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An Update on My Family Room

The family room is kinda a disaster and not exactly moving forward very well and yet we spend SOOO much time in here eating strawberries and getting them on our shirt, obviously. I’m not sure what my problem is and why I can’t pull it together, but lets recap and I can give you the meager update you deserve.

Emily_Family Room_Before 1

Emily_Family Room_Before

There she was, 18 months ago, before we moved into the house. Most of you know the story – we painted, put down flooring, etc. This room is shared with the kitchen and the kitchen is all finished and pretty, but I can’t seem to pull this room together. Sometimes its really good to live in a space before you make all decisions, though because we are slowly really figuring out what we want to do in here.

Emily_Family Room Update_couch area with lighting

This room is more of the playroom and it’s certainly our TV room. The family photo wall is coming along (in my mind) but the real problem is all of his toys. I love that lamp but it takes up too much real estate in this room and we need a piece of furniture there for storage so I think I’m going to replace it with a sconce. All of Charlie’s toys are piled up at the bottom of the lamp, which is really attractive. What am I saying? His toys are typically all over the floor begging to be tripped over, and then 3 times a day we pile them up in that corner. Clearly we need a piece of storage.

The good news? OH YEAHHHHHHHHH…… We mounted that TV across from the sectional and now my life is being sprinkled daily with the tears of angels. It’s so wonderful.

Emily_Family Room Update_couch area

I put that ottoman up to the sofa and I just lay and cuddle and watch my stories. I realize that the ottoman doesn’t exactly look chic like this, but its the exact same height as the sectional so that is what is happening. Maybe after Charlie is older and doesn’t need so much playing/wrestling space I’ll get the perfect piece there but for now, its perfect because its smallish but comfortable and allows for a lot of play room.

Emily_Family Room Update_mounted TV

Brian mounted the TV which was an all day affair, and he did SUCH a good job. He drilled through the back of the wall and hid all the cords. He is a very big strong man.

Emily_Family Room Update_credenza area

Now that the TV is gone from the other side of the room it frees up that area for a real play area. I’m thinking we’ll get rid of that credenza and put in a little table and chairs. We already bought his matching kitchen (navy blue) but its in 47, 000 pieces along with Brian’s pride. We are on Taskrabbit trying to find someone to help put it together. It’s literally like putting together an actual kitchen. We might need to hire a contractor.

So basically the progress is that we mounted the TV and it TOTALLY changed how much I love being this room. Is it kinda in an awkward space? Sure. But it was in an even more awkward place before, and at least now I’m comfy and cozy while I watch TV, not stretching my neck to watch Broad City.

That’s the update. Riveting, I know. TGIF, folks. xx

To see where we started click HERE and to see the progress of the family room click HERE

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9 years ago

I feel better about the state of our family room after seeing yours. We’ve been working on it for 5 years & right now it is the holding room for the stroller and other assorted stuff.

9 years ago

Broad City!

9 years ago

It’s cool to see the angle facing the TV… your house is so cohesive! And I love the stains on Charlie’s belly ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy Friday!

9 years ago

It’s so refreshing to see the state of your family room! Mine is also a work in progress (but, it’s everything?). Also, I love the TV mounted and that you shared it with us. I think TV walls are always the most dreaded part of any family room. Cannot wait to see the final product!

9 years ago

I love that big + pillow!

9 years ago

What’s going on with that TV wall? Is it two different depths? I’m trying to figure it out based on the base molding and I feel like my eyes are playing tricks on me!

9 years ago
Reply to  Emily

The T.V. is covering part of the bookcase in the hall.

9 years ago

I love the whole room!! its great to see little messy family room. I think that that’s a sing of a happy family:)
Sory if my english is bad:P
Greetings from Croatia!

Amanda U.
9 years ago

It’s refreshing to see a non-perfect room in my favorite interior designer’s home! It begs one question from me, though… where is the cable box?

9 years ago

I like where the TV is now. It looks really nice and cosy and really frees up the other end.

9 years ago

How about a big storage unit on that wall next to the kitchen? Ya know, something with shelves above and cupboards below that could house all of the toys. And could Charlie’s kitchen (when assembled :), fit under the tv? It all looks comfy to me! Carry on…….

