LIVING ROOM: It’s Back

The couch, that is. 

Since we moved into this house last year I had convinced myself that the antique narra sofa that used to be my grandmother’s was horrible. I thought it was too big for the space, too clunky and too outdated. We all hated the way the backrest cushions kept popping out of the frame, and I detested the red and beige striped foam covers. I kept promising myself I’d go to Uratex to ask about replacing the cushions, and I even sent our driver then to the palengke to look for someone to sew me new slip covers – but I just never got around to actually going to Uratex or having new slipcovers made. I think we lived with torn slip covers for at least a year in the old house. 

And then I got obsessed about Scandi interiors and just gave up on my wooden sofa. I was bent on getting a light grey upholstered couch – something smaller and more Nordic or mid-century I thought. I thought then – small room = small couch. So I chose the loveseat, and my parents very kindly got it for me for my birthday last year.

Well, I love that 2-seater but instead of making our living room look bigger, it made it look… even smaller. When I put it by the front windows, the loveseat looked tiny and oddly proportioned as to the rest of the space. Putting it in front of the side windows meant facing the front door – and why should the front door be the focal point eeeeeh. Ideally, the seating there should face the dining area. Diagonally across the corner was where I ended up putting the loveseat.

Now almost 8 months in, I finally admitted to myself that it just wasn’t working for me. The area rug helped, but the furniture arrangement just felt too small and I had to accept that I never really got around to liking the loveseat on diagonal in that corner.

So before my dad could sell it, I asked for the wooden couch back. And since I didn’t have slip covers I threw a white duvet cover over it… and it didn’t look bad. In fact, I liked it. My throw pillows look so much better on it. I never would’ve gone for a white couch, but with the rug and all, I just really ended up liking how it looked. I didn’t realize how white can really bring out the wood quality.  The boys approve, too. Plus, more seating, so everyone happy.

I also ended up using our bench as a coffee table. The loveseat and small round coffee table (which I had made to size with our loveseat in mind) went to the lanai. The loveseat replaced the wooden daybed (which I again didn’t get around to buying a mattress and cushion for) and is just so much more comfortable for the kids when they watch videos there.  I moved the Muji lounge chair to the shared boys’ room and used our round coffee table as a side table in the lanai. The daybed I returned to my folks. The lanai is not the next corner on my list right now, but these little changes have helped to improve the space, too! So two rooms with one stone, just because I got the couch back! 

Here’s a full(er) shot of that corner. I also finally took down the dirty half curtains and had our help wash them. I also removed the chunky wooden curtain rods. Obviously, from the photos alone, there are still things to do with this corner (for instance, the play gym should be in the lanai).  But I feel more optimistic now. I have felt stuck on progress with the living room for a while now – like that time with our Family Command Center, I was getting more and more frustrated because the space just wasn’t coming together. Well, I have a better idea on how to move forward, and have drawn up my Bare Essentials List for the living room – which is up next! 

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LIVING ROOM: The Rug Saga

Finally, we have an area rug, people!!!

Boaz clearly approves of the new (and bigger!) rug

I seriously thought it would take me at least a year before I’d be able to purchase an area rug for the living room.  I didn’t want to settle for any old rug – I wanted it to be something I really love.  I had set my mind on a handcrafted abaca rug from Weave Manila and, like I mentioned before, they promptly gave me a quote.  I asked for quotes for smaller rugs though because I knew rug prices are pretty nuts, and I figured I’d only be able to afford a small one.  I even asked for pricing for just 4×6 and 5×8 rugs from Weave Manila!

After reading Emily Henderson’s guide on rug sizes (basically, “go big or go home” – she has an article on making the mistake of getting rugs that are too small for your space, and another article on how to pick the right size rug), I learned that even that 5×8 rug would have been puny. How clueless I was!  But I was scared that going big meant spending way, way more.  I was right, too, because the rugs I ended up checking out truly were expensive, the more square feet you go for!  Apparently, area rugs are one of those major pieces you have to invest in for your home.

I liked that boho rug I spotted in Triboa Bay, but I didn’t ask how big it was because at the time I saw it, I knew I couldn’t afford it. But it made me realize that I’ve been liking prints on my rug – nothing too busy or colorful, but some print definitely for texture.

