Monica Bielanko
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The Living Room

There is this one blog I keep reading that is, like, a total trainwreck. It wasn't always that way. This woman used to be clever and mellow, well, relatively mellow. Now she is dealing with some tough stuff that I hesitate to write about in any detail for fear of identifying her... But I find myself clicking over to her blog a lot, hoping for an update. The reason I do this is quite shallow but I'm admitting it here.

Her absolute loss of perspective and nosedive into nuttiness makes me feel better about myself. And also I kind of love her for her brutal if ill-advised honesty. Still. What an asshole I am. I totally know I'm an asshole, I don't need you to tell me that but you can if you want.

Also, I'm just killing time while these pictures of my living room upload and I can show you what we've done to the place. If you remember, the living room used to be carpeted. Wait, there's a photo somewhere of the living room when we rented the house (sight unseen), hang on a sec and I'll go find it so as to jog your memory and such.

Okay so yes, I found the photo. Here is the living room as it was when we rented the home:

Thar she blows. The living room. Now, remember, I hit the landlord jackpot. The two industrious lords of my land ripped up the carpet before I even moved here. They also repainted the walls, those glorious landlording bastards did.

All this made the living room makeover the easiest of all our projects. Basically, all we added was a new couch, a coffee table, end tables and some curtains. I went with blue. Blue curtains and pillows, I mean. Yes, blue. Again. Just like the bathroom and just like the kids' playroom which I'll show you tomorrow. But, you know, fuck it. I like blue and I don't think you walk into our house and think blue... But, well, you can be the judge of that.

That there is a view of the living room from the dining room. The awesome thing about this house is that there are huge, solid wood doors in every room. You can shut doors and not hear a peep even though the Fresh Beat Band is at top volume mere feet away. This is sanity-saving, I tell you.

Okay so come in a bit closer and notice that I decided to put our television on the larger wall instead of in the little nook where the previous tenants had their TV. I put one of our bookshelves there. Serge and I are still locked in a debate over whether to hang the TV on the wall or leave it as is... I prefer it as is - what do you think? Here's another view of the room in which I devote many hours to watching my Real Housewives of Wherever.

Couches the color of dirt is a key component of parenting. And dog ownership. Also: leather. Durable, easy to wipe off. Trust me. Microfiber is bullshit.

Now listen, I'm showing you these photos a bit prematurely. We still have a large mirror we want to hang over the couch instead of that painting and we wanna add some other artwork. I want to get one of these, which I'm totally in love with, and hang it somewheres prominent. Maybe over the TV?

Below Max showcases the rug we've dragged around with us for the past five years. But hey! It has a bit of blue in it which is nice. And actually? This rug is kickass. It has every color in it so if I wanted to switch it up and have pops of red and yellow in the living room it works with that shit too!

Dammit! Are those scratches on my Target coffee table already? Sonuvabitch! Can I have nothing nice? Anyway, Max wanted me to include a close-up of his paws because he's trying to mimic the gals that showcase sexy groceries on The Price Is Right.

Excellent paw work Max my man! Now let us move on to panoramic views of the glory that is where Monica stuffs herself with popcorn whilst watching shit reality television!

I like this next one because it kind of shows the killer view from my front porch. Kind of.

One last perspective which includes a bit of our empty dining room over there yonder:

Max begged me to close out with this photo and because he is such a handsome, distinguished gentleman I obliged.

Debonair motherfucker.

Now listen. I know I'm no decorator extraordinaire. I just wanted to show y'all what I'm up to and what's going down chez Bielanko. All this shit comes from Target and other cheap joints like Walmart. Seriously. End table, coffee table, pillows, curtains - Target. TV stand was from CraigsList for $10.

So yeah... I've got to finish this bad boy off with some cool artwork and a couple nicknacks... but other than that - this is the place where I get down to my shitty reality shows, including my new obsession called I Survived... Is anyone watching that shit? OMG! Addicted!

Reader Comments (46)

Ok. I feel conspicuous being the first commenter--but so be it. So, first, vote? PUT IT ON THE WALL! One of the kids is going to put a toy through a mother of 3 bet is your gorgeous Henry...but damnit he will look good doing it. Secondly, love everything in the living room! Third(ly?) I Survived....LOVE IT. My husband made me watch it one night (note: I was all negative and WHATEVER about it) and now I am hooked. Except for one night I got distractd by Hillbilly Handfishin'--THAT is some crazy ass reality tv.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Its sooooooo BEAUTIFUL! I love the charm of an old house... and those floors are GORGEOUS. I wish they still made houses like that, but, alas, no dice. I think the window curtains are a nice touch. Blue is such a relaxing color. As I sit in our rented townhouse with builder beige walls and laminate flooring, I long for the little jewel box of a house we lived in before living here. I'm so glad you've got such a treasure of a house. I bet you end up purchasing it. I just feel like it's your place.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaty E.

