Sometimes I like to wake up, make a coffee and start sledgehammering things in my house. Which sounds incredibly impulsive, but it usually takes 500 or so Saturdays of quietly stewing about something I don't like before I snap.
Longtime readers will immediately notice in the photo above what it is I took a sledgehammer to. For the rest of you, I'll first explain a bit about the psychology behind the design SNAP because it can happen to anyone.
The actual SNAP happens when you go from thinking "I don't like that, to I hate that and it needs to disappear immediately". I can't predict exactly when I'll snap but it always happens 10-15 years after I decide I don't like something.
My floors are a perfect example of that.
One minute I was having my morning weekend coffee and the next I was ripping up all the wood floors (and there were many layers of them).
The photo below of the prybar set under a board is the actual moment it all happened.
You can read about the entire story behind ripping up wood floors in this post.
And you can read about what I did AFTER I ripped them up in these posts.
My living room has been in a constant state of ... I don't like that for 20 years. I love my kitchen, love my dining room, love my foyer ... but my living room has always been I don't like that.
First it was because of my lack of funds to furnish it with anything other than items I found on the side of the road which I spruced up by washing and removing any debris, gum, or dried up worms.
Then it was because I filled it up with a sectional sofa which I LOVED at first because it felt cozy and comfortable but really limited anything else I could put in the room. Worse than that - having a sectional meant I couldn't move things around at all.
I'm a serial rearranger. I like moving things around when I get bored.
So a few months ago I moved half of my sectional to the dump.
IT'S GETTING BETTER
With each SNAP the living room gets better and better both to my eyes and in terms of usability.
Table of Contents
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THE LIVING ROOM
- I still LOVE the interior shutters I made. Here's the tutorial on how to make interior shutters.
- The art. I like my creepy portraits of children and farmy style landscapes and even my homemade forgery of a Cy Twonbly's signature.
- I love a lot of the pieces of furniture like the very small antique, wood buffet and the $5 mirror above it.
- I LOVE the vintage Eames lounge chair but ... the size of it because of the ottoman makes it a bit of a headache.
WHAT THE LIVING ROOM STILL NEEDS
Lots of stuff. I'm still working with the furniture that I have until I know exactly what I want everywhere.
SOFA - I'm still looking for the perfect English Roll Arm sofa with a tightback. There are lots of nice ones but I need a smaller depth than most offer.
I'm also considering a very classic flat arm sofa with side cushions.
CHAIR(S) - The gold and cream thrift store chair beside the fireplace needs to be replaced with something opposite to the sofa in terms of style. If for instance I get an English Roll Arm sofa, I'd want the fireside chair to be more modern. BUT COMFORTABLE!
PAINT - Considering a colour in the blue/green palette. If I keep it white, I'll add the colour to the room through accessories and upholstery.
MANTLE - I'd like to get rid of the whole front of the fireplace and replace it with something more in keeping with the age and style of the home. Something more simple.
TELEVISION - I need a bigger one, probably a Samsung Frame or LG Oled. I'll make a custom frame to go around it so it genuinely looks like art. I especially like that The Frame has a matte finish now, so there's no glare which makes art you display on it look more realistic.
I'd like to place the television anywhere other than over the fireplace, but final furniture placement is going to dictate where the tv can go.
SO WHAT DID I TAKE A SLEDGEHAMMER TO?
The bookcases on either side of the fireplace.
Why Would I do that??
- Because they were janky old bookcases that my sister Pink Toolbelt and I installed when I first moved into the house.
- The shelves were originally built so the section on the right could house my 1990's Fred Flintstone style television which was the size of an oven.
- The shelves were uneven and weird sizes.
- They irked me.
This isn't how these nooks will remain, but even just throwing 2 matching lamps on them they made the room feel a LOT calmer. Not so busy.
The Video Tour
What Happened When I Snapped?
It always starts the same, so I'm relaying these points as a way for you to recognize when this might be happening to you.
- For 10 years these feelings have been brewing. Longer even. But my first instinct was never to rip the bookcases out.
It was to REORGANIZE them all the time for 10 years.
If you are doing the same with something in your house, pay attention: you're going to snap.
- Over the past year I've stared really hard at them willing them to disintegrate. Explode even maybe. This approach didn't work. Not even a little bit.
Things don't just disappear or appear if you wish for it. Praying won't help either. Your God doesn't care about your shitty bookcases.
- Last month I called a support line for people who are struggling but they only made matters worse by delivering my dinner into a snowbank.
If you start doing things you would never normally do, like ordering take-out or wearing cowboy hats you're getting close to snapping. I mean, you are ALMOST there.
- On Friday night, the evening before the SNAP, I mentioned to a few people that I was thinking of removing my bookcases. By Saturday at noon the living room was filled with Dremel saws, pry bars, hammers and paint cans.
I said it out loud. I told someone of my plan. IF YOU SAY IT OUT LOUD IT WILL HAPPEN.
So be careful about that.
I needed to keep the bottom of the bookcases for now (I'd like 2 almost matching pine chests in there I think) so I cut the tops off using THE BEST TOOL IN THE WORLD.
A Dremel MultiMax. You can see it sitting on the cabinet in the first picture above. It will cut wood or drywall out of anywhere. Because of its flat blades you can cut horizontally along floor or in this case the top of the cabinet, to create a perfect, flush cut.