Going home with Rug #1

So you can imagine my joy when I: 1) discovered the West Elm outlet store in Paseo de Sta. Rosa in Sta. Rosa, Laguna; 2) discovered and fell hard for their “Souk” rug; and 3) found out said rugs were on sale!  The H and I went back a week after discovering the outlet store, and we bought a 5×7 Souk rug.   Clearly, I didn’t want to listen to Emily Henderson at the time (she did say small living rooms can get away with smaller rugs).

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I was so, so tempted to get that pink print Morrocan-esque rug from West Elm, but I knew I’ll end up regretting it.  It’s like those printed b&w plates I got – I was so enamored when I first got them, but a month after, I wish I had gotten classic white plates first.  So my rule now is to always get the white or neutral-colored piece first.  (I know this is a very basic rule, but I have made the mistake way too many times of picking out the funky, colorful piece first before my neutrals).  Anyhoo, here is a photo of that Ashik rug from West Elm, in this blogger’s lovely living room.  The Ashik rug in the West Elm outlet store only comes in 5×7 though; in that blogger’s post I think she has at least an 8×10.

You can see how small the rug is, relative to the engot sprawled across.

Here’s how the 5×7 Souk rug looked in our itty bitty living room:

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The boys looking glum – because the rug made our small furniture and teeny living room look even smaller hahaha

Some people might think the rug looks fine.  But I thought it looked narrow, especially coming from the front door and considering I don’t have seating across the loveseat to sort of anchor everything in.  I took tons of photos and realized since the rug was small, having my furniture sitting on it made the living room look even smaller. I was also thinking long-term: should we move someday (and most likely to a place with a bigger living room!), then the only place I’d be able to put a 5×7 rug like this would be beside a bed.

So we decided, screw it.  Let’s go big.  I rang up the people in West Elm Sta. Rosa and reserved the 8×10 Souk rug we saw there.  We rolled up the little rug, put it aside, and a week after, we went back to Sta. Rosa and got the bigger one.  (Yes, this rug business was 3 weeks in the making).

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This is the Kasbah, another wool rug, but without tassels like the Souk and Ashik.  I really liked the print on this one too, a bit busier than the Souk.  In the end though, I ended up with the rug I liked first, and right from the start – the Souk.

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That’s Vince, our very awesome sales rep from the Sta. Rosa West Elm/Pottery Barn outlets.

Excuse the mess under the stairs!  We only have one help right now and I’m losing the battle against clutter.

We measured our living room and knew this 8×10 rug would be too big since there’s a spiral staircase in the middle of the open floor layout we have here at home.  We knew we’d have to either fold it or hem it or even cut it.  Naturally, since the point was to go big so we can bring the rug with us if we move, we opted to fold the rug.

I need to move the rug so there’s space between the rug and the far wall, but honestly, I think the whole set up finally makes our living area look bigger. The rug also solved my problems with that wall – it no longer looks so oddly bare as compared to the opposite corner, and now I don’t feel compelled to fill up that spot behind the front door.

Best of all, the whole family really enjoys the Souk.  I read online how the rug sheds, but I don’t mind – I have 3 boys, and there are plenty more messes at home to worry about.  It’s fluffy, and it’s soft, and I love how it toned down the redness of our terra cotta floor, grounded the furniture, and added just enough oomph to the living room.  The boys have been spending a LOT more time in our living room (they usually hang out in the lanai), and I’ve spotted both my eldest and my youngest taking naps there.  Since the family has been spending more time in the living room since the rug arrived, I’ve had to tweak my living room checklist a bit – for instance, floor pillows are now in order, as the boys have been hanging out sprawled in the living room.

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Bo has been taking his morning naps on the new rug – sans playmat and all my gosh. (In case you can’t tell, I’m not too fussy about the kids getting dirty).

I have seen this rug all over design blogs and in Pinterest, and I am honestly so chuffed about having one at home.  I so love it, and I never in a million years thought I’d be able to get an area rug for the living room this year!  (Thank you to my H!).

The living room is far from perfect, but I feel we are closing in. (I’m honestly having second thoughts about my love seat.  I think I should have gone fore a streamlined 3-seater or even a sectional; and because the “couch” is small, the coffee table now feels small too).  I’m looking forward actually to moving on from this corner because I’ve been rearing to focus full-time on the kids’ rooms.  I’m positive new (and clean!) curtains will make a big difference in the living room – I promise, that’s next on my list.

