Are you ready? It’s before and after time! I could not be more excited to share this Family Room redesign with you. I worked with Room & Board to transform the space and I am absolutely joyful about how it turned out. The room is full of light and color. It’s comfortable and inviting. It’s practical and useful. And now we spend at least 70% more time in the room than we used to. Not joking. And more on that in a bit.
But first, let’s watch this time lapse video and then go see some pictures and details. The video was captured on the day that the big Room & Board delivery came to our house. It’s best with the volume turned up:
You’ve seen an overall shot above, and now I’ll break it down for you piece by piece and area by area. This room has to be a lot of things to a lot of people! I’m going to start with the floorplan.
We spent a lot of time playing around with furniture arrangements and how they might fit in this floor plan. We wanted more space for music equipment, but still needed toy storage and dress-ups. We wanted to be able to watch movies as a family, but didn’t want the whole room designed exclusively around the TV. We needed space to play board games, and we needed to store them too.
Should we do a sectional? Should we do a long sofa and some side chairs? Do we need to move the TV to another wall? We worked on dozens of configurations before we finally settled on this.
Movie Party & Board Game Central
Ultimately, we decided to do two sofas facing each other. We chose the Sabine sofa — it comes stocked in a shade of blue velvet I’m in love with, and is available in 3 different lengths — 80, 90 or 101 inches. Because I wanted to make sure there was plenty of room for pathways, I ended up ordering 2 different lengths. One sofa is 80″ and one sofa is 90″. I know that sounds a little funny, but it works really well in the space and makes so much sense in action.
Gosh dang I love these sofas! I love the straight lines and the low profile. I love that when the back cushions come off, the base is wide enough to sleep on (because these have already been used as guest beds several times). I love that the seat cushion is stationery — it’s fully attached and doesn’t move. It keeps the sofas looking neat as a pin. And boy oh boy I adore the color.
Oh. And because we chose the in stock color, the sofas were delivered super fast!
When we want to watch a movie together, or have a calendar planning meeting, we gather around the TV. We don’t have cable, but we can access our iTunes movies, Netflix, and Amazon from this screen.
When we first moved in, we had an outlet installed at TV height so that we could hide all our cords right behind the TV. It looked good from the front, but from the side, you could still see a million cords are squished up behind it. So Ben Blair built this simple frame to go around it. The frame rests on a couple of screws so it’s simple to remove if we need to access hookups, but it hides the mess nicely and acts as a little shelf for remotes.
Below the TV is a storage cabinet. It’s part of the Grove Cabinet collection and comes in two finishes and several configurations. This might be my favorite piece in the room. It’s truly gorgeous. It’s deep with generous storage, and it’s really, really well made. We keep board games on one side, card games in one of the drawers, blankets in the other cupboard, and TV accessories in the other drawer. And there’s still plenty of room. Even with everything in place, the cupboards don’t feel crowded, which is ideal.
Aren’t those little knobs lovely?
Between the sofas, we have a coffee table, and we chose the biggest one we could find — 2 feet deep and 5 feet long.Which gives us plenty of space for games plus snacks. It’s called the Tyne Cocktail Table and it comes in 2 different metals, lots of different sizes, with dozens of different tops. But we quickly narrowed down the choices to stone, because we knew this table would end up doubling as a footstool, and we needed a surface that could handle double-duty.
The delicate lines of the frame on this table are wonderful. Slim instead of bulky so it doesn’t look too heavy.
The sofa area is centered on a thick, grey, wool rug (the Arden Rug) with deep loops. It’s super soft and comfortable and makes it easy for the kids to kneel up to the table when we’re playing games and want to move around.
The sofas are topped with throw pillows that Jeffrey at Room & Board helped me pick out. Since we already had so much bold color in the room, we were focused especially on textures as we chose pillows.
Flexible Toy Storage and a Not-So-Secret Hideaway
When you walk in the room from the landing, the sofas are right in front of you — to break up the boxy side profile of the sofa, I added a really cool hourglass-shaped side table made from reclaimed wood. The wall on your right is really high. We added a tall shelf here for storage. We looked at a lot of different shelf styles, mostly in solid wood. But we worried that so much wood would feel heavy and looming in the room — especially along the pathway toward the music area. We were concerned a big dark wall of shelves wouldn’t feel very welcoming.
But then Ben remembered the open shelves we’d seen in the store. At the time, he had really been drawn to them as a potential room divider, but we realized they would also keep things feeling airy and light against a wall.
They’re called the Brixton Bookshelves, and they’re not adjustable but are taller at the bottom. We make use of that extra space and have bigger baskets at the bottom, filled with dress-ups and dolls. Lego bins come next. And the upper shelves are filled with books, other toys, and souvenirs we’ve picked up on our travels — a statue of Athena, cutout silhouettes of Amsterdam architecture, animal mask from France, a zebra on wheels from Ethiopia, and all sorts of fun little objects.
To draw attention to the extra-tall wall that the bookshelf sits against, we hung kites. The kites have personal significance for us. It’s so windy in the Bay Area that kites and kite shops are a kind of a thing here. My father was a 3rd-generation San Franciscan and always had big dramatic kites that we would bring with us on camping trips to the coast. And when Ben Blair and I got married, my dad’s brother gifted us a San Francisco kite as a wedding gift. The yellow one with the long tail? My sister Rachel actually made that one! Anyway. We love these kites and may add more to them over the years. They add fun color and draw attention to the high ceiling in a happy way.
