Autism Awareness: My Living Room

UPDATE - Since I posted this I have gotten ridden of the palmetto chair and we will be replacing the couch.   A chair will replace the loveseat.  I want to totally rip out the 80's storage and replace with something lower so that the TV (which is not shown in above picture) can be at a better viewing height. 

Hyacinth, friend of Pioneer Woman, has a team of designers helping her out. Oh, Hyacinth. I do see you need the help. Really you do. I mean, zebra rug? But don't be stingy, huh? Share the love. I've been trying to come up with solutions for my dark living room. We just moved in 5 years ago. ;-)

I'm artsy, but somehow when it comes to my living room, I get stumped and walk away. I've done this for 5 years, since we first moved into this house and plunked the furniture in a place that doesn't block traffic and stocked the shelves above the cabinetry with our tremendous collection of VHS tapes. Yes, VHS.

I have a boy who just turned 17. That boy has autism. He is sweet and sincere and also honest to a fault. Last week he told me I don't have as many answers to his questions because now that I'm in my 40's my brain doesn't work as well as it did in my 30's. Ouch, but true. He has the ability to remember incredible details. As in, his brain has a catalog of every video we've ever owned. He still loves to watch many of these videos. It's getting pretty hard to find functioning VHS players now. Yet we soldier on.... ;-) So my living room must house this amazing collection of VHS tapes. This is where authentic living comes in.

If you go to my links blog, you will see I have a whole section on "feather your nest" which lists fun decorating blogs. Melissa, of The Inspired Room, has a post today on white slipcovers, which was very timely for me, because I had been planning on covering my well-made but tired couches with drop cloths. But after reading Melissa's post about white slipcovers I am reconsidering. Why?

white slipcovers + 2 boys + 1 dog =

Too Many Discussions
About Keeping the Furniture Clean

But I still have a goal - I want to lighten and brighten this room up for very little money. I want this room to be warm, comfortable, cozy, fun, homy and not so dark feeling. I want it to serve the needs of my family, which means storage of the beloved VHS tapes and keeping the fish tank.

Here are my problems, and if any readers have suggestions for solutions, please make them.

Problem #1 - I must, yes must, keep all these old VHS tapes. They have a kind of fun colorful vibe, but the storage is hard for him to get back on the shelf, etc. I need some other solutions and I would like to HIDE these in an accessible way for my son. If you have inexpensive, easy to use and do solutions, please leave a comment. I want this house to work for my family and look homey, too.

Problem #2 - I bought good furniture 18 years ago. It's entirely functional although timeworn. They've already been reupholstered once. I just had them cleaned. I can replace the cushions and slipcover them (I know how to do this, although it takes time). The fabric needs to be inexpensive, though, and washable and sturdy. But not white. The giant chair in the right was an inexpensive impulse buy. It is the appropriate scale for a hotel lobby. It IS comfy but quite imposing. It's staying for now.

Problem #3 - Yes, the woodwork needs to be painted. That's on my list of "things to do which cost little money but will make a big impact."

Problem #4 - awkwardly placed windows above. One of the windows straddles between the living room and the stairway/foyer. It was designed to look good from the outside, though! I can't figure out what to do with these windows for coverings that won't draw too much attention to them. They need to be in the background.

Problem #5 - 1986 cabinetry. See above. We want to get a larger TV but this is kitchen counter height and would make it too high for ergonomic television watching. Because the couch is about 5 to 6 feet away from the cabinet. A larger TV would also make it harder to get the beloved VHS tapes down for my child with autism. I had thought of replacing this cabinetry with drawers below. That would be good for a future plan, but for now I'm trying to come up with lower cost solutions. I can sew and paint, but woodworking isn't part of my skill set (yet).

Problem #6 - the empty corner where 1970's misfit furniture congregates. See below. What I want to do is to put a round table, a light or lamp there, and a couple of chairs so that it would be a good place for game playing or homework doing.

A closer look....

Problem #7 - Giant Fishtank. See above. Slipcovering it is not an option. It's the price of love.

Problem #8 - This room has multiple doorways, windows, cabinetry that breaks up every wall except the one behind the loveseat. So I'm having to float the furniture away from the walls. I cannot figure out another way to do this.

Inventive inexpensive solutions welcomed. We sided our house last year and have to buy a new furnace this year so the furniture stays. I know there are some really creative minds out there!

"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden


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