Make a new (family room) plan, Stan

“You know, Mom, I really want school to be over with now.”

“How come, sweetie?”

“Cause you seem too stressed out lately and I want you to be on summer break.”


Out of the mouths of babes and all that. (She’s still my baby, even if she is 15.)

This (sorta) Old Life

As I explained to her, I’m not really stressed out–just really, really busy and having a hard timekeeping up with it all.

Cane and I have taken on a new writing gig (which we can’t tell you about yet for two more weeks), and I’ve been writing posts to persuade my old classmates to attend our upcoming reunion (which you can peek at here, if you’re interested in knowing why you might want to attend a 30-year high school reunion), and we’ve been taking the dang MOOC design class (which Cane wrote about here and here).

This (sorta) Old Life: Rita's MOOC site

In this screenshot from my course site, you can see my really lame “chair” sketch (which stretches the definition of “chair”).

All that stuff crashed on me this weekend, which is why you’re getting the Monday post on Tuesday and I didn’t turn in any of last week’s MOOC assignments. :-(

This bummed me out (as we’d have said back in the ’80s, which are now taking up way too much residence in my brain), because the previous week’s assignments led to a big breakthrough in solving the design dilemmas of our family room.

You might remember that when we started the class it looked mostly like this:

This (sorta) Old Life: Family room September

This (sorta) Old Life: Messy family room

Thanks to assignments that required me to thoroughly analyze the design gaps in the room (all the ways in which the room’s design is currently lacking) and identify and analyze the room’s user needs (which involved asking all of you for input, and thank you for leaving comments with such great ideas), we’ve made two big decisions that are moving the room forward:

Decision #1:  Move the Couch

As you can see in the photo above, the sectional couch has been living back in the corner of the room. That seemed like the logical place for it, especially where the TV is.

However, that put it quite a distance from the fireplace, which is at the other end of the long room:

This (sorta) Old Life: Messy family room

(This  and the shots above were taken last fall, in the midst of an earlier room rearrangement.)

We talked about wanting some table space in the room (for games, puzzles, homework, craft projects), but it didn’t work to put a table between the couch and the fireplace.

The weekend before last we decided to try moving the couch closer to the fireplace and setting a table up on the back side of the couch.

This (sorta) Old Life: family room

(And yes, we’ve finally gotten up all the horrible carpet–first shared in this post–but not all the horrible carpet glue. That’s in our sights for the upcoming holiday weekend.)

We liked this so much better, that it led us to our next decision:

Decision #2:  Kill the TV Nook

This (sorta) Old Life: Family room plan

When we first looked at our house, the previous owners had a huge TV in it that weird little nook space:

This (sorta) Old Life: big ass tv family room

I love how you can see the big recliners in the reflection of the TV. We’re pretty sure this room was a man cave.

The kids thought that was about the awesomest thing ever and that it would come with the house, but Cane and I mostly hate TV and we’ll never ever ever have one like that.

When one of the kids expressed a strong desire for a desktop computer in this room (all we have are laptops now), and I considered my desire for a place to work on sewing projects that could both be left out and be hidden, we decided the nook would work much better as an office closet. You know, something like this:

This (sorta) Old Life:  Cloffice

(Clicking on image will take you to source.)

We’re going to put doors on it, and we’ll be able to use the walls above the desk to meet some of the storage needs we want this room to fill.

How do we know we’re on the right track?

Because even with no rug, junk piled up, and a couch/TV that aren’t quite lining up right, the kids are wanting to use this room:

This (sorta) Old Life:  Family room

Yep, homework was done at this table last weekend.

In fact, when we decided to play a game of Risk last Saturday night, both Ella and Will wanted to play down in the family room. (Grace was at a friend’s.) So we built a fire in the fireplace and cozied up on the couch.

This (sorta) Old Life:  Family room

That has never happened before. Ever.

We’ve always known this could be a good space the kids would want to hang out. It feels great to see us finally figuring out how to make that happen. (If you’re interested in seeing what the design gap and user-need analysis looked like–they were key to this breakthrough–you can see them here.)

This (sorta) Old Life:  Family room

We didn’t quite finish our game. Cane and I are about to duke it out for the western hemisphere.

Still, there’s been too much going on, and you know something’s wrong when your kid tells you that you need a break because you haven’t been much fun lately.

Last week, the class took a backseat. This week, it’s going to be the blog.

One thing we decided when we rebooted the blog earlier this year is that we never want to post something just to meet a schedule. Everyone’s time is precious, and we don’t want to waste yours with content that isn’t the best we can deliver. Today’s post is all we’ve got for this week.

We’ll be back next week–you can look for us on Monday or Tuesday.

This (sorta) Old Life:  deck

(We’re hoping we can spend some time on sprucing up our deck this weekend, just like we did last year over the Memorial Day holiday. That’s when we built and planted this box. Look how it’s come back!)

If you want to make sure you don’t miss us, please follow us or sign up for email notifications of new posts. You can find places to do both in the sidebar or on our Subscribe page.

How about you?

How is your week going? Have any feedback on our family room plans? We’d love to hear from you, even though things are busy. I’ve always got time for comments. :-)

Oh, and just for fun:  Can you give me some reasons to attend a high school reunion?

I’ve come up with 3, but I need 27 more!

This (sorta) Old Life:  rita high school

(Linking to the William Morris Project at Pancakes and French Fries.)