Friday, September 3, 2010

When life takes your furniture, re-do your entire living room

I've lived in my current apartment, an Astorian oasis really, for a good nine months now. It's a great location, if a little loud at times, and easily my favorite of the three apartments I've had in Astoria (and four apartments I've had since moving to the city--there was a dark four months when I moved to Brooklyn). The greatest feature of the apartment is a large (and huge by New York standards) living room. The entire space was white and there wasn't any art on the walls, so when I first moved in, I briefly considered painting. The hugeness of the room quickly made me file that in the "to be done much later" category.

When one of my roommates moved out in March, she informed me that a girl who used to live in that apartment actually owned most of the furniture. The girl had been living in India for a year with her boyfriend and would come back and claim the furniture at some point in the future. At this point in time, the room was furnished mostly with decrepit book cases that fell apart when you tried to move them, an entertainment unit the previous roommate had pulled off the street (which looked rather like an entertainment unit that used to live on the street), a frighteningly uncomfortable futon that neither folded down or completely folded back up, a dirty yellow rug (although really that might have been my fault--I can seldom get fully ahead of the cat hair), and a decent coffee table with a weird groove in the wood that crumbs and dirt were always falling into, making keeping it clean nearly impossible. Basically, it was the kind of furniture I personally would bid good riddance were I ever to go to India for any length of time. But to each her own.

When the day finally came when she reclaimed her possessions, my current roommates and I realized we would actually have to replace them with something. We had a clean slate to work with, and it was time to make the apartment our own. This blog post is a chronicle of our budget furnishing process.

Here's the before picture. Apologies for the blurriness and the mess (this photo was taken while I was in the process of moving in). Also, for those readers who have been complaining about a lack of Dinah pictures being blogged lately--you will find she is in pretty much any photo I take while in my apartment. She's a star, that one.

The first thing to go was the back-breaking futon, which left Dinah slightly nonplussed.
She was also none too pleased with the loss of the yellow rug, which she had not yet completely finished covering with her hair. (I realized in my attempt to be artsy, I blurred Dinah a little. But I think I successfully captured her ennui.)

Luckily, by googling "cheap couches" I found this place: which will fed-ex your couch (to be assembled in about 2 hours) in a matter of days. The couch is pretty comfortable, and once Dinah destroys the upholstery, it's very easy to replace. Dinah was relieved.

The rest of the furnishings we acquired at Ikea (the budget furnisher's mother ship). Did you know you can get a coffee table for only $9.99? Of course, it weighs about 2 pounds, and we suspect it is made of balsa wood...but so far it has had no trouble holding up the Ikea lamp we put on it, so I guess it serves its purpose. Right after all the furniture had been taken, we got the bright idea to paint the room while it was empty. Of course, by the time we actually got around to painting, we'd already filled it with furniture again. Oh well, at least we did it. We chose the color "greenbriar beige" which is a lot more fun than it sounds. It adds a lot of warmth to the room without overpowering it. Here's the finished product or "after" picture:

As you can see, I still need to get a little art on the walls. I actually bought a Klimt poster (specifically this one:, but have yet to find a frame I consider cheap enough. At some point I might have to admit defeat and get a custom frame job. Until then, consider the above the "finished" product. I'm pleased with it.


  1. Much cleaner look! I can hardly wait to see it in person.

  2. Wow, it looks great! You're right, the room looks much warmer now. I bet that couch is more comfortable to sleep on than that futon was. Great job!

  3. Yay for cat pictures! She was trying to hide in that last one, but I found her anyway. Thanks!

  4. I think it looks great! And that poster is beautiful. And of course I love the cat mixed in here and there!