The “Family Room” is getting a lot of use and abuse these days (maybe love, too?) from all of us – whether you have kids or not. I designed ours to be highly practical and functional for our family, (and I wasn’t far off this time – YAY) but even so, after living up here I’ve realized some key rules that you can follow for your day to day “family room’ life. The furniture all turned out to be spot on, no regrets, but with real use (and abuse) comes some easy changes that have made our life easier to live in (AND CLEAN OH MY GOSH THE CLEANING). Watch this video walkthrough to really see it in 3-D, as well as see our amazing lego hack/product that Brian bought (and he pats himself on the back daily).
In the opening photo is how she looked for the magazine/blog shoot – an artisanal game of checkers being played near my borrowed Ben Mendansky (that awesome vase that is not kid-friendly or affordable). I did style it as simply as possible for this shoot because an empty table and an empty credenza would have been sad to look at. You style to “tell a story,” but it might not necessarily be the day to day.
If you are just landing here – Hi, welcome – here is what this room looked like 3 years ago when we bought this house and you can read about its evolutions here.
After a year-long renovation last year (finished Christmas 2018) we shot it last July and now live up here indefinitely.
Rule #1 – Give Yourself Ample Hidden Storage
Not shocking, guys. We love those bins under the bench – they are so pretty and simple (and so affordable considering how high end they look and perfectly match the floor). They aren’t all fabric so they are easy to clean (but look better than plastic – no offense to plastic, but these are very visible so I’d still like them to look good). The credenza is GREAT, we absolutely chose the right one I realize now. Having cabinet doors is easy access, with shelves inside that easily house stacking puzzles and games. The drawers are great to hold all drawing supplies and coloring books. But if it was all drawers it wouldn’t have worked as well, but having some is so nice.
Rule #2 – Keep Surfaces Sparse If Not Empty
The beautiful plaster bench “seat” never did enjoy a rear-end (maybe during nye party), instead it’s the official “lego display surface”. Obviously all the legos would get caught in the sheepskin, so we promptly removed it and gave them free reign. Also when we originally designed this fireplace we toyed with putting pretty birch logs underneath – mostly for the dreamy photo, but we also knew it would likely get some practical bin storage (and it has). I know this sounds nuts but we actually researched pretty bin sizes. We wanted to make sure we were making it the perfect height to sit and have the bins slide easily in and out with enough free space, but not too much to look empty.
#3 – Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark
The furniture hasn’t changed at all – it all lent itself so well for a lot of family use. It was the first time that I have done dark furniture on a dark rug – usually opting for more contrast but maybe I’ve been wrong all these years. Dark on Dark makes it much more family friendly and easier to maintain. The rug has held up pretty well, barring some milk pours that I need to simply try to get out which I’m sure aren’t permanent. It was kinda splurgy but if you are in the market I’m highly intrigued by these rugs that get rave reviews and are meant to be washable – made for families – this one could have worked in here, but I LOVE ours, truly.
The sofa is super deep and comfy, but the fabric is pilling more than I would like a year in, and the back cushions fall down more often then I’d like (trying to figure out a hack) but it’s still really deep and cozy (and we need a deep one to watch the TV above the fireplace). Now had I known we were going to live up here I MAY have done sectional with a chaise instead of a sofa, because we love a cuddle corner, but having a deep sofa is pretty great, too and I’m not complaining (just always consider a sectional in a family room).
Rule #3 – Opt For Furniture That Is Easy To Clean Or Looks Good With Age
That coffee table is a vintage Saarinen that I’ve had for years and I can’t quit it because it’s the most kid-friendly surface ever – it’s so heavy (you can’t tip it over), you can get many legs around it due to the pedestal base, its easy to clean and oval – no sharp edges, FTW. And at this point its been really loved (there are tiny sharpie marks all over it). The leather Norrel chair, I mean it’s such a beautiful chair and so far still in perfect condition (probably because it doesn’t face the TV so it gets less use) but will patina so nicely.
Rule #4 – Remove What You Are Always Having to Clean Up – Duh
While I love some decorative pillows and throws, this sofa actually has really floppy loose pillows so we don’t need more and they just became something for me to have to clean up. Our kids haven’t yet expressed their styling DNA genes. We kept the throw on the back of the sofa and it breaks up the dark grey nicely but nixed all the pillows. The side tables (both live edge – one vintage and this affordable one) are both still GREAT, are hard to knock over, are super pretty, and add warmth into the room.
That was us last year, where I had already switched out the dollhouse on the bench and no pillows on the sofa (as you can see it doesn’t need it). And here we are now (after we tidied it up – an act we have to do every. single. day).
That’s right. A kid sitting on the table and me tagging her cast. So much less “stuff” makes it so much easier to maintain. It obviously does get messy, daily, but with the bins and the credenza right there it’s much easier to clean. I also want you to notice that canvas bin by Charlie’s feet in the corner – that is a LEGO cleaner-upper. Basically it’s a bin that has an attached fabric surface so instead of them laying them all out on the carpet (they have to be able to see EVERY SINGLE LEGO), they just pour the bin into the attached bag. It’s confusing but it’s all in the quick walkthrough video we did at the beginning of the post. It’s just genius and has saved us hours of cleaning and battling to clean time. You can get it HERE.
Obviously these are not styled out or professionally shot, but that’s kinda the point these days. Less stuff, less styling, easier to live. Someday when a guest comes over, I’ll likely make it look prettier because it makes me happy to do so, but for now, it works great.
The kids have a lot of free reign in here because it can take it. We got rid of any lamps they can knock off, but we kept two that give off good light – the standing lamp in the corner and the black lamp on the credenza.
Also, a lot of you were concerned that our TV was too high and it’s really not, I promise (and yes that piece of blown-out white art is The Frame, the world’s prettiest TV). Maybe it’s because the sofa is deep and we can really lay back, but it’s GREAT and not too high. I’ll often bring that ottoman over to be able to put our feet up (thus kinda wishing we had a sectional in here). We could opt for an ottoman instead of the coffee table, but so many games and drawings get done here.
There she is. Finally, an update post where nothing has really changed, just things removed for an easier life. At times I do miss having pretty things around, but knowing that I just have to put them back on a daily basis isn’t worth it. Besides I can stare at my pretty things in other rooms, ones where the kids and family don’t have such free reign.
Question for you – Are we the only ones that let the kids eat on the sofa? Follow up question – Are we the only ones that sometimes lay down towels when it’s something messy like rice or red pasta? When will they get proper eating skills and know how to bring a spoon or forkful of pasta from bowl to mouth without the threat of spilling? Asking for a mom…
Styled Photos From: Mountain House Reveal: How We Designed Our Super Kid-Friendly Family Room