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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson

The Family room has been a room that I’ve struggled with since we moved in. We didn’t know how we would use it and if you don’t know how you are going to use the space it sure is hard to design it. Would it be a play room? TV den? And how much time would we want to spend here? Well, I’m happy to say that we have figured that out and it’s coming right along ….

But let’s recap where this room has been since we bought it.

Here is what it looked like when we first bought it – actually when we FIRST bought it the bay window was completely covered with the vines that cover the front of our house – like pitch black.


We trimmed them back (and even more since this). This room may have been a dining room, I’m not sure. Those two doors led to the hallway that housed the hot water heater and washer/dryer and a closet on the right. We renovated (see this post here) to open the space up as that particular area – as well as the entry into the kitchen was dark and totally under utilized. A fun game to play is ‘where do you want to stand/sit’ in your house and if there is one obvious place that you want to be less than everywhere else – then change it. In our house it was this space – the kitchen entrance (a tiny swinging door) and the den. So we opened it all up.


Gah. MAN. That is hard to look at. As we were renovating (in the world’s fastest renovation ever) we had to choose all the paint colors in basically one day without sampling on the wall. I chose neutrals for most rooms and then for fear of being WAY too boring we decided to go dark with this one. We painted it Stiffkey Blue by Farrow and Ball and the color itself is great, but we weren’t psyched about what it did for the room (duh, it created a long dark hallway).

But we lived with it for a bit, unsure of what was the perfect solution.


We fostered that sofa for a while from Sixpenny and shoved all the toys in a messy piece of garbage book shelf that I got from the flea market that fell apart 6 days later.


See? The color was good, but ugh, not for that weird space.  I tried a few vintage rugs (below) and it just got worse and worse ….


What I didn’t realize (and what I wrote about in the first post) is that when you have slightly awkward architecture, what you DON’T want to do is highlight it with all of a sudden a much darker paint color. Additionally if you want your house to flow nicely visually and you have an open concept layout, then do not paint one large portion of that floor something MUCH much darker. It made the entire house feel smaller. Save your dark colors for enclosed spaces, not a room that is shared with the rest of the floor. (Great, advice, Emily – I sure wish you had told me that  5 months ago.)

We painted it Ammonite from Farrow and Ball, and INSTANTLY felt so much better. It was like the house itself sighed in relief. We have that color in our bedroom and I could not love it any more. And by the way it’s not the same color as the entry/stairwell (blackened) or kitchen (strong white) and it looks great together. I was slightly worried about the tones, but it’s just a really pretty tonal story that adds some depth and interest, in the most subtle way.


We styled it out for this Target shoot before loading in our furniture.


Previously I had shown you a working mood board (not finalized, folks) and we are getting closer to completion.


I asked you to help decide between the more granny antique persian rug or the solid indoor/outdoor rug (in this post). I chose the antique and couldn’t be happier.

Meanwhile we got to work on the custom sofa. I LOVED the one in the mood board from Anthropologie, but sadly we needed much shorter and yet deeper. So we worked with Clad Home in LA (Rosa Beltran’s furniture line) to customize our dream family room sofa.

What I loved so much about the sofa was that it was modern, with traditional elements, had a simple seat cushion and back (not multiples) which has become a big trend that I’m into. The arms are tiny which provides more seating. It’s 5″ off the floor which makes the room feel bigger (sofas that are all the way to the ground can ground a space but also cut your eye off).


When customizing a sofa I highly suggest working with someone who has a TON of experience in doing just that. The amount of tiny measurements needed that you need to specify is daunting and if you get them wrong you could really ruin the design (which I have before). It’s not just width x height x depth. Clad has an insane amount of experience making any style, length, size (and making custom sleepers that are so pretty). Yes she gave me a discount but you’ll see that her prices are actually very affordable considering that you can make any custom sofa with only a 6 week lead time. I believe that she will ship all over, but Clad is based in LA.


I chose this super soft poly-blend velvet that is really easy to wipe up and I spent more to get the most comfortable feather/foam combination (something you should always ask about). I think it was an additional $300 to upgrade. Clad provided the fabric so I can’t link it up (its included in their cost), but they will be able to let you know what it is if you are interested. I think this one would have cost $3000.


It’s so dreamy, you guys. It’s incredibly deep (if the cushion is off it’s practically a twin bed) and instantly soft. It even has the Brian Henderson seal of comfort approval. If I were to do it again I would reduce the back cushion by 2″ so it doesn’t stick up above the back.


Next up – the curtains finally arrived!! I love these so very very much. I worked with Calico on them (I’ll do a full post about it) and they couldn’t be more perfect. The pattern is a blue-ish/green tree toile, in a washed linen.

Meanwhile we still haven’t really figured out what we are doing with the end of that room. Right now we have that cozy rug from Article that the kids love reading on, a toy trunk that is kinda awkward and that cabinet (that is very secure to the wall, don’t worry). I think if I were to shoot it properly I would put a round play table/chairs over there. I’m still thinking about eventually putting in a built-in shelf-storage-bench, but there are a few oddities that are stopping that idea. 1. The view from the front would be super weird if the floor to ceiling windows were blocked by something the bottom 20″ or so. 2. The windows aren’t tempered and aren’t in the best of shape. They need to be totally replaced, but that would a. be super expensive, and (more importantly) b. I’m scared that by overhauling the windows the vines that are clinging to them would get cut – and these vines are the mother roots for the growth over the entire house. Those scraggly things you see up there are actually super important or it will all die (and it’s just so dreamy). Once we get our privacy fence up I’ll consider taking a photo from the outside so you can see. My contractor didn’t really have a solid enough solution and we were just done spending money when we renovated, but maybe in a few months I’ll get some people to quote on replacing the windows and consider any solutions to make it pretty from the exterior. See … complicated.

Speaking of weird things ….


See those curtains on the right? Well, longest story ever (and one that I wasn’t really going to tell you, but well YOU KNOW ME) … here goes.

