Spare some change?

Ella and the dogs discovering a new use for the coffee table.

Sometimes being flexible is a good thing. We had a great time envisioning and creating our coffee table project. It was a lot of fun to make and has been well-received. (In fact we are getting published in Cottages & Bungalows! You can read about the contest we entered here. I’ve never read the magazine, but Rita says it’s in grocery stores so it must be for reals. :))

Despite the love it’s getting other places, the unanimous decision from our kids was that they didn’t like it at all. One thought it was weird and too big. Another said it was ugly. The third said it didn’t go with any of our stuff. Apparently they are not down with our retro-chic lived-in eclectic style.

To be honest, though, Rita and I were both wondering if it was too big for the space we envisioned it in. After living with it for a few days, it just didn’t feel quite right. This prompted us moving it around a lot over the weekend to try it in different spots in the living room. (The wheels came in handy, for sure. I think they are going to be a great usability feature.)

Moving the table around naturally led to moving a few other pieces of furniture around. This, of course, led to moving more furniture around. Before we were done we had moved every piece of furniture in the room. We arranged the furniture about 5 or 6 different ways, and finally ended up with an arrangement that we really like a lot. It totally transformed the room. It looks bigger and more open and has a better traffic flow.

split entry living room from top of stairs

This is what the living room looked like in January, an arrangement we had in place until this weekend.

living room

And this is what it looks like now. (Yes, the wall color is different. A project we're not quite ready to fully reveal. Soon.)

The arranging of the furniture prompted by the moving of the coffee table led to putting up some artwork. (Why? We’re not exactly sure, but that’s where we ended up.)

We’ve got a few thrift store finds that we’ll feature in a future post. These are now mixed in with some original works by me. I really love the way the vintage art fits in with the more modern pieces. I think there’s an idea in there worth blogging about but I don’t have it all thought out yet–which is why we aren’t sharing the whole thing here just now. That, and this post isn’t really about our living room. It’s about our family, and how we’re becoming one.

bird art

Here's a sneak peak at one of our thrift store finds.


After all that moving (and promoting of a coffee table), we’ve got a coffee table that is no longer a coffee table. It’s more of a bench that we’ve tucked into a corner of the living room. We threw some pillows and blankets on top, and our kids immediately started using it. They like it as a reading nook. It’s on the opposite side of the room from the TV. It’s next to a big window so it gets great light. It’s just big enough to curl up with a book and a couple of wiener dogs for a good read.

We love the new purpose. Because it has wheels we imagine rolling it out and using it as a game table on Saturday nights. We like a rousing game of Apples to Apples or Balderdash or Upwords with the whole crew. I imagine we’ll push the table next to the fireplace and sit on the floor on some soft pillows. (Easy to imagine because we’ve had snow for our first official days of spring around here.)

Although the kids like the table better now, they don’t much like the way we’ve rearranged the living room. We think it’s not so much the arrangement, as it is that it’s a different one. We understand why the kids don’t like change. They’ve lived through big and difficult changes in the past four years. They’d like our complicated life to be predictable and steady, and keeping things the same is a way to feel some of that. Any small change–even one as small as a big coffee table–can be unsettling.

We know, though, that learning to be flexible is a good thing that will serve them well–and there are lessons in this small coffee table change that are helping all of us learn that flexibility. As with the table, we often start out with one idea of how things are going to be, but then realize we have to change our thinking (and our plans and projects). We aren’t always sure how, so we try a bunch of things out. We consider everyone’s needs and try to give everyone at least some of what they want. Sometimes things end up serving a different purpose than we first thought they would or looking completely different from what we imagined. And sometimes that different thing is way better than the one we originally planned.

We can see that this is how it’s been for us ever since we moved in together last summer. It takes lots of thinking on your feet and balancing a diverse set of needs, but it can be done. We’re feeling that our family unit, just like our living room, is working better and better as we shuffle things around in response to the challenges that come up.

And like our living room, the family continues to feel more comfortable and warm the more we attend to it, and over time the sense of home has grown on us all.

How about you?

How does your family deal with change? Do your kids threaten mutiny when you move the TV? And does moving one piece of furniture in a room ever lead to a full-on room makeover? Or a big revelation about your life?  You know we love to hear from you–so feel free to drop us a comment.

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And take a few minutes to check out the other winner of the Cottages & Bungalows feature:  Donna at Funky Junk Interiors. Her pallet sofa is so cool and creative.

We're pretty dang pleased to be featured with such a great project.