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Design Milk Family Room Redesign



When the founder of Design Milk, Jaime Derringer,  reaches out to have you design her living and dining room you say, “Sure … but are you sure you don’t want to do it?” But, believe me, I know that having the ability and having the time/energy/desire are two different things. I’d say 1/2 of our clients are people who have good taste and style but are somehow paralyzed by what to do next or how to get to the end goal. I get it. Now that we are doing the new house, it’s so daunting and every day I’m so grateful that I have a built-in design team. I say this all the time, but I have no idea how other people get big design projects done in their own home – it’s so much work, so many decisions let alone time and money. Kudos to any of you who have renovated your own home.

So we took on the project and Melanie, one of our lovely and talented in-house designers, led the project under my direction.

Jaime lives in San Diego, so we approached this as a really involved E-design, with more revisions than usual. Then, when all the products have arrived, we will go and style it.

Here are the before photos she sent through… she wasn’t aware when she took them that they were going to be blown up and published on the blog (but that is what we do), so, sorry Jamie, but your coffee cup and extra toys don’t scare anyone away:


We asked for a few more photos last week to give you a little preview of some of the new items that have already been ordered so far: side table, credenza, and that beautiful art of hers and to give you some more blown up perspectives of the space as it is. You will notice some color differences in a few of the photos but the walls are in fact grey, the picture just has a yellow tone to it as she was shooting into the light at a different time of day.





The space is a shared family and dining room and it needs to be comfortable, cohesive, and stylish; and yet, we wanted to create zones and help the dining room feel like its own space. She wanted to keep the sofa, dining table, and chandelier, but we could replace anything else.

Jaime sent a pinboard filled with her inspiration and we ran with it. Her style is fun and bright even though she wants this space to be a bit more relaxed, casual, and family oriented. Based on her pins we pulled together this living room inspiration board to send along to her with some of our suggestions and directions for the space.


Then Melanie started pulling together a plan based on what she said she liked from from our board.


This direction had elements of quirk and fun while still being a comfortable family living room. Most importantly we felt we could easily design a complimentary dining room to go with these colors and patterns. As we mentioned, Jaime requested we add a seating area to separate the living and dining spaces, so they could feel like separate rooms.

Option two had a bit more color and pop. We thought this spoke to a lot of Jaime’s pins and it felt more alive.


After some back and forth, Jaime loved our ideas, but she wanted more rug options. She wasn’t feeling the blue and wanted something a little softer, she was also a bit nervous to commit to the graphic Aelfie rug. It goes to show that your pins might not necessarily be what you can handle in your actual home, so you might have to go in a slightly different direction than what you had planned. She pinned visual excitement and crazy-face stuff, but she got a little nervous when it came to implementing it. She also lives in a new-build transitional style house which is sometimes hard to pull off with this style. 

We put together new rug options and then sent them over. Melanie was doing a great job trying to interpret Jaime’s style, and I was into it. Some of these options terrified us, but when you are designing you experiment A LOT until you find out what works and what doesn’t:


Tons of rugs later, we decided on a rug not too different from the one they already had, but this one added more depth and light variations. It’s this one, but bigger and just way better (they are using this rug in a bedroom). Once the rug was chosen Jaime requested we present more coffee table options. She needed something kid friendly and as the sofa was so large we knew we needed something equally as grandiose. In the end we’ve opted to go with a custom coffee table that we are designing (P.S. it’s round).  Stay tuned for more on that 🙂

Moving on to the dining room, here is the inspiration for the dining space.


Again, we sent Jaime two options. One with our graphic rug we’d fallen in love with. And the other a bit calmer. Jaime wanted to keep her chandelier and said we could change the paper to any color. We thought it would look best in white  – but who knows, when we go to shoot it we might do all different colors or black and white, etc. She also wanted us to keep her dining table, and incorporate some of her amazing art. We thought these DWR chairs (which everyone at EHD desperately wants in their own home – including me, so bad) are a great way to make the dark and chunky dining table feel lighter. We sifted through Jaime’s portfolio and found a great black and white print that spoke to her new Anthropologie chairs. She then sent it over to minted and had it framed and printed at a large size. They are now carrying it on their website.


