Help us find the best use of our living-room and spare bedroom.

My wife and I have lived in our 3-bed, 2-bath home since we got married a little over 5 years ago. Despite a lack of a basement or garage, it's worked for us for the most part. But last summer we had our first baby, and the house is suddenly a lot smaller. Unfortunately, we probably need another year or two before we'll be prepared to move to a bigger place. So, we've decided the best way to make the house less crowded without doing anything major, is to rethink our large living room and the third bedroom, which we've always used as an office, but is becoming sort of the default cluttery dumping ground room. Hopefully some of the folks here will have some helpful ideas.

We're trying to do everything for under $1000. If we can do it for a lot less than that, all the better. Luckily, there's an Ikea nearby. 

Warning: I didn't clean up before I took these photos. I figured it'd give a more accurate look at the state of things. 

First up, the living room:

Living Room Above



As you can see, there's quite a bit of wasted space between the front wall and the love-seat. I don't know if we should try to somehow open up the existing setup to use all of the space, or try to create two separate spaces. One idea that has crossed our minds is putting an enclosed corner-unit desk back in that corner. As you'll see when I get to the next room, that'd likely free up a lot of space in the office. Ikea carries an enclosed corner-unit desk that's reasonably priced, so if that seems like the way to go, we've already got a piece in mind. 

Next up, the office:


This room is a nightmare. We recently added a third bookshelf and put up those CD storage pieces on the walls, so it's actually better than it used to be. There's quite a bit of stuff in that closet that we've already decided can be given away, sold on ebay or put under the house. The main question I have is, if this room isn't the office anymore, what could/should it be? I kind of like the idea of 86ing that desk and moving the desktop PC into the aforementioned enclosed desk in the living room, because then we'd be less likely to just dump everything on the desk, but then what? The room is only 10x 13, but if need be, we could find a way to completely clear out the closet to add some additional space.

Any and all advice and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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colorcrazed on Mar 07, 2007:

How about this one.  It's on ebay, item number 280090184385.  Buy it now price is $229.99 with $10.00 shipping.  I think the dark wood is mininal enough to blend into your other furnishings, plus it's always good not to have everything match perfectly.

mtobey on Mar 07, 2007:

Thanks, felisaudis. I'm going to keep looking around, in hopes that I can find something with the built-in coffee-table surface like that one at amazon, but if all else fails, one of those from JC Penney will probably do the trick. We could always just put a shallow wooden tray on top.

felisaudis on Mar 07, 2007:

I'm glad you may be able to use some of my ideas. There are some pretty basic ottomans at JCPenny's too... maybe they'll fit your style better?

This one, this one, or maybe this one? - it comes in alot of colors.

mtobey on Mar 06, 2007:

I have a question for everyone out there. Does anyone know of something similar to this combination coffee-table/storage-ottoman that would come in a color that would fit with our living room?

I love the idea of having something that accomplishes so much, but we've got all light wood and beige-ish fabrics, so the black vinyl and dark wood would look pretty bad.

I've looked around, and I don't see anything that fits the bill. Kind of surprised Ikea doesn't have anything like that. Hopefully someone can help. Thanks!

mtobey on Mar 06, 2007:

Thanks so much for all of the great suggestions so far.

Felisaudis, I really like a lot of the ideas you have. Just from reading your comments, I can totally picture both rooms. I have a feeling we're going to end up taking most if not all of your advice.

binary-pattern, we got those cd shelves at Ikea. Unfortunately, I can't find them on the website. We got them recently though, so I'm pretty sure they still carry them. They're awesome!

colorcrazed, good advice about the art. Thanks!

Thanks again, everyone. Feel free to offer additional advice. I'll post pics after we redo the rooms. 

colorcrazed on Mar 06, 2007:

I would try this.  Since the room really doesn't have a focal point you need to move the T.V. unit to the opposite wall and make that wall your focal point.  Place art and accessories above the T.V. to give the wall some weight.  Artwork should be an extension of any furniture that it's hung above as well as proportionate in size. So don't hang anything puny there.  Also a good general rule to remember is that artwork should be hung 6" above something.  So don't hang it too high.  I would take the table that is currently on the wall by the door and place it behind the far left couch for accessories.  The wall where the T.V. currently is needs to have some similarly weighted artwork on it to balance the room.  Check out my blog for some really cute stuff by Wondeful Grafitti that would work well there. http://redesignforliving.blogspot.com.  Before you tackle the other room you need to establish what the purpose for that room will be.  Hope this helps.

felisaudis on Mar 06, 2007:

Wow. Sorry for the crazy long comments guys... just having too much fun redoing this room! :-)

felisaudis on Mar 06, 2007:


Problem: No clear purpose to the room/reason to be in there; too many different heights & openings. Make it a media room! Go there to be quiet & read, or listen to music & exercise.


- Huge corner desk



- Move all three white bookshelves to the wall on your left as you enter the room. Make it look like a library wall. Leave the little shelf behind the door, that’s a great spot for it. Get baskets to hide small things neatly.

- Put exercise thingy on far wall between closet & exit door.



- Two nice chairs where desk was, on wall across from entry door, to the left of the cd racks. Love the funky blue chair, and maybe the tan chair ousted from the living room? (or IKEA: MALUNG leather reclining chair $169 each – these are AWESOME comfy, and matching chairs will make it look less cluttered)

- Coffee table from living room to hold snacks, current books.

- Reading lamp (IKEA: ANTIFONI $39.99)

- Stereo system to go with all the CD’s (? I didn’t see one)

- Get a wall hung ironing board, mount on wall between door & closet to keep it handy and out of the way. Make sure it stores the iron at the top for convenience. ($25 -$125 if you get one with a cabinet door to hide it)

- Games in the closet is great! Take out the lower shelves of the closet on one side to store the stroller easily and out of the way. Make sure it’s accessible and it’ll always be put away.

felisaudis on Mar 06, 2007:

Ooh! This is Fun! :-)


The way I’d do it… as coherently expressed as I can…


Living Room

Problem: It seems that the only interesting view of the living room is when you come from the door under the staircase. Entering the room from the front door or the kitchen puts you in the room as a goofy place making it seem more cluttered than it is.



- Black rocker chair

- Coffee Table

- Tan Chair



- Move the sofa across from the staircase to the wall the small chair is on.

- Put the TV set where the sofa used to be.

- Move the Table on the front wall to where the TV used to be.

- Move End Table to far right hand



- Bench at front door, for sitting to put on shoes, store shoes underneath (IKEA: LEKSVIK Shoe Rack $69.99 – May be a bit too big? But the right idea)

- Replace your coffee table with one of those square ottoman/tables that can do double duty as extra seating (replacing the tan chair) and storing baby toys out of sight (and it has no sharp corners) (IKEA: EKTORP BROMMA in beige $149)

- Computer Desk with Doors for front corner, flush against side wall. (I have my laptop in the living room so me & hubby can exist together even when we need to get desky things done and we love it) (IKEA: ALVE Bureau w/ add-on-unit &storage bench $288.99, or the corner piece you already have in mind)

binary_pattern on Mar 05, 2007:

i have various ideas of what *i* would do with a spare room, but i don't know about your lifestyle.  do you need space for sewing, wood-working, craft projects, growing hothouse plants, a game room, a dedicated media room?

*more importantly* where'd you get the cd racks? 

jasimar on Mar 05, 2007:

For the livingroom maybe try putting the TV on the wall with the door so it's not the first thing you see when you come in.  And I'm minimalist, so I'm lost with your office.  But I love the color choice!

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