9 years ago

Yeah for navy blue kid kitchens. I’m from the era they were all pink!
Strawberry stains on the tummy are the best.

9 years ago

Ok. Don’t kill me, but someone said that there were exceptions to the large rug rule. I feel like the rug could be a tad smaller…? As toy storage goes I’ve found through my experience that a nice big toy box is great because you open the lid and just throw everything in. My daughter loves helping me. No joke. Plus when closed it’s extra seating.

9 years ago

I too love that it’s an awkward room, but feels real…I have the same question about the cable box and how in god’s name you even begin to put the cords etc somewhere. We have the TV sitting on a credenza thing, and I’d love to mount it, but I’d still have the blasted cable box out unless i drilled into the credenza….grrr, cords and real life sometimes!

Can I just add, off topic, that I feel so much better now knowing that you/magazines photoshop the outlets out of pictures? How did I not know that happens?

9 years ago

I can tell by your toy situation that your flea market forays have now reached into Charlie territory. Stop now or you will be sorry. Kids don’t need many toys per se. Mostly they want to do what you are doing. If Charlie wields a spade while you garden, plays with a spoon and pot while you fix dinner, goes to the library every couple of weeks to get a big stack of books, goes on errands, walks, and to the park most days, you will not need to be tripping on junk. I bet he’s already WAY more interested in his Daddy’s real tools, rocks, sticks, pieces of rope, and empty boxes. Let him grow up making his own fun…he’s already got the creative genes so the world is his oyster.

9 years ago
Reply to  Cynthia

Oh yay, unsolicited parenting advice.

9 years ago
Reply to  Cynthia

Shut your pie hole and raise your own kid, Cynthia.

9 years ago

What I need to know is where the heck you hid all the equipment?! :O


9 years ago
Reply to  Alyssa

I am also curious, where DID you hide the TV equipment?

9 years ago

I love this update! I think your family rooms looks very cozy, neat, and REAL. A pile of toys in one little corner is actually really organized for most people with kids. I would suggest getting low storage that Charlie can reach to put toys away himself. We have a bunch of large baskets and a low bookshelf (the kind where the covers face forward so the kid can see them easily) that are perfect for self-cleanup. All the blocks go in one bin, the stuffed animals in another, etc. It does mean you have to figure out a way to fill the wall space above, but that’s what art is for, right? And that big open space by the kitchen will be so good for any riding toys, baby strollers, electric cars, etc. that Charlie will want to use inside the house.

Also, Charlie will only need more playing/wrestling space as he gets older (and bigger), not less!

9 years ago

My living room looks like evil criminals came, ransacked the place, tore off some but not all of the crown moulding, and yet took nothing. In fact, they left THEIR junk in OUR house. Bastards. You make me feel better.
My idea for my son’s first birthday gift (shittiest gift ever, mom!) is to get it cleaned up and make one of those adorable DIY Land of Nod teepees in which I will stuff all offending toys.Genius, right? Now I just have to stop puking in my mouth with fear and actually start that DIY project. It’s cool, I have a whole month.

9 years ago

For toy storage, I am a big proponent of these:

Good quality, cool colors. Yes, they are open, so they can look a little messy. But they are great for organizing per bin. Plus the kids can find things easier and not just throw everything out of the toy box.

9 years ago
Reply to  Shaye

I had a similar item from Costco for about 1/10th that price.

9 years ago

Could you do a bigger square storage ottoman on locking/unlocking casters? Then you could roll it out of the way when Chuck Hendo wants to play on the carpet, and then you could feet up for stories? May be too big for the space though….

9 years ago

This post is a great example of why I LOVE your blog. I get inspiration, real information, and loughs from you. I never leave a post feeling bad about my own home or life. Thank you! And worth noting, the play kitchen in our family room is also a main piece of storage furniture!

9 years ago

Broad City is the BEST.

9 years ago

We have a long, narrow family room that is open to the kitchen and includes a sliding glass door, too. So we’ve got similar obstacles as you (plus a fireplace, and walkway through the room). Can’t wait to see where you end up!

