Trade in Your Family
Room for a New Look
By Shandra Hill Smith
Photography: Doug Smith
Got a taste of the five-year itch?
That's about how long it may take your family room -- or the living
area you treat as a family room -- to grow on you, leaving you ready
to trade in the space for something new.
"Family rooms normally take a lot more wear and tear -- particularly
if there are kids and pets, or if it is the only community space
in the home," says Angie Thompson, principal interior designer
of ATLdesigns in Roswell. "In these cases, furniture, pillows and
carpeting will start showing need of repair or replacement within
five years." By refreshing the area with new touches such as from
paint, decorative pillows and lamps, you may stretch it to seven
years, Thompson adds. This is true, too, for the less-formal living
room that serves as a family room in homes that don't include both.
If you forego hiring an interior designer to manage the project
completely for you, you'll still benefit from a bit of design direction.
Some professionals like Thompson offer services that help set do-it-yourself
(DIY) homeowners on the right path.
So how do you know when you're ready to go it on your own, or
you really could stand to leave the work exclusively to a professional?
If you're up on design and have some sense of your personal style
plus the patience it takes to pull it all together, you'll make
an ideal DIY candidate, according to Thompson.
Pick up copies of magazines that feature makeovers and identify
those looks you like and dislike. Details such as these, along
with outlining the function of the room and budget you're working
with, can prove helpful to a designer providing general suggestions
for your makeover.
From there, keep in mind a few general rules. These include getting
exact measurements to determine the size and scale of your room.
For those changing out furnishings as well as accessories, the
sofa is the most likely starting point.
Go with a neutral-colored sofa -- beige, grey, chocolate -- and "top
it with stronger color from pillows or accessories around it," Thompson
suggests. When it's time for a fresh change, you'll find replacing
those items less costly than replacing your sofa, she adds.
If a monotone setting is more your flavor, "vary the texture.
Have some leather, have some linen; vary the color to a certain
degree or vary the texture so the room does not blah out on you."
Also, take note of measurements, such as seat depth and height,
on furniture that will serve as more than just accent pieces.
You fall more in the traditional category if you favor darker
woods, carved and tufted pieces and trim on drapery, pillows and
accessories. If lighter woods, little pattern, clean lines and
neutrals are more your style, you gravitate toward contemporary.
And if you prefer medium-toned woods, along with elements of traditional
and modern, transitional is your style.
It's best to have two to three forms of lighting, advises Thompson. "You
want overhead lighting, lighting on a chest or end table and task
lighting. All of those are going to help with the mood of the room
and the shadows in the room."
"A change in paint color completely changes the feel of the room.
It is one of the cheapest ways to make a very dramatic change." Since
it is one of the least expensive changes wait to choose paint colors
at the end, Thompson says.
When selecting colors, be sure to pick up paint swatches, and
aim to "go one color lighter because colors intensify. Darker colors
make your wall come in and make your space smaller; lighter colors
make the room look larger."
Also, use caution with beige and taupe choices, which could have
a red or green hue, and yellows and pinks, which "change dramatically
on the wall."
"Think odd numbers -- three or five -- of artwork hung horizontally
across or vertically stacked. Still, "you don't have to have something
on every wall. Your eye should have a resting place in the room."
Be careful not to skimp here as the investment in accents such
as vases, finials, frames, candleholders and floral arrangements
could prove your second biggest expense after furniture. "Otherwise
it's just a stark room; it doesn't feel lived in," says Thompson.
Have fun with pillows, which could stand to be "changed out quite
often." And don't worry about being matchy-matchy with furniture
or accents. "Think about not having matching lamps or not having
your pillows match exactly." With this asymmetrical approach, you
have freedom from making one side of the room identical to the
"It just kind of adds a little bit more character, a bit more
imperfection to the room. Just like people aren't perfect, spaces
aren't perfect either."
Charles Schneider Webber Blue Fabric Sofa; Angelo: HOME Sutton
Chair/Modern Lemongrass Paisley; Steve Silver Kennedy Cocktail
and Sofa tables, Uttermost Family Circles; Vintage Camera Boxes;
Succession Dimpled Box; Mini Flower Ottoman
Oxford Beige Linen Arm Chair; Nova Matilda Pecan Floor Lamp; Monkey
Pod Wood Tung Oil-finished Oval Drum End Table; Hausmann Set of
Three Monkey Pod Wood Decorative Wood Ball
Box; Olde World Three-Panel Fireplace Screen; Preserved Boxwood
Balls; Fleur de Lis Finial II; Traditional Book Boxes; Mercury
Glass Orb Finial; Flutter Pillow; Artichoke Ceramic Vase; Ceramic
Cone Finial; Vivian Candleholders
LuxeYard.com and Dimond
Farwell Table Lamp; Creedmor Table Lamp
Recycled Wine Barrel Side Table
Justus Wall Mirror; ELLE Décor Artificial Orchid Plant;
Croft & Barrow
Steve Silver Co., Steve
Silver Kennedy End Table
24 X 36 and 36 X 48 canvas prints featuring travel scenes by Doug
artwork (Doug Smith) and 11 X 14 canvas prints Umbra.com,
Pane multi-photo desktop display; Winglet desktop; Voto frame:
Simple Frame; Candid wall décor
West Elm.com, Favorite Throw (in bean sprout
and ivory colors)
To read more about DIY projects, see the digital
issue of Season Magazine