Before & After • My Mom's Living Room Makeover

You guys ready to get real with me? Get your Benadryl ready cause you might break out in hives from these before photos. So, I arrived at LAX on a Friday afternoon. I was a little nervous about traffic but the Flyaway managed to get me to Union Station in less than 45 minutes. It's one of the most reliable public transportation in Los Angeles. Then, I hailed for a Lyft to Alhambra to pick up my car rental from Enterprise. I gave my white Honda Fit (aka Walter Jr.) to my mom when I moved to New York City three years ago so I needed a car. And $120 for nine days was a sweet deal. I picked up my white Chevrolet Malibu and drove to my mom's place with the windows down. The weather was a perfectly crisp 60°F and I could smell all the familiar Asian spices in the air. The San Gabriel Valley is essentially a big, melting hot pot. It's wonderful. 

When I got to my mom's apartment, it was around 5pm. It was already dark. I opened the door, flicked the light on and my jaw just dropped. In Cantonese, there's a saying, "No eyes to see" and it basically means — I can't deal! It was a hot, hoarder central mess. Little did I know that this trip was going to be an Intervention / Hoarders / Design on a Dime episode. My mom's never been the organized type but this was getting out of control again. Yes, again. I've actually seen worse and I had to help her get out of that situation two years ago. 

As you can see there were crap everywhere. Most of it were seriously trash, like plastic bags and paper bags my mom kept because she wants to find a way to use it one day. So resourceful, right? Ha. There's a mattress pad in the living room because I have no idea why my mom enjoys sleeping there. My mom also recently injured herself and possibly has sciatica, which we're still waiting for a doctor's diagnosis. And I think this made things worse at home. This is a one bedroom apartment. It's nothing fancy. Just your generic looking apartment. My nine year old niece stays over on the weekends. And my sister occasionally spends a few nights there when she gets into a fight with her boyfriend. So you can imagine lots of stuff accumulating with so many people in and out of the place.

Since I was gonna be in L.A. for nine days, it gave me plenty of time to clean up and PURGE. My sister had three days off from work so we discarded and donated so many things! The space looks bigger already!

What the apartment lacked was basic storage. The first place I hit up was IKEA and picked up a couple BESTÅ storage cabinets — tv unit and sideboard. For the tv unit, we didn't get the pull-out drawers so that saved some money. And for the sideboard, we opted for two instead of three cabinets. Seriously, they're the best and they were on sale with the IKEA family card. Ready to see what the living room looks like now?!

BOOMSHAKALAKA! I hooked my mom up! Now, she has storage to hide her mahjong set, 50 flashlights (she's terrified of blackouts), dvds, and my niece's toys. When decorating on a budget and and in a hurry, IKEA and Target are great places to start. I went to a handful of thrift stores and all I found was this cute coffee table which was perfect for this space. The Aztec fleece rug is from Target. It's dense and pretty soft. The best part, it doesn't shed. I brought out some of my old stuff to help decorate her apartment.  

Art, plants, rug and we have a fun space! I love this round wicker mirror

The dining area and kitchen got cleaned up as well! I bought two cheap white cabinets to put under that kitchen bar for more storage. I pulled the table away from the wall so it can seat four people now. I want to add curtains and swap out the dining table eventually, but at least it's headed in the right direction. It felt great doing this for my mom. She's 56 and I wanted to improve her quality of life, and for my sister and niece, too. My mom's super happy. I think she's more happy about seeing my sister and me working together and bonding. What's next? The bedroom and the entryway still needs major work. Those will be projects for my next trip home. Whew!