The New Couch
Turning the world upside down
A couple of years ago, we scrounged a couch from one of our sons. We wanted to replace one in the living room that is badly worn. But we hadn't gotten around to it, because it would be a major undertaking just to get the two couches moved. This is the story of how we did it.
In order to move a couch from the den to the living room, we had to completely rearrange most of the contents of the house. I wish you better luck if you try this! (Oh, and some people, like us, will use this as an EXCUSE to do lots of other stuff besides moving one piece of furniture.) Moving everything in the house takes a lot of energy, not something people in their 70's usually have lots of. But for some reason, we got the impetus, and I found energy I didn't know I had, and we're doing it, after years of procrastination.
The couch we are moving is replacing one that is worn past acceptability. It's not in great shape (I have to figure out how to hide all those stains on the white upholstery, which isn't my favorite color to begin with). But we'll make it work, and we still have the throws we put on the furniture when company comes.
The couch was one that one of our sons retrieved next to the dumpster of his apartment complex. And when he moved, he wanted to throw it out again, but we talked him into letting us have it instead. Along with that, he gave us a mattress, a desk, and an ottoman, oh, and a small bookshelf. We can always use another bookshelf. We have around 30,000 books in our personal collection. Will I get them all read? Not in this lifetime! But I have read a couple thousand of them, so I got a good start. If they figure out a longevity gene, I'll read a thousand more. :)
We had the disadvantage that even though we have a large home, one year everything got dumped on us. We got my mother-in-law's worldly goods, including three rooms of furniture and a bunch of boxes in which she stored stuff. We got half the office furniture from an office with 16 rooms. And we got all the books and papers of a good friend of mine. And by the time we moved all that stuff into our house, we had so little room to turn around there was no way we were going to sift through any of that. But I was able to get one room largely emptied out, and that helped. It has been the dumping place for everything whenever we re-arrange anything.
All pictures are mine. This one is the new couch, sitting and waiting. The plastic was to keep the cat from damaging it. The cat used up his 9 lives about a year ago, so we don't try TOO hard to keep it completely covered.
Update: because of the amount of JUNK we are uncovering, we got a rolloff. This is one of those huge metal thingies that hold a lot of trash. You usually see them at construction sites. The old couch will go in there, and probably a mattress, plus trash and other whatnot. And because of this, my husband decided that the day after we move the furniture, he will clean out the pantry. We had some boxed food in there, and the mice were getting into it, so I bought a heavy-duty plastic drawer unit and put all the boxed food into it. The derned mice chewed a HOLE through the plastic on the top corner, and got in there and ate it all anyway. So cleanup should produce a lot of contents for the rolloff.
All phoitos mine, of course.
We first built our current house when we still had seven children living at home. We wanted it to be large enough to hold them and their possessions AND our huge book collection. We wanted it to be spacious. At the time, we were fairly prosperous, though we have never really had money to burn. We were able to buy our land outright, and we never had a mortgage on the house. That said, we did have to take out a mortgage on part of our land to pay property tax, and eventually sold half of it for the same reason. Property tax ate up the majority of our property! From the sale of the land, we kept only about $3000. The rest went to pay taxes and mortgage. That's highway robbery. And before too long, income became very erratic, and since that time we have had maybe two good years out of 30. The rest of the time, we struggled to supply basic necessities.
The house isn't finished, and probably won't be until someone buys it somewhere down the line. We have no money to finish it, and finishing it would raise our taxes. So the trick is to make it livable as-is.
Much of what we own we got second hand. Most of our books are second hand. (We decided to spend the same amount that smoking two packs a day would have cost the two of us, on books instead, and it has stayed pretty constant over the years). Just to show you how doggone EXPENSIVE smoking really is, please note that spending our cigarette money on books has resulted in a collection of over 30,000 books (and I have heard stories about people who have done things like buying a Ferrari with what they saved.) Most of our clothing is second hand. I love the selection!
So after awhile, and most of the children had left home, in one year, we inherited so much stuff that it completely filled the house with no real room to move around. We've been whittling everything down since then. And the time has come to empty the mobile home we got when we started this project, and have it removed. So all that stuff will come up to the house, most of it in the next few days. And that's what's behind the decision to move the couch.
In order to move the couch, I had to empty all the stuff in the hall that had piled there because there was no place else to put it. I had to empty most of the front entryway. We have one bedroom we're using for storage of that stuff, and it is now full. Even the doorway is full. I then re-arranged the entryway and pushed all the bins back against the front wall. These will eventually get moved to the master bedroom when that gets finished enough. But for now, they'll remain where they are. They don't block the front door, because there isn't even a porch in front of it, and the dirt is only halfway up to the level of the bottom of the door. So we're not using it anyway.
So how do we survive under such circumstances? Well we have other interests that keep us occupied and out of trouble.
So this is the story about how moving ONE piece of furniture resulted in a total rearrangement of major parts of the house, and made things much more livable. Maybe we'll even feel we can invite company. We'll see.
