rearranging the rooms

rearranging the rooms

I am unsatisfied by how our living and dining room are set up. So, the past few days I diligently measured all the walls and furniture, and put them into an online room planner to try and figure out the best configuration. However, I’m not finding a good solution so I was hoping my loyal blog readers might have some ideas. :-)

I apologize for the many pictures in this post.

First, some pictures of my living and dining rooms as they are today:
Standing in the living room and looking towards the foyer.

Standing in the foyer and looking towards the living room.
Living room

Standing in the living room and looking towards the dining room. (Believe it or not, that pile of junk is actually our table. We haven’t been able to use it in months. :-))
Dining room

(There are a few more angles here.)

Okay, here is the to-scale layout with the basic furniture. This matches the pictures above.

Hopefully you can figure out where everything is. I colored some of the shapes to make them easier to identify. Also, all the electrical outlets are marked with a little black zig zag, and there are heating vents in front of the bay window and sliding glass door so nothing can be placed in those areas. (See how there are only two vents in the downstairs? No wonder it’s freezing!) There are light switches by both doors and also one just on the other side of the kitchen near the sliding glass door. The one by the front door controls the outlet near it. On the wall in the dining room that borders the kitchen (where there is currently nothing – we keep the cats’ food and water bowls there) is the thermostat, so nothing tall can cover that wall.

To identify some of the less obvious pieces of furniture… in the foyer area (along the bottom), there is a green bookcase filled with books and a black bookcase filled with office supplies and misc. papers. Along the top in the living room is the TV and stand, and to the left is a small black bookcase that will be used to display pictures and knick knacks. Next to the couch is a file cabinet that is currently doubling as an end table. The purple square is the cat condo. In the dining room, we have a table that is 3 ft. square when closed up, and 3ft x 6ft when fully opened. There is also a computer desk, and next to it the secretary where we keep table linens and dishes. Next to the sliding glass door close to the kitchen is a microwave cart with a microwave and toaster oven. There is no room for this in the kitchen, so this will have to stay. The tan square in the layout are the TV trays – being accessible is good, but they don’t have to be convenient.

What I dislike the most about this layout is the feeling of crowdedness. This is especially apparent in the dining room – trying to put the computer there next to the dining room table doesn’t work that well. I also feel that the organ crowds the living room, and I hate having the computer far away from my file cabinet and also far from the black bookcase that holds the office supplies.

The rules are… We do have a den where things can go. However, it still needs to be carpeted so we can’t put anything heavy down there that will have to be brought back up when we carpet it in a few months. Also, I intend to make the den a kid-proof area so I’d rather not have things down there like a bookshelf full of books. :-) The computer and the TV have to stay on this level for electrical reasons. We don’t entertain often, but we’d like to keep the living room open for when people visit. We almost never use the side door, and always come in by the front door. Oh and please note there are no electrical outlets in the foyer area.

So what potential layouts do you see? Here are three I’ve come up with:
In this plan, we’ll move the cat condo to the den downstairs. The biggest problem with this is that the outlet where the TV would go is controlled by the lightswitch. I am slightly concerned about hurting the TV when I accidentally turn off the switch. Also, this removes the ease of flipping a switch when we enter the front door at night.

In this plan, we’ll move the cat condo and one of the dining room chairs to the den downstairs. Paul thinks the table/chairs with this layout provide a chokepoint with the loveseat. It opens up the middle of the dining room, but that isn’t space that could be used. Same issues with the TV and the plug.

In this plan, we’ll move the cat condo and the loveseat to the den downstairs. (This of course assumes that it won’t be too hard to move the loveseat back up when we carpet that area down there.) I like how all the office stuff (computer desk, file cabinet, black bookcase) is together, but it’s not very conducive to entertaining. The dining room is nice and open – I like that. The same issues with the TV and plug stand.

I couldn’t figure out a good plan with the TV in a different location that is better than the current layout. Any suggestions?

14 thoughts on “rearranging the rooms

  1. Is “Get rid of the TV” a viable suggestion? ;-)

    I noticed in your 3 ideas, the kitchen table changed shape from the “current” layout- will you take out leaves of the table, or do you have a square table somewhere? I like the idea of the piano in the foyer- a little less usable perhaps, but pretty. Beyond that, I’m no decorator, and I’ve had to rearrange our living room a few times before being happy with the setup. I finally ended up with a couch in front of a big window and over an AC vent- not my first choice, but it’s what ended up working. Keep playing with ideas- it will work out!

  2. No, get rid of the TV is *NOT* an option. :-) (Even you have a TV! A bigger one than me!)

    Actually, I forgot to mention – it IS an option to mount the TV on the wall. Of course, that raises other logistical concerns like where to put the DVD player. BUT… I’m a fan of getting the TV out of reach of little hands. :-)

  3. The dining room table can be either 3ft x 3 ft, or 3ft x 6ft. (Leaves are part of the table. Gotta love Ikea compactness!) We only need it at the bigger size if people are coming over.

