It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a look at our home, and it’s for a variety of reasons. We only have so much money that we can put towards home improvements each year, and I was waiting on two very specific things before sharing our living room, and while everything isn’t exactly how I would like it, I am excited to finally share our living room and dining room with you.
Of course our living and dining areas are not entirely unfamiliar to you, as you’ve seen them decked out for various holidays over the last couple years, but now you get to see what it looks like normally.
Let’s address the elephant in the room, that weird brown corrugated wall. What’s with that? It’s an accordion wall that opens into one of our three bedrooms. Our home has one bedroom on the east half of the house, and the other two bedrooms (including the accordion wall room and the master) on the west half, with the two on the west half linked together by a Jack and Jill bathroom. Because of this, we decided to make accordion wall bedroom the office. The space would be well suited to a den or perhaps library where having it open into the living room as an extension of it would be quite nice, however as it is the office, and Patrick works from home, the lack of a real wall results in sound carrying through into the living space and vice versa. The lack of soundproofing results in the inability to have a phone conversation in the living room, let alone watch TV if Patrick is in a meeting. Additionally this house lacks a coat closet, and currently all of our coats reside in our guest room closet, which leave guests no room for their clothes during their stay! Yes, I have that many coats…despite living in California. Our intention has always been to replace the accordion wall with a proper wall and closet that opens toward the living room to house our coats. We originally planned to use our tax return this year for the project, however, COVID-19 is kind of preventing that…yes, home improvement/construction is deemed essential business, and therefore we technically could do it, we simply prefer not to have people in and out of our homes. I view the building of the closet/wall situation as more of a luxury.
With the exception of our office, our home is furnished with vintage pieces, and all of the wood furniture in the home is Heywood-Wakefield from the 1950s and 60s. When Patrick and I bought this house we originally intended to use our green couch from our previous two apartments. However it proved too large for our new living space, and Patrick found the matching orange and black set on ebay just over in Burbank, they fit just right, and ended up coordinating perfectly with the painting above the couch, which I did inspired by the Disney short “A Cowboy Needs a Horse.”
I’m always for creative repurposing, and we did that with a handful of times throughout the house. Our “entertainment center” that our television sits upon is actually the lower half of a room divider. The upper portion is an open bookshelf which we placed in the guest room. The piece that houses our record player and records is a vanity, simply sans mirror and a shelf on the right portion.
There were two big reasons in the delay of sharing our living and dining spaces. One was the light fixture of the living room, which was a basic white ceiling fan when we moved in. While nice prior to the installation of central air, we no longer needed it, and it just didn’t fit in aesthetically. We wanted to purchase a vintage fixture, but had a difficult time locating one we both liked and fit our budget. But recently something happened with the wiring of the original fixture and it hastened our need for a replacement. After scouring the internet, once again trying to find one that fit both of our tastes as well as budget, we settled upon this one from Amazon. Speaking of air conditioning, you’ll spy we left the vintage AC unit in the wall. Why? Well, first, it’s a work of art! Second, a unit almost identical to it is in the opening of my favorite movie, That Thing You Do! and you can see it here. Also, not to mention it would be a pain to yank out and patch.
The second big reason was that I wanted something about the fireplace. But just what that was I didn’t know…a metal sculpture? A painting? Perhaps the holy grail item of an atomic shadow box? Rare, often quite large and typically $400-700, I figured an atomic shadow box was out of the question. Then one day we stumbled upon a smaller at a flea market. It was sad with flaking paint and a broken mirror, but it was only $50! Patrick and I stripped and repainted it ourselves, and then had the mirror portions replaced, which cost $100. Additionally, the rods had originally been wooden dowels, and Patrick decided to replace them with metal rods.
When we moved in we originally were using the Hey-Wake chairs we had been using since college, lower-end ones I acquired in high school. However, I always wanted these “dog bone” style ones. Thankfully my dad found a set of four and during a visit he brought them, and took back my old ones to sell. Since then I’ve found two more so we have a set of six if need be for larger dinner parties. I restored these chairs a couple years ago, and you can learn how here.
Hanging on the wall are three photos that Patrick took in Joshua Tree using the Kodak Duaflex II that I discussed in the post about his camera collection. Below the photographs is one of my favorite pieces by Heywood-Wakefield, a secretary. The top left folds down to a desk, and I keep all of my cards, stamps, etc., and the drawers below store our dining linens. I have a bit of a problem with glassware, especially since often glasses were a prime item for souvenirs back in the day. So the shelf holds part of my California and western glassware collection.
Heywood-Wakefield also produced a variety of several china hutches, and I always wanted one to display my Franciscan Starburst, however, when I saw the built-in hutch as part of the bar that separated the dining room and kitchen, I didn’t see a need for one.
Now, there are a few changes I still want to make in these areas. You’ll notice the flooring in the entry way is a faux marble, peel-and-stick. We believe the original hardwood is underneath it, and plan on removing the peel-and-stick and restoring the hardwood when we also replace the flooring of the guest bath, which is the same peel-and-stick. You’ll also spy that the front door is contemporary, and, in my opinion, boring. We want to replace it, but, ya know, money, and we haven’t decided it we want to attempt to find a door that resembles the original door, which we saw in older street-views of our house, and had a diamond pane window on the top half, or if we want to go with something with more privacy.
The light fixture in the dining room I believe is original, but I’m not exactly enthusiastic about the fern like design of shade, and we are debating if we should find a different shade or completely replace the fixture with a vintage one, and totally relocate where the fixture is so it will be more centered over our table.
So, as you can see, we are far from “finished” here, but we are a little bit closer every year to making our home perfect, and maybe each change will bring a new blog post!