Tag Archives: living room

The Built-In Bookcase Project

October 25, 2012


I have a home office in my living room. Because we shoehorn an office, a school room, and a living room all into the tiny 350 square-foot space, so the room has always been a disaster of clutter and mismatched furniture. This year, I was determined to address the problems.

Earlier in the year, we installed new windows, replacing the 1910 Victorian models. After that, we sewed curtains for the room, painted the walls and painted the trim. Then, I got rid of the monstrous 8-foot hand-me-down blue-and-pink couch and got two small, cushy love seats.

For over a month now, we’ve been building and installing two huge built-in bookcase units. One is 6 feet long and the other is 5 feet. I’ve had intentions of adding such a unit to this room for years. Pre-made bookcases (solid wood only, please!) are prohibitively expensive, and I could not hire a carpenter to do it. So I watched a few videos, read a few how-to articles, and decided to tackle it myself. Due to the “eccentricities” of our old home (that’s the understatement of the year), I had to use my noggin and do a bit of creative tinkering. I won’t bore you with the details here, but I had to use pre-made kitchen wall cabinets instead of base cabinets because wall cabs are only 12 inches deep, which is all I had to work with. We had to create a frame upon which the cabinets would sit, to elevate them to “base cab” height. That took a while because we also had to cut through the laminate floor to secure the frame to the subfloor. I have a very inventive son who is now thoroughly skilled with the Dremel tool. πŸ™‚

Anyway, here’s a pictorial story of how it went.


Living Room before 1

Marking the wall for studs and placement of the cabinets.


One cab installed. ….five more to go…


The husband would come home from work and wonder what I was ruining now, lol. He has a difficult time […]

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Built-In Bookcases Project – Halfway There

September 12, 2012

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Here’s the progression thus far:

Before photo. There’s a lot of wasted space along this wall because of the doorway and the narrow width between that and the wall (13 inches). I’d had a fleet of cheapo Chinese particle board bookshelves there, but they were ugly and starting to flex. Plus, two bookshelves are not nearly enough to hold all our books! I have boxes of them stuffed everywhere in the house.

Living Room before 2

I purchased inexpensive unfinished wall cabinets. They are narrow enough to fit in the space (12 inches) but are not tall enough. So I built a simple 2×4 frame for the cabinets to sit on. The frame adds height and provides a toe kick beneath the cabinets, too. I secured this sucker to the floor and the wall studs. This bookcase is not going anywhere!


One cabinet installed already.


The wall has a few outlets and I did not want to conceal them behind the cabinets. So the trusty daughter (who does all my measuring) drew the outline for the outlets.


The son got to use the jigsaw to create the outlet holes.


This was the day’s work!


I have since installed oak plywood counters on both cabinet units, and everything is finally stained and sealed. I didn’t get a photo yet, but trust me — it looks great.

Next — the shelves!!!

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Just Sew Busy

August 30, 2012


Blogging has really taken a back seat this summer, hasn’t it? Well, it usually does for me. Summers are when I have to cram in all the house projects on top of all the other stuff I do.

We’ve been very busy working on redecorating the living room. I am happy to say that I think i may finally get my curtain drapes done tonight. The boys are very much relieved, as they are the ones who hang the sheets in the windows every night. :S

As always, Livvy likes to join in on the projects. She’s so cute, it’s difficult to boot her out.


My built-in bookcase projects has slowed considerably. It’s a large project and I’m not the type to do a little here, a little there when I can squeeze things in. I need a big chunk of time to get it all done. I haven’t had any chunks of time lately. Hopefully, next week I’ll dedicate my efforts to it. We are all so tired of seeing the piles of books and boxes around the house!

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This Is It: Living Room Re-Do

August 5, 2012

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In 2007, I gutted the living room. It was the first “big” project here and I never intended it to be such a large project. But as is the way with old homes, as soon as I opened a wall and saw what was there, I could not close the wall back up without resolving the problems within. So I ripped out everything and rebuilt it all: new electric, shoring up of the wall studs, insulating the walls, adding additional lighting, new flooring….

While I am very happy with the new wiring and Lord knows I’m thrilled to have an insulated room in the house, my final decorative touches were very rushed. I slapped up new paint and quickly installed a snap-together, laminate floating floor system. I originally wanted carpeting or hardwood but it is just too expensive right now. And after all was said and done, I hauled in our junky, second-hand furniture and settled for that.

Fast-forward several years. Since a section of the room is my little office, that area of the living room is a disaster. Papers and books and computer equipment and other things are scattered everywhere. I’ve expanded and have had no where to put my reams and reams of books that I use for my writing, nor do I have any storage options for all my computer equipment and things I review. The room is always a mess, always disorganized, never a pleasant place to sit.

So I decided to redecorate it. Well– to decorate it!

Living Room before 2

Painting is easy. Some of the other projects are new. I’m going to try my hand at furniture by making an enormous built-in bookcase along a wall. I’m going to use unfinished stock cabinets (they sell very cheaply), stain them myself, and use them as the base for a plywood system of shelves. Everything will be secured to the wall. I hope to give the room that “English library” look. I also hope that a 12 foot wall, 9 feet high will be able to house my very extensive collection of old and new books. I have boxes and boxes of them that have been in storage for decades because I’ve had no place to keep them.