I originally chose and ordered those curtains in that fabric in those curtains for Elliot’s room before the wallpaper was up. Once it was up I realized immediately that the curtains had to be white. I had made a mistake – you’ll see once I reveal it. So I emailed Calico immediately to stop the production but these were already made. Since I was going to have to pay for new ones to be made anyway I had them bring them over when they installed everything else. In person they were just so pretty.

Meanwhile when I’ve been sitting in this room, watching TV I have felt that I wished we had the option to close it off so I didn’t have to stare at the entry and kitchen at the same time. It just felt too open.

Emily-Henderson-Family-Room-Update-05I had brought up the curtain idea even before this and Brian/Mel/Ginny thought I was crazy and pretty much said ‘no’. So how serendipitous is it that we had left over curtains, that were wide enough, and the most perfect color for this room?? They installed the rods, with pass through rings and while you can’t tell – it’s full enough (and black out, so sound absorbent!) to completely close off the room while we are watching TV but can be gathered to be totally in front of the TV during the week when we don’t really watch it.  You can’t see the curtains or rod from any other room so it’s really just a secret. We’ve had it for about 5 days and I for one LOVE it. I snuggle in and watch Married at First Sight (and now the Bachelorette!) and it feels super cozy. And if we need to use it as a makeshift guest room we can.

So do you think? Is it super weird or kinda ingenious?

Obviously we aren’t done with the room and I need to figure out what is happening in front of the window as well as what art is going up on the walls. Stay tuned, folks.

Quick resources – sofa, pouf, antique rug, blanket bin, sconce, ceiling light, solid curtain, patterned curtain, standing lamp, color block pillow, stamped pillow and the blue color block pillow is from Citta in Australia.

  1. I LOVE the curtains-over-the-TV-wall solution. It might not please some people, but the fabric adds warmth and coziness, and it solves the cord/ugly TV situation. I would do it myself!

  2. I love this–where is the ceiling light from, and would it work for a similar space without such lovely windows?

  3. Hmm, this is a tough one because there’s no getting around how awkward that room is. It just reeeeally doesn’t say “tv room/den” to me. I think it wants to be a dining room or office space, or really anything where the main furniture floats in the middle of the room.

    I do think the curtain thing is no bueno. I saw it in the Facebook live and thought it looked throw-together and not at all intentional, to be honest. I totally understand why you wanted a barrier there, but it doesn’t feel right. Have at all you considered installing a hidden projector screen in the main living room? I can really see that room being a cozy den-by-night, and then the screen can be out of sight during the day. I know that still doesn’t leave a real solution for the awkward den, but I think it makes a lot of sense.

    1. I kind of agree! They just seem a bit random and out of place. Other than that, the room is great, and the rest of the house is beautiful.

      1. I agree. It’s like forcing a round peg in a square hole….it may fit, but still awkward.

    2. Someone woke up on the mean side of the bed. While this room is a awkward shape/size, the coziness makes it more of a “viewing room”. It’s a shame to see so much negativity in your comment.

      1. how is someone being “mean”? why is pointing out this room is going to look awkward and forced unless it’s what it clearly wants to be – a dining room or office, being “mean”? this is a design blog – people are sharing their honest yet tactful opinions? It’s not like Emily has to listen to any of us, but I completely agree – there is absolutely no way this room will ever not feel “round peg, square hole” unless you just embrace what the room wants to be. The only win out of this is to re-demo the room so it’s less awkward (if possible), or let it be how it should be (dining room/office/nook). Improvements otherwise are just lesser degrees of “not good”…regardless how many color changes, furniture changes, or curtains you can hang. It’s just one of those rooms. Emily seems like she’s had to make a million decisions on this house all in a short time span, which means you never really know how an entire picture is going to look at the time, PLUS you don’t know how it will feel with all the other rooms/house as a whole. It happens, that’s the entire point of this post. But the room isn’t a head scratcher of a problem – it’s clear what the issue is, and there’s very little getting around it, which in a way is nice to alleviate so many options to fix it. It’s like, 2 choices. Or look at this room every day with a “eeeeeeehhhhh eff” feeling.

  4. LOVE, love, love the sofa color!

  5. Can you please share the source of the hardware for the curtains i.e. the rods and rings. They are exactly what I am looking for as well.

  6. I love everything about the room with the huge exception of the rug. It looks as though the colors clash, it breaks up the mood, and it’s totally distracting. I’d love to see something more subtle that lets the gorgeous sofa and beautiful curtains sing. I didn’t have a strong opinion on the original post about it but now all I want is to see a more subtle option in there for comparison.

    1. I agree. It’s a lovely rug but doesn’t compliment the sofa, at least in the photos. The sofa and curtains together–lovely.

      1. Weird! I literally think its perfect. Maybe it looks better in person 🙂

        1. You’re the queen of pattern mixing and boldness! I’m totally loving your new take on neutrals too. This is the best of both worlds; I think the rug is perfect!

        2. I think it’s perfect too. Kinda monochromatic…very dreamy.

      2. Love the rug – just wish it was a smidge smaller so we had a border of gorgeous hardwood peeking through. But it’s so hard to find the perfect rug. Perfection is impossible and frankly boring.

    2. I agree.

  7. Love it! Have you considered swapping the curtain panels so the pom-poms fall on the outside edges? Since these are never in the “open” position, it might make more sense to put the accents on the outside edges?

    1. Very good

      1. Ooooh, right!!! that is a good idea …

  8. Looks great! I’d love to know more about the curtain rod with pass through rings. Link?

  9. These photos really amaze me and point out how useful your posts are — especially when you show the process. The room looks like an entirely different space now than it did when it was dark blue. It is beautifully open & light but still cozy now. Thank you for sharing your successes and mistakes – so helpful!

  10. I have to say, I really like the way it looks for the Target styling. I think the chair/cabinet is great, but with the size of the couch, putting a chair right next to it seems odd. I wonder if you could move the cabinet to the other side (It feels like you need some height over there… maybe it’s just b/c there is nothing on the wall and I only see the plant in the one picture) and a chair on the other side? Could you do some sort of storage coffee table to get rid of the trunk, which looks a bit awkward? As for the curtains… it feels like A LOT of fabric going on in that room. I get the usefulness of it… and I don’t hate it. But it probably wouldn’t be my first choice.