The Long Hall
This hall is over 100 feet long. That's long enough so that moving anything down it becomes a long haul. ;) It was designed to be exceptionally wide so we had room for bookshelves on both sides. And the entire hall (except for closets and doorways) is lined with bookshelves. They are all full.
One of the walls of this hall is made up of a mass wall of rammed earth 18 inches thick. This mass wall collects heat to disperse throughout the house when it is cold. The entire house is passively solar heated, and one can open windows at night in summer to cool it. There is no central heat or air conditioner in the house.
I didn't take pictures before I cleared the junk out of the hall. I'm not sure I would have survived the experience! It was SO bad it shouldn't be shared with anyone.
So why did we need to clear the hall? Because we will move some furniture from the mobile home to the master bedroom, for storage, and people have to be able to get through. But it's not really the reason for all this, and it's not about the couch we are moving.
The Old CouchClick thumbnail to view full-size
The living room is a place for relaxing and visiting friends. On the left side, you see the shelves that hold our CD collection, mostly classical music. There is also a bookshelf with coffee table books. The display cabinet behind the couch is a gift from a friend. We have lots of beautiful chachkas there that I have collected over the years. You'll see photos of some of these in some of my other lenses. The organ pipes go with the organ behind the display cabinet. It's an electronic organ, but the pipes are fitted with speakers and intended to amplify the sound. They're not hooked up. Several years ago, one day when I was playing the organ, the main speaker caught fire (too much dust had gathered on it, and the heat from the cone ignited it). It scared the heck out of me. The organ is no longer usable. :( To the right of the organ is my Knabe grand piano. It badly needs tuning, but I lost my tuning hammer, and some of the pins need to be replaced. The dry Arizona air dried out the holes, making them slightly larger, so the pins will slip quickly out of tune. Next to the organ are shelves full of music books.
On top of the display case are rocks, mostly quartz crystal clusters and calcite. I put them there because we wanted to keep the cat out of the living room, and he would jump from the balcony railing onto the top of the cabinet to get into the room when we had the door closed. He didn't like the rocks, so that was the end of THAT behavior.
Working on Moving the CouchClick thumbnail to view full-size
These are various parts of the house where things had to be moved to make room for the couch to go through. The work is already in progress. Before I started, the place was literally too full for me to be able to get far enough back to take a picture of anything.
The couch will come through the kitchen and be turned into the hall, and we will take advantage of the high cathedral ceilings to put one end up high enough so that it is not so "long". Once in the hall, it will go through the doorway into the front entrance, where again there is a high ceiling, and it can then be turned and carried down the two steps into the sunken living room.
In one photo of the entryway, you can see a circular window. You can also see that the walls are 2 feet thick. This is a wonderful way to build in the desert, because it keeps the house an even temperature day and night, and within the comfort range. I have a stained glass design planned for the circular window, which I will make myself. The window itself was custom built, and is made of plastic, not glass. Next to the window, I will build a fountain sculpture, and run water through it. It will keep the living room even more pleasant with a little humidity and ions.
Our son wanted to use the little desk, so we let him take it back to his apartment.
The front bedroom requires repairs to the wiring, so for the time being, it's not usable. The packrats got into the ceiling and chewed the wires. There are a lot of destructive critters in the desert, and we got our fill of them. Now that we no longer have a cat, we have been able to deal with the rodent problem effectively. Though the cat was a good mouser, they had babies faster than he could catch them.
These little critters are fine, OUTSIDE. When they get into MY space, that's another story!
Would you re-arrange an entire house just to move one piece of furniture?
The Art in the Living Room - The room for the new couchClick thumbnail to view full-size
Above are photos of the art in the room where the new couch will go. I have a couple more pieces to hang. One is a rhombus in reds with a little yellow, of a tall-masted ship in sunset. Another is an embroidery from China of a peacock. Another is an Escher print. I want to hang a couple of things our older daughter made. And I have a couple of works of my own, fractal art, that I want to hang. Finally, I have a couple of very nice small rugs one of our sons brought back from Iraq, which I intend to hang. A good living room has lovely art.
The fan is, if I recall correctly, six feet long. I really like the design; they chose the gift well.
The couple who did an archaeological dig in Guatemala was a couple we met playing Go, the board game. I have a lens on that as well. They had a nearly totally black cat named Sumi. "Sumi" is the Japanese word for black ink. I've always been partial to black cats, because their hair looks really glossy. We never were able to acquire a totally black cat, but this one had very little white. He was a nice cat. We agreed to take care of him, and when the couple came back, they gave us this wonderful tapestry, and said we could keep the cat, because now he knew us better than he knew them. We readily agreed. He was our first family cat, one of many, though he lived out his life before we acquired any of the others. Maybe I'll talk about him sometime. The colors in the piece are my favorite. They had no way of knowing that, but they chose well.
