living-dining swap (again)

img_0205in a few recent posts, i alluded to the fact that we swapped our living and dining rooms recently. when we first moved into our house, we used the largest room as a living room and the smaller of the two front rooms as a dining room. (our kitchen is at the back of the house and not large enough to be eat-in.) but, before we started shopping for a house, pierre’s friend dave had started work on a giant walnut dining room table for us (at our request). i think we both just imagined that we would buy a house similar to the ones we grew up in — one with ample room for both a dining room and kitchen table. we were shopping with a budget of $400,000 so hahahaha, of course that did not turn out to be the case! our beautiful dining room table for 10 spent some time in my parents’ house before pierre and i had purged enough of our belongings (mostly books) to turn our larger front room into our dining room and our smaller front room into our living room. this arrangement worked really well for us and, most importantly, it allowed us to fit a dining room table for 10 into our 800 square foot house, which was actually 710 square feet at the time as this was many years before we added our mudroom addition.

but, we added a baby girl to our family in 2016 and, not only are we not hosting too many (er, none) dinner parties, but i found myself moving what little furniture we did have in our living room out of the way every morning so that frankie rose could move around. a giant dining room table no longer seemed like the most practical use of the largest room in our house, but it’s one of the few pieces of furniture we’re pretty attached to, given the fact that is was made for us by a friend. if it had been a store-bought table, it would have been an easy decision to sell it and move on with the new demands on our space, but, as it’s not, we settled for disassembling it and storing it downstairs so that we could turn our dining room back into a comfortable family space.


once the dining room table and 10 chairs were downstairs, it was time to move our large garage sale rug ($5!) and even larger sectional couch upstairs. while frankie rose napped. not the easiest day in my marriage, guys. i stole these pillows from my dad, but turns out the general store near my house (old’s cool general store on westlake) sells them, no big deal. if we move, i sure will miss having great places like old’s cool a short walk away!


we also brought our westnofa armchair upstairs; this chair was in frankie’s room when she was a newborn, but i admitted, finally, that it wasn’t the most practical chair for a baby’s room as it’s pretty low-slung (no support for someone of pierre’s height) and creaks when you shift your weight (waking the finally sleeping baby). we replaced it with a high-backed rocker from ikea when she was a few months old. i’m noodling around the idea of reupholstering the westnofa chair this spring (teal? mustard?), but also considering selling it and putting the royal blue “orange slice” chair in this corner (currently in the basement with my sewing table). we’re very very close to figuring out whether we’ll be staying in this house or moving to british columbia, so i’m just sitting on a few furniture decisions until i know whether or not i’ll be furnishing a new space this spring.

lastly, we brought a weird little industrial table upstairs to use as a television stand. i used it as a sewing table previously, but, with its great green base, it really belongs with our red and green rug and its perfectly sized for the television and dvd player. we bolted it to the floor since frankie rose makes a beeline for the dvd player every time she’s in here.


we kept our victrola record player in this room, but moved it to a different wall. and the teak table from our smaller living room moved over to the new living room and remains our coffee table for upstairs. the couple of new additions to this room are the forsa work lamp and a framed print of a photograph i took at seattle’s public market a few years ago. (i already had the mat and frame.) not only do the colours really work in our new set-up, but i’m a little in love with all things pacific northwest at the moment! our mustard-coloured couch from the former living room has moved to frankie’s playroom downstairs.


lighting is one of the challenges in the new living room. there’s no hardwired or overhead lighting options in here, which we solved previously with two plug-in pendants. they weren’t really working for me in the new room as-is, so we swapped one with the survey stand floor lamp in frankie’s room (freeing up a bit of floor space in her nursery) and i did keep the second pendant for the living room, but i spray painted it a sea green colour to give it a bit of an update. so, besides a can of spray paint, the ikea birch wall bracket, the work lamp and getting the photograph printed, altogether an expenditure of about $40, we pulled this room together using only things we already had. i had my eye on a very spendy plug-in wall sconce in a wicked shade of green for the wall; it would have shipped from denmark and i would have had to convert it to a north american plug. with the exchange rate, shipping, customs fees and the conversion, i’m guessing the total expenditure would have been in the $400 range. it would have looked awesome, but the experience of completing the minsgame challenge has me really considering all new purchases carefully and i decided i didn’t need a new light when we had a perfectly good fixture sitting in a box.


once all the living room changes were complete, it was time to source a new dining room table. ironically, in 2009, i saw a round, glass table with four multicoloured eiffel chairs at a store  on king west called visitor parking (no longer open) and i’ve never stopped thinking about it. it’s ironic because the day i saw it was the day we were walking around the king west design district with dave looking for inspiration for what would become our dining room table for 10. as soon as we decided we’d buy a smaller dining table, i knew i would be after a round table and multicoloured eiffel chairs. i found our new table on kijiji, but the couple wouldn’t deliver the table and it wouldn’t fit into our volkswagon without my marriage enduring yet another bad day, so i decided to order it straight from structube. luckily, it was hella on sale so brand new it was only about $100 more than the kijiji version. i sourced four chairs through modern living and chose chairs in sea green, white, sandstone and vintage red. once we know if we’re moving and what our new house looks like, we’ll make a decision about our large dining room table and the 10 microsuede chairs that went with it. if our new house has space for both tables, we’ll move everything. if it has space for just the smaller table, we’ll move the new furniture, sell the microsuede chairs and return the large dining room table to dave for safekeeping.


in the new dining room, our hard-working teak shelving unit was pruned extensively for minsgame. i was able to make enough space so that the unit now holds all our books, magazines, records, dvds, cds and board games, plus all our liquor, barware, cables/chargers and archie’s toys. dvds, cds and cables/chargers used to be in the basement, records used to be in a crate, archie’s toys were under the basement stairs and barware was in a cabinet overtop of the microwave, so it’s a real improvement (and achievement) to have everything near where it will be used.


i also painted! the light blue that the living and dining rooms were painted was just not working with the new furniture, which is heavy on reds and shades of green. besides, i figure we’re either moving, in which case fresh paint on the walls helps the house show well, or we’re not, in which case i wanted fresh paint on the walls. i am pretty happy with the colour (sherwin-williams no. 6730 romaine), but the actual paint isn’t nearly as nice as benjamin moore’s, which is the only brand i’ve used in the house up until now. my plaster walls soaked up two gallons of the sherwin-williams paint, whereas i was able to paint the same rooms plus the hallway with the same amount of benjamin moore paint and still have some leftover. i also found it really difficult to apply; it just didn’t go on as smoothly (lots of drips) as the benjamin moore paint.

i am loving the new set-up; it makes our main floor so much more suitable for life in 800 square feet with a baby. plus, it means our basement is a blank slate again. besides frankie’s play area (about 20% of the basement), laundry and a little bit of storage there’s very little furniture in or purpose for our basement at the moment. that suits us just fine for now because the basement is pretty unusable between december and march. come spring, when our basement becomes habitable again, we’ll have complete knowledge of what our family is doing/where we’ll be living so, if it turns out pierre’s british columbia transfer is not happening, we’re going to explore more long-term (warmer) options for our basement and figure out how we’d like to use all that free space.

5 thoughts on “living-dining swap (again)

  1. It looks great! Awesome way to repurpose the lights, etc… I’m very partial to the chairs – as I have them myself – though all in white as I have a husband who, years ago, insisted that my bridesmaids had to same dress in the same colour although it was starting to be a new/hip thing to have them not match. Eames chairs are great when there are furry pets and messy kids around (not to mention comfortable to sit in). The Magic Eraser is my good friend when markers break out. I love the cabinet in your dining room!

what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s