The Colourful & Classy Family Room

It’s been a long while since I’ve shared on the blog!  I’m almost fully recovered from my spinal injury and back surgery.  Right after I was cleared to go back to work, we entered a lockdown and that’s been life for the past 6 weeks.  So, now that lockdown is lifted and we’re able to get out there and install some rooms you can bet we’ll be sharing a LOT of projects that are all coming together at once.

This one is a very personal project because, well, it’s in OUR house!  This is why I’m able to share it because we could do the work during lockdown ourselves and get things kicking.  (When I say “we did the work” I mean Kyle did the work since I was bed-bound.  Poor guy!)

The other 2 rooms I’ve shared in our home have been facelifts done on a low budget.

In our double parlour makeover, we kept the furniture and made it over with paint, wallpaper, lamps, and window coverings.  (See the reveal here).

And, in our main floor powder room a quick paint and paper job made a HUGE difference in creating a drama-filled space.  (See that one here).

This room, however, needed a LOT of love…

Here’s what the room looked like when we bought the house.  This is the previous owner’s furniture and set-up:

 

I didn’t like the way they had this room set up at ALL.  It was just a bunch of furniture lining the walls elongating the bowling-alley feeling of the room.

Because this is where we hang out most of the day, it was the first room that we painted.

However, we made the common mistake of painting a room without first building a plan for what the rest of the floor would look like!

We had just moved in our furniture that consisted of super uncomfortable Homesense chairs that were rock hard, a super super super old table, and a makeshift coffee bar made of Ikea shelves and countertop.

Here is what we lived with for a couple of years:

Although the colour was dark, we actually loved how cozy it felt.  The plan was to eventually bring in some caramel leather and wood elements, convert the fireplace to gas and do some great built-ins around it and it would have been a beautiful room.

BUT, we didn’t consider the flow to the rest of the house.

Although our home isn’t open-concept, you can see straight to the backyard when you come in the front door.  This means that this room needs to flow with the rest of the house.

It’s also open to the kitchen meaning it needs to flow perfectly with our cabinetry.

Our kitchen cabinets are 20+ years old.  We knew for sure that we wouldn’t be replacing the cabinets.  It’d be too expensive and the configuration is already perfect.

That said, we have considered painting them.  And, when that was the plan, they were going to be green.  Which means that the dark green walls would clash big time.

We’ve since decided to keep the light taupe colour on the cabinets and change out the countertops, hardware, faucet, sink, and lighting.  More on that another day.

The carpet in this room was heavily stained and had a strong pink undertone.  It had to go.

And, although our Decor-Rest sectional was only 4 years old, it needed to be replaced.

I wasn’t too pleased about that because it was quite expensive… but it was torn, the cushions were separating, and the back cushions were completely saggy.  There was no saving it.

This sofa broke my rule of never buying one where the back cushions are attached.  This is exactly why.

You can see where we had shoved a blanket into it because the cushions had so badly sagged between the two sectional pieces that you’d be sitting on a wood frame!  It was supposed to be high-density foam, but certainly didn’t act like it.

On top of that, we rarely used this sectional before moving to this house.  So really, this was after only 2 years of use.  We aren’t at all hard on our furniture… our sofa in the parlour was used far more and is still in perfect condition after 8 years.

For this reason, I’ll never specify this brand again.  I’m sure they have pieces that are much better quality (though this piece was quite expensive), but it was a really poor experience for us overall and it would be difficult for me to recommend it to clients.

Since we had to get rid of the sectional, we decided to get one that was much larger so that Kyle and I could both lay flat out and our dogs could be up there with us.

To achieve that, the layout of the room needed to change.

We had arranged the seating area around the fireplace because this room is an extension.  It gets cold since it’s built over a crawl-space and the back wall is all windows, so sitting around the fireplace was the coziest.

That said, the fireplace was a cheap electric unit.  It didn’t throw off a ton of heat and was really, really ugly.

Those cords are SO embarrassing! We had always intended to have an outlet put in behind the TV but thought we would do it during the renovation.

After a lot of consideration, we decided that we would get rid of the fireplace altogether.  Because we needed entirely new furniture (the accent chairs, as I mentioned, were hard as a rock and no one ever wanted to sit on them), plus new flooring, paint, and lighting, converting to gas simply wasn’t in the budget.  Plus, it was limited to have the fireplace where it is because it made a lot more sense to put the eating area on this side of the room just off the kitchen.