Holy crap, it looks great! And I'm super jealous because next month I'm moving into a totally 80's rental house that has black and white MARBLE floors. What the hell am I supposed to do with those?? And the rest of the house is log cabin country with mooses and ducks and shit. I'm going to Target, that's what Ima do.
And second hand stores don't get enough credit. I bought a gorgeous microfiber red couch (I'm childless-it's ok) for $175. And etsy has some great pillowcases with DESIGNER FABRIC.
Your place is awesome. Do you plan on staying there a long time? Mpre pics!

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCristin

Oooohhhh, you have pocket doors?!?!?!? Jealous. I second hanging the tv....too much negative space above it, and like Jen said, child toy/disaster magnet! Also, I think we have the same chairs. Job well done, mama!

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteryotko

Great job...and I agree, microfiber is bullshit and unfortunately in my house, but leather is my next purchase. I think the tv should go on the wall just to have a focal point. It does seem like there's too much empty space above it. And I think you might need another bookshelf. :)

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia Rod

ps...wish I could read that other blog and feel better about myself. :)

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia Rod

i just started reading you a couple of months ago, {i fit you in between "16 pregnant" which is what you should watch if you want to feel better about yourself} and i just thought i'd tell you that you CRACK me up. i hope you feel better and you keep on finding the humor in the absurd.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterseparelli

Love it! Looks amazing! I really dig hardwood floors... i'm a bit jealous because the place I rent now has carpet... (at least it's nice looking, new carpet, so I can't complain too much..) I have gorgeous, super old exposed brick walls which look awesome, so I just wish I had beautiful old hardwood to match.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

That room looks fabulous. I'm currently redecorating and feel totally overwhelmed by all of the design blogs out there. The fact that you did that with Target furniture is awesome and inspiring!

And I know the blog you're talking about and have also been awaiting an update. Her "honesty" is probably totally toxic for her actual relationships but great entertainment for readers.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

Couches the color of dirt - I can't even type that without smiling. Good stuff right there, lady. Love the room!!!

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Monica, I think your living room looks GREAT. It's lovely, as is Sir Max... love him!

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Nice one - the room looks fab. So much better than its original state. We're stuck renting where we are and not only is it not worth it for us to update/refurbish anything (we have NO cheap shops on this small island), but all rentals come furnished with super ugly furniture. Wanna know what's worse than a microfiber couch? A manky microfiber couch that at least several other families have previously used. But we have nice beaches, so there's that. I'm very envious of your ability to redecorate on the cheap. As for the tv, we actually just paid to have ours mounted on the wall by professionals because we have a massive flatscreen and are afraid of it falling on one of the kids... I mean it's gianormous, so you might not have that concern, but I like that I know there's no chance of a kid getting squished by the telly.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

Whoa!!!! That room looks phenomenal! All of those original wood details are such a treasure. It doesn't even look like the same house as the "before" photos. I could not agree more about the leather couch. I have a brown one (thank god) but my blond dog sheds all over the damn thing and I am saving up for leather. So jealous of your space!

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKate

You've done a wonderful job and the fact that it's been done so inexpensively makes it even better. Give yourself a pat on the back! Love those pocket doors & gorgeous floors! Old homes have such charm and without his knowing it, Max looks absolutely perfect in that if he owns it...which he does & which he should.

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarole

Great job!

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNika

O.K., I just need to know the absolute truth. I know you have two children so where is all the kid "stuff" lying about? or did you "clean up" for the photo op? Because my three seem to drag their shit all over the house. Discarded socks and backpacks and computer cords. My living room only looks like yours when I know my mother-in-law is dropping by. For what it's worth, I love what you have done. And...I'm with you on the T.V. I prefer it on the stand.

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

It looks absolutely beautiful!!! I agree with you on the microfiber--my dogs hosed that crap up in no time. I've been thinking of leather, but worrying that they'd chew on it. Have you had any problems along those lines?

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFaith

Your house makes me swoony. Those wood doors, and the rich color in those floors?!?! Squeeee!!!

And your living room is GORGEOUS. Totally gorgeous. I love how much light is in your living room, and how you have curtains that embrace that light, not shun it. I also like the painting that is in the corner hanging above the fern plant-did one of you guys paint it?

