The Curbly Family Sunroom Makeover

One more room makeover folks, from the Curbly house. I’m actually kinda sad that this is the last post because its just been so satisfying to design/hangout/see/post about. Sometimes I wonder how interior designers live without properly photographing their work – meaning, it would be such a bummer not be able to look at and share photos of work after you are done with a space. It just makes it so satisfying.

This room was not originally part of the plan (see the living room, dining room and master bedroom makeovers) but then it just had SOOOOO much potential that of course I threw it in because I wanted the content – 4 room makeovers is better than 3, no? I get greedy with my portfolio so the more I can add bright sunny rooms to it the more I end up just saying, sure .. i’ll do it …

Here is the before, way before I got involved.

before sunroom

Now, before all you wood lovers freak out too hard (because you know what is about to happen) know a couple of things:

- Any and all painting was done before I was involved BUT I would have recommended painting the wood based on the clients needs/wants and style.

- While this kind of moulding/millwork can be really beautiful it is VERY dark and only lends itself to a few specific kinds of designs and styles. Its not for everyone. I LOVE the idea of it in restaurants or houses where you want to feel cozy, dark and warm (my Aspen house, my Alaska house, an English pub, etc). Its really masculine and really strong, just not for everyone. For a family who wanted their home to feel bright and happy, airy and visually calm – painting them white just made sense to them. Let the opinionated comments commence – I actually love this debate, but just remember its not your house, its not your family, its not your style, its theirs …

So the Curbly family got to town painting:


That’s when I got involved and my grubby little hands were dying to go to work on this room since it has such potential. When I arrived in Minneapolis, Orlando and I turned it into this:


Only the brightest, simplest, happiest little sunroom ever. NBD. They had it first painted Sherwin-Williams Sea Salt SW 6204 on the walls, with the trim being Sherwin-Williams Pure White.  We made very few major changes – it was way more about the styling. We chose these great roman shades from  (Laura Ashley Soft Fold Roman shades in Casualle Milk from,) that make the windows feel more finished and control the light – plus curtains wouldn’t have worked in here because there would have been so many of them, they would have blocked off the light and then landed strangely on the bench or on the floor; just too much fabric, too much happening. So romans, rollers or blinds were the only way to go. The style of the house is more classic/traditional so roman shades seemed the most appropriate.



They had cushions made for the benches so it became more of a built in window seat – although its strangely high so its probably going to be more for kids to climb on and play around. The pillow is the Honeycomb Crewel Pillow from West Elm, and the throw is their Favorite Throw, which i’ve probably bought like 15 times now. For $30 its kinda hard not to keep buying.

They found these vintage bertoiia chairs on Craigslist ($200 for the pair) and then had them powder-coated (I think for another $200).

The flowers actually came from their babysitters back yard in St. Paul and were just so pretty and happy. I want to be sitting in that chair so bad, reading that design book, drinking that tea – its just all so calm and relaxing.

On the other side of the room became more of the play area because its attached to the living room and feels separate enough that the kids can make a mess without encroaching too much on the adult space. Before we got involved it looked like this:

sunroom - before

Its such a tricky room because its long and skinny and real furniture (like a sofa) wouldn’t fit in there in a way that makes sense. So we divided it in two different usable spaces – the little breakfast/reading nook and more of a play area. We added a fun grown up but kid friendly table (and no, we didn’t just use the same one from the living room – we bought two), a storage piece for toys and somewhere for them to hang their artwork.


And of course we threw in some prop kids from the street, just to test how much fun this space is. The Curbly family kids are CRAZY cute and it was super fun spending the week with them. I kept telling the baby to talk to my baby and tell him what its like out here – and then also to be really really nice to his mom – specifically in labor, during whatever sleep method we use and through the teenage years. They agreed on a painless birth and thanking me during every speech he ever makes.





I’m actually dying to go to that room right now. Its just so clean, bright, soft and easy. Sometimes I just wish I could go back in time, have not read the Hunger Games or Gone Girl and curl up for a whole day in a room like this, drinking herbal tea that probably has some sort of woman looking VERY relaxed on the packaging, and just read an addictive, if not totally trashy, novel.

Must get me a sun room immediately.