Our layout went from this:

To this where we moved the TV to the wall beside the kitchen to make room for a giant 10-foot by 8-foot sectional!

Putting a banquette against the wall allowed for a much larger living room seating area.

We did cabinets on either side of the banquette for our coffee bar stuff.

Kyle is a big coffee person.  He has a fancy espresso machine, nitro machine, coffee grinder, french press, multiple coffees and we have a Tassimo for me because I have zero clue how to use any of those fancy machines.

We anchored the TV with two 36″ cabinets to store my art supplies.

A large 9’X12′ rug anchors the conversation zone and allowed us to bring in two armchairs along with a round coffee table with the extra-long L-shaped sectional.

The layout was done and it was time to get to work!

The toughest thing to find in this room was the floor.

Because we live in a 1900 Victorian, I REALLY wanted hardwood.  We didn’t want to do carpet again because our dogs bring their bones in here and it was always stained and difficult to deal with.  Hardwood would be the most authentic to the house itself and there were some really beautiful options out there.  But, there was a big problem: the room is built over a crawlspace and installers refused to put in hardwoods because of humidity concerns.

Bummer.

So, we had to look for a vinyl option that we liked.

We signed out every sample we could find in a herringbone vinyl, but they were all SO busy.

My rule on flooring is that it should NEVER EVER be bossy.  It makes the room very difficult to design around.  Flooring should be like a good pair of jeans… it should go with everything.

So, herringbone that is already a more intricate pattern requires a plank that does not have a lot of different colour tones or too much grain pattern.

Yet all we could find was stuff like this:

 

See what I mean? When you add all that detail to the planks and then install it in a herringbone pattern, it’s just SO busy.

We searched locally for months.  The thing with Luxury Vinyl Plank is that in order to install it in a herringbone pattern it needs to have a different grooved edge on it.  Or, be a glue-down but the glue downs never give good ridging in between planks and feel too much like vinyl sheet to me.  When you had your heart set on hardwood, plank grooves are super important to get a look that feels similar.

One day Kyle was at SacWal with our favourite rep Shawna picking up tile samples for a job and they were unpacking a new display for a brand they were just bringing in and it caught Kyle’s eye immediately.

It was just what we were looking for!

Light in colour like the rest of our floors.  Not too much grain pattern.  Herringbone LVP with a good cork backing.

LOVED IT!

I don’t think I’ve ever taken so long to plan a room because this floor was such a sticking point.

Have you ever had something in your mind that you just couldn’t shake but you weren’t able to find it anywhere?

From there, things started to fall into place.

We chose our rug, sofa colours etc.  Here’s a flat lay of the finishes that we picked out and the beautiful flatweave rug.

It’s a smoky navy with hits of taupe that tied in the kitchen cabinets perfectly.  It also has plum, emerald, rose and a lighter blue in it.

This is one of our Amelie rugs.  You can purchase it here.

My #1 rule for picking paint (which we ignored the first time we did a facelift in this room) is to ALWAYS pick your paint colours LAST.

Most people pick them first and, had we done so, we probably would have gone with Swiss Coffee by Benjamin Moore which is a light greige with a warm undertone.

However, that wasn’t the right choice with our Hunter Douglass banded roller shades (which we wanted to keep), our kitchen cabinets, and our rug.  It needed to be more taupe than greige.

After a lot of back and forth using my large paint samples, we found Panda White by Sherwin Williams to be the absolute perfect hue for the room.

To add some drama, we did my signature paint the ceiling trick.  This was the perfect space to go dark on the ceiling because it’s the only room in the house with 8-foot height and it is a slight step down from the kitchen.  This allows a dark ceiling to pick up on the dark trees outside the window and really create a lot of drama and coziness.

The ceiling colour is Camelot by Benjamin Moore and is a perfect plum.  Not too red and has a little bit of grey in it.

We also picked up a greige linen wallpaper from Graham & Brown to define the dining area of the room.

Now that everything was chosen it was time to get to work!

(Rather, it was time for Kyle to get to work… haha)

The first thing that went in was the lighting.  We went with this iconic gold chandelier which is a favourite of mine.  It isn’t cheap – around $1,800 – however we really believe in investing in good lighting because it truly makes a huge difference in the quality feeling of a home.  This piece is made from wrought iron and has a gold leaf finish to it.  Even the electrician commented multiple times on how high quality it was!