    1. HA. it is kinda a lot of fabric going on, but i’m into it. We don’t have room for a coffee table – the kids are in and out of that room all day and we don’t really need one. I had the cabinet over there but we liked it better on the other side but we are still playing … so we’ll see!

  11. love the curtain/tv thing. Keep them. Also, your couch is absolutely stunning. I think this might be my favorite room in the house. Close call with the dining room….

  12. hi emily. i love just about everything you do always, but this space feels quite cold, like an ice box. the room doesn’t seem to get much ligh and all the colors are the same, bluish tones. it lacks dimension and contrast. maybe a different rug? it’s a very pretty piece, but something big and blue needs to be switched out and it can’t be the sofa because it’s so perfect. narrow spaces are so difficult, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s you.

    1. I know, it’s hard to offer constructive criticism to the guru, but I am having a hard time too. I think it’s the curtains for me.

      Also, I’m quite certain this was an office.

    2. I agree, the room needs warmth. And it is very akward as a tv-room. It should be a diningroom or a study. I’m very curious to see what Emily does with it.

      1. You guys, we aren’t done! Stay tuned. Once there is art on the wall and the furniture is figured out you’ll see 🙂 We don’t need an office, we need a TV room and somewhere to house the toys. But if we did this sure would be a great one.

  13. I love the curtain solution for every reason you listed!

  14. I really love the little nook area in the styled for target shots.

    1. Me too! It seems more grounded.

  15. I love the Target shoot!

  16. LOVE the sofa, the rug (I need that rug for our master bedroom!) and the curtain to hide the TV is just such a pretty solution!

    1. Really? It feels Winchester mystery house to me. (I truly don’t mean to be mean) Emily can do no wrong, and is so far ahead of my senseabilities so I’m sure in time, I’ll love it. It is just odd to me now.

      1. ha. i’m going to google that. 🙂 not sure what that means but it sounds fun … 🙂 you’ll see. stay tuned!

  17. Hmm. I kinda prefer the Target shoot. But, that couch. I love that couch!

  18. I know your stance on area rugs and that you feel this isn’t possible but I think the rug is actually too big. And I’m not sure it works with the curtains? But I might eat my words when I see the final product, which I’m sure will be amazing.

  19. I have to say that I agree with the others who loved the Target look. It feels much more homey and lived-in. Perhaps it’s the lack of art/accessories in the current space, which seems a little moody.

    1. I really like the target look, too. Unfortunately that sofa is too small for more than 2 people. I think people are into it more because it looks finished and pulled together. So stay tuned … i’m not done 🙂

    2. That was my first reaction as well, and then I looked harder at the Target shoot. While beautiful, it’s very, very generic and doesn’t take any risk at all. Right now, this room is a work in progress, and I feel it has the potential to be fantastic once finished. As it is now, I agree with the other comments: the rug doesn’t link with the fantastic sofa, the curtains are awkward, and the room lacks warmth (art, plant, texture, styling). However, I look forward to the finished room, once the design dream team figures out what they want to do: it has the potential to be amazing.

      Why not bring some pastel pink, like you did in your daughter’s previous bedroom ? It could be elegant and a bit old-world with this sofa.

      On a side note: I really enjoy these “progress” posts. I learn A LOT from them, following your trains of thought and learning from your mistakes. It’s really humbling to realize that your favorite designers can make mistakes, and I feel empowered to try and (sometimes) fail. I had to repaint my bedroom three times in 5 years, but I never gave up and finally nailed it: if I had listened to my nagging doubts, I’d have stayed with the (non-working) first color.

      1. Great point! Yes – thank you, Emily for sharing the progress shots. We all learn, seeing you learn.

        I’m not overly wild about this room right now — though the paint color is way better. I agree with those who say it’s a little too “cool”, too many different blue/greens going on, mixed curtains, etc. That being said, I’m very curious to see what you end up doing with it because I tend to love your finished products!! 🙂

  20. I know the room isn’t finished but I’m not loving the curtain to hide the TV. It’s too close to the curtains for the windows and now the room looks like it has too much fabric going on. And I have to agree with some of the other comments. The window curtains do not sync up with the rug. And I guess the whole palette. Everything looks super washed out. Ugh, I’m sorry but I do prefer the Target room to this one.

  21. I agree that the room looks a little cold, but I think that art above the sofa could change all that. And maybe it’s just the lighting from the session.

    Also, I love your curtain solution. It’s not perfect, but it works. Plus, I really LIKE that it keeps the TV hidden otherwise.

    1. Thanks, Marcia. You are right. Once art is up we are good to go. I know the curtain is controversial and visually i’m not into it, but functionally I sure am ….

  22. love the sofa and colors! I can see why this room has been a conundrum for you. I can’t help but think the room would feel “more right” 🙂 with the sofa positioned with it’s back to the bay window and a custom made to fit sofa table behind it. For all us still scratching our heads, could you ever position it there, snap a pic and post it just so we can stop bugging you!! hahaha. I love your creativity with the curtain and imagine LOTS of future plays and magician shows in your future. what a treat for those cute kids of yours! As always, thanks so much for giving us so much of you and yours.

    1. I think I need to do a FB live where we try everything in different areas and then we can all vote. Photographically is different than day to day function. If I had to decorate this for a photo i could do it immediately, but to make it work for our lives is much more difficult.

  23. So, have you experienced being in the main living area or kitchen with the curtains closed. I can see how it adds some coziness to the space when you are in the t.v. room, but it would drive me nuts to see the backside of the curtain. Love the color scheme and the lighter walls. Great post to see the evolution of the room.:-)

  24. This space is becoming so dreamy! As in, I want to take a nap, right here, right now. I agree with the other commenter about it needing a pop of warmth, but trust that you’ll be bringing that in, knowing your aesthetic.