Option two has a slightly calmer rug with a fun colored stripe. Have we mentioned that Jaime loves stripes? (don’t worry those curtains aren’t going to be that short).


Again, Jaime wanted more rug options. HA. We started by sending over just a few. No decision was made and we were asked for even more options. So we tried a ton of different directions to see what Jaime and her husband would like. I secretly really liked her original rug but it has been seen one million times all over the internet and she was ready for something new.


We finally decided on an amazing rug from Armadillo in Australia. They’ve just moved to the USA and you’re able to customize the size and colors. Which is perfect for this dining area as we couldn’t find the right rug. We’ve received samples and decided on color. You can see our final choice in the last mockup. 

We’d finally decided on a rug, when we got some bad news. One of our quickest decisions was the DWR chairs and turns out we weren’t the only ones obsessed with them, so they were very backordered. Jaime wanted new options – as she’s rather eager to have the space finished. In the next gif you’ll see some new chair options that we presented to her. 


We liked all of these options but decided the DWR options we’re worth the wait! (Although the target windsor chairs were truly a close second).

Options. So many options. WAY more than most E-design clients typically get but Jaime is, well, she runs a HUGE site and constantly has her eyes on the newest and best products everyday so we really wanted her to be happy and for the space to reflect their family. Also as someone who loves options, I get it. It’s paralyzing to love so many different styles and colors at the same time, right?

Here you’ll see a gif of every option we thought about for the dining space- not all were presented as we don’t like to overwhelm clients, but as Melanie was showing me the options I said “don’t you trash one of these .. this is going to be the most fun gif ever.”


Most of the big decisions have been made now and we’re awaiting deliveries and back orders, so if we don’t run into too many delays or issues then the final reveal should be before the New Year. Here’s one last look at the updated furniture plan with all of the revised option and decisions:


And over in the dining room we have this happening:


I’m excited about this project. We have so many projects going on right now and they are super diverse in style: our new house, two Los Feliz classic homes, a 1950’s Hollywood Glamour home and a 2004 contemporary that we are trying to make less contemporary, plus 3 east side bungalows and 2 home offices. The only commonality is that they all like a relatively eclectic lived in home, full of comfortable furniture and special details.

But no project is as NUTTY as this one, in a good way. So excited to reveal it but unfortunately we won’t be done with it ’til the new year because of lead times and back orders. Stay tuned folks. Meanwhile let us know your thoughts on the current plan in the comments. xx

Craving some more of our design plans? Here ya go: A Textured Traditional Mid Century Living Room, Sylvia’s Surprise Makeover: The Living Room, A Modern Eclectic Family Room, Orcondo: Living & Dining Room.

Fin Mark


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Hi Emily and team, You really don’t need to publish my comment as I say this in a “letting you know” tone. I LOVE this blog, I love Emily’s design style but also her writing style, so it pains me to see that this post is so poorly written, it seems that most of it was not written by her – it’s not as captivating as usual and it has a lot of repeated information. I know and understand the business of her life, but it’s disappointing =/ I hope you guys can find the time to keep up with… Read more »

Hiya. I’m sorry for your disappointment. I did write most of this post, with some of the details added by Mel as she was directly in charge of the project. It was edited by myself last night as well as Brady and Becca before publishing. After reading your comment we scrambled to read/find/fix any issues but found very few. But I appreciate your comment. You should know, however, that being the first comment and being so negative can bum out a lot of people who put this post together. We love to read comments and get so excited to see… Read more »


❤️❤️❤️ You are so classy em. Love you. I LOVEDthis post.


