Let’s back up a tiny bit and tell this story from the beginning.

Friday Night:

This is living room’s before. Exposure to this room would be fatal to a low level decorator. We haven’t shown this room the love that we have the rest of the house.

I didn’t pretty it up for these “befores” and this is how it typically looks. It’s a junk drop and a laundry depot, complete with Amazon boxes, stuff to donate, car accessories, a card table, and some My Little Ponies. Hey, at least it’s convenient!

I cringe when people come inside and see how empty this room is. “But, furniture is expensive…” I’d say. Especially furniture you don’t even use every day.

But since Karl the Kouch is on its way, ole Puffy is going to move into this room!




Saturday Morning, 8:30:

The movers are here! They shrink wrapped the couch (at my request – I provided the moving wrap) and pushed its fat puffy butt out the back slider door and into the back yard. It was definitely a tight squeeze. Did the couch get bigger since we moved it in? lol.

Here’s Puffy going through the backyard:


The whole process of moving the couch from the family room to the living room was over and done with in a matter of minutes – signing the release forms took longer than actually moving it.

Still, I’m glad we hired movers. It’s just not worth risking our backs struggling with the couch. Sometimes it’s good to hire help.

Boom, here it is:


Saturday Morning, 9:00:

The movers left just in time for the IKEA truck to arrive with Karl. IKEA sent two guys to assemble it and they were done in about an hour. (Jim and I finished building our new bookshelf in the living room while they worked.)

Assembly was worth every one of those $39. And the room just swallowed the couch! This had the unexpected side effect of making the 37″ TV look really small, but we’ll get to that later.


Saturday Afternoon:

I pushed the old bookshelf and donation stuff to the corner and made the rest as good as I could get it with strategic application of throw pillows and folding chairs. The folding chairs will become fancy accent chairs with awesome fabric patterns at some point in the (very) distant future. I have a hard time justifying spending money on non-essential furniture. This is why we have so little furniture. :)

The bookcase came together beautifully. At $400 this is one of the most expensive bookshelf choices at IKEA, but the $60 bookshelves looked cheap and didn’t have the nice option to add doors. We were ready to buy a quality piece of furniture for this room, and I’m glad we went for it. The doors are hiding the rest of our board-game collection. :D





As for the family room…

Our seven year old TV really was dwarfed by the new couch and the general size of this room and hard to see from further back. The Olevia is still a great TV, but it’s from an era where we lived in an 1000 sq. ft home and our income was less than half what it is now.

So we took the plunge, spent some of that New Furniture savings we’ve been building up, and brought home this beautiful baby:



37″ Before:


60″ After:



I feel so very privileged! (Warning: soapbox time) I love this TV, and it’s great to have nice things, but I’m a little embarrassed because conspicuous consumption (and consumption in general) is very much not my thing. I know we live at a high standard of living, but not everyone in the world, or this country, or even my own city, lives well. That deeply upsets me.

I donate to homeless charities, give away everything we don’t need, and vote for social support, but it’s not enough. Every day we drive by at least one person holding a sign begging for money. How unfair is that? Alas, this is where my mind goes when I acquire something nice.

As we were hauling it in from the car, a neighbor walking by took one look and said, “Once you go 60 inch, you never go back! Hah!”. I guess huge TVs and new cars are like a joke everyone else in the neighborhood is in on. We are not comfortable with luxury yet. We may never be.

But we will enjoy our new family room and living room. :)


Total project cost: $2800

Karlstad IKEA couch + delivery + assembly: $1000

Movers for existing couch: $120

Sharp 60″ TV: $1200

IKEA Bookshelf + Doors: $400

$2800 to make-over two rooms and add a brilliant new TV to our home is an awesome price that even a tightwad like me can feel good about. This is totally doable if you sock away some savings each month, and I’m hoping our choices here will last us for many years to come.

The 37″ Olevia’s moving upstairs to fill a corner in the computer room. We’re going to hook up the Nintendos and use it as a dedicated retro gaming television. I have a game of Chrono Trigger I started last year before we moved the small TV out the garage, so I’m eager to set up a TV in here again and pick up where I left off. :)


Best Couch for Our Budget: IKEA’s Karlstad

We bought a couch!!

What? Yeah, I am surprised too. :D  Our new Karlstad from IKEA is our first furniture purchase since buying our home two and a half years ago(!!!).

On break during work, Jim and I walk through Bellevue Square which has no shortage of extremely expensive couches on display. I’m talking $7500-$12000. Seriously, who spends that on a couch? That’s car territory.

But this got us talking about how we’d love a larger couch: one we can both stretch out on, and one that can accommodate a third person so we aren’t stuffed like sardines when Dad comes to visit.

So we went couch-hunting at My Home and a few other neighborhood stores. All of these stores wanted a lot of money for their couches, like $3000-$5000. I suppose I could *theoretically* spend that much on a couch, but I don’t want to. A couch isn’t worth that kind of money to me. My last one was $700 and it’s great, just too small.

Alas, this is when we realized that Jim and I like very different things in a couch. He wants something to sit on, something with support. I want a mushy bed to melt into. And we both dislike spending more than a thousand or so bucks on this. Realizing this, we shelved the idea again for a couple months.

Then we ended up at IKEA to return an unneeded desk leg.

We sat on some couches. We sat on Karlstad. It happened.


Couch nirvana.

Jim loves it. I love it.

We both love its price.

$900 for the whole thing? What? How is this possible, IKEA? Don’t you know stores 10 miles north in Bellevue want $7000 for an uncomfortable couch half this size? And that’s about when I realized that Young House Love has the exact same couch and raves about it regularly. SOLD!

Karlstad didn’t fit in the Subie so it’ll be delivered Saturday, plus we bought assembly for $39. I’ve never bought assembly of anything before (I even build my own computers!) but $39 seemed like a bargain when weighed against the misery of spending Saturday putting a couch together.

We bought a bookshelf to put together instead.


December 2013 update: We still adore our Karl couch!  The cushions have stayed firm and crisp, and the cushion covers still fit tightly.  If I have any complaint at all about our Karl couch, it’s that we both seem to spend more time on the couch now that we can both lay on it at the same time!

Free Redecorating: Flip a Room

The family room (okay, all our rooms) are pretty thrown together – they’re just full of the stuff we still have after multiple moves and everything is where we decided to put it on the hectic move-in day. The couch is from 2006 – it was the very first thing I bought for my apartment when I moved closer to my first job.

Anyway, now that we’ve been here two and a half years, there’s some bandwidth for thinking about the way rooms are arranged and potentially upgrading some of the furniture. I hate to get rid of perfectly useful stuff (I’m also super cheap), so I wanted to see if just moving furniture around would make me feel better about the room. That’s free and easy.

Here’s the original arrangement:


Here’s the new arrangement (+grubs on the mantle):


This is nice, I like it.

I like that the TV and fireplace are more of a set and a centerpiece to the room. I’m sure an interior decorator somewhere is cringing, but it’s hard to argue with a free room refresh via re-arranged furniture.

We also used this as an excuse to further thin out our book collection. Go to your bookshelf and find three things you’ll never read again. Remove them. Feels good, doesn’t it? Do it a few more times, and now you have room for new books!! :D

Other Rooms We’ve Flipped:

Dining room – rotating the table 90 degrees opened up new “traffic” patterns and improved the view for both of us!

Family room (apartment) – flipping the whole room 180 degrees put the TV in front of the fireplace, but improved traffic flow and lighting.

Bedroom (my first apartment) – changing which wall the bed was on improved airflow and made the closet more accessible.

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