Next to the bookshelves, we installed a wall-mount yellow ladder. I ordered it online from an industrial supplier. It comes powder-coated and you can choose from lots of different colors. (You can watch Ben Blair install it in the time lapse video above.)
The ladder leads to a little hideaway that the kids have been calling The Clubhouse. It’s a small space — approx 6 x 7.5 feet — and it used to be a little storage area that opened into our bathroom. When we remodeled the bathroom, we closed up the storage opening, and created a new door that opened into the family room.
The Clubhouse has one blue wall, a zebra-striped carpet, a kid-size table and chairs, a bean bag, and a chalkboard. It also has a skylight (this isn’t new, it was already there), and has 2 outlets plus a wall light. We haven’t taken any full photos of it yet, but you can see a little peek of it in these photos.
A Quick Hello to the Reading Loft
When you walk into the room, there’s a natural path between the toy storage shelves and one of the blue velvet sofas. It will lead you straight to the reading loft ladder and the music area, which now takes up the whole back section of the room.
I’ve done a full tour of the Reading Loft before, but when we shot the new family room, I asked the photographer to shoot a few reading loft photos too, so that you can see how it relates to the rest of the room.
I still love this space. I haven’t really changed it since it was first designed — except to reorganize the books as needed. : ) Speaking of which, once we had the toy shelves in place, we went through the Reading Loft and brought down many of the “older kid” books to add to the toy shelves. We knew those velvet sofas would make another great reading spot.
A Place to Practice and a Place for Jam Sessions
Right below the reading loft is the piano nook. The green piano (that we painted way back in Colorado) is still the big focal point here, but we made several changes to this area and it works much, much better now.
Probably the biggest thing was removing the wall heater. There were 2 wall heaters in the room, but one is plenty for keeping the space warm, so we got rid of the one under the Reading Loft. This meant we suddenly had new wall space that we hadn’t had before (yay!), so we added a low bookshelf here to store all the music books, sheet music, and smaller instruments and accessories that accumulate.
The bookshelf is called Rollins Stacking Cubes and it comes in several configurations, so you can create a full wall-height bookshelf if you like. The shelves are adjustable too.
Other changes in this area: We added a floor covering — a large Cowhide Rug — which helps define the space (and I assume helps with acoustics too). And we replaced the chalkboard (which now lives in The Clubhouse) with a giant poster of The Who. We hope it inspires the kids to rock out. Hah.
The music area used to be just the space under the Reading Loft, but as I mentioned in the last post about the family room, we’ve added a drum set and a keyboard and more instruments and we needed to expand the music area. So we took down the dress-up hanging bar and moved the little kitchen and kid-size table that lived there before (see before pictures below). With the new space, we added a desk for the keyboard, hung guitars on the wall, and made room for the drum set.
The desk is another one of my favorite pieces. I love the industrial lines and the profile, and though we chose a simple matte black natural steel option, it also comes in tons bright, glossy colors too. Above the table, we hung a poster with chord charts.
It was important to us to make sure the sofa area and the music area felt connected. To achieve that, we did two things. First we situated the sofas so that they are open to the music area instead of using them to divide the room (like our old sectional did).
Second, we added the nicely-sized red Murphy Ottoman. It added an extra seat that works in either direction. Meaning, you can sit on it and play a board game at the coffee table, or flip yourself around and use it to sit on while you play guitar and your sibling plays the keyboard. It can move around easily to wherever it’s needed, and since it doesn’t have a seat back, it acts like a really flexible stool.
The room has 4 doors. The main door is the one that leads from the stairway landing, and if you follow the pathway through the music area, it will lead you to another interior door that opens to the office/studio. There are also 2 exterior doors. One is a glass sliding door that opens to a balcony, and the one opens to a full exterior staircase. Since our other staircase is a fairly narrow, spiral one, this exterior stair case is the one we use to move big things from the main floor to the second floor. The room also has 2 skylights plus 7 windows.
I think that mostly covers the new space. I’ll wrap things up and then share some before photos.
As I said at the beginning, I ADORE this new space. We spend significantly more time here now, and that translates into better family relationships. For real. I know it seems silly or superficial, but believe me when I tell you that design can absolutely affect your relationships. If I create a room that my kids want to spend time in, they’ll be together more often, and get more chances to bond and more experiences together to bond over. If the room makes it easy and inviting to play music, my kids will be much more likely to jam together. If the board games are simple to find and store, and there’s a big space where my kids can spread them out, then board games will become something they seek out.
This room has needed to be redesigned to fit the needs of our growing kids for quite awhile now. I’m so glad it’s done now, and I only wish I’d made it happen sooner.
How about you? Have you ever seen a change in relationships, or time spent together, after making a space more inviting, or making it work for your family? Do you have any favorite items in our new space? Can you believe all the crazy little loft and attic spaces in the house?
P.S. — For those who are curious, here are 16 before photos. It used to be such a cute room! With a hanging chair, a huge wall map, and lots of fun details. Then our needs changed and it started not working as well for us, and things began shifting around, and the whole thing was ignored and neglected for ages. Sad face. Take a look: