While I was organizing & moving around some older blog posts I realized I never talked about our main room, one of my favorites, our family room. I have so much to say about this space so I realized I immediately needed to get this blog post up. Looking back at these before photos I literally want to scream at myself!
This photo was taken when we were still renting. This living look was the result of me trying a little to improve the space without spending any big money because I still thought we might build or move to another house. The result was not good.
Warning: ugly, blurry, old iPhone before pics are below. I can’t believe how much cell phone cameras have improved.
First off let’s talk about everything that is wrong with the room. The most obvious problem is the furniture doesn’t fit in the room correctly. That’s a major downside about renting. What worked in our last home didn’t at all work in this house. The media console is way too small for the wall. But the small media console – as awkward and unbalanced looking as it was – left us room to walk around our loveseat.
The room is also in my opinion brown and depressing, it just seems so heavy. Many people love and decorate beautifully with earth tones. I realized they weren’t for me. I also needed more contrast from the coffee table and media console, soI tried to solve this problem by adding some red into the room, which as you can see is a little bit too much. And the candles? I have way too many candles in the room!
The ceiling fan was hideous, it didn’t add any beauty to the room and we never turned it on. What actually motivated me to improve this room was when my sister Sarah asked to have a small wedding reception at our home. I instantly felt sick to my stomach and downright embarrassed to have people over. Literally everything was in its before stage. She ended up moving the reception to another location but the initial panic of other people, strangers, seeing our ugly decorated home is what got me going hardcore on our family room.
Shortly after this panic I feel in love with this light from Ballard Designs. I realized I couldn’t tolerate the ceiling fan another day. Brian said he would install the light, and if we moved we could put the ceiling fan back up. We decided to deal with the consequences later on, we knew there was a small chance we would buy this house anyway.
From that point I started to improve things a little more. I ordered the Thurston Wing Chair from Ballard Designs because I knew if we moved I could always find a spot for it. Then I added two parson chairs on each side of the media console to balance the big wall. I realized how much I was craving a lighter tone in the room, so I added lighter pillows.
It certainly helped…but it needed more, and the sofa and loveseat were still a wrong fit for the room. I have to say this has been a frustrating room to arrange furniture in. Let’s see…I have a wall of windows, an angled stone fireplace, a massively large blank wall, a bar counter, and I must have both space behind the sofa and loveseat for foot traffic. It’s enough to frustrate anyone.
So, the improved family room sat in this state for a while, awkward furniture and all. The room still wasn’t right, but it was much better at this point. Cut to about 6 months later we decided to buy the house. Even though the house wasn’t officially ours yet, the plan to purchase was in motion and we had everything decided on with our landlord. So I decided it was time to deal with the furniture in the room.
Because of all the challenges in this room that I needed to address, I went online for help. I googled furniture placement and awkward room designs, and I posted to lots of home decorating forums. Every bit of helpful advice I got confirmed exactly what I knew. The media console was too small and the love seat didn’t fit well in the room.
So I sold everything in the room. Well, I sold the sofa, love seat, rug, and coffee table. The console table and striped end table are up in Brian’s office. The red mirror was moved to my office. The first thing I bought was a much larger media console to balance the overwhelming wall. I needed a really long media console and managed to find this perfect one at Restoration Hardware. This was definitely an investment purchase, but it was really worth it.
I decided instead of a shorter sofa and loveseat the room needed one longer sofa. I knew I was craving the room to be light and bright so I ordered light fabric samples from Pottery Barn. I first mutilated the samples to make sure they were truly stain resistant, which they were. So I ordered the large Chesterfield Grand Sofa in buckwheat. You can read more about this in my Review: Pottery Barn Chesterfield Sofa and Performance Velvet. After I ordered the sofa, that night I woke up in the middle of the night having a panic attack. It was a custom order non-refundable purchase that would take 3 months to make. There was no going back.
When something truly scares me it gives me panic attacks – always in my sleep. That’s how freaked out I was afterwards, but I managed to calm myself down. I had measured so carefully and was completely sure before I ordered it so I told myself to just relax and trust my decision. When the sofa was delivered Brian accepted the delivery while I hid scared in my bedroom. The moment was finally here 3 months later and I was terrified to see it. He eventually got me out of my room and I loved it.
I was ecstatic, and was now ready to finish the room.
I ended up using the Pottery Barn rewards I earned from the sofa towards the purchase of the glass top coffee table and new side tables. Then I purchased the Celine Cheetah Rug from Ballard which I had my eye on for a while.
Rug sizing in this room has been difficult. A good rule of thumb is usually bigger is better. Most people choose rugs way too small for a room. This is the largest rug I could get to work in the room. I know in a perfect world the complete sofa would sit on the rug. It’s preferred, but it’s not a perfect world and it didn’t work out. At least the front legs of the sofa are on the rug, so that helps anchor the area.
Around this time I had gel stained our stair rail, and then I decided to do the mantel. I switched out the art to this Cognac Monnet print that I had always admired. I love the dramatic contrast as it leans up against the stone. I spent a long time looking for the perfect candle sticks and I actually found these in a design store when we visited Belfast in Northern Ireland. I managed to squeeze them in our luggage!
Next up I needed another chair. The sofa and media console were my big ticket items, so I was lucky to find this smaller accent chair from Pier 1 that matched the sofa and it was on sale. I still had the chair from Ballard but I needed another. I played with the arrangement and moved stuff around a bit.
I added some plant life into the room, the splash of green was much needed. I’m great with gardening outdoors, indoor plants…not so much. They kinda hate me, but they’re hanging in there.
The pillows on the sofa are a mix from Restoration Hardware, Ballard Designs, and Pier 1.
I like how the glass coffee table creates a lighter effect in the room. It feels almost invisible and creates the feeling of a larger space. The old dark brown coffee table really weighed down the room. Clutter on the bottom shelf quickly became a issue so I used trays from The Container Store to contain the clutter and make it easier on the eye.
I also switched out my fireplace screen to this Pottery Barn one. I like how this one is flush with the stone so it creates a little ledge to sit on and gives the illusion of more space.
These faux fur poufs were ordered on sale from Horchow. Not only are they super cute, they’re so useful! We move them around all the time to be used as an ottoman or extra seating when necessary. The faux fur covers are easily removed and they’re machine washable!
Pottery Barn lamps were added to the media console as well as other accessories. Thank goodness I learned there are other ways to accessorize a room besides just candles! I also added a larger silver mirror and ivory linen curtains from Pottery Barn.
The large wall combined with the high ceiling has always been a challenge for me. After a lot of thought I realized it’s ok to have blank wall space. Not every blank wall needs to be filled.
I did decide to hang something small over the TV because the straight line of the TV bothered me. In the spring and summer I hang a gold bee, in the fall and winter I hang our gold faux deer head. My deer head I named Goldie Fawn, which I realize makes no sense at all. I knew I wanted a golden deer head but the ones I found were too expensive. I just spray painted gold this cheaper buck deer head off Amazon and I love it! They add a bit of whimsy to the room.
I think the only things that stayed in the room were the TV, music speaker, barstools, and few framed photos. Out of all the rooms we have redecorated or remodeled, I by far think this was the most challenging. I had many stressful moments over this space but the end result was worth it. I love this room, it’s the heart of our home.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments send them along, I love them!
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