I’ve never liked my living room. The bad feng shui that still existed in my fixer-upper had created a vortex in this small, boxy area with an awkward brick flue that once functioned in 1900, but now just took up valuable real estate. Cast iron radiators prevented any decent-sized furniture from comfortably hugging the walls, and everything had been finagled and squeezed into a floor plan that seemed written in stone.
A behemoth of a television set from 1992, once state-of-the-art technology and perfectly in proportion to my pre-war Brooklyn apartment, now dominated the space. Only used for playing DVDs, it was kept out of the landfill by my determination to make it earn its keep until it died, or until I could justify/afford a HD flat screen. Sitting on a hulking, junk store cabinet, both were angled in a way announcing that they were biding time until a sleeker, sexier appliance gave my old Mitsubushi the boot. All redecorating had come to a halt.
Meanwhile, a round coffee table bellied into the already meager floor area. I had a meditation shelf but no way to face it directly from my yoga mat. Instead, I found my downward dog facing the television. Again, Buddha-defyingly bad feng shui was at work.
Recently I decided to challenge my assumption that this layout limbo was my lot in life. Winter was approaching, and I’d be spending ample time here in the evenings. I didn’t want to spend another year tossing back red wine under a quilt while watching Netflix episodes of “Dexter.” I wanted to light candles and incense, and assume shoulder stands and lie in shivasana pose.
Moving the coffee table into the corner as I jockeyed the cabinet with the TV out of its stubborn position was a challenge, but now I was on a mission. With the adrenalin rush of mother lifting a car off her child, I somehow hoisted, then plunked the TV onto the round lacquered surface in the corner without ripping out cable cords or neck tendons. Next I pushed the cabinet to the adjacent wall where I finally saw it as it was meant to be seen. With applications of lemon oil and elbow grease, it assumed a glow and a dignity for a whole new role: a showcase for my favorite stuff. A mid-century modern lamp. A favorite flea market painting plus a nude sketch I had done my first year in art school. My coffee table books, and some cherished tchotchkas.
A more compact coffee table was assembled from objects I already had. I sat down to observe the new terrain and beamed. After far too many years, my living room had finally become a room for living.
It is three weeks later. A backgammon board often covers the new coffee table as I relearn a game I was addicted to thirty years ago, and also teach Neil. A yoga mat unfurls to receive my downward facing dog and two curious cats. Candles are lit, and I curl up on the sofa and bask in contentment. What had I done, in only one hour?
All I did was be open to creating a change, and work with what I already have.