For your big storage- you should update a dining room hutch that has cabinets on bottom and shelves (with or without glass doors) on top. Charlie’s toys could be tucked inside the lower part, and you could style the top with anything.

My husband and I bought a TV armoire (like from the 80s and 90s with doors that open and slide back) on Craigslist, removed the upper doors, and installed shelves in that top portion. The bottom is still closed storage for toys.

9 years ago

Is it the navy Kidkraft kitchen? I have the same one and I thought my husband was going to kill me as he spent at least 4 hours building it! It is cute and will definitely look great in there.

9 years ago

A Cado wall unit (with shelves, a couple of case pieces, and a magazine rack, etc) would be pretty killer on that wall where the credenza is.

9 years ago

Little by littleโ€ฆ looking better each time you post. It could be that it feels like its taking more of an effort because you spend so much time in there. It’s like the comfy safe place where you can mentally re-set. Like when you pull warm laundry from the dryer — it’s not all fixed and folded but there is something so right about it. The TV move was definitely a step in the right direction. Good luck with the mini kitchen, those small pieces can be a real bear!

9 years ago

Thanks for doing an “awkward” space post. We all have them…. what is your process for thinking ‘outside the box’ for how to handle them?

9 years ago

Another great post about real life. I think that most toys that kids like are largely hideous by any design standard, but wonderful by the standards of a child. There is really no perfect solution for toys except when your kids grow up and leave home. And that has its downside, too.

I like the Umbra Crunch Baskets (especially the rectangular ones) from the Container Store for bulky hard-to-store things like toys. They hold a lot, are lightweight and they can fit very nicely under an end table. Also, they don’t break or become treacherous when toddlers fall on them and they do not make good forts, which is a real plus.

9 years ago

It looks great and you mine as well accept that every square inch is “Charlie’s play area” until he outgrows toys ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m kidding. But not.

9 years ago

I love your room and I love the toys out … and I also feel for you / hear you (etc.) about picking the toys up umpteen times a day. But Beth (above) is right …. If you do feel a need to have storage then go for it, but the truth is (and you’ll know this from your friends /relatives with older kids), eventually the toys go away, and by eventually I mean sooner rather than later. If you can live as is do it, Emily, so you can save your $$$ for something which will grow with your family. With our first child we purchased a ridiculous storage piece for the toys, a storage piece which was utilitarian but hurt my aesthetic heart. If I’d known then what I know now (a stupid and dangerous axiom as I always come out the loser) I’d’ve just left them out in a bookcase to corral them / get them off the floor, but still visible so the kiddo can see what s/he’s after. My children are now older (10 + 8) but our youngest, who is profoundly + multiply disabled, still plays with his baby toys (where he is developmentally… Read more »

9 years ago

Please don’t ever be too perfect. Perfect is so uninspiring, and perfect seems to be death to bloggers (because not sustainable, DUH), and I would really miss you!

So thank you for posts like this, and yes, also for the EPIC posts earlier in the week. They were completely as great as advertised!

Now, go take the weekend off, please.

9 years ago

Why don’t you replace the current ottoman with a storage ottoman. 2 birds and all that.

Also, I see absolutely nothing wrong with this room. Put some art on that wall and move the lamp/side table to the other side of the couch (where the floor lamp is now) and call it like it is… gorgeous.

9 years ago

Emily, you are such a delightful person. I love seeing the smiley faces of you and Charlie in these posts. And I love that despite being an amazing designer you puzzle over what to do with your own family room like we all do. Keep up the great work!

9 years ago

Exactly what my family room lay outs next to the kitchen and the sliding door to the back patio. I wouldn’t suggest making that the play area because walking through there will become nightmarish (the toys laying around, the Lego models that can’t be moved, in case of my girls: the dolls’ “houses” built that can’t be messed up until the weekend is over).

They say toys go away but I just don’t know when! My kids are 8, 7 and 5 and it’s toys gallore around here! Lots of playing goes on, I guess. ^_^

9 years ago

I’ve never commented on how darn cute Charlie is before, so I just have to say… Wow!!!, he is so darn cute!!! Time is flying by and he is getting so big.

