible, but I had forgotten to bring in the tape measure to see if it was tall enough. For that matter, while I like wooden furniture, wood might not be the best thing to put atop a radiator.
The next day I gritted my teeth and drove out to IKEA. I don't actually hate IKEA, but I have very mixed feelings about it. For one thing, I don't like having to drive half an hour to shop anywhere. Driving... ok, I might buy something large or heavy that I wouldn't want to take on the bus. But still. And IKEA is always an exhausting experience. There's enough interesting and appealing stuff to make it deceptively appealing. But I'm never in the position to remodel my kitchen or install large shelving units, and my bathroom is too small to accommodate most of the space-saving devices unless I hung them from the ceiling. And a lot of the designs are either hideous or just not to my taste. But I figured that IKEA would have plenty of tables to choose from, and perhaps a tolerable cheap lamp or two.
Well. I was disappointed to find that IKEA did not seem to have any tables narrower than about 23"--I was hoping for about 18". That is, that would fit over the radiator. This really surprised me. But I suppose that had I bought a desk deeper than about 21", I might not be wanting a table to go with it. That's what happens when one looks for a solid wood desk that won't fall apart when moved, I guess.
My experiences in the lamp area were more positive. While there is a custom lamp store back in California that I would rather patronize, at IKEA I was able to find a reasonable-looking table lamp that will accept more wattage than the lamp I had been using (up to 75 watts!) and I decided to go for a huge sort of lantern to suspend over the coffee table (also takes up to 75 watts). Plus, I was strangely taken with a comforter cover that struck me as a possible cover for the couch. The pattern on the comforter cover isn't quite my usual style, but I love the colors and I try to be adventurous when it comes to textiles, so long as they aren't absolutely alien to my sensibilities.

Voila, suddenly the living room is a lot brighter! It's actually possible to sit on the couch and read without putting the book directly under the lamp! And, while the couch's original wool upholstery is in great shape after 40+ years, it does show every hair Orion leaves on it and tends to make me itch even through my clothes. Admittedly, the hanging lantern does sort of take over the room, and its pole obscures my Remedios Varo poster a bit, but for the time being, IKEA has done its bit to liven up the living room.
I still have to figure out what to put over the couch, though. The space really demands something interesting.
Ah yes. Wouldn't interior decorating be fun if a person could really just do anything.



Blogger Julia said...

Before you know it, you're going to be a feature in!!

Ikea is insufferable for the crowds but for their lighting they really win out. My favorite trick is to shop online first so I don't get overwhelmed when I'm there. And their information people are great if you have the id numbers - sometimes I'll just give them a list of numbers and they'll help me id aisle and row quickly so I don't have to run all over the store looking for the exact sample.

I should temper my enthusiastic comment by remarking that, after all, Ikea really is the only available option for us here unless we want to pay 3000 euros for a lamp ;-).

March 12, 2008 10:15 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

Thanks for revealing to me. I'm exploring it in detail since I keep wanting to find a magazine that actually deals with the decorating issues of the normal apartment-dweller (can't remodel anything, often can't paint the walls, has blah or disgusting carpeting, tiny kitchen or bathroom, etc.).

Ikea has, as one of my Czech teachers used to say, its pluses and its minuses. When it's good, it's really good. When it's bad, it's dismal. On the plus side, I got a very nice little bedroom lamp at one of the Prague Ikeas and Jesse furnished an entire apartment from the Brno branch. But have you tried any of the bazars for a good cheap lamp? I only stayed out of the bazars because I was afraid that I'd find too much great stuff I couldn't ship home (Alex goes ahead and buys it anyway, but like you, she has no move-home date).

March 13, 2008 2:16 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

Apartmenttherapy is a super site - one of my daily favorites to read, glad you like it!

I've never tried lamps from the bazars (our electricity is a leetle bit suspect and blows out industry standard lamps, we worry what it would do to old wiring) but I am a fan of buying glassware from them and just recently rounded up some cool easter eggs for Caroline at our closest bazar!

Will is so with you on Ikea. He groans the entire time he's there. I have to keep reminding him about the cookies and hotdogs at the end.

March 14, 2008 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sigh. I know it. My apt. is so small there is very little that I can do other than dream about gutting it or moving. Or both.

It all looks very nice.

March 14, 2008 11:41 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

Just picture Orion sitting on the couch (he was just up there a few minutes ago sniffing out the new cover).

March 16, 2008 2:44 AM  

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