June 21, 2011

the map wall

Before I get started whinging (and I'm going to whinge, but only for a bit) I should begin by saying that I know I'm lucky to live in New York and at the same time, have three bedrooms at my disposal. I really do. I had expected to have one really, and Will and I were fully prepared to sleep in the living room for the year. So truly, I know I'm a lucky girl.
But since we do have them...our dining room/office/school room has been driving me a little nuts. We bought a table before coming, having measured the room on our little floor plan and deciding that this one would fit and still give us plenty of room to work. But at the time we had hoped to somehow squeeze a little table for eating into the kitchen. Alas the kitchen has some space at one end but not enough to eat in, so the office/school space had to serve for dining as well. I know that we could just eat in the living room but I really, really like to have a sit down dinner every night. Even if it's a disastrous, chaotic three minutes of eating, at least we're all sitting down together, know what I mean? And while the table was a good size for a pushed-against-the-wall desk, it's a bit big as a pulled-out-from-the-wall table. But we can squeeze.

The thing that really bothered me was that it didn't feel like a dining room, or an office or a school room. It just felt blah. The shelves, which we got free off of someone moving out the week we moved in, are jam packed and too shallow to hold our things and the yellowy walls look more yellowy with the random world map and periodic table on the wall. Not pretty. And, ridiculous as it is. I like pretty. We spend a lot of time in this room, we're going to spend a lot of time in this room. So I really needed to like it, at least a little bit more.
So I did some thinking. As in, I sat in the room a lot staring at the walls. It's a good thing my kids are currently in a "don't bother us we're playing Lego's phase" because otherwise my staring at the wall would have been a bit, um, neglectful.

I liked the idea of maps, but the too colorful ones I'd bought weren't really doing it for me.
What I really wanted, I decided, was one of those cool pull down sets of maps that used to be in every high school history classroom. Funky enough to look good in a dining room, but useful too. Other than the whole, inaccuracy of old maps thing. Except wowza, those things are expensive. And heavy to ship. And totally not doable.
Happily, while I was scrolling through maps on ebay I found many, many offerings of piles of old National Geographic maps. Cheap. So I picked one and figured,what the heck, if they didn't work, I could always use them as wrapping paper. The set I bought came, coincidentally, from New Jersey, so they showed up the day after I paid for them. And after a morning of shifting chairs that had been nightstands and closet storage and some more neglectful-but-for-Lego-mania map hanging time, we had a more dining friendly space and a map wall.
And as ridiculous as it sounds, I'm so much happier now. We eat there, we play there, we study (a very little bit so far, but it's summer still) there, Evie spends hours gluing, cutting and coloring there. We like it in there. And I guess that means it was worth the stupid deco-worrying.
There are still things to do. I'm on the lookout for an armoire to replace the shelves before they fall completely apart. Something that can hold all our papers and glues and computer books and teaching materials more efficiently and maybe even have room for some more things to come. I'd like to get a few more plants for the table and a less yellow light cover would be lovely, but that will come. For now, I'm just happy not to want to cringe every night at dinner.
What do ya think? Better? Any thoughts on making it better still? What else could I use as storage? Ideas?