Thsmss what are you on about? This is an awesome post with the same level of thought and attention to detail which I always expect and enjoy from you Emily. Your ideas and your hard work are so inspiring. I’m not the sort of person who is normally a ‘fan’ of people but I am a BIG FAN of you and your work! Your reaction to critisim is also admirable. Love from London. x


Hey Emily (and team!)

I check in to your website religiously every day and love it (and you!). I rarely comment, but I felt so compelled to today. I loved this post, and I pretty much love every post but this one was really special and different. I’m sorry you have to deal with negativity. You are amazing, this post was amazing, and I was captivated through the entire post. Thanks for everything y’all do. You bring joy and inspiration to so many people.

I cannot wait to see the finished product!


The dining room rug you chose is absolute perfection!!! Can’t wait to see this space completed.


I just want you to know that I LOVE this site and look forward to coming here and seeing something new and lovely each day. I loved the fitness update, the vacation updates, the decor ideas… everything! Keep it coming and thanks for giving us something pretty to look at on the daily! Very inspiring stuff!


Sooo glad you guys decided to stick with the DWR chairs! Can’t wait to see the finished space!


Awesome post! Could you please give links to some of those other rug options in the gif? I’m particularly swooning over the Jackson Pollack looking one!!!


Yes, could you please post the links to some of the rugs? I’m particularly interested in the original (teal and white chevron) rug that you put in the dining room Option 2 board. Also, links to the pillows would be very appreciated (palm mint pillow, and big mint square pillow).

Some really great living room interior design ideas… Love the baby blue coach!

patty blaettler

Can you tell me where you found the blonde dining chairs with the low profile?


Love them too!!!! Info please.


Wow! Both rooms are going to look amazing. Emily, you and your team are genius when it comes to putting a room together. Only because you asked what we thought, but the dark gray rug in the living room seems to bring the energy down in there. When I look at that room, my eyes are drawn to the rug but not in a good way. I think it needs one of the more colorful options you presented.


Or maybe a lighter gray???


I was surprised to see that Jaime had committed one of the rug cardinal sins!! Gasp! Please pull that rug out from under the sofa and put the legs of the red chairs on it!!
I had a similar reaction to Michelle’s: when I clicked on the rug Jaime chose, my first reaction was, “…Oh. That?” On the other hand, the rug looks soft and furry, and with the light wood of the new coffee table and with the colorful pillows the living area won’t feel as heavy as it currently does.

Its the right rug. Here’s why: there is a patterned rug in the dining room so it needed a solid. And while the flat woven rugs look good in the mood board. I have a theory that big chunky low-to-the-ground sofas need big chunky rugs, especially in a family room. The sofa was light so the run needed to contrast. We searched for a big colored rug but couldn’t find any that would look good with the dining room rug and sofa. As a family room i think there could be others that would look good, but when you take… Read more »


Hi Emily, that was so kind of you to reply. Thanks for explaining about the rug. Your explanation makes perfect sense; that’s why you’re the designer, lol, and I’m the design-challenged onlooker.


1. This is da bomb
2. I will follow u to the ends of the earth and I buy your suggestions in “recent finds” without batting an eye. I always LOVE what I get. But am I missing the train with the asos, Australian brand sunglasses? Is it an trend this old lady doesn’t know? My daughter says I look like a fly.
Please advise

HA. Did I put them on there? I think they are supposed to be cool and i’ve seen them on sites like Who What Wear and the sartorialist, so maybe I thought I could pull them off, but I haven’t tried them myself. Thank you for your nice words but sorry that I made you look like a fly 🙂 Maybe wait it out. Next year all the millenials and tweens will be wearing them.


any chance you’d be willing to share the before and after of the 2004 contemporary home you are trying to make not so contemporary??? i have a feeling that will be relatable to a lot of people (whereas, a hollywood regency home is so fun to see madeover but not nearly as releatable)!

YES. We haven’t started it yet and frankly its going to take a couple years. So stay tuned. 🙂

Okay THIS ! It’s so nice to see the process, how the thinking goes ! Can’t wait to see the final product !


