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Spaces

April 26, 2011

In 2008, we moved into our current apartment.  It’s the top floor of a 2-story duplex, and it is approximately 1800 or 1900 square feet.

Prior to 2008, we lived in what I call our “law school apartment.”  It was very small.  I believe it was 700 square feet.  It had 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a great room.  It was, most definitely, too small.

When we moved, the girls each got their own rooms, WD and I got an office (awesome alternative to shoving all our crap into our bedroom), and we acquired a dedicated dining room, a dedicated living room, and a full kitchen.

We had to buy tons of furniture, because we have 3x the rooms we used to have.

We still don’t fill all of the closets and drawers that are available to us.

However, just about 2 years later, I am feeling a little bit cramped again.  I’m wishing for more.  More space.

I don’t really crave a ton more space.  I crave one very specific thing:  A family room.*  A second room where people can gather and relax, watch t.v., hang out on the computer, play games, etc.  Our current living room is also on the small side, so maybe I could turn that into this family room that I want, and somehow create a living room – a bit more formal and definitely larger so I can host larger parties.

And there’s a specific reason why I want this extra room.  The kids.  The girls.  Their friends.  Their sleepovers.  Their movie-fests.  The Power Puff Girls Marathons.  Their Buffy the Vampire Slayer Viewing Parties.

I love that the girls bring their friends to our house.  Currently, Lemon and her friends are always at our house.  Every sleepover, every movie night – our house.  We never tell her no.  We are thrilled to have them at our house, and to get to know the kids and to know what they’re doing, where they are, and that they’re not getting into stuff that I’m not ready for them to get into yet.

We say yes, and then we go hide in our bedroom.

Because there’s really nowhere else to go.  So on Friday nights, instead of cuddling up and watching a movie, we’re sitting on our bed, computers or iPads on our laps, struggling to find room for Mouse if she doesn’t have plans of her own and doesn’t feel like being alone in her room, and feeling generally displaced.

Despite this cramping, no one in our family has any desire to start looking for a new place to live.  We live on the World’s Most Awesome Street.  We are central, but yet removed from the main roads.  We are mere blocks away from the elementary school and the high school.  Blocks away from the library.  We are (3) blocks away from the T stop.  The town pool is only a few steps further.  We can walk almost anywhere.

And the social aspects of our street are also outstanding.  It’s a one-way road and little-traveled by cars.  When winter lifts, the kids are in the street.  And there are a lot of kids on our street.  Both Mouse and Lemon have close friends directly across the street … Mouse has 3 close friends within shouting distance.  Our across the street neighbor is one of my close friends.  Because of the safety of our street, kids who live nearby are drawn to it.  I often come home from work in the summer, and round the corner onto our block to find 10-15 kids riding bikes or skateboards, playing games, or just sitting on our porch, doing homework.

How could we possibly leave that?  Just for a living room?

There are two possible answers:

Move Downstairs.

There is a slight chance that the first floor of our house could come available.  We just found out about the possibility a couple of weeks ago, and I do believe that it is only a sliver of a chance, but it was enough for WD and I to start thinking, making “what if” plans, and generally obsessing (classic for me; rare for him).  This would be a solution because the first floor comes with a finished basement, which has 2 bedrooms and a large common area that would be perfect for a kid hang-out space.  Absolutely perfect.  Also, there is enough space in general that I would have my separate office, and we would have a guest room. Drawbacks are (a) it’s just a sliver of a chance, (b) I don’t love the overall layout of the house, and (c) it’s more rent than we’re currently paying.  I just brought the possibility up with WD again last night, and I said, “I don’t know, maybe even if it comes available, I’d prefer to stay here ….”  He pushed back on that.  Because of the extra space.  I guess the question is whether extra space balances out a, b and c.  It very well may.

Capitalize the Space We Have.

Our bedrooms are HUGE.  Mouse’s is a little smaller, but it’s still a great size.  The previous renters actually used Lemon’s room as the living room, but we chose to make it a bedroom because it was across the house from the kitchen/dining room, and I didn’t think it made sense.  We are thinking about plans that allow for us to double up the bedrooms as these hang-out spaces.

We are looking at a loft bed for Lemon which would allow for her desk to be underneath, and then she’d have a ton of space for a couch and some chairs.  The biggest problem with this, as I see it, is the idea of putting a t.v. in her room, so they would actually want to hang out in there.  We have a t.v. in there now, but it doesn’t stay hooked up to cable or plugged in.  We only hook it up for her if she has friends over.  That t.v., however, is from the 1990s, and is small.  The one in our living room is a huge-ass flat screen HD television that is absolutely gorgeous.  Who would choose the tiny t.v.?  No one.  But if we’re going to make her room more conducive to gathering, I need her to choose her room. We do have another t.v., which is currently disconnected in my bedroom, which is larger, but not flat-screen and not HD.  (I do not worry that she will have it on all the time – she is very good at observing our rules, which will be that it is only to be used when friends are over.)

Similar changes can be made in Mouse’s room, although she’ll end up with considerably less space.  We are talking about getting rid of some book shelves, getting a (very) small couch, and some bean bag chairs.

Our room is the same size as Lemon’s, but we are not interested in a loft bed (ha!)  I had been talking for some time about putting a nice reading chair by my bed, but it hasn’t reached the top of our priority list.  Now that we’re trying to figure this out, we’re looking at a pair of them.  I’m thinking about something like this.  But the chair I used to want was a chair-and-a-half from this line.  And I kind of still want it.  Problem is everywhere that I used to be able to buy them has gone out of business! Stupid economy.

I guess we’ll slowly work on capitalizing on the space we have, and if it ends up that the downstairs opens up, and we choose to grab it for ourselves, we will be able to use any new furniture in that larger space.

I do wish I could have stayed content for a little longer than 2 years.

*  However.  If I were to create a  wish list, I would add to it (1) a second office so we don’t have to share; (2) a guest room; and (3) another bathroom.  But these things aren’t enough to make me whine.  They’re just “if I win the lottery” sorts of thoughts.

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