evolution of my home | part 5 | the family room

by | Jul 1, 2015 | All Things Home, Before and Afters, Decorating, Family Room, Furniture Makeovers, My House | 34 comments

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


  1. antiquechase

    Marian this is such a great series! I have really enjoyed this!!

  2. Deann

    It hadn’t occurred to me how long I’ve been reading your blog until I exclaimed aloud “oh! look how big the boys are getting!!” : )

  3. Rhonda

    I’ve loved reading these posts about your home and love the changes that you make! I have a question, why don’t you paint your family room door white so it blends in with the walls? Just curios:)

  4. Marian@CMShawStudios

    It’s interesting to see how the introduction of green has changed the look. I love the blue, white, and wood that is your base, but I am surprised how much the addition of green grounds everything. It makes it all look so alive. Maybe you and Kristie could talk about how colors interact and change each other, or how it changes a two color pallet to add a third color in Design Ramblings.

    Thank you so much for doing this series! I have been working on refining my style for the last 18 months and listening to your process has been so helpful for mine. I have had to completely let go of being “on trend” because I love color and whimsy more. So my house is a little crazy, but that’s what I’m like. But it feels so good to take Gretchen Rubin’s (author of the Happiness Project) advice and let go of everything you’re just not like or that doesn’t make you happy. White I love a neutral, tone on tone room, I am just not that girl. And realizing that has been so freeing. My spaces are starting to make me smile every time I walk through them.

    Keep up the good work,
    The Other Marian

  5. Teresa

    Love the “evolution” series! Its been so fun watching the transformation of your home over the years. I do love how the family room looks today but I also loved the blue and white geometric rug. It just looked so summery! I think the two greatest upgrades to your family room was installing hardwood flooring and the wainscoting. What a difference it made to this room!

    I have a great room that is long and narrow as well and I understand the challenges of arranging furniture. Perhaps Kriste and yourself could to a future “Design Ramblings” on furniture placement ideas for long and narrow rooms.

  6. Becky

    This is a great series! I went back and looked at my rooms over the years and OMGosh what was I thinking back in the day!?
    I noticed you don’t have lamps in your family room? Do you remove them for photos?

  7. Brenda

    where did you get the luscious honey-colored couch for your family room? I am in serious want!

    • marian

      It’s the Brooklyn sofa from Pottery Barn.

  8. Debbie

    Love this series and this room. Funny–I have those big green Ralph Lauren pillows in OUR family room right now! TJ Maxx bargain. They go well with my draperies. I also have some of the same blue and white plates that you have. Can’t wait to see the next room.

  9. Jessica

    The sofa currently in the family room is beautiful! What an amazing room and the evolution of it is so encouraging! Thanks for sharing and reminding me it’s a process that doesn’t happen overnight!

  10. Kim

    How hard was it to remove your fireplace?

  11. Becky

    My daughter will soon be purchasing her first home and I think posts like this are so helpful for those who are just starting out or those who want to start fresh on one room. I enjoyed seeing the progression of your beautiful home too.

  12. Peg

    I absolutely adore this room! : )

  13. Carol

    I love your blog and have been reading it for several years now. But I have to say that the ads are getting obnoxious! I don’t know if anyone else is having this problem, but when I try to read, and even as I’m typing this, the page will jump to the video ad at the bottom. It seems that every time the video starts over it jumps to that ad! Even when you try to scroll back to where you were, it’s jumps right back to the ad. You scroll an inch and it jumps right back. You waste most of your time fighting the ad to try to read the blog. I can’t even finish reading!

    • Rosemary Armesto

      Hi Carol – Google Adblock Plus d/l their free ad blocker. I love it, been using it for years. It’s free, if you wish to pay something to the person who wrote the program you pay what you feel like. It’s been a mind save for me. No pop up ads on any website. Hope this helps you.

      • Carol

        Thanks for the info Rosemary! I will check it out!

