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Living in the living room, part one
August 19, 2008 - Bethany Fehlinger and Marjorie Stromberg
When trying to design a nice living room, the couch dictates everything. The color, shape and style of the couch determines the style of other furniture, the color scheme and placement of everything.
A good couch is easy to find, but an inexpensive, comfortable, functional and clean couch takes some work. Saving money usually is not an option, and for young professionals who usually are low on cash, a couch can, and may be, your most expensive piece. It's hard to skimp, unless you don't mind sitting on the floor.
My couch adventures took me everywhere in Wilkes-Barre with my family, from the typical furniture stores to the Wal-Mart-types. I realized half a week in that spending $100 or less was not feasible, especially if I want the couch to be fashionable. Also, my fashionable was not always functional, so my parents said.
I wanted something small but stylish, very millennium. To my mother, that spelled disaster. I saw on the Target Web site a futon that was black, very mod and not expensive. I showed my parents the link of the Web site (after some coaxing to get on and check their e-mail), and I was met with protest. My father thought it probably was not sturdy, and my mother thought it was ugly and not practical.
When I walked into Big Lots one day, I found it, or should I say my mother found it. A couch in a neutral color that was about $200. I wish I could have spent $100, but there were no couches at the Salvation Army Goodwill store (I looked.) There was no couch for me to inherit from family members. And with the dark brown color of the couch, I could have any color scheme I desire.
At first, it looked a bit old and homely to me, more of something my deceased Nana would buy if she was still alive to put in her living room. It was suede-like and looked a few eras behind, stuck in the time machine at Big Lots.
I had no choice. I looked and was denied a few times by parents and the high prices of fashionable couches. Darn my small budget. I had to work with what I had, which at least was a neutral color.
A trip right after to Pier 1 produced the purchase of two pillows at a clearance price of $10 each and created the color scheme of brown (couch), orange and green (pillows) in my living area.
One trick to saving money is to look for good clearance items and make them work into your living space.
Luckily, I was not present for the picking up of my couch, since I had to be at my apartment a day early and my hometown is a distance away.
However, another piece of advice is to measure your doorways. Mine is skinny but tall, and the couch was short and plump. My father and brother had to unscrew the plastic legs and shove the couch through the door for it to successfully make its home in my apartment.
Another issue that arose the moment it was in the door was the small, box living room and the big couch. How would I ever have a nice living area for guests if my couch took up half of the room?
And, to make matters worse, in a way, the couch came with two pillows. How is this a bad thing? The color pattern on the pillows is brown, coffee and light blue/teal, or at least a clash with my envisioned color scheme.
I no longer wanted to be the mismatched college student with my apartment decor; I wanted to be the new young professional, paving my way ä one living space at a time.
What could I do to enhance this space?
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What did Bethany do? Check for her next update, where she will discuss putting the pieces of a living room together from a variety of places.
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Photo by Bethany Fehlinger A neutral couch is a good jumping-off point for a fabulous living space.