I actually really like the the dining room rug she already has and her light fixture and the art. New chairs would look amazing. I love the light rattan chairs. And love the new striped chairs for the living space. She already has amazing taste so I am sure the end product will be great! Cant wait to see!


I agree, but I would change a table (this one is too dark and too small for the space), dining chairs, and I would add curtains.


where is the planter in the living room furniture plan from? love it, and finding it so difficult to find nice, clean modern planters!

Paula G

Prefer your preferred choices for both rooms. In particular, I would like the light gray curtins in both rooms; don’t like chosen coffee table or floor lamp…love the chairs.


Don’t know if it’s just on my Kindle but the last two images (final plans?) aren’t loading.


Also, thanks for listening to us and slowing the gifs down a little!

You are welcome 🙂 Glad you noticed. xx


Is it possible that somehow the gifs are not slowing down on iPad? Or maybe my eyes are very slow:) Anyway, thanks for the great post, so many amazing options!


Back! They finally loaded, where are the pink curtains from?


I love the EH style and it’s so great reading about the iterations you go through during the design and decision process. Overall a great improvement! I’ve always loved black and white graphic mixed in with other elements – those Anthro chairs are perfection. The painting in the dining room is perfection as well. LOVE the dining rug that was ultimately chosen…..My uninvited 2 cents? For me personally; the living room asks for another natural element, so the rattan round puff table would have been my choice. I think it would have complemented the cane backs of the DWR dining… Read more »


Emily, I love the Armadillo rugs, who did you order through (as I see you can’t buy the rugs on their site)? (I’m in the LA area too, was it Heath Ceramics?)


Hi! Can you please let me know what software you use for these mockups? I love that it incorporates the actual product images. thanks!


I was wondering the same thing! I love your gifs and always wonder what you use to create the product renderings and gifs. I’m not the hugest fan of working in Photoshop for non-photo projects, but you guys rock it. It adds so much to the post!


Any chance you have a source for that massive ottoman in the “before” photos?

It’s from Living Spaces


Loved this post! I love all of the inspiration photos for the family room…I’m sure I’ve pinned most of them too! I am working on a similar color scheme in my own living room. Are the throw pillows shown the actual ones you are using? Could you offer sources for any of them? AND…I think my favorite idea pitched for the whole project is the pink panton chairs! I would have picked those in a heartbeat. My husband might not have been down, though. Sigh.


Are the armed cane back chairs going to be able to go under that table or will they hit wrong, like in the pic? Unless the chairs are much smaller than pictured and the arms go under the table I would think it’d be non-functional, wouldn’t it? I’m going to be alone in this but I don’t like those cane back chairs. They remind me of my grandma’s 1980s apartment, in a bad way. They also remind me of the bar stools on the 80s-set sitcom The Goldbergs. Though I know 80s is in, I’m not ready for cane back… Read more »


Did you know that caned furniture has been around for hundreds of years?

Amazing project! I love the rug you chose for the dining room.
Anna From Italy


I love what will be the final result of this makeover probably more than anything you’ve ever done! I LOVE how there’s elements that actually flow & match each other, vs. the usual mismatch of decor and furniture.


This is just so lovely, and fun, and modern yet 80s! What a seriously awesome project, and you all nailed it.

I’ve been trying to find a large round soft (read: kid proof) coffee table! Excited to see what you customized, but would also love to know the runners up you may have found. A future round up, perhaps.