    • marian

      Carol, Yep, I have been having the same problem on my blog and others. There’s a specific ad that’s causing that. I’m going to let my “ad guy” know to see if we can block it.

      • Carol

        Thanks so much! It was very frustrating!

  14. Rosemary Armesto

    I love the wood flooring. In our TH we had very similar floor. We moved to a single family with carpet in every room. I would love your floor in LR and Den. I know it’s a huge expense and I too will have to save up. Love it. Did you install it yourself or have someone do it.

  15. marian

    Yes, we did install it ourselves.

  16. Dot

    What do you do for lighting? Notice no lamps.

  17. Lydia

    Been reading your blog for years; always inspiring and entertaining. Love this series; it’s fun to look back over your evolving design process. Change the exterior door to a French door; just an idea.

  18. marian

    Oh, I would LOVE to change that side door. It’s just one of those things that isn’t a priority.

  19. Lisa@2PerfectionDecor

    Love everything you’ve done Marian.. your house is absolutely stunning!!

  20. Carol Morris

    Love how warm and inviting the room has evolved into. Can you do a quick review of the Leather Sofa? It has been over a year since you inntroduced us to it, and I am wondering how it is holding up? Also do you still love it?

    Thanks for such interesting information.

  21. MaryLisa Noyes

    I am strongly considering engineered hardwood for the floor in my kitchen remodel. I wonder how they hold up to spills. I am also considering porcelain tile tha looks like wood planks. Thanks for sharing your transformations…

  22. Hanna

    I LOVE this series you are doing!! I love everything you do and look forward to each blog you write. It is so inspiring and helpful and gives me hope of getting the look I want eventually on a budget. I usually never comment on stuff like this because I figure you get tons of comments and I’m just little ole’ me…but I just felt like telling you how much I love following you, and that I want my house to look like yours…tasteful, classic, fresh, cozy and gorgeous!

  23. Randi Binkley

    Your home is amazing! We just moved into a new home and I’m needing rugs! Where do you get your rugs from and what kind of fiber are they made of?

  24. Tone

    Wow Marian! I must say, you are my main inspiration when it comes to how (or more excactly what I want to) do with my home and our interior. I got into painting furnitur a couple of years ago, and MMS MP is the best thing that has happened to me. Even though I am far, far away from great America, (In Norway actually!) this style really speaks to me, and I try to achieve something similar. All though living in an old rental house has its limit, I try my best:)

    An other thing, I just LOVE that little dining table in your living room! I really wish we had something like that instead of the big table in our dining room right now… It can take up to 10 people, but we are only a family of four, and very seldom have that many guest.
    How do you solve that problem when/if you have a big dinner party??

    Thanks for reading:)

    • April Smith

      I love the floral fabric used for the pillows on the leather couch in the last few pictures! Can you give me any information on that fabric? Brand, pattern, store?

  25. Sylvia Long

    Marian- We’re remodeling our family room and I’ve been looking for decorating ideas for months.
    I love your family room! The light blue ( I’m guessing the Glass Slipper by BM is a light blue and not grey?) is lovely with the white and green. I would love to replicate your great look, but I have a question….
    Which way does the light come into this room? (North, South…?) We have a large room with large windows, but it is primarily a north facing room. I hear that the north light could turn light blue or light blue grey into a dingy dull grey. I’m reading I need to go with an ivory/creamy white to keep it warm. I REALLY want to go with a light blue- but I’m concerned I need to be smart and paint warm/creamy. Any thoughts?
    Thank you!

  26. Amy Davison

    Your room is so pretty! Do you recall what blue paint color you used on your walls? Thanks!

  27. Lisa

    Marian, I loved your door color so much and you told me the color years ago. I painted my entry doors this color. Now I need to touch them up and cannot remember the cor for the life of me. Do you remember the color?

  28. Whitney

    Did you slipcover the check chairs yourself, or have it done? Would love to know the process!


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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