This photo really doesn’t do it justice.  You can see at this point that we hadn’t moved the TV or fireplace out of the room yet.

 

Next, we moved onto the paint.

We used a matte finish on the walls and did the trim the same colour for a cohesive feel.  The ceiling was done in a flat finish.

We flipped around our current furniture here and you can see just how much of a difference the plum ceiling makes!  Had we simply left it white the room would have been a lot more boring 🙂

You can also see the pot lights that we added in this photo.  In truth, I’d never usually recommended pot lights in a living space.  However, we often work in this room so more light was needed for that purpose.  We almost never turn them on, we just prefer the cozy glow of lamps instead.

The lighting wasn’t great in this video so it looks more brown here than it does in person, but it’s cool to see the progression!

Next, the wallpaper went up.  It really adds a lot of texture and depth to the room and breaks up all the taupe since this part is beside the kitchen cabinets.

The next thing to go in was the floor!  By the time the floor arrived (it was a custom order and took a couple of months), we were already starting to receive the furniture for the room at our warehouse.

Unfortunately, the beautiful coffee table that we chose was damaged in transport.  It was backordered by the time we got ours so we couldn’t get a replacement and had to go on the hunt for something else.

The video below gives a much better idea of the colours in the room.  I was anxious to decorate for Christmas because I was SOOO bored being couch-bound so I got some wreaths up since they were under my 5lb limit 🙂

 

This was just a few weeks after my spinal surgery so I was high on Oxycodone and pretty much a zombie.  But I still remember being quite excited about it!

We still had a ways to go, however, because lockdowns had caused massive backlogs in the furniture industry.  Our furniture was supposed to arrive by Christmas, but it didn’t arrive until the New Year.

We ended up bringing home a few pieces that did arrive and were sitting in the warehouse including these great cabinets and lamps.  The rest had to wait until everything could be delivered because Kyle couldn’t lift it on his own and my lifting limit was only 5lbs.

We went through the holidays with our old furniture, which wasn’t really a big deal given we couldn’t do our normal big parties or anything.

Then, about 3 weeks into the New Year, our upholstery arrived and it was time to do the big installation!

Before I show you the After photos, let’s remember the before iterations:

The only things that stayed in the room are:

  • The custom blinds
  • A floor lamp
  • The gallery wall of our wedding because the frames and photos hold a lot of sentimental value
  • 2 of the Homesense dining chairs
  • The TV

We purchased a LOT of furniture for the room!

We did our Academy Sectional with black metal stiletto legs and extra-long chaise.  You can purchase that here.  Ours was done in a custom green fabric which you can call or email us about to inquire.

Academy Sectional Sofa from Comfortable Dwelling Interior Design in Chatham

For flexibility, we decided to do a loveseat rather than a custom banquette.  We used the Mercer Loveseat from the Comfortable Dwelling Boutique.  You can purchase the sofa online here or call/email us to inquire about a loveseat.

We did ours in this really stunning navy and white stripe fabric and I added two 26X26″ toss pillows to make the seat more shallow for comfort when dining.

The chairs are our top-grain leather Silas chairs.  They have a stunning strap and buckle back detail and open wood arm which made them perfect because you can see through them from the front door and they look great from the back when sitting in the dining area.  Again, these are from shopcomfortabledwelling.com and you can inquire about them to purchase.  They also come in a lighter camel version and black.

The lamps, iron cabinets for the coffee area, dining table, side table and wood chevron cabinets for the media area, are also from the Comfortable Dwelling Boutique in Tilbury.  They aren’t for sale on the website, however, you can inquire to purchase if the items are still available.

Without further adieu, I present to you the Colourful & Classy Family Room!

 

This room was a HUGE transformation.  It did come at a cost because every single piece that we put in here (with the exception of the Homesense Dining chairs and the floor lamp) was very good quality.

Because we had purchased the previous furniture for our old house it didn’t completely work in the space.  But, we could have made it work and made it stunning had the pieces still been any good.  Cheap furniture NEVER saves money in the long run, which is why this room cost nearly 10 times what our parlour did for the same size room — we had to start fresh on the furniture!

