Monday, August 11, 2014

house tour: family room.

We're getting closer, friends. It's amazing how moving around little things can make a big impact on a space. You probably don't even notice much difference between the pictures in this post and the ones I teased in my previous downstairs "reveal" post, but I sure do. Throw this pillow over here; rehang that picture over there; relocate a few tchotchkes, buy some plants, and snag some reasonable storage options (hello, Home Goods) ... aaaaaaaaaaaand voila! You have a house that is really becoming home. It feels good. Real good.

Today I'm going to show you our family room. It's the room with the largest seating area and the largest television, and it's the room closest to the kitchen. Actually, the open floor plan makes it sorta part of the kitchen. And once upon a time, pre-construction, a portion of it was our kitchen. How about them apples? Long, long story short, it's the room we live in most. And it's a room that almost didn't happen. 
When we were in the last edits of our original plans, we circulated the blueprints with our closest family members. Everybody had an input, but nobody made a better case than Jon's cousin Robin. "You're creating a glorified hallway," she said, pointing to the room just off the kitchen. "This is where you're going to live. You have to open it up." At the time, we were so wedded to the first plans we were handed--plans that had us popping the top and going off the back of the house. We had since scaled back ... make that scaled back considerably. But while we had come to terms that our grand plans were to become a two-phase project (with yearrrrrrrs in between, people), our first phase preserved too much of the original, larger layout. 

When it came to houses, Robin told us she envied, of all families, the Osbournes. Specifically, she envied the layout of their kitchen and family room. Want to argue our family room was inspired by the Prince of Darkness? Go for it. There's bit of truth to that statement. While custom sliding barn doors just weren't in our budget, the shared space between our family room and kitchen were. "When you have parties, everybody is going to be standing right here," Robin said, pointing to the space in front of the kitchen island, by the back door. "You can make the couch as comfortable as you want, but people love to snack and chat. Nobody will leave you alone in your kitchen, Liz, if you don't open up this space and give them room."

We followed her advice, opening up the wall between the kitchen and family rooms, and nixing the butler's pantry from the plans. Robin was right. The very first gathering we hosted at the house, our guests loitered in the limbo space in between the kitchen island and the back of our sectional. It was great. Nobody was getting in the way of dinner prep I had left to do in the kitchen, but I didn't have to shoo anyone away and isolate myself either while the party went on in the other room without me. So thank you, Robin.
^^A snap taken from just behind our kitchen island, which--as Robin correctly predicted--everybody loves to linger around.^^

Now, onto some design details ...

I wanted to create a neutral-hued house that was, above all, inviting and kid-friendly. You won't find any antique, one-of-a-kind Persian rugs from ABC here, folks. At least not for a few years, anyway. Jute is durable and generally soft underfoot, and this one from Potterybarn had a nice pattern to boot. Time was on our side during the renovation, so I waited until PB ran one of their "natural rug events," or whatever, and snapped it up to the tune of 40 percent off. Score.

In addition to being able to wait for things we liked to go on sale, a few happy accidents happened while we were renting. The console that used to live in our front hallway (we bought it years ago from Ballard Designs) became our television stand in the family room of our rental house. It was funny: When we were unpacking in November, Jon set the TV up on top of it, stepped away, and we immediately agreed we loved the way it looked. It was just the right size. So after we moved, we had the cable guys cut a few holes in the back for wires, etc., so we could tuck the receiver, Apple TV, and all other television-y stuff beneath. Badda bing. If you'd visited our old house, you would also recognize our coffee table, the OK sign, and all our art as well as our other little knickknacks. Those bone inlay picture frames? I've been collecting them since collage. People have asked me how I got things to meld together the way I have, and I really don't have an answer for them. I just buy what I like. 
I also prefer that the things we showcase have some sort of story. Take our Old Try print. I like that the owners are friends of a very good friend of mine. And the car painting hanging over our couch was done by my godmother's husband. Even our bottle openers, like the mermaid one pictured above, represent treasured memories before being decorative touches or functional housewares. Considering my habit for collecting things over time, I'm not confident I have the kind of vision or talent other people do to makeover a large room all at once. Why do you think nearly our whole house is painted some shade of white? ;) ;) By the time it came to picking out paint colors, I was so overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices we had had to make leading up to that moment that most of the house ended up in Benjamin Moore's "Going to the Chapel." The color isn't quite white, isn't quite grey. But it is very usable. Before renovating, our living room was painted "Buxton Blue," and I think I liked the color for three months before I had an itch to whitewash the space and start over. Don't get me wrong: It was a lovely color. But I learned that I'd much rather have what's hanging on the walls and sitting on the tabletops to do most of the talking in a space ... especially the space you spend most of your time. For example, these days everybody asks me when we got our Nicolas Nectar poster. Had him for years, I answer. I think the poor guy was just lost on those blue walls, but now everybody notices him.
Our couch and console table are also new. I've never been a sectional person--I would even go so far to say I've despised them in the past. They are always so bulky and masculine. But our family room is very narrow and a sectional maximizes seating space, Jon would say. I was still protesting until I saw this sectional at Serena & Lily. Finally, a sectional that wasn't so crazy deep and had some feminine lines. And nail heads! I've always been a sucker for nail heads. But knowing the S&L couch was still a touch too big (nothing worse than a room with too much furniture, in my opinion), I researched and researched and discovered S&L uses Lee Industries for all their upholstery. Fantastic. So we went to Urban Country in Bethesda, Md. (sorry Serena ... and Lily), which also sells Lee Industries, found the couch, and got a smaller size. Boom. And while I'm a crazy person who got a white couch with a toddler, I also got Fiber Seal. Boom, and boom. As for that console table: It's CB2, minimalistic, and fabulous. And the anorexic horse, as Jon calls it? That gem of a lamp is from Home Depot of all places. I found him when I was there stocking up on USB outlets during our renovation.
So there you have it--the most used and most comfortable room in the house! Even Bogie has settled herself right in. The other week, the only complaint Jon gave me about the space: Too many pillows. To which I told him there is no such thing, and picked up one last item, which you can now spot in his favorite seat. Now I think the space is truly complete ;) ;) xx.

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