I’ve been using your blog and especially your new house to help my sister with her newly purchased home. She bought about the same time as you and has a 5 y/o and a 2 y/o and I keep trying to explain with her big house that not every single room has to be devoted to her children. She literally has every room turned into a playroom, not a single room is an adult space. I don’t have children so I don’t understand the devotion or obsession to giving over every space to the kids:( Seeing your sitting room or entry space as a more formal/adult space and then having your family room as a space to play with Charlie is great inspiration!!

Love the update!

9 years ago

this might be crazy, but if it were my house, i think (from these few photos – and i may be dead wrong) that it could be really cool to paint the wall behind the TV the same navy as the cabinets.

it will make the tv disappear when it’s not on, and you could even hide the dual-levels of the bookshelf wall by leaving a white ‘picture-frame’ strip around the edges of the TV wall and the edge of the bookshelf, thus making it all look like one flat dark space with a crisp white trim – with a sneaky TV surprise.

9 years ago

If this is a kidkraft kitchen, you should get some else to build. My husband and I built one for Christmas. Never again! It took several night to finish. (I fortunately read the Amazon reviews that said to start early.) We were missing pieces which they did overnight to us, but my daughter hates it and the elevator is broken. She want a Barbie house and only if I can buy a pre-built one will I buy it.

9 years ago

I share your dilemma- only this time our family room has been torn apart for a new 4 legged toddler. New vinyl wood plank flooring (the family room is on it’s own wing of the house along with the mud room) and everything moved out except the comfy overstuffed out-of-style sofa and TV. We’re waiting for the “chewing” stage to be over before we do anything.

However, when we had two legged toddlers, we still went for the simply comfy look with white ikea storage. I don’t have pictures of that, but this one is the inspiration. Maybe on the wall with your console?

9 years ago

Emily, looks great! About toy storage, one day when my older son was about two years old, I had a meltdown about all of the toys in the living room, so I stored them all in his own bedroom. During the day, the toys come out (and sometimes they stay in the living room overnight), but they actually reside in the boys’ bedrooms. Is Charlie’s bedroom close enough to the family room that you could stash them there? It was the best thing I did for my sanity! If you end up keeping them in the family room, I’m sure you’ll find some great (closed!) storage – good luck!

9 years ago

Hi Emily! What a beautiful picture of you and Charlie! Isn’t it amazing how much love and obsession you have with a strawberry stained little bellied boy? Love the joy that the picture captions! I have a 3 1/2 year old and a 4 month old (thank you, thank you, thank you for giving me such good reads during nighttime nursing sessions!!), and it took me awhile to figure out what worked for us toy storage solution wise. Serena and Lily baskets were it. I love their lidded trio of baskets…they’re absolutely beautiful, I don’t mind looking at them all day long, and they’re super simple to just throw the toys back in when we’re done. For my 3 1/2 year old, I have the smaller open baskets for her smaller type toys, but I don’t think she got into that until she was 3. The big baskets with lids are amazing. If you choose to make a different space a “playroom” the baskets are portable. If you move, they will fit into whatever space you move into. I really just love that they don’t scream kid. They’re kid friendly and eye friendly too :). Just my two cents! Thanks… Read more »

9 years ago

Heartily recommend the storage ottoman. A big upholstered rectangular one. Comfy for you to put your feet on, fun for Charlie to take toys out of and make a big old mess (our kids would even end up in the ottoman half the time), and then easy to scoop all the toys off the floor and toss them in the ottoman at the end of the day.

(save the nice baskets and what not for the pretty toys. Like the wooden food for the soon-to-come kitchen. The plastic crap should live in the ottoman.)

Also love your idea of the playtable – especially useful when Charlie gets a bit older. I had one right off my kitchen area and it was a total lifesaver. I could always get my little gals involved in some sort of art project or puzzle time or whatever while I cooked or worked in the kitchen.

9 years ago

Emily, how big is that rug and where did you get it? I always hear you in my head saying don’t get a rug too small, but we have a sectional that I think needs something even larger than you suggested in your last post.