Carpet: Vintage Vibe from FLOR, Blue Table Lamps: Thumbprints Jewel Cast Metal from, White media storage: BYÅS TV unit from IKEA, White Tulip Table:  DOCKSTA table from IKEA, Bertoia Chairs: Vintage (Craigslist for $200, then sandblasted for $100 and powder coated for $75), Sheepskin Throws: Rens Sheepskin from IKEA, Blinds: Laura Ashley Soft Fold Roman shades in Casualle Milk from, Coffee table: Blue Ocean Traders, Vintage camping stools, Art print by Minted for West Elm, Throw pillow: Honeycomb Crewel Pillow, West Elm. Favorite striped Throw: West Elm.

This post (and whole makeover) was sponsored by Sherwin-Williams but all words, thoughts and designs were by me. Thank you very much Sherwin-Williams and The Curbly family for being generally awesome throughout this whole makeover.

Photos by Melissa Oholendt

  1. Amber R.

    One of my favorite posts! Missed you last week. Glad you are back!

  2. Courtney

    Great post! Beautiful room! I think those blue lamps are actually the Delta lamps

  3. Tiffany

    If you are looking for another hunger games type of book, i highly recommend “Divergent”!

  4. Nikki

    I want to live in this room! So bright and beautiful! Also, I’m not sure if I’ve been living under a rock, but I had no idea that IKEA sold a white tulip table like that! I’m thrilled to see that I don’t have to spend major $$$$ on a similar table! I was also pleased to see that the storage cabinet was IKEA as well. I never would have guesses looking at the pictures!

    • S

      But it’s not the same, really.
      Of course emily has her magic to make this table look amazing…but at least for me, I got that table home to try and proptly returned…to be the big bucks at DWR.

  5. Robin

    Oh I absolutely love it! And having lived in Minneapolis, light and airy is definitely a must for the long winter months. The wood would have just felt too heavy and dark. If we ever move back there I hope I find a house with the wood like this already painted. Because I KNOW if my husband saw it unpainted, he would never, ever let me paint it! Great job Emily!

  6. Coby

    Need those camping chairs! Why can’t I be a designer so I can order from Blue Ocean?!

  7. Michelle H

    Painting the wood made such a tremendous difference, and it actually made the craftsmanship more apparent. Kudos to you and the Curblys.

  8. Danny

    We have a very similar sun room/playroom at our home – open to our living room through a double cased opening, tons of windows and dark trim. I was wondering what your opinion is of different trim colors in adjacent rooms? Like keeping it dark in our living and dining rooms and painting the sun room white?

  9. katy

    stop. it.

    le sigh. so good. :)

  10. Zoe Royall

    This is my favorite makeover you have done yet! The entire home is so cohesive and perfect. I’ll take two. Bravo!!!

  11. Hold up! Unless mine eyes deceive me, those are Robert Abbey Delta Peacock lamps with a white shade, not Thumbprint Jewel Cast metal.

  12. Avery

    Okay… It’s official. This is my dream house. Way to go Emily!

  13. Damn Emily; some of your best work yet. How do you keep getting better!

  14. Marisa

    This is beautiful! I grew up in a turn of the century craftsman with lots of dark wood, but I completely agree with the choice to paint. It totally changes the tone of the room and really makes it light and bright. Love the space for the kids.

  15. Melanie

    Beautiful room! Where is the blush colored vase from? I love it!

  16. I love how light and bright it is!! Beautiful!!

  17. Tiffany

    What kinds of style would you say the sunroom is? I absolutely LOVE all of the light blue and white trim; totally my style….but I can never put a name to it.

  18. Alima

    Wow! Love this room so much. We are moving into a new house this month and I stumbled across your blog just in time! I’m pinning everything and getting lots of inspiration! Wish you could come to Alabama and help me with the makeover! :)
    I love that you use so many reasonably priced pieces from West Elm, Ikea, etc. Usually when I stumble across a designers blog that I like everything is WAY out of my price range! So thanks for that! Keep up the fabulous work!

  19. Erin

    My heart (in the voice of Rob Lowe’s character from Parks and Rec)just skipped 10 beats. These rooms are killing me! So light, airy, and peaceful. And that tulip table is from IKEA?!?! Thank you IKEA and thank you Emily- my life is better because of you two!

  20. Erin

    Long time reader but lazy commenter who was spurred into action by the beauty… Emily, you are amazing! All four rooms in this house are stunning. You are very inspiring with the amount and quality of work that you do. Keep on, please!

  21. Such a pretty space! So light and bright. I totally would have painted the moldings too.

  22. Kristen

    Holy. Moly.

    You nailed it… AGAIN.

