Friday, November 8, 2013

Greening the living room

I've been kicking myself about DIY and the blog lately...I've been doing very little on the DIY front, and I'm missing it in my life. It's true that things are busy, but more than that I've been feeling very uninspired. I was working on one project for awhile but decided to scrap it after I didn't like the results, and I've had a hard time coming up with other projects. Frankly, I think I may be reaching the end of the work on our apartment. Don't get me wrong, it's far from perfect. But I'm not going to embark on significant structural changes or anything, and I also don't want to sink too much more money into this place since we're starting to think about saving up for a place of our own. ("Thinking about saving up for" rather than "saving up for" since I'm still in school and thus, as we would say in business school, we're currently "cash flow negative.")

However, in the meantime I've been pining for some DIY -- it's a nice contrast to the analytical work I do for school, a creative outlet that I really enjoy. I did have a little fun helping Sam start decorating his new office, but there's only so much you can do in a professional workplace. I think things are trending in the right direction, though. I decided to sign up for a sewing class at the local Adult Education Center for this winter, which should be fun. Plus we're hosting a lot of family for Thanksgiving and then holding a big holiday party in mid-December, so the decorating and party planning will keep me busy. Plus the task of planning our wedding continues. And in the meantime, I made a purchase that has transformed our living room: a new rug.

We got a rug for the space two years ago from a business that sells carpet remnants near my hometown, and it was so great for the space. We went from this:

To this (ignore the "NOW," that's just from when I did Before and Afters this summer and I can't find the original textless image):
(obviously there were some other changes besides a new rug)

I do love the hardwood floors, but they are very thin and we sit right above the unfinished basement so the rug adds some draft protection in the winter. Plus I think it helps tie the disparate furniture together a bit more so it all looks a little more cohesive.

But it turns out that we're not responsible enough to own such a light colored rug. At this point, there are a few too many discolorations that we were unable to get out despite significant cleaning. Surprisingly the stain from when I spilled an entire glass of red wine came out pretty easily, but we also have a cat who likes to spit up hairballs on occasion, mud tracked through our home from running shoes, etc. Usually when I tell Sam I'm thinking about changing something in the apartment, he isn't quite sure -- so when I broached replacing the rug, I was expecting him to say something like: "but we already have a rug." But instead he said, "yeah, we really need a new one." So that gave me the confidence to make an investment in something new -- 8x10 rugs aren't cheap, but we found one marked down on Overstock that I thought would look great in the space. We could have saved maybe $100 to buy a crappier rug, but one of the things I really believe is that sometimes it's worth investing in something that is nice and will really last -- especially when the cheaper alternative isn't really that much cheaper.

Picking rugs kind of terrifies me because it has such a big impact on the space, plus I don't have too much rug buying experience. But I was determined to find something great for the space. Often when I'm contemplating a change or assessing something I've already done it helps me to look at a photo of the space -- for some reason I'm able to evaluate it much more easily. So I sat staring at a photo of our living room, and what it told me is: a more lively accent rug could be fun, and light green might be a great color because it would tie into the roman blinds I made a few years ago. I knew we had to stick with something light because the cat hair shows so much less, and though I wanted something that could hide stains a bit better than a white rug, I didn't want it to look dirty from cat hair if we didn't vacuum it daily (which we are guaranteed not to do).

So I pulled the trigger, and here's how it looks:

I'm a big fan, though I think maybe I want to move it a little to the left?

Okay, now is the time to admit the somewhat shameful secret. Why was I so confident that the rug would look good? Because as I continued to look at it on the Overstock website, I realized that I had seen it before: my favorite bloggers have the exact same rug. And the exact same couch. That was enough to make me question buying it, because it feels a little creepy to be replicating their living room. But I really though it would look perfect. So we'll just stick with "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," and accept the fact that they are design geniuses and why reinvent the wheel when they have taste that clearly just works.