Ahhh. The family room. Another source of both function and design confusion for me. But, with the photoshoot of the entire house rapidly approaching it’s time to really think about the design of this room, now that we know its main function. After living here for 3 months we’ve found that this room serves as our cozy TV room at night after the kids go down or on weekends with them. Some playing happens in here but mostly it just serves as some toy storage during the day – the kids mostly just drag the toys out of here and into the dining room, living room or outside, but it’s nice that we can store them in here out of public view. Originally we though that this would serve as a great cozy room to read with them, but we typically read books in the living room and in their rooms as that living room is just so much more inviting, which brings me to this – how do I fix the design of the room to make us want to hang out in it more while still holding on to its function as the now cozy TV room? Currently, this room is the one that we want to be in the least and our house isn’t huge so neglecting one perfectly good room is a big old waste of square footage.
This room may have originally been the dining room, I’m not sure. One of those doors was a closet and the other led to the hallway that really just stored the huge hot water tank and a tiny washer and dryer.
Facing the other way, the windows were covered in ivy and had this kinda awkward but cute cut out. I thought it was cute until I realized how much harder it is to design a narrow room with a jut-in bay window like this:
These photos make it look bright but trust me, it was super dark and just felt sad. So after the renovation we decided that this was the room we should paint a cozy dark color. We chose Stiffkey Blue by Farrow and Ball.
We brought our gray sectional and the white credenza over to fill these needs temporarily, knowing that these weren’t the right pieces for the house. What this shot (below) shows you is how open this room is to the rest of the house – which is a great thing functionally, but the dark color really stopped the flow of the first floor because of this really jarring moment, visually. (Obviously these rugs – and everything else – were temporary).
That red door is painted ‘Rectory Red’ by Farrow and Ball and man, it is the most perfect red EVER – I highly recommend it. We used high gloss on the exterior and semigloss on the interior by the way.
Clearly there were a lot of issues with this room after we got it painted and there was furniture in it – it was dark and narrow, the old sofa didn’t work, We needed a rug (or two?) and that lovely West Elm credenza was not the right piece for the window (obviously). But we took a bunch of photos to document it all so here you go:
Living with the room like that was as painful for me as viewing it is for you. So when our friend’s at Sixpenny reached out about their sofas and had an English Roll Arm in LA that we could borrow and try out, I jumped on it (figuratively, not literally of course), although I am sure the kids would love a chance to jump on it.
Obviously this sofa and setup is WORLDS better and that sofa is extremely comfortable, by the way. We liked the room so much more as soon as it was in there and the grey sectional was out. We sold the credenza and gave the sectional away and I found this little bookshelf for $10 that I was going to use for the toys for the time being, but it still wasn’t really right.
And even with the new sofa in there the blue was still a problem for the flow of the house.
As you can see we messed with the architecture of the house during the renovation to make it more functional and open. We put the arches back in and matched the original plaster of the walls, but the dark color was really highlighting that wall as soon as you walked in which really wasn’t what we wanted. It needed to feel more seamless as it is a small house.
As a reminder this is what it looked like before we took the wall out:
It was super closed off and tight, and we love how open it is now, but that dark color was bumming us out without us knowing it. I’m currently writing a whole post about when to paint a room dark because I’ve learned through this experience that there are more rules to dark colors in rooms than I thought.
In these photos the room looks like the awesome color that it is (Ginny also painted her dining room this color) but in the context of the whole house it just felt like it was really creating this big dark hole in the middle of a really happy flow.
So here are my goals:
Make this room one that we REALLY want to be in and play in. Therefore it needs to be comfortable, happy and we need to maximize the space without adding too much furniture to keep it open. To do this I need to do the following:
- Design a sofa that is super deep and comfortable. I love this one that is currently in there but because of the narrowness of the room we can’t really have an ottoman or a coffee table without cutting it off even more, so we need a super deep sofa. We also need it to be deep because we can’t have it more than 84″ wide and a narrow sofa wouldn’t allow four of us to really lounge on it and feel cozy. The reason that I know that an 84″ super deep sofa would work is that we tried this sofa (that we are fostering in the living room) and it was surprisingly perfect in size and scale. We would just bring that one into here but we certainly can’t have two navy blue english roll arms in one house, right?
- Find a rug solution. an 8×10 is too wide, so it could be a corridor rug (like 6×11?) or somehow layer two rugs (see the options below) – 6×9 and something more sculptural?
- Art for walls. Still deciding what the best solution is for this but maybe family photos, maybe a gallery wall, maybe one big piece like we did in the old house above the sectional before we moved.
- Paint the walls, obviously. That is being done as I write and should be finished tomorrow. We are lightening it WAY up and painting it a neutral tone so that it flows so much better (see below)
- Toy storage that doesn’t impede too much with the window. Let’s not even talk about those windows whose frames are totally disintegrating and we’ll probably have to have them custom made and installed, but if we do they will probably have to take off the ivy which kills the ivy on the whole house – the roots are right in front of the window – it’s just a disaster and of course now I see why the previous owners let the ivy grow completely over the exterior of the window. From the outside it looks GORGEOUS but not having any natural light in this room is sad. Long story short we cut back a lot of the leaves but left the stems and it looks pretty janky from the outside, but it’s fine inside now (these photos aren’t updated yet – but I’ll insta-story about it later today).
