evolution of my home | part 5 | the family room

Marian ParsonsBefore and Afters, Decorating, Family Room, My House

And now it’s time to take an in-depth look at the history of my family room.  This is an awesome space for entertaining and hanging out, but it’s a bit of a tough one when it comes to arranging furniture.  It’s long and narrow, with a bit of a strange traffic flow, so when I start getting the urge to shuffle furniture around, this room is usually where I start.

Here’s how it looks now…


…and this is how it looked when we first moved in.


It was beige, beige and pinkish-beige.  I couldn’t wait to de-beige.


When I had the chance to paint the kitchen, I took the color into the family room.  I went with yellow, because I thought it would work with the green kitchen counters and the stone fireplace.


I made curtains out of a multi-checked fabric, white twill slipcovers for some French chairs I picked up at an auction for $20, and coordinating pillows.  The table and chairs were from Jeff’s great-grandparents and the side tables were from my Opa’s attic.  We picked up the treadmill off Craig’s List.  I hated having it in the family room, but those were the days of exercising when my toddler was watching Elmo and the baby was in the bouncy seat.  The baby gear was lined up on the wall behind where I was standing for this picture.  A girl’s gotta do…


Said kids were also why the pipe insulator was taped to the edge of the fireplace.  They still found every sharp corner in the room to hit their head on!

We finally got past the jump-a-roo and exer-saucer stage and I was able to move the treadmill to the basement and start reworking the furniture.  I painted the walls in Glass Slipper by Benjamin Moore, again, the same color as the kitchen.  The daybed was given to me for free, the French chairs were $5/each at a yard sale and the coffee table was $35 at a thrift store.  The curtain fabric was $6.00/yard.




We also made a bold move and took out the fireplace.  I love fireplaces and my dream house would have them in several rooms, but this fireplace wasn’t my thing.  It also didn’t work.  So it was a huge, non-functioning eyesore that made furniture arranging even more difficult.

And I have no regrets.  It gave us a wall to hang a TV on and, while I don’t prefer to have the TV as the focal point of the room, that’s what this room is for.  Hanging out, family movie nights, lounging, etc.  I hung the plates on the wall to balance out the TV and floor-length curtains.


I moved the table and chairs into the kitchen and put an empire dresser under the window for storing toys.


Behind the wing chairs was a shelf Jeff built for more toy storage.  Our boys have always liked playing in the family room, so this gave them a dedicated play area.


I wanted to replace the carpet from day one, but that was a big expense, so we weren’t able to save for it for several years.  It finally rose to the top of the home to-do list and we were able to set aside the money for it.


I had my heart set on reclaimed hardwood floors, but Jeff, rightfully so, said that would be for the next house.  For this house, we went with the more practical and cost-effective engineered hardwood.  These are hickory from Lumber Liquidators.  I liked that they were a mid-tone without being too orange, red or yellow.

This was also the time that I finally gave myself a desk in the family room.  I had an office in the house at the time, but I always worked on the kitchen bar.  Now I had a dedicated spot for my computer where I could be with my family, even when I was working.



And then I needed rugs for all of that hardwood flooring and things got a little out of control.  Clearly.


I tend to go through this cycle.  I want to make a change in a room or I know something isn’t right, but I want to make it work with the choices I’ve already made.  I add and rearrange and tweak and the room starts to run away from me, further and further from my desired destination.

With the new rugs, I tried a new furniture arrangement that moved my desk where the toy cabinet was as well as the step-back cupboard.  I also added a small desk for the boys.


This is when I had to step back and ask what I really wanted for this space.  I wanted it to be comfy and casual, but still a refined and well decorated space.  And I didn’t want this room to look too modern.  The geometric fabric on the curtains and the rug was too modern for me.

I then got an e-mail from the woman starting the company Barn & Willow.  She asked if I would like to be a “guinea pig” for their new Belgian linen curtain line.  I sold the geometric rugs and the curtains that were taking me in the wrong direction and I worked on rearranging the furniture again.  This time, I tried something totally new…


I had always wanted a table in the family room.  I knew it would be a gathering place where we’d eat dinners, do homework, play games, color and create.  I felt like it would work now that we had wood floors.  I tried a lot of different furniture arrangements, with the table floating in the room, up against the wall, at an angle, turned long-ways, etc.


I finally settled on having it “float” in the room with a small game table and chairs under the window, the empire dresser to the right and the cabinet at an angle to the left.  I moved the cane-back daybed, which was found on Craig’s List for $100 (I think), under the window on the other side of the room.


It was at this time when we got a jute rug for the room as well as a new leather sofa from Pottery Barn.  (Actually, giving our old Ikea sofa away was how I connected with Kriste!)

I had long felt like this room needed a little detail.  The dinky builder-grade trim felt, well…dinky, compared to the height of the ceiling.  It needed some oomph.  On a trip Jeff and I took to Charlottesville, I spotted some wainscoting that we loved, so we decided to replicate it in the family room.  Framing out the baseboard heaters also made them blend in a bit more.  While we were working on the trim, we took the opportunity to replace the door and window trim to match the trim in the 1940’s part of the house.

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And that brings us to today!  There were a lot of other shuffles and tweaks in there, but this post would be crazy long if I shared everything I changed along the way.



Those wing chairs are still the blue & white checked ones that were in the “before” picture.  They’ve been slipcovered, though.  First in drop cloths and more recently in antique hemp sheets.





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When the table was floating in the room, it was just a little too much furniture in a space that was a traffic path to the deck, so I pushed it against the wall and added a bench, that was given to me by my mom, under the window.

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There are still things I would like to do to this room, like add some paneling and beams to the ceiling, replace the side door, swap the ceiling fans for chandeliers and have Jeff build me a Gustavian-style cabinet to house the TV, but we know we want to move in a few years and feel it’s better to save those ideas for the next house.

I have some fabric for making patterned curtains and I’ve thought about moving the linen drapes to the living and dining rooms, but I haven’t made up my mind about that, yet.  For now, I feel like this room is functional for our family and I love the way it looks, which is a win-win in my book!

The next post on the evolution of my home will take us into the master bedroom…and that one is a doozie!

If you missed the other room tours, here they are…

Part 1 | Living Room

Part 2 | Dining Room

Part 3 | Home Office

Part 4 | Kitchen

Part 6 | Master Bedroom

Part 7 | Bathrooms

evolution of my home | part 5 | the family room

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