Gracious Living Room

Living Room

by Richard Connolly

Globe Correspondent

It all started one day last summer when my wife noted that the twenty three year old, wall to wall carpeting in our living room looked “disgusting.”

I did not agree but did not object, either. Our marriage is older than the rug, and it’s sometimes easier and wiser for me to accept rather than debate the issue.

I knew what she wanted – oak flooring – and what she was inferring: get it done.

Coming to that conclusion was not difficult. We had previously installed oak flooring in the dining and family rooms, where the wall to wall was then described as being “embarrassing” and “sickening.”

Our living room is large, sunny, runs from front to back, has a beautiful picture and several smaller windows, and – at the time – an “ugly” and “obtrusive” (my words) brick wall and hearth.

The brickwork had once been necessary for a wood burning stove but divided the room in two.

I sensed an opportunity to rework the floor plan of the living room but knew my wife still liked the brick. The pellet stove that replaced the wood burner did not require the same venting or fire protection and could be put in a corner.

We consulted with an interior designer who agreed with me but suggested that furniture could be added to make the room more beautiful and functional at the same time. Smiles on both sides.

Before the new flooring could be installed, furniture had to be moved from the living room into the kitchen and dining and family rooms. In effect, all three rooms were a mess and would remain that way for several weeks more.

The wall to wall carpeting and the particle board under it were both removed and hauled off. Next, the brick work came down, followed by the “tired” and “dated” wallpaper.

I sealed with poly both entrances to the living room but installed a zipper over the plastic to allow the flooring contractor to enter the room and then reseal it. Keeping the dust confined was a high priority, and the zippers worked perfectly.

The random width and length red oak flooring went down quickly, as did the cash reserve. Four days later, we had our beautiful floor, but still more work to do. The electrician installed recessed lights and a paddle fan, which were a big hit with our two adult children.

I then repaired the ceiling and the damage done to the outer wall by the brickwork. After some minor carpentry, I sanded and finished the window sills and then painted the ceiling.

In the meantime, my wife and I had been looking at furniture, coverings, and wallpaper, a daunting task that requires that everything be color coordinated.

We decided to keep our original furniture but upholster two major pieces. We involved in the color choices our son, a professional artist but gave up when none of us could agree.

Frustrated, we took the floor plan and wallpaper and fabric books to a local furniture store and spoke to the interior designer there. After a much back and forth she saw something that “just hit her.”

She sold us a beautiful table and wall unit and suggested another retailer for two additional chairs. The second retailer helped us choose two beautiful chairs with a nice fabric in the right color.

By the end of that memorable day, we had selected all our new furnishings, coverings, and wallpaper and were still talking!

With a lot of work and major decisions behind us, the only things that remained to be done were the wallpapering and the reinstallation of the pellet stove in its new corner location. Professionals handled that work, too.

We started getting the house together again by moving back into the living room the remaining furniture that was scattered throughout the house. Life was returning to normal.

After waiting for nearly eight weeks, the furniture soon arrived several pieces at a time. Two days before Thanksgiving the entire room was ready, window treatments and all.

The new living room is certainly everything we ever wanted, gracious and beautiful. The wall unit houses a new CD, tape, and radio system and our motley collection of keepsakes that were acquired over the years from relatives or travels here and abroad. We deliberately made no provisions for a TV.

My daughter has been working on my musical tastes and urging me to listen to composers who have not been dead for more than a hundred years. Her last tuition bill for a degree in music is about to be paid.

Now that our children are adults, my wife and I are looking more closely at how we live as a family and what is important to us. We want to entertain more, socialize more with long standing friends, family members, or colleagues.

We held a birthday party for my mother with all her siblings attending. It was a wonderful, fun filled time with much good laughter, some of it at my expense. The new living room layout allowed eleven people to gather around quite comfortably in one space.

Christmas dinner with family was held here, too. For the first time in more than twelve years, we set up the Christmas tree in the living room and barely had to move a thing to accommodate it.

My daughter had several friends over during the holidays, as did we. With beautiful music playing softly in the background, plenty of goodies spread out on the tables, and lively conversation, our guests had a true, holiday spirit time.

Our home and our hearts have always open to all the special people in our lives. It’s time for more sharing and caring than ever before, now that we have such a special place to fill with new memories.

The construction costs? About $5,000; the furniture and appointments, considerably more.

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