And good for you about sticking up for your blue. For us, it's red and brown. People walk into the sitting room, den or kitchen and it's like, Oh. Your color scheme is browns and here too. But we like it, darnit. So, more power to you for your continuity.

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

I love those doors! And floors! Central Pennsylvania has some of the best houses.

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

Just offering my own experience with trying to hang a TV...depending on what all the television connects to in the stand below, you will have unsightly wires running down the wall. There is not a great solution (that I have found) except to drill holes and feed the wires through and I don't know if you can do that in a rented property. Just trying to save you the frustration of finding this out after you've already drilled into the wall for a hanging bracket.

(Beautiful room...and second the question about where the heck is all your kid-crap??)

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJaida

Looks amazing! Well done, mama. I have to question the sanity of the previous tenants/occupiers who thought that yucky carpet was somehow superior to those goooorgeous wood floors? Puhleese!

Ok ya'll, I gotta get a glimpse of this train wreck!! Dying over here! Who's going to help a sistah out and give me a hint?!?

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNeeley

P.S. Love the fact that you & Serge are readers. We've run out of library space..books in every room of the house except for the dining room & bathrooms...and now we both use kindles, but there's something so appealing about looking at a bookcase from across a room and perusing the titles.

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarole

i always have to read EVERY SINGLE comment...and have not yet begun the tour, so i have to get back to you with my comment...but I will say that I CRACKED A HUGE GRIN when I read this: "Sonuvabitch! Can I have nothing nice? Anyway, Max wanted me to include a close-up of his paws because he's trying to mimic the gals that showcase sexy groceries on The Price Is Right. " That reminds me of myself. Anyway, I must also say that your LR is BEAUTIFUL. I LOVE the doors and the floor and the walls and...well, everything you've got going on in there. It is near my own styling in fact and I am glad you mentioned Target and Craigs list. I gave my matching pleather to my sister ( getting the real McCeather when I get to where I am going) but just having a looksee at the handiwork and decorating is encouraging. I too will be renting a place and it gives me hope that I will be able to make anywhere my own. Thanks, Monica. On with the comments!! ( interactive reality show)

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGina

Totally dig the curtains! I guess I need to get some of those seeing as we've been in our house for 8 years now! I do have blinds at least. I like the blue as an accent color but we painted our walls this color and I have never liked it. So I picked out new colors over the weekend and I cannot WAIT to get started. We have another shade of country-ish blue in our bedroom and...don't love it either. But I have no idea what color to paint it. Also, I am dying to know of this blog so I can read too...Not that I have the time to add yet another something to my Google Reader or anything, but I want to in the know...Can another commenter give us a clue??

Lastly, pocket doors - totally JEALOUS!! Love them!

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMrsK

@Jen - I mentioned we turned my old office into the playroom. You'll see all the kid crap in there when I show you those photos... Most of the time it looks like a tornado just went through that room.

@Faith - The dogs have absolutely not been allowed on the couch however I did purchase the couch warranty for $200 which means they'll get out any dog juice or tears - just so long as I tell them my kid tore the couch and not the dog because the warranty doesn't cover dog claws. Also, like I mentioned, when we aren't home we can close off the living room so the dogs can't even get in there without supervision.

@Connie - "Uncle Dave", Serge's brother painted that picture. He's the lead singer of the band Marah and in addition to being a crazy talented musician can also paint like nobody's business. It's kind of annoying.

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who...

I grew up (as they say) in an old house with hardwood floors, and beams on the ceiling. But I've always had a particular affinity for pocket doors. I LOVE THEM! The LR is very comfortable and homey. Who wouldn't feel relaxed and like they belonged in there. You did a great job. Was initially concerned about tears from pup claws on the leather, but you got that covered too! So smart. As for the TV ... I do think it'd be nice on the wall, but as previously said, then there's the cords. However, you could have Serge put a little 1/2 round with the innards cut a bit for the cords (or two 1/4 rounds) and paint the wall color .. just saying. And I took your advice and downloaded "Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close." :)

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPam

If you're feeling crafty, there are several sites with instructions on how to DIY one of those sunburst mirrors for cheap.

Like so,

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

Well, I can relate to that I suppose, reading your blog makes me so much more appreciative of my happy, functional relationship.