We need to do this. I have found SO MANY out there, but have never done a post. There are very few wood ones, though. I love Nickey Kehoe’s which are $3500 so thats too much. But I did buy the DWR outdoor teak coffee table that is so pretty and could easily be indoors (but more kid-friendly as it can beat up a bit more). So yes, we’ll do a round coffee table roundup. You know what is harder to find? OVAL. More people need to make oval. Generally round is only best for sectionals, so oval is what… Read more »


Interesting to see how different things feel between the mock-ups with the white background, and the last updated mock-ups with the light gray wall color. Would love to hear more from you about when you start incorporating wall colors in your process. Does it differ from project to project? Do you think it has as big an impact on the design as I feel it does? (The white makes everything pop so much more, for example, and I imagine it won’t as much, in the actual space.) Love seeing the progression from initial directions to a more fully fleshed-out space.… Read more »

That is interesting. I need to check with Mel but I think that it is staying white. At some point I thought there wasn’t enough going on – it didn’t match her mood boards which is why we moved the curtains to a soft pink, but I think the walls are still white ….

I love the iterations you share and the way you dealt with the first comment was perfection! As a blogger myself, it just pains me to get negativity. Some people are soooo hard on bloggers and they don’t realize how much time, energy, and love goes into the creation of posts and projects. You and your team do an amazing job and are officially ahead of the pack. Keep up the good work. 🙂

Thank you 🙂 I so rarely respond to the really negative ones because it seems so unfair to all the people who leave positive comments that I don’t have time to respond to, but she seemed like she would be open to the feedback, and yes, as the first comment it just deflates you. It doesn’t matter how big your following is, or how many comments you get, the good always feels good and the bad always feel bad. But I guess that’s how we are supposed to react, right? Thanks for the love 🙂


I love all the pillows, especially in option 1! Could you please share any sources?

I love how you can brighten up any room!


I’m sure the finished spaces will be fantastic!! What a fun project to work on for your team!

Please, please, though, add one more dark element to the dining room. With her art framed in the light frame, the light chairs, the light chandelier, the dark table is just floating & doesn’t seem like it fits. A dark frame for the art, the darker option for the chairs, or really just any dark addition would strike the EHD balance.

Love the design in the first image they have a great overall look and style would like to have one of these in my office suite great post


Can you give info on the credenza?
Fun project!

I love the final designs! They feel very Jaime.


I had to do a double take at the two different sets of before pictures. The second set looked like an “after” set already. I’m really interested in seeing how this will turn out–more so than your other projects b/c it seems to be such a different style. The selections kind of surprised me as being not as interesting as I would have expected, but I bet you will pull it all together and it’ll look great in the end.

Mary Carney

Dear Emily, I have been reading your blog for a number of months after having found a link to your site on Holly Becker’s blog. I have to say that your blog is simply wonderful. I wrote a food blog for a period of time and I know how hard it is to come up with new creative content. On a personal note, I am a mum of three small boys – one of whom is severely disabled – and your blog distracts and uplifts me on those days when my son’s illness is heartbreaking. So on those days when… Read more »


Where are those amazing stripped accent chairs from??

What color grey did Jaime paint her walls? It’s the perfect neutral backdrop for all of the fun elements you are bringing into her rooms!


Hi Emily, I love how this is coming together and can’t wait to see the final post. Just wondering if you could please share the details on the final cushion selections. In particular the bottom left one. Thanks!

Wow, great ideas! I really like the combination of colors. And I think it will turn out really marvelous! Great job, Emily! 🙂


What does “transitional” mean? The house is described as being a “new build transitional”.


oh man, so much good content these days!! you keep me up at night reading it! (not really, but sleep training + cannot go back to sleep = blog reading catch up time 😉 anyway, i’m now THISCLOSE to submitting something to you for possible e-design services…we moved into our new home in late April, and after a few big furniture pieces, moving some stuff around, i’m at a loss. or rather, i’m too busy with work and too tired from 2 kids under 4 that i just can’t! also, i never realized how hard it is to find a… Read more »


Hello! Could you share the source for the final coffee table?

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Hi Emily,

I’m new to your site and totally obsessed! May I ask what program you use to put together these sample room designs? I’ve never seen anything like it!

Of course, I totally understand if its a proprietary program you all use in office, but I thought I’d ask!

Thanks so much!

your designers are really awe some ..

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