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Oh, and we got a home diffuser, finally oh finally!  It’s not the prettiest thing but the one with the bamboo top isn’t  bad, and we’ve always wanted to have a diffuser at home.  The H was the one who got it too – we found them for Php 500 in Dapitan!  The stall there claims it used to supply the same diffusers to Mia Maison – they sell them for around Php 2,000 there, so yay, nakatipid!  (As for the baby bottles on the table they’re there because #LIFE).

Speaking of lists, here’s a quick rundown of my immediate/priority tasks and needs for the living room:

  • 6 new curtain panels (2 sets: 1 for every day, 1 alternate set for laundry days)
  • 2 new curtains rods
  • a doormat
  • anti-mosquito plug ins
  • replace my white knit pillow sham (it sheds like crazy)
  • get 2 or 3 floor pillows
  • find a print to cover the outlet beneath the windows

My complete and last updated to-do list for the living room here.

SHARED BOYS’ ROOM: The “Where We Are” Photos

I gave myself a break from working on the living and dining rooms, and I thought this would mean taking a breather from all things house related, period. WRONG. I found myself focusing on the boys’ shared bedroom now. In fact I ordered a custom bunk bed. Teehee.

I don’t have the photos when we moved in, so this is called the “Where We Are” photos instead of “Before” photos.  We’ve done some things to the room (painted the walls in this lovely dark grey-navy color, painted the baseboards and window frames white, removed the old blinds, got the downstairs crib, painted the crib and the old single bed white).  But since the room still looks like a hot mess (as you can see from these photos that I am bravely sharing, eeek!), I absolutely refuse to refer to this as “Progress” or “Midway” updates.

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Eek right?  There’s a bunch of discarded furniture in that room from other parts of the house, like the wooden magazine rack wedged between the bed and the wall.  And that grubby thing beside Alo, below the window?  That’s the old mattress from the driver’s bunk outside.  Someone pulled it out to put in the lanai, and now it’s in here, arrgh.

In my original list I said I’d do away with a bunk bed and ceiling fan. But as time passed I realized we do need a bigger bed in that room. Our Yaya sleeps on the single bed. My in laws are here at least once, usually twice, a week to visit and help with the kids. My FIL and MIL would take turns taking naps or just plain resting on Yaya’s bed. That won’t do. Also, for his naps, Alo sleeps on his yaya’s bed, ratty sheets and all.

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DINING ROOM: A (High) Chair for Alo

My folks made a beeline to Tagaytay the day after we got back from Bohol.  (They have a farm there and always visit after they’ve been away).  They passed by our favorite Japan surplus store along the national highway from Sta. Rosa and Tagaytay proper.  Then my dad sent me a photo of this awesome vintage high chair they found there for Alo:
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I gasped when I saw it.  Isn’t it lovely???  It’s made of hardwood and in pretty good condition.  I love the design in the back, and its subtle curves.  I think it has so much personality.  THANK YOU, LOLO AND LOLA FOR ALO’S CHAIR!!!

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Another photo in the Japan surplus store.

We need to replace the stained leather seat of course, and I plan to remove the seat belt because Alo doesn’t need it.  My folks dropped it off at home and when Alo tried it out, well, it was just perfect for him! It’s just the right height for our dining table, too, and with enough space on the seat for my wriggly little boy.

We tested a bunch of high chairs but Alo is really too big for most of them – especially the ones with the non-detachable trays.  He only really fits into a Stokke chair, but I still need to save up for it!  I was considering a booster chair, or this Kaboost universal chair booster, which got good reviews online and even has one picture with our dining chair, so I knew it would fit.  I was all set to order it – locally available in Milk and Honey – but then this lucky thrift find!  Hurrah!  (Although the Kaboost is sooo useful.  And only Php 1,499 in Milk and Honey.  The H wants to get one for when we eat out or visit the grannies).

I would still like one Stokke chair because I think the design is just brilliant – BUT! Now I can take my time saving up for it and eventually get it for Bo, instead of Alo.  The Stokke chair costs Php 12,500. This vintage chair of ours which, in my unbiased opinion, is just as striking as the Stokke, is only Php 1,000!  Can you believe it???!!  Thrifting is so awesome!!!!!  (I wish I knew what period it came from.  Is it mid-century?  It looks kind of retro too don’t you think?)

I have plans to refurbish our lovely vintage high chair, so stay tuned!

Merry Christmas from Bohol!

We’re currently in this awesome kid-paradise that is Henann in Bohol (at least 7 pools!). We’re taking a break from all house matters and enjoying the resort, the beach, and each other – not necessarily in that order!  We hope you all have a lovely holiday as well!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!