One of the biggest surprises of my adult life is how much I came to LOVE this family room. Before we renovated, this was the ugly duckling of the house. Someone actually dubbed it the ‘creepy church day-care’ and they weren’t wrong. Here is what it looked like:
We didn’t take photos of us living up there in this room but trust me that it was full of toys and just generally dark and because of the stairs. It was far less functional. Another problem was the two focal points and high pass-through traffic…basically another furniture layout nightmare.
Remember when a few of you told me to get rid of the unnecessary second stairway (that one) and the biggest ‘light bulb’ ever exploded in my head? You were SO RIGHT. Bu-bye stairs that caused so many layout problems (for both floors) and hello new squared off room (and master bedroom above).
As a reminder this room opens to the dining room (that load-bearing column could not be moved) and kitchen, so it’s an obviously play/family room.
I had no idea the potential that this room had. I knew I wanted it open to the backyard, but it was always more of a throw away room.
Now when I sit at the dining room and look into that room I just say to myself over and over, I can’t believe how pretty that room is now.
To be fair, there were some hiccups. At one point we thought we were going to do this:
We wanted to put built-in cabinets on both sides of the new centered fireplace and benches, but then my contractor built the benches too long on both sides and the surround was bigger than predicted. They were already done and plastered. So we had to either demo out that beautiful plaster hearth/bench or just scrap the built-in idea altogether. If we demoed the benches it would’ve made them much shorter (and almost awkwardly small) and caused a huge delay. So “scrap-it” we did.
Don’t be sad. I’m not. Those would have cost $2500 each at least to execute and ultimately it wasn’t necessary (plus we were done, like physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially DONE with the renovation of this house). You guys didn’t want more custom stuff done here, and we were right there with you. We’d employed the more ‘make it work’ style of decorating which is far more my style.
The day that we moved in it looked like this:
And by the time we left we had lived in it more, added a rug and some makeshift storage.
It’s such a happy room now, guys, I can’t even explain to you. The light is GREAT. That fireplace is so warm (and on a remote that is so easy and effective) and while it looks like the TV is high the sofa is far enough away (and so low and deep) that it is absolutely not too high. Plus I had been hoarding that
The plaster turned out so pretty (and makes me want to do the entire living room fireplace in the same plaster), and while those benches were meant for seating we’ve found that there are enough places to sit besides the benches and the kids use them more to play.
To note: our architect at the beginning didn’t like the idea of those windows because they didn’t really look out onto anything pretty – the stairs to the upper deck (on the left) and an empty lot. But I’m so glad we put them in. The natural light is worth the slightly less perfect view you get.
Had we known the ‘flanking cabinet’ plan wouldn’t work we would have probably spread out those windows to be more even in the room or enlarged them but they are centered above the benches and it HONESTLY doesn’t bother me. Only in those photos did I actually even notice it.
Ok … next wall …
In lieu of the cabinets we are going to do what I like to do most – a credenza vignette. This is probably one of the only walls in the entire house that can actually have a large storage piece with art and lamps. The easel might stay and our ‘store’ might stay or move locations and head up to the play attic. Regardless along that wall will be a piece of storage to house the games, puzzles, and toys that our kids need to pull out and destroy the room. When they are older we will likely make this more of a game room with less toys. But as they are small they still want to play near their parents, so the legos will be housed here.
As of now there isn’t a CHANCE that we are putting logs under the benches. Might we for a shoot at some point? Maybe. But not for real life (I like to give myself outs and disclaimers on future Emily ideas at all times). It’s a room for our kids and us and not for the bugs and bark that logs attract and shed.
I have such a love and hate relationship with storage, but since this house has ample closets I’m going to TRY to not have any exposed hooks or areas that give permission in which to house a pile of coats. For the winter I might put a coat rack where the lamp is, but it pains me to look at it. I’m also considering a shoe org situation on that left wall, but I actually would much prefer a pretty basket. I really want the kids to hang up their own coats, but unless I provide low hooks for them I can’t expect them to. I feel like all I’m doing all day long is picking up after them and the common disease of ‘house pride’ is enflamed when I’m up there. I just want this house to be clean and uncluttered and piles of coats, gloves, shoes and hats drives me MAD. So I’m basically hanging them up all day every day. If anyone has an idea of how to provide warmth for my children outside without clutter inside that would be great. I’m considering medical surgery to seasonally attach coats/hats/gloves on their limbs and head (towels and swimsuits in the summer) to ensure that I don’t have to pick them up and put them away all day every day. We live in LA, surely there is a plastic surgeon for that.
There is a hall closet in the hallway (duh) so maybe I should put a lower rod that they can reach and insist on them hanging them up all day every day. One of my best friends from Oregon was in town with her two boys last year and the second they come into a house they remove their shoes immediately and place them nicely. I was FLOORED by this, until I realized that if/when you live in a muddy climate “shoes off” isn’t an option (should it ever be?). So how can I brainwash my children (I’m pretty sure that’s called “parenting” and “teaching”) them to always hang up their coats, bags, hat, gloves and shoes??
Larger conversation, I know. But it was driving me NUTS over the break and last weekend …. just piles of clothes EVERYWHERE.
Anyway, part of the process of designing this space was me wondering if we should just use pieces that we already have and not get everything all new. So I asked Julie to pull together some mood boards with some options. These are in Keynote (it’s a Mac program we use before we take the time to put into Photoshop and make them look nice).
She sent through some options with what we had, but maybe changing a few things.
The above is a lot of what we already have … with the addition of the credenza and a faux tree. Yes, I’m joining the faux tree trend. Do you think I can possibly own a tree after TREE-GATE at my Glendale house? The one that dripped sap over all my furniture and created more guilt than any child ever has? Nay. It’s a weekend house, meant to reduce my stress not add more of it.
She played with different rugs and coffee tables, and I liked some of them but not enough to change out what we already had.
The only real thing up for debate is the credenza, but I think I know what we want to do. But for the sake of debate here are all the credenzas we were thinking about.
Thoughts? Feelings? Opinions? The family room is good as-is, but I’d love any and all ideas on how to make it better. xx