    I mean, I love all of your work, but this Curbly project has just been blowing my mind with its perfection. Seriously – it’s my dream house in every way (tied with your NY Lake House, my other favorite) :)

    Amazing job!!

  23. Love the soft watery tones!

  24. Lisa

    So very, very pretty. But am I the only one thinking “white room. young children. magic markers” and kind of knowing where _that_’s going?

  25. jana

    first, love your work.
    second, please tell me you didn’t spend $425 each on those lamps and then put them close to the floor in a kids play area? my kiddos, 1 and 2 would dominate those lamps so fast and so hard. regardless, i’m still jealous of the lamps.

  26. The color of this room is perfect. Love it!! And I’m so happy to see you painted the wood white…we keep getting a lot of crap about painting our extensive moldings white, but it took the house from dark and dreary to light and airy so fast! :)

  27. Ola

    I love that, especially coffee table! Please let me know where can I get similar one? Love it, have to have it!

  28. monica

    i love this transformation! i’m in the middle of decorating my peanut’s nursery and would love to know what you used to make the hanging artwork displays. thanks!

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  30. Ashton

    I might have cried tears of joy when I saw how inexpensive that white tulip table is. It is the perfect stand in until I can get my hands on a real Saarinen (and the cash it will require).

  31. Rae Ann

    I love wood in the right environment. But for me there is no debate here. The painting of the wood just opens up this space so much. I would definately be drinking tea and looking out the great windows. Kid’s space is way fun

  32. Jen

    Love it, of course!

    Just a question… couldn’t you have done a bar-height table and chairs to work with the high window seats? Or would they be too low for a table that height? Of course, then you wouldn’t have been able to use those beautiful vintage chairs…

    One last question: love the kid art (I have totally used my daughter’s preschool art as decor so I’m glad it’s Emily-approved)– are those clips holding the bottom 3 pics, that can be changed out for new pics? How are the clips held to the wall?

  33. Amanda DeFerrari

    Emily – you have made this house come alive! The pops of color are genius…I am lusting for those turquoise lamps. I must have a room in my 60′s Streng house in Sacto. Your style is evolving before our eyes. Delightful – cannot wait to see your house take shape! And your baby boy too…

  34. Judy

    I love the painted trim here (and all the rest – it’s perfect!) but it would be beyond great to see you do a space sometime with wood trim left natural. I’m loath to paint ours but it definitely needs the right touch to make it work!

    • Abby

      I second Judy’s request here. I absolutely love your style and agree that painting the wood trim makes the room feel so much fresher and brighter. But, my 1905 house has lots of original dark wood trim that we’re not planning to paint and so I would love to see ways to get a fresh and bright feel despite the unpainted trim. (My husband loves it as-is and I just feel like who am I to paint it when it’s been unpainted for over 100 years and we’ll be here just a relatively short time.)

  35. Sarah

    Has anyone seen a coffee table similar to that amazing, only-available-to-designers one? Please share if you have, thanks!

  36. I love the little kids nook. Actually I love it all, especially that rose-tinted vase on the table.

    Wood trim like that always has me torn. On the one hand, I’m a bit of an old house purist and I think you should leave things the way they were originally intended if at all possible, or at least something close. On the other hand, it is super dark and dates the room. Stripping it and staining it a lighter color is a (not very enticing) possibility, but painting it white is obviously much easier.

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  38. LOVE this reveal! So happy to see the wood painted…big believer that you should go with your preference on things like this. Just shared your pics with a client who is hesitating. Also love the flor tiles…staring at them now in my family room, but they somehow don’t look nearly as good… thanks for another inspirational room.

  39. anna

    It’s an adorable space but my toddler would immediately knock over and break both lamps and then try to stand on the folding stools and crack his head open or pinch his fingers in the legs!

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  42. Really loved the finished product, it reminds me of the nook we have in our family home in North Carolina. The choice of color really seems to make the room appear much more spacious and open. The furniture arrangement also helps to that effect. Thanks for sharing the fantastic images.

  43. I love how bright and clean the space is and I really love that you gave the kiddos a place to chill and create. Perfect!

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  50. cathy

    Emily, Is that the West Elm gray and ivory favorite throw? Thank you!

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  52. We have the same wood trim in our craftsman…to paint or not to paint is seriously the question! Well, more like an ongoing debate ;) this looks amazing!

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  57. The pictures look amazing of the sunroom. My company installs sunrooms on new and old homes in the Greater Cincinnati area. We will be using this for inspiration.

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