    The TV curtains, though.. maybe this is just my own hang-up (pun unintended), but curtains in front of any kind of a door space always look to me like a temporary-I-can’t-afford-or don’t-have-time-to-put-in-a-proper-door. It always seems chintzy and cheap to me. I’ve lived with rooms like that and just don’t get it. Others mileage may vary. I do appreciate that the depth of the sofa & ability to close the room off means it can be used as guest space if needed. And please keep those gorgeous windows floor to ceiling!

    1. I once styled the most stunning modern farmhouse in california for a shoot. I mean everythig in this house was PERFECT and their taste was impeccable. They had thick velvet curtains closing off TV room and it just looked BEAUTIFUL and warm and a room that I wanted to be in. Now is this exactly that room or house? Nope. Its trickier, but normally I would agree with you about it being cheap, but I think it can work. Whether it works visually in our house is a very good debate.

  25. Wow, your living room is gorgeous!! It’s literally like my dream living room and it’s so nice to see before photos to show just how achievable it really is 🙂 Thank you for putting together such a detailed post, I found it really interesting and helpful.

    Have a great week 🙂

    Chloe @ https://girllgonerogue.blogspot.co.uk/

  26. I love the soft colors in this room and the whole modern English country/traditional direction of your new house. Maybe people think the Target room looks warmer because it has plants and stuff on the walls. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all comes together. And I love that you share how even professional designers sometimes have to try many furniture configurations, colors, accessories etc. before a room feels right.

  27. I kind of like the Target shoot as well and like others, I envision this room as
    something else too. Frankly, I find the separation between living/family room a bit outdated.
    If it were me, I’d take your present living room as THE family/living room – it’s comfortable, you spend
    probably most of your time there and it has direct access to your garden and kitchen.
    The current TV room would make a great 60s style “salon” type room. It’s right next to the entrance and ideal for it. Have that new sofa at the window, a bar cart on the side and a few comfortable chairs to lounge in and sip a Martini.

    1. Ooooh! That’s a great idea!! Much more functional.

  28. I’m wondering why your floor people didn’t install matching flush vents / grills? Or if they did, why not also in this room?

    I also want to say if you’d had the back cushion of your settee made two inches shorter you’d hate it, because every time you sat down you’d hit the back of your head / neck against that hard edge of the sofa. And then you’d promise “if I had to do it over I’d made the cushion two inches taller.” No win, but save your skull!

  29. Hm. A few thoughts:

    1) Is there space in bay window area for a child-sized table and chairs? That might be a good use for that space since the architecture makes it feel like a bit of a separate zone. The little table could also be centered on the window, which is really calling for a symmetrical furniture arrangement.

    2) I can appreciate that the room is lighter and airier opened up, but it does fight the architecture of the room/house a bit to have that room opened up like that. The open end has kind of waffling definition that doesn’t make sense in an old house.

    It’s not egregious, but if in practice you also prefer the room to be more closed up (which you’re now doing with curtains), why not just actually close up the room again and give it a proper door? That’d be far better for sound proofing and coziness and occasional guest bedroom use. And I think it’d look better and more intentional architecturally. Win-win.

    Something like this would actually create a natural little hallway:

    1. YES! This is what I wrote below but so glad you visualized this. I don’t even think you need the added walls/adjustments on the laundry room, just closing off the den wall to a 90 degree angle makes such sense to me.

      1. Yes, is this something you’ve considered Emily? And thanks for sharing the not so perfect progress. It invites so many buggy suggestions, but it truly is helpful as a reader. I have a very narrow space that I am also trying to make into a tv room, so I am loving seeing this process. I appreciate the vulnerability of a design blogger showing the progress and imperfections that are oh so relatable.

    2. Yes! My earlier comment seems to have gotten lost in the ether, but I also suggested closing up that wall and making a smaller entry across from the bathroom door.

  30. We live in an old Spanish bungalow in LA and didn’t trust the windows in case of earthquake so we put this safety film on the windows instead of replacing them. It has given us a lot of peace of mind, has held up to toddlers hammering the glass and dogs jumping on it and it was very affordable. I don’t know if his is the brand I used, but it was at least something similar. http://www.shattergard.com/home.html

  31. I guess I would have to see from the other side what the curtains look like when they’re closed. Love the couch.

  32. Bummer. I like the windows so much better without the curtains.

  33. Thank you for sharing your process/progress. It makes me feel so much better about the slow style evolution of my own home. That sofa looks totally nappable. 🙂

  34. The Target shoot is nice…for another house. THIS house needs your velvet sofa and antique rug. I think a small table and chairs in the window would be perfect for your kids- cute and functional. Yes, the curtain to close off the room is quirky, but quirky is good! I don’t like when everything is just perfect. Enjoy that sort of secret closed off space.

    1. Completely agree! The styled Target shoot looks great and serves the purpose it is meant to do: make us want to buy everything in the room! But it does not fit the rest of the house’s style/feel nor does it serve the functional purpose for Emily’s family (TV den/playroom). I think once this room is completely styled it will be beautiful AND functional. Emily- I really appreciate your openness and honesty about what it takes to design a real room in a real house with a real family living in it. Even the best designers don’t pull that together overnight. It takes time and it is very much a trial and error process. Can’t wait to see it completely done!

  35. The curtains ton close off the room are totally genius. I watched your Facebook live where you talked about this and how it’s made it so your kids ask for tv less and I that was so awesome too. I think you should keep them there. Who doesn’t love snuggling up on a comfy sofa in a cozy room after a crazy day?

  36. As someone with a living room that has to double as a guest room, I have to say that I LOVE the curtains and think its totally genius! Plus I’m sure it also helps dampen the noise in that room. Everything looks spectacular and I totally want that couch.

  37. I have to say, I think the problem is you shouldn’t have opened up the room the way you did. It made it awkward to arrange furniture in the room and too open to the rest of the house. The curtain is filling in for the portion of wall you removed.

    I think the real problem is you made too many big decisions at once, and before living there.

