Small changes can make a BIG difference in your family room

A few months ago I had a client with a typical family room dilemma. They had SOME idea of what they liked and began to work on their space. They purchased a large flat screen LED television, then needed a cabinet to house it. They went to Ikea and planned a unit that the husband (the ultra contemporary of the couple) loved. They set it up in the space after they painted their walls a color they liked, and that was it... they were stuck on where to go next. 

They are an amazing family with three young children who have taken their light beige furniture and destroyed it over just a few short years. The complete set of sofa, loveseat and matching chair and ottoman, not only looked tired in the space, but took up WAY TOO MUCH space. They wanted me to breathe life into the room at a budget that was comfortable for them. At just under $6,000, I accomplished just that. Let me show you how...

Inspiration board created on

My client's designs always start with a drawing and/ or Olioboard in 2D or 3D format (when I have an empty shot of the room) and a floorplan of the proposed new space. The clients loved the furnishings selected and decided to proceed with the new space.

Before shot of the family roomAbove is the before shot of the family room space. I actually like where TJ was going with his asymetrical cabinet design, but Debbie and her more traditional sense hated it. My job was to balance out Debbie's traditional view with TJ's ultra contemporary style, keeping the existing wall color and addding a new anchor color that they both agreed on- grey.

Grey is the neutral of the century. I never get tired of playing with it and challenging it's ability to stretch a color palette. Watch what I did with it in this space...

This sofa from ZGallerie was the perfect solution for this space. Not only was it a perfect fit, but the fabric is far more forgiving for little messy fingers. It also gave TJ a lounge to chill out and watch tv, replacing his massive chair and ottoman. His favorite piece in the room was this table, a funky take on his previous asymetrical cabinetry. Accent colors of red, teal and a pale khaki green bounce nicely off the wall colors in this room.

Just a small adjustment to the previous cabinet layout allowed for fun colorful accessories, lighteing up the space and appealing to Debbie. Fun canvas art on the wall helps tie in all of the colors selected.

I can't forget to show this adorable, deep red barrel back swivel chair from Pier 1. Not only is it a comfortable find for a great pricepoint of just $400, but it comes in red, brown and teal to match many current color palettes. Here it fit in perfectly, alongside the floor to ceiling faux silk, charcoal grey curtain panels. 

This whole space works so well together and was done at a great savings to my client. They didn't need to repaint, they kept their carpet, lower cabinetry and ceiling fan, making this space an affordable cosmetic remodel. Even though we didn't change everything within the room, the change is no less dramatic. The mood is now more energetic, light and fun, yet the furnishings look more luxurious and most importantly... they love their new space! And that's my favorite part :-)

2 Weeks in the Life of a SMALL Interior Design Job (Part 2)

Yesterday I got to meet my new client from CA. I arrived when she was still in the medst of paperwork to secure her new apartment. The leasing agent was nice enough to allow us to coduct our work first and she could come back to complete her lease package later. However, when we went to see her new apartment, we both agreed that the online floorplan was a bit deceiving and was way smaller than she had hoped for. So, it was a back and forth looking at a fw different spaces until she found the one she wants.

Now, I have to admit that this situation is a bit unusual for me, as I got to play real estate agent again. I am glad I was there to assist her in her choice because I had a good grasp of what she was looking for and it is difficult for many to interpret an empty space. The other unusual factor for this job is the time frame. My client will be moving in by next Friday. Tomorrow is a holiday and I have several jobs I am attending to at the same time. Typically, when working with your designer, it will take a week or two to meet again with a finished design plan and presentation, then the work begins after the client has signed off and given the appropriate deposits for their purchases. In this case (again beyond my norm), I am completing a good majority of the work, if not all of it- IN ONE WEEK! I am only able to do this because of the current status of several of my jobs, because I have a good grasp of what I will be doing in her small space and because I am purchasing a very small amount of stock furnishings and accessories to make the space work.

Here is her new floorplan.

Meeting Information-

In meeting with my new client I learned a few things. 1. She's lovely and we get along very well. (This is crucial for establishing a designer/ client working relationship). 2. She trusts me completely and will defer to me on options for her space (Trust again, VERY IMPORTANT). 3. Her budget is $4,000. For the type of furnishings and the amount she needs, this is completely do-able. If this were a one bedroom home- a permanent space, this would be FAR TO SMALL a budget. If this were a home I would be procuring higher end furnishings that would become lasting pieces. My client is looking for a comfy, yet temporary space for now. If she likes AZ and decides to make this her permanent residence, she may move after she gets the lay of the land and is unsure if it will be to another apartment or if she'll buy a home. She works A LOT, but outside of work, will never be home. She is an active woman who enjoys fitness and fun activities. She will mainly be home to sleep. She has no family in the area, but at times would like to have her sister come visit from California. In this small space, she requested a futon, as opposed to a sofa bed, which can be cumbersome and difficult to operate in a small space. I will entertain this thought, but I am going towards a click clack sofa which will be easier to convert from sofa to bed, by a simple click up and flattening of the back.

My client and I have an understanding of the type of furnishings she is seeking for her space. The level of quality at this price point is average. A designer usually does not work with this type of furnishings because the construction is not at the standards that we approve of and can't ensure the longevity of the piece. In this case, longevity is not a necessity. Nevertheless, in any case where I am weary about a selection or a client is choosing something beyond my recommendation, I have them sign a waiver of liability. This waiver holds me harmless if the item or selection has any problems beyond the coverage in the warranty or any issues that are beyond my control. Considering that we are using items below a quality that I would normally work with, she is comfortable with signing this waiver.  

Inspiration for Design-

My client has no color preferences. This is a rarity and also makes my job much easier and faster to achive her end result. THIS NEVER HAPPENS! She purchased 2 pieces of photo art that she would like to use in her home and she doesn't care where they go. They will be my inspiration to some extent. Happily enough, they are in muted sepia tones, which allows me to use any color to compliment the space. 

It's a Sunday and I don't normally work today but I have a few errands near a furniture store where I know I can get a great click clack for her space. Stay tuned for what I come up with in Part 3. Happy Memorial Day!