Friday, July 06, 2007

The Big Swap - Part 2

There's a saying that "the devil is in the details" and, boy howdy, that's true. Since the big furniture swap, I've been struggling to refine certain problems created by various changes. Despite all my careful planning, one problem came up which took three days and a great deal of patience and effort to fix.

Our television used to be on a huge rack in the bedroom and it worked fine there. The plan when I moved everything was to put the T.V. in this stand in a spot to the left of my husband's and my desks with another stand to the left of it in the corner of the room. However, I hadn't considered how far out the thing was going to stick from the wall and it looked like this amazing black behemoth trying to edge its way into the middle of the room. It was simply awful and made me hate the whole move and if it was a gigantic failure.

I decided to swap it around so it was in the corner much to my tired husband's chagrine (he helped install it initially and was glad to have it finished). He moved the T.V. and I moved the rest. Unfortunately, that didn't work either since a metal support bar from the rack was completely in the way if we rotated the T.V. to the right so we could watch from our desks (which we will almost certainly do on occasion).

The next day, I decided that what we needed was a lower stand but I didn't want to buy a new one so I pinched the one next to my husband's beside and gave him the tall one the T.V. was on. They are actually precisely the same style of stand (metal racks with completely adjustable shelves) but one is very tall. Both are quite strong and adequate for holding something heavy like a T.V.

The consequence of this change was that the new tall stand was only about 10 inches below the air conditioner in the bedroom and blocked the air flow such that my husband was too warm at night so I had to move that monster shelf again. This time, I gave my husband my bed-side stand (which is too small and weak to be used for a T.V.) and gave myself the behemoth stand. Bear in mind that moving these metal shelves required me to disassemble them and change the position of the shelves each time and it was an utter nightmare. Huge long jagged leg pieces had to attach to sharp-cornered shelving with screws that did not always want to go into the slots. I'm covered in scratches and bruises from all of this.

This solved the air conditioning problem and I actually will likely be happy to use the huge stand for blanket storage during the summer (though it now blocks most of the remainder of the window in the bedroom but that's another issue which I won't worry about yet). However, my bedside stand is narrower and reduced my husbands bedside surface space by a margin he wasn't pleased with. You see, he uses the stand to charge his PDA, iPod, and sometimes keep his laptop at night. He's also an inveterate "piler" and likes to keep his little collections of stuff nearby him. At the moment, he's also got a large collection of things he picked up in the U.S. which he will use slowly which need storage.

Today, I endeavored to solve this problem by installing a wire rack board above the stand so he can hang some of the necessary items and free the space on top for the computer and other electronics items. I also bought some bins for his collection of "stuff". I'm hoping this will be satisfactory and solve this situation.

These types of racks and a plethora of various little baskets to hang from them are available at 100 yen shops (though the main rack actually cost 400-500 yen) and they can solve a lot of problems in small homes with limited free space. Generally, they are used in the kitchen to store things like spices, utensils, and plastic wrap but, they're great anywhere you have a bunch of little things and no place to tuck them (like around your desk).

There are also aesthetic issues I need to resolve. Our new carpet is much darker than the old one and our old furnishings are mainly black. On a pink carpet, this was fine but it makes everything look bottom-heavy on a dark gray one. I'm not sure what to do about this but I'd like to make some changes. However, I won't make any which require much of a cash investment so it'll be a challenge to work everything out.

One thing I am hoping to do is paint some of the black items a brighter color. This will likely cost no more than a few hundred yen per item so it'd be much more economical (and less wasteful) than buying new stuff. For instance, I'd like to paint my old (and clearly worn) bedside stand which I've transferred to my husband's side of the bed yellow or possibly green. Right now, I'm too tired to even consider disassembling the stand, washing it, sanding it, priming and painting it, let alone subjecting my husband to a few days without a night stand while it is done.

Some of the changes are functional rather than aesthetic. Now that we occupy the living room and use the air conditioner in it, I needed to deal with the power issues. The way our power is set up is that there are three circuits and each is capable of handling up to 20 amps of power but all of them together cannot consume more than 30 amps. Each of our air conditioners consumes 5 amps so putting the computer and audio/video on the same single outlet in the living room seemed rather imprudent. Rather than risk blowing fuses, I decided to use the extension from the kitchen that had previously been in use by our DSL modem to hook up all the computer gear and leave just the air conditioner and A/V gear on the living room outlet.

This requires the door between living room and kitchen to be left open in about a 1/3 inch gap to allow the cord through and a fair bit of cold air would be bleeding off into the kitchen. This would be rather wasteful so I had to do something about it.

Among my purchases (again, at the 100 yen shop) was self-adhesive foam insulation tape. I've used this sort of tape before and it works pretty well but it will eventually flake off if you attach it to a doorway which people tend to rub up against for any reason, particularly if it's a narrow one. I don't know if this stuff will last or not but I applied it to the door instead of the door jamb in the hopes that it'll stay put as the door can be pushed far over and there's no need to make contact with it. It's not that it's expensive to replace so much as messy as foam chunks start to come off.

On top of all this refining, I've also been dealing with the normal daily stuff and have had more laundry to manage than usual since things tend to get pretty dirty when you're moving things around.

In this regard, the weather has not been cooperative. Since we don't have a dryer (as is the case for many people living in Japan), I have to hang out the laundry to dry but, as the weather widget above indicates, there's rain, rain, and more rain so that's become rather tough.

Once I get more of my refinements settled, there will be a part 3.


CMUwriter said...

Shari you still haven't told us how you intend to get the mini bar and hot tub into your place?

Shari said...

My husband and I both laughed out loud at this comment.

You can bet that I'd find a way to squeeze these things in if I wanted them! I will not be denied in my quest for the perfect set-up! ;-)