In this post: The family room needs to serve several purposes from functional to beautiful. These simple changes will help you decorate with casual elegance.
I’m on round two.
The first go round was a few years ago, when we moved into our new home and I got down the basics of how I wanted to decorate. I solved the key issues of furniture placement and how I wanted each room to function, as well as setting the general tone of design style.
In the interim, we tackled some larger renovations like the kitchen makeover and butler’s pantry, but as time passed and those projects got completed, I started to look at my living areas and knew they were ready for some refinement. As we got acquainted with the house, my design vision crystalized and I’ve been itching to start fine tuning.
Last year I started with some updates to the dining room, but the family room still eluded me. I’ve been wanting to get it right for a while now and I think I’m finally close. The best part is, all it took was a few simple changes to make all the difference in the world.
(I have since updated further, but I know readers love to see the process through its various stages.)
The Family Room
Inevitably there will be those that like the old way better. I can live with that. But I have to be true to my own taste.
For the most part, I was happy with the key pieces of furniture in the room. We replaced the coffee table last year which made a huge difference in adding French character to the space. But I was still struggling with the overall look. Something was off.
I’ve always known the room would be much prettier if I had two sofas or a couch and some scattered chairs. But we use this room daily and we really love having the huge sectional, despite the fact that it dominates the space. We enjoy nestling into its corners and we’re unwilling to change it out.
So I had to look at it with fresh eyes.
The best way to do that, and something I highly recommend to anyone restyling a space, is to move all the decorative items out and to look at what’s left as if approaching it for the first time. That means every pillow, every vase, every tchotchke. I cleared off the coffee table, mantel, sideboard and sofa, and moved the pieces that were standing on the floor, as well.
And lo and behold, the first thing I noticed is that I loved the clean look of barely there neutrals and wanted to maintain that clean, calm spirit. I also knew there was something holding me back from attaining that look.
My beautiful chinoiserie vases that have been on my mantel since I got it were pulling the room in a separate direction. I love them. I’m going to keep them. But they had to go from this space, because they were saying one thing, while the rest of the room was saying something else. My mantel needed patina and these distressed finial urns satisfied that need.
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With that out of the way, the next area to tackle was the sofa. I wanted a washed linen attitude with soft neutral colors and I began scouring the market for pillows. I settled on a selection of mostly linen pillows, including the soutache scroll, above, and a cross weave linen lumbar. In the corner, for interest, I added a printed velvet damask and I’ve got two more pillows on the way with pom pom tassel corners.
I’ve noted in my kitchen, that I love working with shades of white, as it makes it really easy to change the mood of the space with pops of color. The blue and white vases made that difficult, as did the floral pillows I had before. Now everything harmonizes and can easily be moved in a new direction. I enjoy updating seasonally as this near blank canvas opens the door for different looks. Here, I’m playing with pinks, simply by adding spring flowers, but I can just as easily move in any number of directions as the spirit strikes me.
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The coffee table vignette was also bugging me, although this version uses many of the same elements. The segmenting in quadrants feels neater to me and I wanted mostly things that serve a purpose. The silver box holds the TV remotes and the candle and potpourri are for fragrance. The photo books are popular with guests (they’re of my travels) and that just leaves the dried flowers as purely decorative. I’m still not sure it’s 100% there, but it feels closer to an intentional display.
I promised a reader a few weeks ago that I’d be sure to show my TV in an upcoming post. It sits over a console table we drilled holes in for the components and you can see the speakers in the corners of the room, as well. The sound in here is amazing and watching a movie rivals watching it in a theatre.
I would certainly love to refine this side of the room, which is why I rarely show it, but it’s a work in progress.
I keep very low decorative items on the console to avoid blocking the screen. The vintage ribbon here and antique scissors add charm to the silver bowl.
I also re-styled my planter stand which has never really been filled appropriately for the room. The draped white flowers full the tub well and are more in line with my creamy white palette.
The tiny Swedish table in the corner was another area starting to get overrun with tchochkes, so I cleaned that up a bit, as well. It’s a good spot for fresh flowers in the taller vase, as I wanted to keep the coffee table vignette nice and low.
This view of the mantel well defines my vision, mixing gilding and patina in neutral shades to bring casual and elegance together. One simple white fur pillow on the French chair is all it needs to finish off the picture.
But there’s still one thing I’m aching to change and I won’t feel done until I do.
I’m ready to let go of the pale yellow walls and bring in my favorite Tapestry Beige. But we just painted 2 years ago so I’m not sure hubby is ready to justify the expense. One day I’m just going to grab the bucket and get to work myself. But then I look at the huge fragile mirror and think twice about DIY-ing the job.
Still… to be sure, they will soon be tapestry beige walls!
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