Friday, October 9, 2015

Cozifying the Family Room Around the New Couch

Said goodbye to my old couch two weeks ago. Remember?

Since then, there's been a whole lotta sickness around here, and I haven't had time to shoot pictures and post about the replacement.

Here he is. I've decided it's a he, because it's leather and a sectional--two things I never thought I would do around here.
After months of looking and stewing and sitting and researching, I decided on the Henry sectional from West Elm. It wasn't an easy choice. Leather is much more expensive than cloth, but after looking around everywhere (and when West Elm had a 25% off sale), I made the leap--ordering online with no possibility of return. That was a scary four weeks' wait.

Once it arrived, I was thrilled. It's not as deep as some sofas, which we like. I hate sitting with my back against the cushion and feeling like I need an additional cushion behind me so my feet can touch the floor. This one is the perfect depth for that. If you like lots of throw pillows on your couch, this might not be the one for you.

When I finally convinced Brad that we needed a new sectional, he conceded on one condition: that the whole room get a little facelift as well. Now, have you ever known me to turn down an opportunity to redo a room? Uh. No.

So I redid the room. Here is how our family room looked a few months ago.
I loved some of the stuff in the room and hated some of the stuff in the room. The room is really big, and it's difficult to arrange furniture in a way that feels intimate and cozy. The couch always felt too far from the TV, but I could never find a good way to bring it closer and have it not feel weird.
The rug was always too small, the coffee table was worn out and too big, and there were too many chairs and still not enough seating. That sounds weird, but it's true. Six chairs, but they were never in a way that you could have a good conversation.

Here it is today, and we love it.
After designing and decorating the cabin, I discovered that I love a mix of old and new, with the key to making the old not feel grandma-ish is a careful balance between the two.

Most of my old finds are from . . . auction. I know this surprises you. The twin chairs are the only ones I've ever seen like this. When I bought them at auction a few years ago, one was baby blue and the other baby pink--both done in velvet (no picture, unfortunately). They were worn and outdated, but after an appointment with my upholsterer, this is how they look now:
(kind of a weird angle, but it was the best I could do) My upholsterer always carefully matches patters and lines, and these two are now identical twins. Look at the patterned fabric on the back, and you'll see what a great job he does.

The rug I'd previously had in this room was 8x10, and it never really worked, even though I tried it at every angle and in every position possible. When I saw this 9x12 rug at auction a few months ago, I knew it would be perfect. I just hoped it wouldn't go for too much.
I don't think you can tell from the pictures, but this rug is worn to the cotton threads in places. Some people may think that makes it worthless, but this worn-in feeling was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a Persian look that wasn't pink, wasn't too red, worn but no holes--and that's what I got for less than $300. You can't buy a new 9x12 rug for that price. Plus, I sold the rug I had for $100, so basically it was $200, right?

I brought the sectional forward to border the new rug, and when I did that, I created a cozy space behind the sofa. Brad doesn't understand this idea--seats behind seats--but I love sitting in that chair by the window with a book and a cup of chamomile. One chair was purchased at auction, the other at a garage sale, and both were redressed by my upholsterer.
That trunk. Oh, how I love that trunk. Built in the 19th Century, it has the original German name carved on the back. I hid all of my little kid toys and books and blocks in there. Can't wait for my grandkids to use it.
I needed a small end table next to the sectional, and this one from TJMaxx was perfect.
Have you ever seen a lamp cooler than that one? I found that at the auction as well. When I added a new red lampshade to the base, it came back to life.
My kids fight to turn on both the bottom and the top when it gets dark. Hyrum says, "Now it's all cozy!"

The other side of the couch needed a small table as well, and this one from Pottery Barn was perfect.
Still love the huge industrial fan I got at auction a few years ago (it really works and will blow you off the planet if you let it). These two little chairs were the biggest question for the room. Stay? Go? The problem is that my kids love them and move them around to watch TV all the time. I bought cool patchwork cowhide poufs to replace them, but the kids didn't like them very much. I know poufs are more modern, but this was a function over form decision, and everyone is happier this way. Even me, which surprised me.

Let's talk about this coffee table for a minute.
I knew for a long time that the old coffee table was the wrong size and shape for this room, but I held onto it for fifteen years because . . . it had a drawer that was perfect for diapers and wipes, and the top lifted up to hold all of our wooden blocks. When I found the trunk above, I knew I could get a table that didn't need to hold as much stuff as the old one (because we are finally past the daily need for diapers and wipes). I thought I wanted a marble-topped industrial-inspired table, but after thinking about my family and their penchant for eating in the family room when I'm not home and thinking I'll never find out that they spilled grape soda on the table, I reconsidered my idea. The room was leaning way too dark for my liking with the dark leather sectional and the navy rug, so I knew I wanted something lighter. When I saw this table at DownEast Home, I bought it on a whim, thinking I could bring it back later. After just one day in the room, I knew it would work well. That thing weighs a ton! It's silver-painted wood not metal, but it sure feels like it's metal! It has two drawers, one to hold all of our movies and the other to hold the copies of The Book of Mormon that we use for family scripture reading each morning.

The tablescape is really how I am right now, but the trees are definitely too tall to watch TV at all. As much as I love them there, it's time to find something else--I'm thinking my fall decorations will be able to fill that hole easily.
If you look back at the before pictures, you'll see that I used the same media cabinet that we had, which I had begun to loathe. One of the glass doors was broken off its hinge by a swinging kid, and it was way too dark for the vision I had for the room. Media cabinets aren't cheap, and I held out hope for a vintage dresser or buffet to fill the space, but I wasn't in the mood to paint or refinish or anything like that. I decided instead to remove the other cabinet door, remove the center shelves, move the media to the side (which was scary--moving all those wires and stuff and rehooking them with the hopes that everything will work the same was stressful! and we still don't have DISH upstairs. . .), and add light accessories inside and a new throw across the top.

It gave me a good spot to display some of the treasures Brad has brought home from his travels around the world--a box from Belize, a wood vase from Fiji, a jewelry box from Mozambique, and a singing bowl from India.
It's not perfect, but it was much cheaper than replacing the whole cabinet.

I thought I would need to replace the drapes, thinking they wouldn't match, but I really like them in the room--a tiny bit of pattern but mostly they add just a touch of softness around the windows.

I'm still deciding if I want to change the boxes and shelf above the TV, if I want to repaint the whole room, and what to replace the worn out carpet with. If money grew on trees . . .

For now, this room works like a dream. We love having a sectional (which I swore in the 90s I would never buy). The room works so much better, and every time I walk by, I think, "That room is cozy. I want to spend time in there."


  1. Love it! The rug and sectional and bold chairs really pull the room together.

  2. Very cozy!
    You have such a great vision of beautifying.

  3. Super inviting. Love the feeling you've created, Jen. Always fun to see your creativity spark!

  4. You are such a creative decorator, and I love your style, too.