I also have to create a faux chimney box. It’s not for a chimney, it’s for a gas fireplace insert that we are saving up for. I’m trying to plan for the future by making it now, so I won’t have to cover everything in sheets again! I’ll create my own wooden mantelpiece from stock wood, too.

And finally, I’m sewing some new curtains. I’m using this project to teach my daughter how to use the sewing machine, so next time I need curtains, she can sew them. πŸ˜‰

So I’ll be pretty busy for the next two weeks. The kids are going to do a lot of the grunt work (staining, patching holes in the walls, etc). They already primed the living room trim so we can start painting tomorrow. Thank God the heat has abated, we were going in slow motion for a while, like fish in a murky pond.

Living Room before 1

It will be very good to have this room finally and completely done. I’m going to work hard and create an organized work station for all my stuff, too. I can’t wait until it’s done!

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Renovation Season Off To a Slow Start

March 31, 2012

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Spring is faking us out. We had some snow last night, and it’s been chilly today. This after 80 degree temps and a yard full of blooming plants!

Oh well, such is New York State.

So I’m hunkering down again and replanning my summer activities. By now, I’d hoped we’d have the gardens ready but I think this realistically won’t be done until the end of April.

I am, Lord willing, finally going to finish the living room this year.

I gutted it and rebuilt it in 2007, but I never finished the final touches. We still have some molding to install here, paint to apply there…. and I have yet to build my biggest project– a wall-to-wall bookshelf unit. I want to convert the living room into a library. It will be my office and a place where I can retreat when I need to work or relax. Currently, it is the half schoolroom, half living room, half work office and half home office (that’s a lot of halves!). It’s a disaster, with books and boxes and papers piled everywhere. Since we have no storage space in the house (thanks to no attic and a basement that floods), I have to build all my own storage spaces. The bookshelf unit will store basically ALL my electronics, books, papers, parts, files, everything!

I ADORE these built-in units! And what beautiful furniture! Oo la la

Then I am going to get some new furniture for the FIRST time in my life. Lord willing, it will be beautiful and it will be my haven.

We also have to finish installing the windows. And we have to renovate the upstairs yet. The black mold is becoming a big problem up here. It’s because the interior of the house is so warm and the upstairs is uninsulated. When warm air meets cold air inside the walls, it creates condensation and mold. We wash it off but it always comes back. πŸ™ I’m looking forward to gutting the upstairs, believe me.

So there are many plans in the making. How about you? Got any projects coming up this year?

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Find the Kitty Friday

December 30, 2011


My daughter snapped this on her cell phone. Where could that skulking kitty be?! She’s doing it rite! LOL


Well, another year is winding down. I haven’t been thinking of any thoughts on renovation lately until about a month ago. It was about that time that I really “let” my desk “go.” I have always been a neatnick with a super-tidy desk, but I’ve been SO SO busy the past few months (since October, really) that my desk is a SHAME. A cryin’ shame. I even took a photo for you to see how bad it is. lol


The desk is actually one of the best ones I’ve ever had, The thing is solid wood, an old teacher’s desk from the 1940s. But it’s not exactly computer-compatible, as you can see. I just juggle way too much stuff on this desk, and with all the paperwork for the home business, I’ve run out of places to put things.

Which leads me back to thinking about renovation again. I’m going to create a built-in bookshelf and desk system in the living room. We have tons of books, most of them in boxes, still! I think my living room will look beautiful with some elegant shelves and a nice tidy area to work. I’ve ordered a few base cabinets and am waiting for them to arrive. Once they finally do, construction begins. I will have to reroute one wall sconce light and make a bit of a mess with the existing furniture, but we can handle it. I think I’ve finally got a vision for the room. It will probably take us about a year to or more to finish it, as it also involves removing an existing gas heater and installing a gas fireplace to a more central part of the room. Because a large portion of this room is my “home office,” I can deduct some of the expenses on my taxes. Thank God.

Anyway, I’ll have more updates about this later. I intend on building my own shelves from wood, so the project will certainly take some time. But when it’s done, it will look and function SO MUCH better. And the new shelves will give Livvy all sorts of amazing new places to hide!

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Sit Like an Egyptian

March 3, 2011

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Hee hee.

Doesn’t it look like a Cleopatra chair?

It’s actually called a “chaise lounge chair” *ahem*.

I am looking to replace the living room furniture in the near future. I’m tired of the cat-scratched sofa and the two funky, upholstered orange throwbacks from the 1970s that were found curbside…. :-p I don’t particularly like the straight-back chairs and I don’t like futons, bean bags, or Barca Loungers. I actually prefer to lounge on a long couch, but I can’t fit it into my small office very comfortably.

