I have lived in my house for 17 years and as you can imagine my decorating style has evolved quite a bit since then. I have learned through lots of trial and error how to do it in my own style.
I know my core style is white or light walls with color coming from the decorative accessories. Most of the decorating in my house I have been quite happy with, but the room that has brought me the most challenges is my family room. It has taken a long time for me to get it right.
The day we made settlement – Feb 1994
The week we moved in – a jumble of mis-matched furnishings right off the moving truck. There is my littlest one in her Barney jamas. She was 3 1/2. She will be 21 at the end of February. Time really does fly by.
You can see how unbalanced the room is with an old entertainment center in the right corner, but there was no place else to put it in the room.
The room is long and narrow and there are two focal points – the bank of French doors to the right and the fireplace in the center on the adjacent wall. That alone causes problems, but add an opening to my studioffice and another to the foyer on the wall on the opposite side of the French doors and then no wall to the back – it is open concept to my kitchen – I didn’t have a lot of options.
When we first moved to this house flat screen TV’s were still considered something that you would only see on The Jetsons. We had a big heavy TV that we hid in one of the corner cabinets that I bought to fit in this room. I had to buy two to create balance. Now they are empty. I initially wanted to add white built–ins (love that look), but at the time it was too cost prohibitive, so I opted for these cabinets and have wanted to paint them white since the day they were delivered 17 year ago. They only came in dark or light oak and corner cabinets were hard to find so I bought them. ( If you follow Miss Mustard Seed, you know that Marian has a similar dilemma – to paint or not to paint. Decisions, Decisions.)
When I look at the photo below, I want to cringe and I just shake my head –What was I thinking? But back in 1994 this was “the trend of the time” all that country clutter. I am breaking out in hives just looking at it.
I streamlined and painted the walls a light green soon after this picture was taken. I knew it wasn’t right – the loveseat blocked the opening to the studioffice. You also could only enter the room from the right side. The furniture had to be pushed to the left so that the French doors could swing open. I hated it.
Then I had divine intervention by the way of Hollywood. After seeing the movie, Something’s Got to Give, I repainted the room with Sherwin Williams white called, Natural Choice the very next day and switched out the furniture with what was in my basement. I liked the simple clean lines of the room after doing this, but didn’t have a plan for how to make it work for the way we lived in the room, so I did what my mother always taught me.
“Don’t waste money just to get it done or to fill the space – let the room slowly evolve so you can better see what it really needs to be a functional, yet attractive room.”
Thanks, Mom xo. This advice was exactly what I needed.
We do three things in this room:
1. Watch TV –need comfy seating, a place for a drink
2. Read – need adequate task lighting
3. Entertain – only when watching sports. Aka Army/Navy Game and Super Bowl type events. As you probably know most people gather in the kitchen when you have guests over.
Since I can’t add tons of seating because every wall has an opening or two on it, I had to float the conversational grouping of furniture in the center of the room, anchoring it with an area rug. I added 3 ottomans that can be moved all around for people to sit when there is a full house or can be used as tables when a tray is placed on top. I added the small round table on wheels to also move around the room where ever it is needed. I used to have a square coffee table, but that just got in the way.
Since most of the seating is in the middle of the room, I had the added dilemma of where to add task lighting as I didn’t want cords running from the center of the room to the walls. Hubby came to the rescue and added an outlet on the floor under the sideboard for the lamps. Luckily we have pot lights in this room. I used to have them washing the wall above the fireplace, but when we added the TV, I redirected them to highlight each corner cabinet.
I added the tongue and groove paneling and crown molding above the fireplace about 8 years ago. I always thought I would paint the walls on either side as a focal wall, but I know from past experience, I do not like color on my walls – only tans, green, or very light blue. These colors make me feel like I am outdoors. I need lots of light to be happy.
I use to buy accessories by the truck load from TJ Maxx, Home Goods and other discount places to accessorize this room with. You may ask, Where it all is? – I gave it all to Goodwill or sold it at a yard sale. It was just meaningless stuff, it was trendy, or I bought it because I needed a fix. All mistakes. I have learned to only buy things I absolutely love. Flowers, baskets, glass objects, clocks, and items from nature float my boat. I do switch out my lamps from room to room to achieve a different look from time to time. I thought about putting something on the mantel, but it would end up just looking cluttered. I used to have greenery in the baskets on the top of the cabinets, but it looked dated and I haven’t found anything I like yet to replace it.
I have always had a mirror on the wall opposite the French doors to reflect the light to make the room seem bigger and brighter. It used to be an ornate gold one, but about 2 years ago I got the one seen in the photo. It has a beveled edge which is a detail I love. I tried a mirror above the fireplace once, but that was a mistake as it reflected my kitchen. It looked like I had a stove and coffee maker in my family room. Mirrors should only reflect something simple, pretty, or a window or door- and of course your smiling face.
This is the view looking into my kitchen. I am very happy with how it has all come together. When the budget allows I would like to replace the beige rug with a sisal colored wool area rug and a new upholstered sofa and chair in a neutral tone.
I would also like to add a piece or two of original art on canvas like the pieces done by Melanie over at Pretty and Posies shown below.
Update: I did end up painting the corner cabinets. I love them now and only wish I painted them sooner.
Now that I got the furniture placement right, the navy blue upholstery covered, and am seeing success with my color scheme, I hope I don’t have to move if my hubby gets a job in another state.
Only time will tell.