    I do adore the couch and rug. They are beautious 😀

  38. I love progress posts.
    But progress post comments baffle me!
    The post: This isn’t finished, but we’re making progress! Here are all the details about what we’ve done and where we’re headed!
    The comments: It looks like you’re making progress, but seriously, this room would be so much better if you would just finish it.

    1. Lol and amen.

    2. Hahaha!! So true! (For the record, I love the cosy dreaminess of this room, and I’m so intrigued by where it’s going! The curtains make tv watching seem so dramatic, like you’re in a theater!!

    3. Hah, yes!

  39. I think the room is looking lovely. That sofa is so pretty. I enjoyed this post because it’s real life. Like don’t we all have a room that we just have to make work? I’m pretty sure all over America there are dining rooms being used as playrooms and sunrooms being used as offices, etc. etc. I think you’ve made this room work (and beautifully) for YOUR family and that’s what matters.

  40. 1. The curtains are genius, I love it
    2. Can’t wait to see what art you choose for that wall behind the couch annnddd
    3. A kids table in front of that window would be great

  41. Emily, whatever you will end up doing with this room will be fabulous and cozy! I had a thought, while watching your FB live: I think the curtain idea, to close off the room and hide the TV, is great! How about running the rod from the TV wall to the wall that is on the side of the couch? That way it would really close off the room in a cozy way (with the curtain going all the way down to the laundry room wall, it still feels open).

    Looking at the floor plan that someone made of your house (!!!), I had another thought (besides thinking that, yes, it is definitely a hard room to know what to do with): how about shortening and widening the wall where the TV is now? That would create a place where to drop your keys and mail as soon as you go in. Also, as you come in, you could have an immediate view of this room that could be the playroom. A small size table and chairs by the window, the blue chaise you have in your living room could sit in the corner (where the couch is now). The couch could move to the living room, opposite the other one. You’d have a view of the playroom from the kitchen and you would benefit from the light coming through those gorgeous windows.
    Also, because it sits behind the entrance line, energetically, it would benefit from being a playroom.

    I didn’t put a lot of thoughts into this before writing this comment, so this could very well not make any sense at all, ahahahah!!!

    Thank you for showing us the process, which allows us not to feel like complete failures within our own home struggles;-)

  42. This room is so tricky. Every time I see it I can’t help but wish that the TV wall was a few feet longer (the wall on the right when you walk in the front door), so then you can just make a normal entryway into the TV room at a right angle to the other door that’s there (is that the powder room? I think it is). Then you could do a pocket door or just another arched entryway to get into the TV room. I feel like with your house being so open, at some point when you have little pre-teens and GAH – teenagers – someday they’ll want somewhere they can go downstairs that isn’t so exposed to everywhere else. I really don’t like the curtains (and in the fbook live it was clear how hard they are to open/close, since Brady was helping).

  43. So, I love it! The mark of good design is that the homeowner loves it and can live with it. I’ve seen how so many designers design pretty homes for others and theirs is more personalized, lived in, risk taking, and at times ironic. Rarely is any home of a person that designs “picture perfect” and most of the times rules get broken. That’s what makes it home. I love putting up too many mirrors, owning too much glass ware, putting up too many photos (all in good taste, but too many by “photo shoot standards”. Keep the drapes. Keep the colors monochromatic and washed out. It’s a perfect beginning palette to layer in the eye candy. Don’t let anyone tell you they’d rather see the latest special in your home. If you love it, keep it. I think it’s pretty stunning and would totally do something like that in a second!

  44. I like how it’s developing. The soft colors are really nice but I have to say the Target version was perfection.

  45. Oh Emily, your posts just make my heart sing! (too much??) I really didn’t like the dark blue for the same reasons you outlined in this post, but I love, love, love the room as you have redesigned/repainted it! I am a huge fan of using different blues in lots of rooms – it is just the most peaceful and calming palette! Love the new sofa and totally get the feeling you have achieved with the curtains. It’s now a very cozy and snuggly and private area of your home -nice to have when every other area is so visible from the rest of the house. I totally get it! ROCK ON, EMILY!

  46. Thank you for this post!! We just ordered a rug with blues in it online and when it came it was more teal. We have mainly navy in our living and dining room. This helped me see that I don’t have to be soooo matchy matchy! I love love love the rug and the sofa!!!

  47. I really love how the rug, sofa and curtains go together the colors seem to play well off each other. I know you not done. I think the curtains to hide the television and enclose the space really works. Such great progress.

  48. I like this post because I see that super talented and experienced designers make mistakes too. By showing your mistakes and process, I am learning design for my own home. I LOVE the new paint color. The room looks cozy. I like the extra curtains. I think that they are beautiful and functional. I wish I could close off my open floor plan like that, but I haven’t found my solution yet.

    1. I love where this is going! I’m sure that when you get the art up, as described ‘live’, it will feel more finished. The colours are dreamy, and a little pink may spark it up somewhat. Can’t wait for the finished version.

  49. Hi Emily
    Is that sofa on wheels !!!!

  50. The color and shape of the sofa is gorgeous. I kinda want to rub my cheek on the fabric so I can just feel it’s softness! I think this updated room drops bombs on the target styled version!

    I think the kids have lots of toy areas around the house and that a simple writing/art desk (NOT kid size) to accommodate 2 chairs for them would be great under the windows. Maybe this is their art/craft studio area and the other toys go elsewhere. Or even the piano here.

    I also think a slim lucite or glass coffee table would be a great addition to the space to make it feel less like a hallway and more like a proper room.

    I saw the Facebook live feed of you and then Brady trying to open/close the tv curtains and it made me chuckle…hard. Looks pretty and warm, but didn’t seem functional, maybe they glide easier once you get used to it.

    Stoked to see the artwork you choose and the next update!

  51. I wish I had your options! I would put the pom pom curtains in the window, and the dark rug (top right) on the floor. I think it would all look nice with the front door color. I love seeing your progress!

  52. Kudos to you for beeing so open with mistakes, Emily.
    IMHO it is a tragedy that you opened up the wall… only to realize that it is too open and not cozy enough.