Lounge chairs seem to be very nice. There’s a lot of them at the Chaise Lounge Chair Store, with a variety of styles and colors. I prefer the more traditional styles (I’m not terribly find of contemporary anything), but the store has some pretty eccentric styles that are amazing! I may get one for my office some day, that and a papyrus fan and a slave who feeds me from a cluster of grapes….

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Find the Kitty Friday 1/21

January 21, 2011


I’ve got a tough one for you.


It was taken during the renovation, when the house was a disaster. Oh, she found such wonderful places to hide then!

Although, I can’t say the living room looks much better… it’s a room that’s half-office/school room, half living room. So it’s got a couch crammed in there with a whole bunch of desks and bookshelves, and it looks very disjointed. I am going to be converting our attached garage into a family room (either this year or next), so when that’s done I’ll have the living room entirely made into an office. I have such nice dreams— big bookshelves lined with all my books (many of which are still stored in boxes), furniture in exotic dark woods with lavish paisley prints, a nice deep red carpet… I love the dark hunting lodge look. Something like this:

Photo courtesy of HowStuffWorks.

Isn’t that gorgeous?! Yeah, that’s what I see when I close my eyes. πŸ˜€

But when I open them again, I’m back in the messy living room. And two leaky bathroom sinks need attention. And I feel the drafts blowing out from the holes in the electric outlets upstairs. But I got the kitchen done! The hardest part is over.

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Find the Kitty Friday 11/05

November 5, 2010


Find the Kitty Friday

FTK 11.5

Where could she be?? πŸ˜‰

Right before I took this photo, she was sneakily peering at me through the slats of the blinds. She looked hilarious, like Peter Lorre in Casablanca or something. But as soon as I got the camera, she turned away. Stinker.

The living room is in a bit of disarray these days. Heck, EVERY room is. We’re still not completely moved in (stuff is still in boxes in the garage), and my scads of shelves that I intended to build have still not materialized. Right now, the emphasis is getting the place buttoned up for winter. But it’s been TOO COLD to do anything outside. And looks like we’ll have rain until Monday or Tuesday. :-p I am so sick of rain that I could scream. I’ve been sick of rain now for about 10 years!

Good news is that, once I install the last baseboard heater and we have our other heaters in, and once I parge the holes in the basement and seal the open cracks, I can concentrate on our phone station area. Half the junk you see scattered in the living room here will finally be placed on shelves and in drawers, then. Yay!

The Hubs got called in to work for another week, though. Which means he will not be around to help out with anything. It also means that our gas pipeline installation will have to wait another week. We’ve been waiting for a break in his schedule since June… but it hasn’t happened. I think we’re going to have to call in a plumber to do the job. Winter is just about here and we still have no heat!! I don’t think we can wait any longer. Oh well, maybe it’s all for the best. Thank God, my husband has been working good hours! I’m grateful for that.

Have a blessed weekend, everyone!

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New Curtains From CurtainWorks!

October 7, 2010


My new curtains from CurtainWorks.com came in! They go marvelously with my living room, don’t you think?


I am ecstatic at how beautiful they are, and how very well made they are. The kind folks at CurtainWorks gave me three sets for my living room. I absolutely LOVE these curtains! They are the perfect color, the perfect style, the perfect size!


Well, they don’t go with that lousy pink/blue couch we have. I greatly dislike the color of the couch (we got it used). We are going to be replacing it with something more suitable for our room. I want the living room to have a beige and red color scheme, with maybe some green accents.


About these curtains– they are the Arlington Jacquard Wide Width. I LOVE THEM, and I will be buying more for the rest of the house. They are of excellent, durable material– thick but not so thick that they are ugly. These will be perfect as both summer and winter curtains. They come in several colors, and are VERY affordable. These 84-inch drapes are usually $25 per panel, which is very comparable. I had shopped and shopped around a great deal this summer, looking for proper window treatments; and I think CurtainWorks has the best selection for the best prices. The material is really exceptional, I’m just so happy with these curtains. I have been to dozens of stores both online and locally, and I just haven’t found anyone who can compare with CurtainWorks. I’m really, really impressed with them.

In the past, I have always sewn my own curtains, because curtains at the stores were always so expensive, and I had the time to sew my own. However, I am too busy to sew my own stuff now, and the price of bulk material has really gone up in price recently. In my local craft/material store, I spotted some curtain fabric for $50 a YARD! Whoa!


CurtainWorks also sells curtain accessories. They sent me this absolutely exquisite iron birdcage finial drapery rod. It’s so beautiful. As soon as I get the curtains for the other rooms, I will use this rod for my kitchen window.


So I’m very impressed with CurtainWorks. I recommend them heartily! The prices are good, the curtains are EXCELLENT. And they sometimes have sales. Currently, there is a summer clearance sale going on, so it’s a great time to nab some nice curtains for very low prices. Next time you’re looking for some beautiful curtains or curtain accessories, definitely check out CurtainWorks!


So you know: CurtainWorks sent me these curtains and the finial rod for free, in exchange for me writing about them. All opinions are absolutely mine! And I mean it when I say that I love CurtainWorks and these curtains! I personally recommend them!

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