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDiaz

Wouldn't it be nice if we could all come over for tea and crumpets or whatever. No? Okay, so as far that TV, it's nice where it is, however there is something classy about a wall hung TV. You clear away the table it's on and your room is immediately enlarged. Consider this: Hang a mantel over it and build a nice hearth below and you've got something of a fire-less place. It's a TV-place. Stick a CD of a yule log in the blue ray and say goodbye to dirty ashes and escalating heating bills. Either way it's nice to get that TV up on the wall. Less for the kids to smear up, if that bothers you like it does me. And they do have wire covers which are nice, in case the drilling is a problem. I lived in a 300 year old farmhouse up until 2 years ago and those walls were made of some kind of hard plaster, like concrete over horizontal wood slats ( happened to watch the guy tear a wall out of one of my bathrooms, and what a job that was) but anyway, you try to drive a nail in those walls and it's near impossible without's just near impossible...and then you have another job on your hands. I don't know if you have that kind of stuff but it's not easy hanging pictures as you can't even get a Marley( sp?) bolt into it. So yeah, HOME DEPOT carries those plastic covers which can be painted. Curtains. Nice. Blue is soothing to me. It is peaceful...and invites the outdoors in- nice as long as it doesn't reek of cigarette smoke. Pocket doors---Wonderful! I love anything which hides in walls ( except a body) One time I went to plug something in a socket of a house i was renting and discovered it was a small safe for jewels. The rug is really nice. So is Max. Tired of typing. PS. The playroom was an excellent idea as was the office upstairs.Maybe you can get an Amish fireplace up there.I am writing like a zombie here, stream of consciousness and way too familiar. I feel vetty cleepy. So gooootnight. ( Nutty bloggers beware)

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGina

Gorgeous! I love the woodwork too and cannot wait to see the pictures of the bathroom and the blue that you chose!!

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

Ahh yes. It's funny...was thinking about the blogger you mentioned, so went to visit her blog yesterday- funny you should mention it! Very sad to see someone so lost. Hope she finds solid ground and perspective again.

Love the living room-looks gorgeous! Can't wait to see mre :-)

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

I am dying to know what blog this is that folks are referring to! Someone please link! P.S. Super cute living room.

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermolly

super living room, max's paws look very nice :) great house oh, I've told it before :) let us have a look on that dark cornfields too :)

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteranajo

Man, I THINK I know who we're talking about (if so, brief update today) If not, I GOTTA know who can top her!!!!
(yep, I'm an asshole too!!!)

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteryotko

@Yotko - Yes. (Please don't post a link there from here... Email each other if y'all are dying for a link)

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who...

Don't worry, keepin' it on the down low. Wouldn't want to get you in any trouble with all the other bloggers! :)
Besides, I'm really pulling for her. (But I'm enjoying the crazy ride! (like I said... asshole!)

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteryotko

I just moved and my target tv stand and target coffee table got scratched to high hell. Drives me fucking nuts. I love my bf to death, but he is definitely on my shit list for not putting blankets on them like I told him to do! Btw.. I love the rug. Wish I had one.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaty

I'm dying to know, but can't see how to email people. Yep, Asshole here too.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

@Molly - Sorry, had to delete your comment. If that particular blogger ever stumbled over here I'd feel terrible.

October 20, 2011 | Registered CommenterMonica

Wow! That's incredible. Love the floors and the rug and the paintings especially.

(Also, dying of suspense wondering who you're talking about!)

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBev

those floors are AMAZING! what a gorgeous place to live...glad you're happy in PA!

October 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeg

Beautiful floors! Love them!

October 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMondoMOM

Seriously awesome makeovers going on and yes, I too am hooked on I Survived.

October 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJuli

Anyone who wants the link to the blog I mentioned just go on and Facebook me and I'll hook you up... While I'm not into publicly naming her after calling her a trainwreck she is writing the shit for people to read so I have no problem sending you over there.

October 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who...

I think it's weird that you started this entry with a discussion of a blog that is not only your own, but entirely unrelated to the rest of the entry. It's bizarre and a bit like you're trolling for people. Certainly this person writes what is going on in her life for the world to see, but to have random people comment on it when the rest of their entry isn't even remotely about said blogger or her problems, is pretty fucking lame. So yes, I think you're kind of an asshole, and not in a cool edgy way. As I recall, your public blog fight with your husband's ex-girlfriend was fodder for a third party's blog, and I doubt you enjoyed it. So why do it to someone else? At least that blogger was actually talking about you for the whole entry.

November 17, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterd

Wow It is so nice to live in an place like this! I so loving the design of the living room. Hope that my house and lot in Cavite's living room is beautiful and calm like what is on the photo. :)

April 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike G

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