  53. Hi Em Henderson design team,

    I liked the style that you did for target shoot much better, I mean in terms of furniture layout, it felt so much more like a tv room than the actual layout.
    It looks like the sofa is too big and room feels narrower than it really is and although I understand the idea of the curtains hiding the TV, I think that they also help to narrow the room and feel heavier than a simple TV, I totally agree with Jessica with regards to the projector screen idea.

  54. I LOVE the sofa and the carpet, especially the velvet material the sofa is covered in.

    However, the window curtains look random and not part of the TV area. In my opinion, Toile de Jouy belongs in bedrooms. Maybe just because that were I see them in France and the UK. I feel they don’t have the same weight as the velvet and carpet and therefore misplaced. If anything, I would put the curtains you’ve used to block out the corridor in the window as they are heavier.

    Perhaps a classic pattern that hints at traditional such as a chinoiserie or damask in a heavy cotton or silk would work better…

    1. By the way – as the room seems to be going down the traditional English lounge look, you might like to check out some of the traditional UK fabric makers for inspiration (other than the ubiquitous William Morris patterns!).

      A few that have been around for a number of years include Colefax, Sanderson, Cole & Son, Zoffany and Designers Guild.

      Also – you have a wonderful painting of a man in a gold frame over your fire place – I think he would look stunning over the sofa here and add to the whole traditional vibe.

  55. I love the Target shoot but I loooooooove the room in its current state. We also have two small kids and have just converted a room off the living area into a TV room and it’s an absolute godsend – and so important to be able to close it off, both to feel cocooned when in there for Family Movie Night, and, when the kids are older and you crave a little bit of adult time while they watch their favourite movie for the bazillionth time, to shut off the sound of it and hide them away for a few minutes! Stylistically, this room is perfect to me as it feels like a dreamy fusion of the styles of my two all-time-greatest design heroes, Emily and Holly Marder (Avenue Lifestyle). The gorgeous velvet and the lines of the sofa are pure Emily and the restrained palette (including Ammonite) with the subtle hit of terracotta create the calm feeling that I admire in Holly’s work but can never achieve in the madness of my own household. It’s blissful, Emily – a lovely haven to retreat to.

  56. Love the sofa, although I wished you had gotten a custom sofa that fits in that bay window like Jordan Ferney from Oh Happy Day did, however the room may be too narrow for that. Anyway as I said love the sofa and love the rug, don´t love the toile curtains – am I the only one who thinks they look very 80ies-Laura-Ashley in a bad way? (Sorry). As for the bay window, a round table? Anyway it´s very refreshing to see that even great designers like you struggle with a room 🙂

  57. Love what you’ve done. I adore that blue color but the white does look much more airy. And the custom couch looks so comfy. Can’t wait to see the finished product, Emily!!

  58. I love the new paint. So much better!

    I think I’m not a fan of the couch color. The mood board has so much richness with the dark green sofa. The Target shoot has richness with the dark brown sofa. The pale blue sofa doesn’t have enough depth in a space that doesn’t get much light. I wish it was dark green, dark aubergine or navy.

    I think a deeper sofa color would help the curtains pop too and balance the rug.

    We had a similarly shaped living room in our last house and we found that a long narrow bench worked really well under the TV. It functioned a bit like a coffee table, but also could work as extra seating in a pinch. It also kept people from walking too close to that wall and bumping into the TV.

    I’m not a fan of the curtains. It’s weird that they’re hung at a different height that the others. And the different fabric doesn’t help. They just seem…. like a temporary fix.

  59. Well personally I really like the green/blue vibes, although I wonder if it’s the toy chest that’s throwing it off to be a bit cold? If so no biggie, it’s going anyway!

    I am interested though – your family room/play area was by far the hardest room to decorate in your old house, and the same with this one. Why do you think that is? I wonder if it’s just because they were rooms open to other spaces, or whether it’s a form vs function thing? A TV room isn’t by nature a space designed to be chic, it’s designed to be cosy and comfortable and have a great view of the Bachelor. But it’s your job to make every space look amazing. Is there a fundamental knack or thing to remember when working on a space like this?

  60. I’d keep the curtain that blocks off the room since this is clearly functional and makes you happy. But I’d get rid of the curtains over the windows because (like another commenter said) — “too much fabric.” Agreed – the rug is too big. Love the couch. I like the idea of adding window seats – maybe with built in storage?

  61. Very interesting to see the process in action and the thinking behind it. I read somewhere yesterday that the difference between “interior decorating” and “interior design” is that the latter is really thinking first about function, and then letting everything flow from there, which is what I think Emily is doing here. Fascinating to see all the trial and error that go into it.

    Re the “curtains over TV” thing — since everyone else is weighing in, why not? I like the idea but I agree I’m not a fan of the curtains — that’s a lot of hanging fabric in a small space. I would go for some sort of Japanese screen or wooden paneled screen. It would hide the TV while adding some textural contrast with a non-fabric material, and perhaps echo the art over the sofa in some way. Just my two cents (that and I’ve always wanted to find a place for a Japanese screen in my own house!)

    1. I think the idea of a wooden or Japanese screen is interesting, but I’m not sure how that would weather in a home with toddlers (can’t speak for Emily’s, but my kiddos would destroy that in a day). Is leaving the TV curtain in-place as-is and then adding wooden shutters to the windows in lieu of curtains (in order to bring in less soft things) an option?

  62. I’m sorry, I’m not on board with the curtains over the tv. The trim is lacking balance right now. There’s too many soft surfaces. I don’t know if that makes sense, but your beautiful floors are almost completely covered and now the walls are too. I feel like the room needs a little more wood or maybe some rattan. I know your kids like playing on the sheepskin, but when I look at the target shot, I like how you can see your floors at the end. Plus kids need a hard surface to play with trains and building blocks on. Other than that I like direction the room is going in. The sofa and rug are beautiful. I know it’s fully complete. I’m sure it’ll look amazing like all of your other projects 😊

  63. Brian is a saint! If I were changing my house every other day like you do my husband would nix me. HA!. Love the room

    1. OMG, ^^this. My SO gets upset when I move the washcloths (in order to rearrange the linens closet for optimal storage). I could not imagine what he’d think if I were constantly rearranging things he can actually see 24/7 (linen closet door is closed 99% of the time). YAY, Brian!

