Monday, January 21, 2008

Not Quite Freestyle

I love HGTV. I get that it's supposed to be "reality" TV, or at least more so than fictional medical dramas and that sort of thing. For me, however, they're not so different. I watch TV to enjoy a world I wouldn't otherwise inhabit, and, for me, dramas with incredibly good looking vampires are about as realistic as professionally designed spaces.

I have no gift for interior design. Actually, I like a couple of rooms in my house: the front room doesn't look professional, but it's pretty cool with "wet sand" colored walls, black furniture, and bits of art from around the world. Ada's room is straight out of Dr. Seuss. Ellie's garden room is lovely, too. I can do a theme upon occasion, but none of my rooms looks professionally designed.

Currently, I'm confronted with an intimidatingly blank slate. We have a large, finished basement. There are three unfinished parts (laundry room, utility room, shelved storage room) and the rest is finished. There's a good-sized home office, a bedroom, a new bathroom, and the big, open room below the upstairs living room and family room. We just had this whole area painted, all very light, and hope to design and decorate the space so that it becomes, eventually, our main family room.

It's a big, rectangular space, and we have it divided into two parts: playroom and family room. The 30' southern wall has a chair-rail with wooden wainscoting below, all painted to match the upper wall. The shorter western wall has the same design. The long northern wall is partially open to the office and stairs; the rest is lined with built-in shelves for book and toy storage. The short eastern wall has doors to the bathroom, utility room, and storage room.

As you walk down the stairs, at the eastern end of the northern wall, I'd like the space to open out into the playroom, since that's where the taller, deeper shelves for toy storage are located. We have a wonderful wooden indoor slide, and the great wooden kitchen set that Ellie doesn't even know that she got for Christmas yet, since we're waiting until it's all set up to show her . . . and the room just finished being painted a week or two ago; we haven't moved the furniture back yet, let alone set anything up or decorated. It makes sense, then, for the family room area to be at the western end of the room.

What I'd like to see, I think, are big murals above the chair rail of the long southern wall, probably different ones to define the two spaces, with a tall cabinet or something to divide them. We need a new TV, or we will soon be watching the radio instead. I think a wall-mounted, ventless fireplace would be lovely on the short western wall, drawing attention away from the TV. (Did you know that you can get these, in cool-looking copper, for only $200?!) I'd also like to carpet the stairs, replace all the lighting, and get a new ceiling. Oh, and put down a new floor in the laundry room.

All this stuff is reasonably priced individually, but way out of reach when we add it up - especially as we try to crawl out from under Christmas - so we'll be doing it very, very slowly. It's a playroom/family room, but we don't want it to be too cartoony. I've considered "maps" and "libraries" as themes for the two rooms, as well as "sky" and "trees."

But if any of you have some passion for decorating and would like to draw up a design plan for me, I'd love to see it! I'm so stuck. Of course, if you'd like to pay for it, too . . .

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