My next crazy reno idea

If you know me, you know that if I’m not drinking wine, I’m drinking coffee.

And I’ve been at Starbucks a lot more than usual lately drinking an obscene amount of coffee to earn game plays in the Starbucks for Life contest.

While I didn’t win (damn you one missing game piece!) I also didn’t sleep much over the past three weeks (see obscene amounts of coffee mentioned above), giving me ample time and caffeinated energy to consider my next home renovation project.

So here’s the plan: I’m turning my living room into a Starbucks.

Hear me out…

I’ve struggled with our living room since we moved into our house. Originally, we furnished it and treated it as the traditional, formal living room it was meant to be. Translation: we never used it.

Later, when the kids came on the scene, we swapped out the coffee table for a Thomas the Train table, traded in the bookshelves for IKEA toy storage and used it as a playroom. That worked great for a few years, but as the kids got older and I started working from home, we transferred the playroom to the basement and set up an office space in the living room for me.

Because it was still technically the “living room,” however, we kept the sofa, chairs, end tables, coffee table, etc., in there along with my new desk and bookshelves. And oh, yes, the piano. There also happens to be a 5-foot baby grand piano sitting in the front window and taking up a good third of the space.

Instead of “living room” we could call it “the over-stuffed and under-used room.” Aside from my daughter using it to practice piano (when she can reach it) and me using it for work (which, more often than not, I take to the dining room table for a little breathing space), we rarely go in there.

So for the past couple of years, I’ve been toying with different ideas of what this room could and should be, moving furniture in and out and around, and rearranging artwork. But sitting in Starbucks today (go figure!) I had a revelation. Obviously, a traditional set-up in the living room just isn’t for us. We have a perfectly comfy family room complete with sofa, chairs, coffee table, end tables, TV and fireplace that we spend most of our time in. So why not take some inspiration from one of my other favourite places to be, and apply it to my living room?

Here’s what I’d like to do:

  • Trade in my office-y computer desk for a counter height, long, slim table and bar stools (like they have in the Starbucks window). This could serve not only as a great place to perch and work for me, or for the kids to do their homework, but also as extra seating when we have family or friends for dinner instead of the dreaded kids’ table.
  • Put cubby-like square shelves on the wall over my desk for my reference materials (like Starbucks has behind the counter to display bags of coffee).
  • Set up a “conversation pit” (the primo seats at Starbucks that people (and by “people” I mean “me”) are willing to hover over and let their lattes go cold for): a pair or two of comfy stuffed chairs facing each other over one or two small tables. That way, if the adults want to enjoy a coffee (or glass of wine) we might find ourselves gravitating there instead of the family room where the TV, the Wii and the kids are sure to be.
  • Work in lots of texture à la Starbucks décor: stone or brickwork (maybe an accent wall behind the piano), wood in varying grains, and modern rustic metal and wood furniture. Maybe even a funky horizontal tile “backsplash” between the counter and the cubbies…
  • Add in multiple sources of lighting for atmosphere (a combination of pot lights, pendant lights, track lights, and spotlights over artwork–and maybe a small crystal pendant over the piano–to replace our one sad, overworked halogen floor lamp).

Of course, once I get going on one reno idea, it inevitably leads to another. There’s no way I could redecorate the living room and not also redecorate the adjacent dining room…

  • A set of three low-hanging industrial pendants instead of our old-school chandelier would turn our dining room table into the large work table some Starbucks offer.
  • My china cabinet (currently housing crafts the kids don’t do and dishes I don’t use) could be replaced by wall-to-wall cubby bookshelves (matching those over the counter-style desk in the living room), giving it the “library” feel I’ve always envied.
  • And, finally, I’ve always wanted a coffee bar in the kitchen (a full-on set-up for my coffee pot, espresso machine, kettle, mugs, cups, and all hot beverage-related supplies). But maybe this could be incorporated into the dining room as well (there’s a side board in there that I only use to store placemats and napkins; surely that could be repurposed!)

So maybe it’s not exactly a Starbucks, but Starbucks is certainly the inspiration behind my vision: a relaxed, comfortable, piano lounge-y, coffee shopish kinda room that I’d actually enjoy working and hanging out in.

Do you have a unused or misused room in your house? What would your dream room be?

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3 thoughts on “My next crazy reno idea

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