- Switch out the light fixture. That one, while I love it, wasn’t ever meant to be there – the electrician got confused when installing all the lighting in the house. We left it in here, but it’s too small for that room and instead should be switched with the one that is in Elliot’s room currently.
- Add window treatments. Since the walls are going to be solid I think a pattern in here would be nice – something classic but maybe a bit playful.
So I’ve come up with two almost identical starting point/design plans. They aren’t totally flushed out, but this is the direction so far to give you an idea of what is going on in my brain:
Sofa – I LOVE this sofa but it’s too long and not deep enough so I hired my friend Rosa Beltran from Clad Home to customize the shape and size to fit the space better. We are getting it upholstered in a similar colored fabric, a poly velvet that is super durable and stain resistant.
Rug (vintage) – If you’ve been watching on insta-stories I’ve been trying out rugs and none have felt right. And yet they have all been A FORTUNE. I found this on Rejuvenation’s antique/vintage section and it is a great size 7×11 and the colors are beautiful. I could just layer the sheepskin or white hide on top of it at the end. Now, my only concerns are that the color might be too similar to the color of the floor – but other than that it is just stunning and trying to find a beautiful rug in a neutral yet happy color palette that works with our entry rug (which I don’t want to move because it’s my favorite rug of all time) is not an easy task. Anyway, I’m hoping that 7×11 is perfect and I taped it out but sometimes once you get something into a space it doesn’t work as planned. It was on sale for $1200 and they gave me an additional discount on it since we are friends so I spent $1k on it which if any of you know antique rugs, this is a great deal. I think that the kids won’t be able to destroy it because of the coloring and pattern and it adds a lot of soul. It has a lot more green in it than you can see in the mood board. I get it next week so I am crossing my fingers (I would have waited on it but it was going to get snagged up quickly as it is such a great rug, and if it doesn’t work perfectly in this space I always know I can sell it or use it in a future project).
Side Table (vintage) – I bought this from the flea market, it’s an antique store display drawer case and it’s awesome and brings a nice warm wood accent into the room.
Ceiling Pendant – We have this in Birdie’s room ready to move down here and hopefully it works. It’s a semi-flush mount so I just want to make sure that it doesn’t hang too low in the room.
Cabinet (vintage) – my friend Scott had this piece in his dining room before he moved and had to get rid of some pieces (It’s from 1920’s and it was originally in the New York library). We secured it to the wall so that it can’t topple over on the kids and it houses a lot of the toys. Scale and style are great, but I kinda wish it had drawers instead of shelves with bins, but so far it’s working pretty well.
Curtain Fabric – This is a new linen blend toile pattern available at Calico (aka Calico Corners). The style name is Honneur (FC)/La Mer and it is not currently on their site but is available in any of their stores. It’s a forest toile in a light green/blue color and it’s just so happy and wonderful. I love that it references something super english and classic (toile) but in a more playful and yet serene pattern. They are currently putting it online so stay tuned for the exact link!
Sconce – A classic but modern sconce to help glam up this space and that corner. When we placed them we had a different idea in mind for that bay window (a big built-in) so I may even reposition them once we get everything else in the room.
Sheepskin Rug – now as a mom I’m like – you know that kids can’t really play on sheepskin rugs, but as a stylist I know how much better it will look layered over the vintage one than a white cowhide. I also know how insanely comfortable this sheepskin is (Brady used it in his niece’s nursery and has promised me that it is GOOD and that she loves playing on it) so I may try it out and use it for the shoot. But if the kids need something flatter to roll cars on I’ll switch it out for my existing white cowhide that I brought over from our old house. Also the kids might love that it’s cozy and they can play cars literally everywhere else!
Paint Color – Ammonite by Farrow and Ball. This is in our bedroom and it’s the warmest happiest gray ever. I LOVE it so very very much. It looks great with our kitchen (strong white) and our entry (blackened). They are all just various tones that keep your eye moving and give it depth without being the same color or jarringly different.
I am loving the way that it is looking but some of my team at EHD feared that the rug could made it look a bit granny. I understand their fear, but I also love me an antique rug and I think I can edge it all up with the lighting, accessories, pillows and art.
But here is another option:
All we changed was the rug. This rug is from Restoration Hardware and it’s an indoor/outdoor gray rug. Now it’s fairly boring in this moodboard but I do think that it makes this room feel fresh and more modern. I ordered a swatch of it to see how it looks in person. I’m assuming that if it’s indoor/outdoor that it is going to be highly stain resistant and durable and for that reason I’m interested in trying it out. Our last light colored rug in our family room became DISGUSTING so fast and while I’m not totally opposed to getting them cleaned once a year, it just begs the question ‘WHY?’. The vintage rug in our living room is a bit bright for me but Birdie can literally spill a berry smoothie on it and you can’t see the stain. I want that option in these high traffic rooms.
We’ll add more to these design boards as I find the perfect pillows/art/accessories so this isn’t a finished situation. But I am curious – are you on team Antique Emily? Or against me, on the Fresh/Clean team??
***Progress Photos by Tessa Neustadt