Originally Published on 4/22/19
Redecorating: cheaper than therapy and equally as effective. In my case at least. I updated my living room from a cardboard tan color to navy blue and that alone made SUCH a difference in the feel of the room, then I added new furniture, and what once was a space that constantly reminded me of what I lost, is now a space I can make new memories and move forward with my life on my own terms.
My living room was the place we all hung out all the time when Jason was alive. Jason’s spot on the couch was on the left facing the tv, mine was on the right. We had a fold down cup holder section in the middle that was always a source of mild eye-twitching for me because it was a dust and clutter magnet. He named the lights above each of our heads Han and Leia (most of my house is smart and controllable with my phone or voice, so we got a kick out of saying, “Alexa, turn Leia on”). The other spots on the couch were up for grabs, but even though there was space for everyone, the little kids usually just made a blanket fort on the floor to watch tv or movies at night. On the weekends, Jason would watch sports and I’d have my laptop out either working on my side hustle or doing grad school stuff sitting on the couch. I’d look to my left and he’d make a silly face or flip me off then smile. Some week nights he would lay on the long part of the sofa and drift in and out of sleep before he actually went to bed – same on lazy weekend days.
I have so many memories of our crew in that room. Watching shows and movies on weekend nights. Everyone convening in there before we left to go somewhere. Watching the big kids play with the little kids. Jason and I having a low key New Year’s. Me getting mad at him for sleeping on the couch while I did chores and stuff. Him getting mad at me for waking him up. Netflix and chill. Chatting with his mom when she lived with us. Parties we threw. The cat tearing up the couch with her talons. The time I kicked a bouncy ball and broke Jason’s laptop – not one of the kids, I did that. He wanted to be mad, but because it was such a funny freak accident, he couldn’t.
In the months after he died, the giant sectional became a source of anger for me. I bought it when we first moved into this house so that we could all have a place to sit. I wanted us to be a big weird family, to feel all connected and cared for, and that means everybody has a place to park their butt. And we were a big weird family, until he died. He was the glue that kept us all together. In the weeks after he died, the kids had moved out of my house and in with their mom and I was left with memories and the task of rebuilding my life. Don’t get me wrong, memories are great. I loved being a big weird family and I still keep in touch with the kids. But eventually those memories started to piss me off, and my house turned into a reminder of everything that was gone. Looking at that big stupid couch was such an emotional trigger that I didn’t even like being in or looking at my living room. I avoided it and stopped hanging out in there.
Then one day, I woke up. Or maybe I got woke. Maybe both. I realized I have the power to change my surroundings. If it’s not working for me, I’ll make it work for me. So I set out to earn a little extra cash (hookin’, obv) so I could redo the room. I knew I wanted it to have feminine touches but not be too girly. I wanted a little bit of edge to it, but still feel inviting. I wanted it to be modern, but comfortable. I wanted it to be me.
The color is Naval and I always use Valspar Signature paint from Lowe’s when I paint interior walls. It’s my favorite – this dark color only took one coat. Because my living room has so much natural light, the dark doesn’t make the room look smaller like it would if there weren’t so many windows. Before you choose a dark color, think about whether or not you’ll have enough natural light to balance it out.
I already had all of the pillows and blankets (but I got them at Homegoods back when I bought them), the drawing desk from my childhood, the table in-between the brown chairs and the mid-century modern tv stand – which is actually a dresser. I got it at an antique store years and years ago and I still love it today.
One thing I would eventually like to do is change out the carpet to either wood or wood tile. That wasn’t in my budget this time around, but my house is always a work in progress. Do you ever plan your next project while you’re doing your current project? I realized my kitchen doesn’t match now, so I’m going to paint the walls and cabinets in there. That will take MUCH longer than a weekend, but won’t break the bank when it comes to my budget. Painting cabinets is fairly inexpensive and a good way to update them, but it’s time consuming AF.
If I were to describe myself in a styled accent table top, this would be it. Books about art and pop culture, my son, plants, and pretty things that might otherwise be scary or weird. The skull planter is allegedly going to grow a cactus. We’ll see.
Y’all, everything I did to the room – paint and all of the new furniture – cost a fraction of what that big, stupid, broken, cat scratching post of a sectional originally cost me. But it’s not so much about the money, but rather it’s about how I feel now. It’s the emotional cost that had me in the red. By spending a weekend painting and putting together a new couch I got online, I tripled, quadrupled, quintupled the emotional value of the room. Now my living room makes me happy. Looking at it makes me smile. I still have the fun memories of Jason and the kids, but I’m rebuilding and moving forward at the same time, rather than staying stuck in the past life I no longer have.
There are still touches of Jason and our life together – I’ll incorporate good memories and things that make me smile everywhere. The left painting was a gift from a friend after Jason died. It’s us dressed as Han and Leia looking at the sunset on Tatooine and it’s perfect. The monkey flipping us off was a Christmas gift from Jason one year, and thinking about how much he laughed when I opened it makes me smile. Our Vegas wedding picture is on the tv stand and the Loki helmet he made for my son is on top of the honeycomb shelf. He’s part of me and always will be. The difference is that I’m choosing exactly how to carry forward with his memory, rather than feeling stuck under the weight of of it.
It’s important to get your mind right. Do what you have to do to have a healthy mindset and outlook, then the rest will fall into place. Recognize what triggers negativity with you, and cut it out – it could be friends, influencers you can’t relate to, or in my case, a big ugly couch.
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