Simple Changes for a Functional, Casually Elegant Family Room
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.
(See resource list below.)
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.
SUBSCRIBE AND GET my free guide:
“20 Ways to Update Your Home for Your Changing Lifestyle”!
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!
To get the look, click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.
(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
Have you visited the Designthusiasm shop? Click below to shop my favorites, my Instagram and my Amazon shop. Enjoy!!
Are you following Designthusiasm on social media? Please join us at the links below:
Pinterest | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
So pretty Lory. Casual and comfortable.
I love all the changes! So beautiful!
I think it looks great! Love neutrals for all the same reasons. I know you’ll love it when your walls are painted. I tried a pale yellow many years ago. That little crush lasted about 6 months. I feel ya!
Oh yes, I cannot wait! Honestly, the hallway is worse than the family room, because it’s a deeper shade. it. must. go.
Love the changes! So fun!
Thank you Regina!
I think it is beautiful. It is amazing to me though, with just those few changes in color, the walls don’t seem as yellow.They took on a completely different look with the blues. I really thought you had painted them the TB. I think I’d live with it for awhile. I love it. I also checked on that beautiful rug and it is sold out :>( It looks wonderful with the sofa and floors. Your style is beautiful as always ! It looks even more amazing.
Thanks, Kathy! Yes, the walls look less yellow in certain lights, but also when there’s not much color contrasting against it. I still want to pain, but it will be while. As I mentioned to Joanna, I will keep an eye out for the rug elsewhere and post the link. I know I’ve seen it… 🙂
I love all the changes. You absolutely must paint those walls now. It will be quite a transformation.
Like Kathy, I checked on your rug but it’s sold out. I think I would like a size bigger, in any case. I really think it would elevate the elegance level in my great room so I’ll be keeping an eye out.
Thanks, Joanna! Yeah, I’m pretty convinced about the paint. It will likely have to wait until after the master bath renovation, because I don’t want anything to prevent that from happening… 😉 But soon! Re the rug, I will keep an eye out for it elsewhere and provide the link if I find it. I know I’ve seen it in several places.
I have a master bath renovation coming up myself. Saving my pennies first to get what I desire not what I can afford. I’ll watching for your pics to come. I may steal some of your ideas. ?
That’s always been my theory too. My dining room was empty for many years, until I could afford the furniture I wanted. I don’t regret it. The worst is spending some money on things you don’t love and then you don’t want to replace when you can afford better because you spent money on it. You are most welcome to be inspired by anything I post… 🙂
Thank you for the promised TV! 😀 It shows it really is a beautiful, functional, FAMILY space that people live in–not just a pretty room to look at. I love that you chose to highlight that gorgeous fireplace with an equally gorgeous mirror and mantle clock, and situate the TV somewhere else in the room. I know it can be challenging to arrange seating that accommodates that, but who wants to stare up at a TV for the length of a movie, or have it the focal point of their space?
The renewed decor is lovely. I have a preschooler and a toddler, so I’m still a few years away from having pretty decorative objects on low tables (omg, scissors at kid height!?!), so seeing your rooms is like taking a wonderful adult vacation!
Thank, Erin!! Yep, I probably spend at least 8 hours a day in this space, maybe more. And I like that you noticed the TV placement because that was a big decision. The obvious choice was over the mantel but I just didn’t want that – but that did make it tricky to have the sofa facing both directions. Hence the large sectional! If you’ve never seen my older posts about when we first moved in, you might be interested to know that we added that mantel. Someday I will do a post on the progression of the room decor… 🙂
And, yes, I too had little ones at one point, so I know what you mean about needing to be careful. That’s not an issue for us now, but the scissor is up on the console table, not on the coffee table, if that makes any difference.
Great changes! Just a thought but since you’re paring down, I kinda see a fig bush or something of that sort where the Swedish table is now.
It just seems like some “statement” greenery would bring in another level of texture. ???
oh so beautiful, cozy and inviting Thank you for sharing
Love the new look!
Lory, I had to chuckle reading your post as I, too, had exactly the same dilemma! Like you, I love both the country and formal English and French styles, and found myself going too far formal in the family room. It’s difficult with these open floor plans to stay elegant and cohesive, yet not too over the top one way or the other. As far as your sectional goes: there should be spaces in our homes that fulfill our need for comfort–that is what our homes are for. Your sectional is lovely and certainly fits in with the style you are going for. Enjoy it! I’m coming for that gorgeous candlestick LOL! Please disclose where you found it. Can you believe we are having all these warm temps in Feb.? The Bradford pear trees are already getting their buds. Hugs!