Nothing special to tell about the paintings. There was a vendor in the shopping mall selling these. People who can paint fairly well make these, from previous designs. Because they're hand-painted, each is a little different from the others, but they're not masterpieces, and they're certainly not unique. Still, I like them. :)
The day after we got the rolloff, and started taking bags of trash out to it, we quickly realized we wouldn't come close to getting all the bags out unless we took out the couch and put it in first. But the couch was too heavy for us to move by ourselves, so my husband decided to dismantle it. This photo shows what it looked like when a number of pieces had been removed and taken out. He quit for the day. Most of it is done.
The photos below show the rolloff. The first view shows all the bags of trash we have taken out so far. The other view shows the pieces of the couch that have already been taken out.
Guess what we found under the couch. A mouse nest! A big one! They had stolen much of the stuffing in the couch to make it.
And I have my battle wounds. I dropped a piece of the couch on my toe, and got a nasty bruise in the toenail. Unfortunately, I learned later, I did more than just bruise the nail. It appears to have kicked the bucket (literally, perhaps?) and I have a thick nail, which I have been removing a piece at a time. There is a very thin protective layer over the nail bed. Perhaps in time it will become a real nail. Fortunately, it's not bothering me.
It will be so nice when we get everything cleaned up. We seem to have gotten rid of the mice. Now we just have to get rid of the damage.
If I recall correctly, this rolloff holds 15 cubic yards. We have enough to fill it, with the trash we collected allovertheplace. As you can see, there is barely enough room for a few more bags in the last photo. I put a few more in, and have a few more to go. It really WILL be completely full.
After the New CouchClick thumbnail to view full-size
We really got carried away. Because we were getting two of our sons out to the house to move the couch, we rented a U-Haul truck, and brought up all the rest of the furniture from the mobile home. When we get the junk cleaned out, we will see if we can afford to have it removed. We put it there originally to live in while we built the house. The house was completely built by family members except we hired someone to lay the foundation and slab, and we had a crew from a local builder to put up the outside walls and the roof. Our oldest son was involved with the crew in that project.
When the inspector came to approve one of our inspections, he noticed that all the floor beams in the house were not only nailed in place in the usual manner, but they also had brackets. This is highly unusual in homebuilding these days, and he said that the job we did exceeded what he usually saw when he inspected. Needless to say, we passed the inspection. Family members put up all the framing, drywall, and electrical wiring. Family members have laid tile floors (some floors still need tile or carpet).
After we started this project, we ran out of money, so we had to take it slow for a number of years. During that time, until the house had actual rooms, we continued to live in the mobile home. Normally in our zone, we can have a TRAILER for six months during construction of a home. But this was a full-blown mobile home, 20x55'. All nine of us lived there for several years. It was tight, and as we finished stuff, some of the children moved up to the house and had their own room or shared a bedroom with one other person. Eventually, some neighbor took exception to us having a "trailer" there for more than six months. However, we had cleared it with the building department that as long as we kept an active building permit, we could keep it there. Because of the complaint, we were charged with four misdemeanors (each day is a separate misdemeanor, and they chose to charge us based on what a county employee actually observed, I think). It was a criminal complaint, but the original complaint from a neighbor was anonymous.
Ever hear of anyone beating city hall? We did! We fought in court, representing ourselves (because we couldn't afford a lawyer) and got a really strong decision in our favor. We argued estoppel, state code and wording of city ordinance (a dwelling is allowed in our zone, and a mobile home is a dwelling), and one other item (which I can't think of just this minute), and won on all three grounds. We have had the thing there for over three decades, due to misfortunes beyond our control, and it's time we got rid of it. Here's hoping we can do it soon. I want to put a Japanese garden where it is now.
So this is how changing one piece of furniture in one room (the only one in THAT room that changed) turned into a major overhaul of the entire house! Be careful! These little projects can grow like Topsy if you're not.
Just Some Do-It-Yourself Books I Found
I have a beef about interior decorators. They will make your home look like it should be published in Better Homes and Gardens, but will you LIKE the things they choose? Probably not. It's fashionable to have really UGLY, discordant paintings in a person's home, for example. That's what the art critics like. I don't. I refuse to have such junk where it can unsettle my mind and produce spiritual discord anywhere NEAR the places I see each day with my eyes. So, forget the interior decorators, choose what you LIKE, and you'll be much happier.
I like Danish modern furniture, conceptual sculptures, fractal art, Asian paintings, and stuff like that, so that's what you'll find in my home. And old pieces of furniture we scrounged, because we couldn't buy something better at the time.
Do It Yourself: DIY Ideas (Better Homes and Gardens) (Better Homes and Gardens Decorating)
by Better Homes and Gardens
Do it yourself Interior Design: How to Decorate your Home like a Professional
by Greg Howard
Do It Yourself: Kitchens: Stunning Spaces on a Shoestring Budget (Better Homes and Gardens) (Better Homes and Gardens Decorating)
by Better Homes and Gardens
Interior Design It Yourself: Room by Room
by Charlotte Brown
by Julie Carlson