Whenever I talk budgets, I break things down into:

ENTRY QUALITY – these are items from highway furniture stores and some local stores, IKEA, Structube, etc.  Typically around $899-$1,500 for a 3-seater sofa.  This is what most pieces in our before room were and will typically last 5 years if you aren’t hard on your furniture.

GOOD QUALITY –  Our old Decor-Rest sectional should have landed here based on price and specs, but unfortunately didn’t even last 5 years.  Again, maybe that’s a fluke so I won’t knock the brand or dissuade you from buying it, but I certainly will never recommend it again based on my own experience.  Good Quality pieces should typically last a decade or more for the average family.  They’d be around $1,800-$3,000 for a 3-seater sofa.

There are some exceptions.  Some brands you are paying for the BRAND and the marketing.  RH is a good example.  Their floor models are good quality, but most of what you order is completely shitty quality.  I’ve known people who spend $15,000+ on a Cloud Sectional and it looks like crap within a few months.  Always beware of large brands because you’re paying a LOT for marketing.  You’re typically better off shopping local.

HEIRLOOM QUALITY – These pieces are of the highest quality and how furniture used to be made when our grandparents were purchasing.  The ’90s were a horrible time for the furniture industry as the Trading Spaces Era forced pricing and manufacturing quality as low as possible.  For a 3-seater sofa in Heirloom Quality, you’re usually looking at $6,000-$15,000+, but it’ll last 30 years or more.

Cost Breakdown

As I mentioned, everything in this room except a floor lamp and dining chairs that we kept from the old space (they were only a few months old) would fall into the GOOD Quality.  Could you pull off the look for less?  Yup.  Would it actually cost you less?  Nope.  In the long run, it’d probably cost 2-3X’s as much (unless you’re willing to live with worn-out furnishings).

Here is a breakdown of the costs:

  • Flooring (we had it professionally installed): $3,500
  • Paint + Supplies: $300 (we painted ourselves)
  • Wallpaper: about $500 (we installed ourselves and needed 3 double rolls)
  • Chandelier: $1,800
  • Electrical: $1,100 (included pot lights, TV wiring, removing ceiling fan, moving and installing chandelier)

Construction Total:  $7,200

  • Rug (9’X12′) and protective pad: $1,345 + $435 for the pad
  • Sectional: from $3,990.  In this fabric (which is extremely stain resistant) it would be $4,205.
  • Leather Chairs: about $2,600 each
  • Media Cabinets: $1,059 each (we have 2 pushed together to make it the right scale)
  • Coffee Table: $1,485
  • End Table: $441
  • Black Marble Lamp: $447
  • Throws, Pillows, Accessories: About $1,000 (because we already had the wall art, usually it’d be closer to t$1,500)

Living Area Total: $15,617

  • Coffee Area Cabinets: $1,260 each
  • Mirror: $561
  • Lamps: $306 each
  • Brass + Oak Dining Table: $2,430
  • Loveseat: This Loveseat is from $1,675, however, because we did a Designer Fabric it was an additional $1,100.
  • Art: $550 for both (we got them 50% off during a Boxing Week sale)
  • Accessories + Decor: $0 (we used what we had)
  • Dining Chairs: $0 (we already had them.  I think I paid $150 each a while ago from Homesense)

Dining area total:  $8,188

TOTAL FOR BOTH ROOMS, INCLUDING CONSTRUCTION: $30,555

It’s always surprising for people when I break down the cost like this, but if you look at each individual item, nothing was absurdly expensive for the quality level!  It really does add up and, unfortunately, furniture and construction costs have risen substantially over the past 3 years.

That said, the vast majority of the pieces in the room are so versatile.  I always say to buy a sofa in your favourite colour.  Both navy and green are forever favourites for me and Kyle so we’ll never get sick of them.

We didn’t invest in anything trendy and it’s a room that we practically live in so we were happy to spend more in this room than any other room in the house.

I sincerely love this transformation.  It’s always SO fun to show you rooms that are 100% me and my style because so often I’m designing for someone else!

The before-and-after not only made this room better, but it’s impacted the quality level of the entire house.  You see it from the moment you walk in the door.  The adjoining kitchen even feels like it has a new life and it was done 20 years ago!

We can’t wait to show you more rooms in our home, but for now we’ll be taking a breather and focusing on client projects.

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