Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Journaling - Excerpts from an old one!

Wednesday, February 14th 2007

.........We went dream shopping today. That’s what we call it when we head into St. Augustine and visit the flea market or the antique dealers and lately, the brand new furniture store that carries LazyBoy and Broyhill furniture. That’s where we headed on our Valentines Date today.

I did our Income Taxes on Monday and we will be lucky this year. David’s yearly bonuses will pay for the electrical repairs, the gazebo roof, the new water heater and a long awaited 2nd hand boat! But, the tax refund will allow for buying some new furniture for the Living Room as well as leaving some for the “emergency” funds. I am thrilled. It would probably surprise some people that David is almost as excited as I am.

We have a piece or two of antique or vintage look furniture in the kitchen, mudroom and dining room all of which lend themselves to the “feel” of this old house. These pieces give off a comforting glow of warmth and long use; modern furniture just doesn’t fit in. And we worked hard to get that feeling in there rescuing old furniture from Chuck’s Georgia barn, from roadside “flea markets”, and even one piece purchased at half price from an antique dealer in St. Augustine. Once all those rooms began to come together, David said to me “the Living Room doesn’t fit, we need new furniture”.

And the Living Room doesn’t fit… was okay while we worked on the other rooms, because we knew we had to restore the ceilings and the walls in there as well as replace the carpet with hard wood flooring, but now that it is done, we feel that lack of fit more deeply.

The back door is the main entrance into this house, as is typical of the farmhouses around here. It is only the newer homes that have a driveway leading to a garage off the front of the house. This means that our guests enter into our warm kitchen with its pedestal round oak table, the antique bureau still in its original blue paint, another antique bureau with detailed etch work and a reclaimed china cabinet, walk through the dining room with its antique dry sink, its drop leaf table that was David’s grandmothers, and my parent’s old dining room table. And then.............. they enter a living room with a very modern Entertainment Center, modern overstuffed couches and very little else. Compared to the comfort filled back rooms of the house, the living room is sparsely decorated and therefore, has a very cold ambience, to our way of thinking.

And as it is the only room in the house that fails to get any significant sunlight, it is physically cold as well. The restoration has improved it in that way; David added insulation to the walls which had not been packed as well as should have been by the contractors the previous owners used. And, if you should care to try, you would no longer be able to poke a pry bar down between the flooring and the walls all the way to the dirt below! Yet, due as I said to the lack of direct sunlight, that room consistently holds the coldest temperature in the house.

During our first winter in this house, it was impossible to sit in the evenings and watch T.V. without being dressed in sweat suits and covered with blankets and even though it has been restored now, we still feel the cold in that room from morning to night although it isn’t as necessary to bundle up as it was that first year.


It is a shame that the former owners tore down the old chimney and covered up or tore out the actual fireplace and further a shame that we just don’t have the money to replace it. We have considered adding a gas fireplace to avoid the cost of rebuilding the chimney but our dream shopping today made us rethink that plan….more about that in a minute.

Back to the furnishings……at the moment, we have a grand total of 7 pieces of furniture in that long narrow room (23 x 13) along with an area rug that although quite large, only covers the very center of the room. I have added baskets and plants in an attempt to warm it up visually, but it still remains basically a cold, long, empty room. It still “feels” empty despite the massive size of the couch and loveseat (8 ft. + and 6 ft + respectively).

The narrow nature of the room combined with the window placement, heating/ac vents and the central wall cause it to be a difficult room to decorate and use functionally, In fact, David remembers Joan telling him that after the last child moved out, she immediately made it a formal living room because there was no way to decorate it for functional use if you included a T.V.! We still have Hunter at home and Dallas comes home regularly and we entertain family quite a bit, so we have to have it function as a Family Room more than a formal living room….and how to accomplish that has been a source of endless thought and repeated browsing of magazines since almost the day we moved in.

The way the furniture is placed now is the only way to place it due to its size; and unfortunately, the arrangement allows for only two people to comfortably sit and watch TV together. The long sofa is against the middle wall and to watch T.V. one must either sit with legs reclined along the length of the sofa or sit properly and watch with your head constantly turned to the right! Imagine the crook in a neck after watching a 3 hour movie……now imagine two or even three people sitting on that sofa watching that movie….ouch. Although the love seat allows for two to sit together, they must sit properly with no slouching please……I now look at many magazine layouts of living/family rooms that include TV’s and sigh …..If one lives in a room that doesn’t allow for comfortable TV viewing, then one can see through those gorgeous layouts to the dysfunction of the placement of furniture. Those rooms say to me “come on in and see how pretty I look….I’m going for beauty over function”.


So, today, David and I picked out our new couch and two lazyboy chairs......I have great hope for that cold living room now……..I have always known that I could make it feel visually warm and comforting and allow for functionality as well, I just needed the timing to be right for me to figure it out…..and since I can afford to change out the furniture now, the timing was exactly right!

But what about the fireplace we have been thinking about adding to the room? That plan is under re-consideration! During our Dream Shopping we found a beautiful piece of furniture from the Broyhill line called Antique Attic. It’s a two piece entertainment center that is based upon an antique bureau or sideboard with a back piece designed to hold a wall mounted flat screen or plasma TV. The beauty of it is that the piece itself is so significant in dimension and so “antique” in style that one would notice it and not the electronics that it holds. Walking through from the dining room with its dry sink and then viewing that piece would feel visually right. It would just sort of fit as David would say.

We have undertaken the rennovaton of this house with its age in mind; although we have no intention of restoring it to its original state, we want modern elements to blend in and not be readily noticeable wherever and whenever possible. This piece of furniture would accomplish that very well. A large wall mounted TV would take our comfort in TV viewing up a notch….the long narrow nature of the room necessitates the seating being placed a further than normal distance from the TV… larger is better. Yet, larger is more noticeable right? Not if it was placed on an entertainment center that mimics the looks of antiques and by its sheer size, hides the TV unless one is looking front on to it!

So, although we cannot purchase that piece this year, we have been going over the pros and cons of it already planning for next year. To replace the original fireplace is beyond our financial capabilities at the moment and likely for years to come….the bathroom restorations are next on the list and rapidly becoming more necessary than “wanted”. The financial considerations are what had us thinking about putting in a gas fireplace (along with the cold nature of the room itself) yet, a gas fireplace puts out only so much heat and David has always been concerned that it would not be able to adequately heat that long narrow room and would really be more for looks than for function. In addition, how much use would it really get? Basically it would be used for only three months a year…again placing it in the visual rather than functional column. Finally, any future owner who was interested in a more period authentic home, would likely take out the gas fireplace and use their money to put in a “real” fireplace, 2 story chimney and all.

We have a year to decide, but honestly, despite my cold feet I am leaning towards the antique look of the entertainment center! After all, I like socks and sweat suits in the winter!

Update: 2008 - bathroom plans progressing.....but a go-cart took the money planned for the antique look entertainment center....maybe next year!

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