Haha, thanks Bobbi! Are you talking about the altar candlestick? One of may favorite pieces! Got it in Florence at an antique shop near the Duomo. Supposedly a cathedral candlestick from the 1700’s… 🙂
There’s so many things to love about this room, I don’t know where to begin. You’ve done a marvelous job! That gorgeous box for hiding the remotes is brilliant! Love the little scissors. I’ve always been fascinated by scissors, in general. The only thing I would change, and I realize it’s a quirk of mine, is that I wouldn’t have potpourri in the house at all. Potpourri is made up of decaying living things, like herbs, flowers, fruit, etc. It has never felt like good feng shui for the house; plus it’s a pain to keep the dust out of it. I use beautifully scented infusers and candles throughout the house instead. I, too, am eager to paint my walls in a neutral, perhaps soon. Thank you for inviting us into your lovely home.
Thank you, Maria! Interesting attitude about potpourri. But really, one can say the same about all wood furniture then. I guess you’re not into dried flowers… 😉 I think of it as extending their life, rather than decay.
I know, it’s totally illogical. My friends have pointed out the same thing. As I said, it’s just one of my quirks. But truthfully, what I saw first in your room was the overall feel of openness and comfort, with some classy elements thrown in. I loved it.
I love when simple changes can make a huge impact! Thanks for sharing at #HomeMattersParty
What an excellent idea to clear out the entire room excepting the big furniture pieces and then you can get a vision of the room as you would like it. Phew! How’s that for a run on sentence? Lol I’ve been struggling with my family room, as well. It’s not that I don’t like it, as is, but I need a change.
Your room looks lovely in mostly whites. I love the finials on on your mantel and the simplicity of just the two of them a great clock. I’ve pinned your coffee table styling for reference. I agree on keeping the sectional. We want pretty in our family room while not giving up comfort.
Thanks so much for your feedback, Joanna! Nice to hear your kind words… 🙂
I love it! I love your house and enjoy these updates you are making to bring everything into your style and taste. I have to admit, now that you’ve moved them, the blue and white vases, although beautiful, always seemed wrong in this room. I like the urns fit with the neutral palette and the French flavor much better.
Thank you, Vicki, and I definitely agree with that. Sometimes you love something but it just doesn’t belong in the space. That’s when I move it and know that some day the perfect spot will open up for it. Those are the pieces I keep, but know it’s best to put away or move for now… 🙂
I enjoyed looking at the photographs–you have created a beautiful space. I am curious about the absence of any lamps–do you use a ceiling fixture, or did you remove some of them for the shoots? Thanks.
Thank you for the kind words!! We do have overhead lighting, which I love for functionality, but I enjoy the look of lamps and chandeliers, too. I add them in most of my rooms, but in the family room, the sofa is so dominant that there really is no space.
Lory, I love your French Country style, which I love, and have been following your blog for years. In your redesigned family room, I have one question? With the TV at the far end and the sofa facing the fireplace, the French chair next to the fireplace, how are you able to comfortably watch the TV?
Thank you, Patricia! The sofa is an L-shaped sectional, so one side faces the TV. I actually would have preferred the look of a single sofa and chairs or a loveseat, but we love that corner part of the sectional to sink into. In fact that’s something I was going to write about soon… 😉
I’m loving your posts. Your rooms are gorgeous. I have started redoing my bath and bedroom. It’s so fun seeing it take shape with just a few pretty changes. Thanks for all your ideas and how you go about doing them
What a beautiful neutral living area, Lory. One of the challenges when keeping a neutral palette is figuring out how to add just the right touch of color and texture. Your space looks lovely!
My living/dining area is very similar to the layout of yours only my whole house is a bit over 1500 sf. Front door and a window on one wall, fireplace on the wall to the left with about 2ft of space on either side, then open space, then…hallway entrance and maybe 6ft of wall. I’m so stuck on how to place furniture & TV! :(. I adore your taste and style Lory ❤️ You did a beautiful job.
Thank you so much! My first piece of advice is to pull the furniture away from the wall and create a conversation space in the center of the room. If you don’t mind TV over fireplace then that’s your obvious focal point with seating oriented toward it. If you prefer not to put the TV there, then you’ll need another flat wall – maybe the 6′ wall – and seating, still pulled away from walls, will have to be able to have sight lines to both TV and fireplace. Just always think of a rectangular conversation area and use chairs and/or ottomans to allow both seating and sight lines to where needed.
Looks so nice and fresh.
Where did you get the silver box to hold the remotes?
Thank you!! It’s vintage. I found it on ebay.
I love your changes Lori. It is fresh and so beautiful. I want to make a change with my 4-season porch. I’m thinking I’ll go with a Pottery Barn slipcovered couch. I just need to figure out the color—some kind of white) but need to decide on a fabric that will hold up to dogs that jump on the couch. Any suggestions, I’d appreciate. Love your posts as always.