Thursday, March 5, 2015


My old living room is now the new dining room with room to spread out. No more cramped table.

While the rest of the country is buried in snow and sub-degree temperatures, we're enjoying one of the warmest, sunniest winters in memory here in Portland. It's also the winter/spring season where I've virtually had no work commitments or deadlines. I'm between books. I've got too much time on my hands and staying up half the night watching TV has lost its charm. It got me to thinking about my lovely house. One of the biggest frustrations of this home is the utter uselessness of my living room. I simply spend zero time there and it's become this conduit between the front door and my kitchen. It's handsome furnished and inviting, but doesn't demand that I stay and linger. I took the TV out of the living room because it wasn't being watched. What to do with the biggest room in the house?  At 18 by 13 feet, it's waste of space. Then in a burst in inspiration, I decided to see what might happen if I converted the living room over into a dining room. If I do say so myself, it's a brilliant idea.

The new living room opposite my stove where I can keep my eye on my guests while I cook.

So I rolled up my sleeves on Monday morning and got to work cleaning out the living room to make room for the dining table. Then I dragged my couch through the hallway into the old dining area opposite my kitchen. Aside from having a living room nobody used, it used to bother me that people gathered around my set table to have a glass of wine, and nibble on something while I cooked. But everyone looked cramped trying to make some space around plates and be in position to face me while we chatted and prepared the meal. Now the old dining area (never a dining room) is an inviting place with a couch, a small coffee table, and an upholstered chair with a Asian garden stool for accent. With the back door open to let in the warm spring air and sunshine, this room is a great place for me to read my email while I drink my morning coffee. Archie's and Bit's beds are on the floor, though it is still a battle royal between me and Bit over his insistence on clawing my relatively new couch. I keep a spray bottle handy and let him have it (a friend has recommended putting aluminum foil on the back of the couch in a long sheet for a few weeks. Apparently cats hate aluminum).

The new dining from from different angles.

The Indian Headdress has been located at the bottom of the stairs. It is moving to make way for the platter rack that was in the kitchen dining area. It will take a few weeks for the handy man to become available to help switch the fan in the living room out for the dining table chandelier. The fan will go into the "new" living room. 

The dining table has both leaves in it and seats six comfortably with room for two diners. 

The headdress will now probably hang over my great aunt's Art Deco sideboard in place of this still life. 

My old cherry wood drop-leaf table is in front of one of the windows where it will do duty in the future for holding serving dishes for a large4 dinner party. That ceiling fan will soon be in the "new living room."

I've been looking at a lot of houses lately because my newest housemate is looking for a permanent home with is wife since he took a job here in Portland from Seattle. My twin brother is also looking for a house. I see in modern construction houses a formal living room and a "family" room. I know some people grew up with a formal living room, but spent their social lives and TV-watching time in the den. I would much rather have a large family room than two smaller rooms that are cut-up and lacking roominess and space. My "new living room" is rather snug--about 12 x 12 feet square. But I don't feel cramped, and now I have rooms that I actually use. 

The new living room will also undergo a few changes. 

The platter rack now will movie to the "new dining room" along with the chandelier.

The bookshelf units here will move to where the platter rack now hangs. The couch will move to where the bookshelves are now standing. This will give guests a view of the back yard. 

While the changes have been coming fast, a few weeks ago, I rearranged my sitting area on the landing at the top of the second floor stairs where I read and watch TV. This was to make way for a new chair. I had hastily bought an inexpensive chair and ottoman when I first arrived in Portland. The problem with that chair is that the arms are the same height as the back of the chair. It was also a large chair, making it very difficult to get out of. I found this second-hand leather chair, which is also a recliner. It's comfortable, and cost me $100 delivered, from Craigslist. This room is also undergoing changes. Stay tuned. 

I'm keeping the old ottoman, because Archie loves to sleep on it while I watch television. I think the new wing-back leather chair is quite handsome. It reclines (I'm not really a fan of reclining chairs--I say go to bed if you need to be reclining!) and overall is very comfortable. 

Archie always love to get in the way. I'm always tripping over him. 

On the other hand, Bit hates change, particularly if it involves the vacuum cleaner. Here he is emerging from hiding after he hears that I've put the vacuum away. 

The best part of this re-organization is that Archie has now taken up full-time residence on the stairs leading up to the bedrooms. When the couch was in the living room, he would take up his guard duties, leaving my couch covered dog hair. The cat would sit up on the cushions above him (cats always prefer higher ground). I would prefer him on the stairs rather than on my couch. This is a nice photo of him. Notice how politely he holds his paws together. I sear he was a ballet dancer in another life. What a handsome fellow is.