  64. Am totally with you on the curtains to close things off. Maybe having one curtain type for the room (instead of two) would be better?

    Love the rug. Love the sofa. Love the poof. Love the pillows. Love that this room now has a purpose.

    Do not love what appears to be very deliberate placement of the rocking horse (unless the horse is actually used on a daily basis, in which case, rock on (get the pun?)).

    I know it’s a matter of opinion, but I’m not feeling the wall sconces – they seem to visually intrude on the space, at least to my eye. Would prefer if they hugged the wall a bit more, and perhaps if they were black (which would match the standing lamp). They just seem too blingy for the vibe of the room to me.

    About the ivy and the mother roots, if it were my home, I’d just cut ’em down. It seems like having bare mother stalks seems like an awkward halfway point between cutting them down and leaving them unaltered (like a person where a tux on top and no pants on the bottom – weird, right?). Ivy does grow wicked fast, so you could presumably plant new ivy and train it to grow in a flattering way from top to bottom.

    In any case, I really like where this room is going and I think it looks a million times better now than before.

  65. I am surprised that some of the commenters don’t like the rug or the sofa – they are my favorite things in the room! Literally the only time I’d be willing to say something negative about either one would be if I thought that somehow I’d then be gifted the items for my house, lol. :: does rain dance for luck ::

  66. I absolutely love the colors in this room. Probably gonna copy them for our bedroom. So lovely!

    I think you have to wall off this room and put in a real door or a small entry opening. The curtains are pretty, but it’s too much rich fabric in the room with the sofa and I do think the whole set up looks like an afterthought. My eye is just begging for the room to be closed off with walls.

  67. I think “Curtaingate” has surpassed “Stool Gate” 🙂 I love how this room is coming along but I have to agree with most of the other readers; the curtains in front of the TV looks like a temporary fix; something that belongs in a graduate student apartment and not a gorgeous home like yours. I know you found the perfect stools; so you will find the right solution here too.

    On another note; the sofa is gorgeous and I LOVE the rug as well.

  68. I love the sofa; however, I would reconsider the rug: The current one is too muted and needs more contrast. I am curious to see what solution you use for over the couch and your accessories which will help the dynamic. Also, is there a way to add a “like” button to comments? There are some really good ones on here.

  69. That is super ingenious! I think you just started a new trend. I am imagining myself with a candle, wine, and super indulgent nutella-something pastries, and watching something cheesy. Thanks for that mental picture 😉

  70. What’s the deal with the wood hanging out from under the couch? You can see it from the side angle in one pic but not another. A stray block?

  71. I’m sure this room will end up looking nice, but personally, I don’t get the appeal of such worn-looking rugs.

  72. Ohhhhh, I love this version SO much more. I kept hoping you would paint it light. It’s great!!

  73. Wow you’ve come a long way and the color palette is perfect. I think the curtains are a great idea for you to feel closed off and cozy at night watching TV – I would love that feeling. It doesn’t exactly read that great during the day though but interiors can’t just look perfect they have to be functional. I think I’d rather see the curtains fall closer to the door way instead of covering up the TV and then build a narrow 2-4 panel/door slider thing (like shutters) that cover the TV and cords. You need some warm and wood in that room and that’s a good place to put it. I don’t know it could be kinda cheesy but the curtains are cheesy as a solution to covering the TV. I like the curtains more for the privacy over the doorway. These awkward shaped rooms are a pain in the ass especially when you’re trying to force it to be something it wasn’t meant to be but you’re really getting there!

  74. As a designer shouldn’t you already know that painting an awkward room a dark color would just make it MORE awkward? Aren’t you supposed to be a “professional” at this, yet you continually struggle with rooms, have to redecorate and redesign everything, always trying and trading out new furniture, polling your readers for suggestions, etc… seems like an awful lot of trial and error (and waste!) for someone who does this for a living!

    1. That’s very harsh. Emily is a professional and the designs in her portfolio show that; however living with a room and styling one are different. This room has to suit her family and be practical. We that follow her posts like to see her thought processes and how things arrive at what they do. It’s nice to have your opinion valued too or at least feel like she listens.

      Sure, it’s not the most practical way for her or anyone, but designing your own home isn’t the easiest. You can make it pretty for someone else, but you rethink when you live with it.

    2. A designer’s home is their laboratory! Yeah, it is a known rule to not accentuate weird architecture with a dark color, but there are exceptions to every tried and true rule. Risk taking should always be ok – especially in one’s own home.

    3. I don’t even know where to begin. First, the Ask the Audience posts are done because they’re popular – readers like them. Second, Emily’s home isn’t a client space – there’s a lot more trial and error going on than would be in a client’s space. Third, the musical furniture is frequently sponsored, borrowed, etc. Fourth, don’t we all have a room or two in our homes that is more of a struggle? Emily is trying to have every single room be perfect – that’s really hard. Fifth, rooms evolve over time, no matter who designs them. Everything is a work in progress.

    4. Yup. I suspect the reno happened too quickly. You have to live in a space for a good while before doing anything structural.

  75. I love the rug and sofa combo–the colors are beautiful together.

    I’m very confused about the curtains, not because I don’t understand the concept, but I’m not clear on the floor plan of the house that makes it possible to cover that (what seems like a really big opening) with a curtain rod?

  76. Floor-length window panes that aren’t made with tempered or safety glass in a house with small children running around are a tragedy waiting to happen. If you can’t get them replaced, please make sure they have a safety film on them or securely block access to them. Your children and your friend’s children are priceless wonders and need to be safe, as do you and anyone else working or moving things around those windows.