This isn't all styled and zhuzhed. It's the room as is.
The actual demolition, hauling away the bookcases, repairs and repainting the walls took from 12:00 until 6:00 p.m.
Then there were another few hours of finding places for the things I took out of the bookcases, and deciding what to put in there for now.
I've given you the warning signs: disliking something, constantly rearranging, swearing at, willing something to implode, and saying it OUT LOUD.
If you experience any of these symptoms take a sledgehammer and call me in the morning.
When you find a not-so-deep sofa, please let me know what it is! I have been kicking myself for years, for junking a Drexel Heritage sofa that I should have had reupholstered. Now everything upholstered is industrial-sized, and though I'm 5'6", it's hard to get up from it without a having a large pillow behind me. 🥴.
P.S. The way you are bending in the photo of prying floorboards is horrible for your back!
Oh my kindred spirit Sister. Since I've had to take into consideration the other resident's feelings about my no hesitate sledge time...it's really put a hitch in my giddy up. I forget people are not in my head. The dreaded question. Jaw drop, what the **ll, what are you doing? This cannot be answered at this time. Therapy may be needed. Too many neighbors now for the step out back to scream (although they are aware of my tendencies). I am the local tool borrowing station. The men face their son/daughter this way and say "go son, go ask, she has the damn thing". I don't have the muscle or back to accomplish the big destructo as in the past, but...I can rally! I must learn to wait until it's just me and the house!! And hope for time. My disabilities have slowed me but they can't stop me completely :)) Bigger pry bars, two-wheel carts, casters, good stuff! Thank you for your continued inspiration and edification Karen. I appreciate you!
We're in it together Marcie. In it together.🤣 ~ karen!
i like it. l love bookshelves but this is much neater to look at and much less busy. nice place to rest your eyes
What's funny is I LOVE the bookcases in my dining room. But there's also a lot less stuff in that room, just a table and chairs. The living room does need that much needing resting place for your eyes as you say. :) ~ karen!
Is this a thing with women named Karen? Because my cousin--Karen--DOES THIS TOO. She is CONSTANTLY rearranging, reconfiguring, and redecorating her house. Like, at least once, if not twice a year. And she also just demolished her built in bookcases! (is it the moon or something?) I, too, am a "snapper!" In fact, I'm in mid-packing-up-to-move mode, so I'm snapping all over the place! However, I'm forever in snap mode where I live because as a lifetime RENTER, there's little to nothing I can do about the actual infrastructure of any place I've lived in (moving furniture is one thing, taking a hammer to a wall is another--heck, I can't even paint a flipping wall or cabinet!)
Your "calmer" bookshelves look lovely, but I can't wait to see what you have in store when you start whacking away at your fireplace. May the snap be with you! 🔧🪛🔨🪚
HAHAHAHA! Thanks you. ~ karen!
The new clean look is attractive but I mourn the loss of the bookcases. We have a total of about40-45 lineal feet of bookcases in our 1500 square foot house and have piles on various floors and tables. I think we have a book problem. We have tried the one book in one book out method but so many of the "in" books bring friends.
I think you have a book problem too. But this is coming from someone who turned their dining room into a library. ~ karen!
Hahah well that's obviously a great solution for a book problem: turn something else into the library.
Your website is incredibly annoying. The ads flying in and interrupting your narrative are so distracting that I think I will unsubscribe from your site. Unfortunate, be cause I have enjoyed your schtick (though it has drifted toward the more mundane in the last year or so).
Guess what Ed? You don't need to do a thing. I can unsubscribe you myself. ~ karen!
You crack me up
I snapped yesterday. Didn’t see it coming. I came home from work, removed all the JUNK piled on the kitchen table and put the table and chairs at the curb (it was gone in less than an hour). In its place I put two armchairs and a table. I LOVE IT!! No more junk and we eat at the dining room table like civilized people 😏
Snapshow. They can also creep up on you. My neighbour did the same thing as you by the way! I love it. ~ karen!
I once had a house with a kitchen with an eat in area and I, too, replaced the small table and chairs with two comfy armchairs and a table with a lamp. I loved it so much! I would sit there and look at cookbooks for dinner inspiration, or sit and do needlepoint after dinner clean up. Gosh I wish I had room for that in my current kitchen! Lucky you!
I'll take that Eames lounge chair off your hands. It's really a PITA for you. 😜
Ha! It really is! But my level of love is still higher than my level of anger towards it. ;) ~ karen!
I just L♡VE your gold and cream thrift store chair beside the fireplace! My niece told me that my place is decorating style is "Granny Chic". Please don't throw out the chair - throw it to me!!!!
IMO: the trouble with the fireplace is the hearth. It's shiny and flat. I would raise it and replace the shiny tiles with something more organic, not so wide (one tile width) and possibly cast-iron. I like the makeover so far, much tidier. It's hard to decorate a small space without feeling like gramma's closet.
Thanks Karen for posting the destruction. You are my Saturday morning Happy Place. Gardening, chickens, dogs, design, destruction and Halloween. Absolutely love your blog and have learned not to drink or eat anything while scrolling through it.
I started seeds this year following your instructions. I may be a bit early as there is still over 2 feet of snow on the ground here. Thanks for all of laughs, inspiration and encouragement.