    Yeah I like the idea of the piano (well it’s actually an organ) in the foyer. But… it does make it unusable because it is electric, and there are no plugs over there. The organ *will* go downstairs when we carpet.

  4. In looking at the photos, I think part of the reason you feel like these spaces are crowded is because very nearly all of the furniture only goes about halfway up the walls and some of it doesn’t even go that high up. You’ve only utilized half the rooms – the bottom half. There is nothing to draw your eyes up the walls. Maybe adding a couple larger items to hang on the walls will help. Maybe consider adding a few floating shelves with picture frames on them.

    Something else to consider is most of the furniture is exposed, giving a cluttered feeling. On decorating shows they always place just a few large items on book shelves which isn’t very practical so I don’t know what to tell you with this one. Maybe intermix the books and larger toys and put the smaller toys in a bin? Are you worried at all that as Savannah gets older and starts walking around, she’ll pull stuff off the shelves and make messes? It might be worth keeping an eye on Craigslist for shelving units that have cupboard doors so you can attach those child lock things to the handles.

    One final thought: I think trying to turn two spaces (a living room and dining room) into three spaces (a living room, dining room, and office) is going to be really hard given the layout. You’re not going to feel like there is flow unless the office area is an actual area and not spread out here and there (like you mentioned). Unfortunately, it looks like to give the office stuff an area, you have to either get rid of the love seat or push all of the dining room stuff to the side. If there is any way you can make the office area somewhere else, I think that’s going to be the best way to make this room feel less crowded.

  5. Larissa: I’m waiting to get the room arrangement finished before I hang all my pictures. I definitely agree – it’s kinda bottom-heavy right now! Paul and I are debating mounting the TV to a wall; that would free up some floor space while bring the eye upward. I’ll have to think about it further.

    All of Savannah’s toys and books are currently in her room, and will end up in the den downstairs. That’s going to be the kids area – my goal is to keep all her toys down there, and upstairs will be the more grownup area. The green bookcase currently in the foyer is full of adult books. The whole house is kinda messy right now but I decided to go ahead and take pictures.

  6. I hope I didn’t make you feel self-conscious! I enjoy stuff like this (organizing rooms). The pictures definitely helped get a feel for the rooms. I remember seeing a cross-stitched quote once that said something along the lines of people with immaculate homes lead boring lives. Growing up, my parent’s house was never perfect looking. I think at least half of the kitchen table was always full of mail and banking stuff and the basement often times had one of my mom’s craft projects spread out on the floor (usually a quilt). My mom had long ago decided that she wasn’t going to let an imperfect house keep us from inviting guests over. (Our house wasn’t always organized but it was relatively clean.) I think a lot of times our friends felt more comfortable because everything wasn’t perfectly organized. They felt like they could move around without ruining something. I think it also showed that we were comfortable being ourselves around them so they could feel comfortable to be themselves too.

    But I digress. I just think bookshelves are a tricky thing to deal with. The long wall in our office is nothing but bookshelves since we own so many books. Actually, half of one of the bookshelves is devoted to board games, etc. It seems no matter how you do it, it looks busy.

  7. I know you LOVE Ikea, so have you seen the mounting cabinets? They go up higher on the wall and have doors (obv., they are cabinets), which might be really great for your desk supplies. Or even getting a Billy Bookcase and doors for it (we did that for a mini-pantry) is really cheap and attractive.

    Other than that I like layout #1 the best – and I especially like the look of an organ/piano in the foyer. One thought about that layout – can you put the desk setup on the other kitchen-shared wall? It might help just to get the office area out of the dining area. But it also might be a little claustrophobic. Just thoughts!

    I think in general things will be awesome once you get your den finished! You guys have a ton of space that can be used beautifully :)

  8. What about trading some short shelves for some taller ones and bolting them to the wall so they will be child safe? And what about re-thinking living room and dining room? For example, could you use your living room as a entertaining/lounging to include the dining table and use the dining room as an office with book shelves?

  9. Alisse: A wall-mounted cabinet is a good idea for our office. I promised Paul I wouldn’t spend any money on furniture right now, but I’ll definitely keep that in mind. The cabinet doors would also hide the clutter.

  10. I have only one suggestion and one comment. Savannah looks adorable sitting on the couch!!! that’s my comment. my suggestion (other than you probably wont be able to do that much longer) is once she starts rolling and crawling, all those movies and books on shelves are going to have to find a new home, trust me, you wont find your floor if you leave them like that, so you might want to include something enclosed to put them in, or move them to a room that she wont be in so much. If someone else said that sorry, I just kinda skimmed the other comments.

  11. Jes: Yeah I know about the movies. As far as the bookcase, there really isn’t anywhere else to put it. I guess if it gets really bad we’ll get rid of the books.

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