9 years ago

As Charlie becomes a toddler your family room will have many more lives. Believe me, toddlers are CRAZY! I’ve been very happy with versatile pieces of furniture that double up as toy storage adding some cute baskets and I totally understand about the ottoman, they are a parent’s bff! I have four at the moment-1 large, 2 small and one round vintage decorative one. They’re also great to block toddlers out from getting at things like your house plants, let’s say. Also those ikea floating lack shelves, the tiny ones (I’ve always wondered what you were meant to do with those) are AWESOME to elevate things like: a. the telephone, b. the stereo, c. small plants, etc.

My husband was slowly going crazy because of the lack of tables to put your drink down on, so we eventually made a small side table (it’s actually a laptop stand ) reappear.

So I guess the buzz word here is multifunctional.

I have to say my vintage pieces haven’t gotten as much use or love as my Ikea ones lately (how cute is baby poang for example) which feels a bit strange, but then again, being a parent is bonkers too! xo

We have a big ottoman that I ALWAYS have pushed up agains the couch, too! I love the feel of a sectional without committing to that shape of furniture in case we want to rearrange. So comfy!

9 years ago

HI Emily! love your home and thanks for keeping it real, as always. I might be alone on this, but I actually don’t care for your couch that much. I’m sorry! I’m sure it’s comfortable but it looks so bulky and the color is a little drab in these pictures (I’m not sure if it’s like that in real life?). You seem set on keeping it though so maybe switching out the rug as you and many people have mentioned would be a good idea since your rug, while pretty, is a bit formal for the space and the vibrant blue kind of emphasizes the beigeness of the couch and that’s never a good thing. For Charlie’s toys, I’m of the opinion that less is best. My son never plays with all of his toys, he always has a few favorites so I hide the rest out of sight somewhere and when he gets tired of the toys he’s been playing with, I bust out the ‘new ones’. I know you were just sharing your space and not asking for advice, but I couldn’t help but add my two cents. Perhaps I have too much free time today ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway,… Read more »

9 years ago
Reply to  Kiana

Rotate those toys! Yes. They crave novelty, so I always kept a big basket on the floor and a bigger one in a closet, and rotated the stock every week or so, keeping favorites out. It cuts down on clutter and keeps kids happy.

9 years ago

I know it is ubiquitous, but as a preschool teacher and mom, I think the best storage for kids books and toys is ikea’ s expedit/kallax bookcases. They fit everything.

patty blaettler
9 years ago

I have to ask: Where’s the cable box?

9 years ago

Hello Emily. I have to agree with Kiana on the color of the sectional. Could this color be the reason why you’re having a problem with this room? It’s a big piece of furniture and that color just makes me wonder if it reflects happiness like you and your style always do. I remember reading another post of yours months ago, where you said you didn’t do brown – it was about an outdoor furniture you had. I know this isn’t brown but it seems to be from the same family. By the way since that post I’ve also crossed off brown ๐Ÿ™‚ Little embarrassing to admit but true. I feel so style-less of my own.. Like many of your readers, I’m also excited to see the progress of this room because I can relate to it. So thanks for sharing. I have a 8 months old son, a new house, a similar but smaller (wish it was a little larger) sectional, color of which I have no idea what.. maybe grey with a purple-ish (is that a word? I’m Turkish so excuse me for my wording) hue. So I really really want to see what this room will turn… Read more »

9 years ago

I know this is crazy, but I choose primary colors and whimsical prints in my living room so that my kids toys would color coordinate with the room. I’ve had it this way for quite some time, and I love it. Some bright throw pillows might do this for your room.

9 years ago

are you going to sell that fab credenza?โ€ฆ ๐Ÿ™‚ if so, please let me know. if anything, sell it to me out of pity because i was perfectly content with my too-small rug in my living room before your damn post last week! (ok, i wasn’t, but at least i could pretend that i was. now that i’ve been exposed, i must change it & it’s going to cost a fortune!) ๐Ÿ™‚

9 years ago

Totally unrelated to design: I always thought Charlie looked like you, but man does he look like Brian in that picture!