    1. Oh gosh, that’s a great point! I hope she reads that.

    2. I agree, that is a little scary…

  77. You are so brave to ask what we think, so here goes! I love your new sofa, its def a forever piece and your new paint colour looks great. What I’m struggling with is how serious everything looks, (mayb you’ve grown and I haven’t lol) but I miss your playful, weird, and slightly edgier style. I realize you’re not done, and I totally love and appreciate how you share every step of the way……have you thought of doing white built-ins on the tv wall from the window to end of wall around knee to mid thigh height? I’m an old girl and have raised 3 children and I always noticed how they LOVED playing at this height on their knees, setting stuff up etc, its great storage and the tv could stay on wall just above it or sit on built-in, they could float above or go down to floor, just an idea. Most of us know we are so out of your league, thanks for asking our opinions, its fun.

    1. I miss her playful look, too! Especially in a tv/play room… this is quite a serious and old-fashioned look that doesn’t look like Emily at all.

  78. I soooo appreciate you, Emily, for allowing us to see the progression of this room (with mistakes and all). So fun and extremely helpful! Cannot wait to see how you finish it off and accessorize it! Love the color palette and I am sure you will choose great accessories to make it feel more homey (as it does feel a little cold at the moment).

  79. The curtains seem awkward but I can understand the need for them (though it seemed in facebook live like they were a big pain to open and close). But if you had known from the start you wanted this to be a cozy TV room, perhaps you could have just moved the smaller doorway/opening over to be opposite the new bathroom door, rather than opening it up so wide? And then you wouldn’t have needed the curtains 🙂

  80. Um, this room looks SO GOOD NOW.

    At first when you gave the house tour and showed the curtains, I was like, “You guys, she’s lost it. She’s just putting drapes around ugly things,” which is the decor equivalent to giving up and wearing yoga pants every day.

    But then they grew on me and I also think in the context of the NEW room, with that serene and gorgeous rug and that BANANAS CRAZY LUXE COUCH, I now also think the curtains are genius.

    Can I convince you to remove the crazy black pom pom trim on them, though? xoxo

  81. This reminds me of a British living room…..lots of pattern. The curtains hiding the tv are beautiful but I don’t think they work. It feels like the rug and window curtains are each fighting to be seen first making the eye confused. The couch is heavenly. I would change rugs as you love the curtains so much. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

  82. I did a similar thing with curtains to close off our open kitchen from the great room when we entertain. The Victorians did this with curtains all of the time.

  83. Emily, an idea about the windows….

    I live in a city (of Richmond VA) and had a friend who bought a row house down the street, redid everything – it was incredible. The only issue? The picture window in the living room looked out onto the brick wall of the neighbors (about 4 feet away) and more specifically a window into their laundry room where they “stored” all of their cleaning supplies in the ledge of the window. It looked terrible. All you could see when you looked out the window was oxyclean and tide bottles.

    (The foundation was set a few feet above ground level, so the 8 ft privacy fence didn’t help much)

    My genius friend had her husband build a lattice screen against the fence high enough so it blocked the window of the neighbor (they still had 2 foot or so on their side, so it didnt block their light or anything) and she trained lilacs along it and it is breathtaking when you see it. Looks like it was always supposed to be there. (I’m downplaying the expert lattice work, it was nice, not just a piece of lattice nailed up or anything, all trimmed out, custom and beautiful)

    Anyways – my thought was could you get some nice custom iron or wood pieces mimicking the windows to go a foot or so in front of the windows, and train the ivy to grow on that instead of the windows? like a false front? I don’t know if that’s even possible, and I don’t know if it would solve the light solution or kill the ivy, but I thought I would just pass that along to see if it may help.

  84. Genius!

  85. I think it totally makes sense as a cozy lil’ TV room! Thank god you figured out the paint color in there, it looks alive now! I absolutely loved the room the way you styled it out for the Target shoot. It looked so inviting and fresh. What an amazing transformation!

    I know once your done with it everything will be just lovely.

    Thanks for always be honest and sharing all the progress, whether it be good or bad.

  86. Target shoot looks great. I’d stick with that. The blue rug doesn’t work with sofa. Plus it has no punch. Floor cushion seems random. Curtain wall is an interesting concept but doesn’t feel right yet. I’d much rather look at the honesty of the tv than a wall of fabric that doesn’t mean anything. Maybe sliding screens that double as artwork would be better? Window curtains seem danty and totaly out of place. Scale of sconces seems off. I know it’s not done, but it just looks randomly thrown together to me. Sorry to be honest, but I think you want to know?

  87. LOVE the sofa! LOVE the paint colour. The curtains ate the windows…I think they draw the eye to the outside view of cars. I can imagine some great shutters instead (I know you love the curtains) and they would totally fit in with the calmness of the room. Those curtains are just too busy, even pulled open.

  88. Hi Emily,
    A thought on what to do in front of your windows…
    Picture the scene: Two very proper English wingback chairs (think Babington House and the chairs are tilted toward each other to better share scandalous tidbits of gossip!) with a small round table in between for you and Brian to perch your wine glasses on while you watch your adorable children play on that fabulous rug! And I mean it, that rug is a knockout!

  89. I realize the room isn’t done, but I can’t get past the clashing rug and sofa. The sofa is gorgeous and the elements individually are all very nice. Something about it all together as is does not work. I’m not the professional here so I can’t wait to see what Emily does with it. As far as the curtains the heaviness of the tv curtains with the lightness of the window curtains throws me off a bit there.

  90. I like the curtains. The softness of the extra fabric element really makes the room feel cozy and it’s nice that you can close it for overnight guests.

  91. Have you considered planting delicate climbers to trail up the vine roots. Perhaps a well behaved clematis might provide beauty without sacrificing light. It would likely complicate future pruning of the existing vines, but it might be worth it.

  92. I can’t get past the fact that toile is bedroom fabric. Maybe this is a flaw in me, but the window curtains are really bothering me. That’s where I would have put a stronger colour to make the place more exciting.

    I think you’ve chosen really lovely paint shades but they are all photographing as basic white (F&B in person is always so much better than on screen). I wonder if that’s why we’re all head-tilting a bit at some of these house updates. You’ll get there!

    1. Yes, I agree. The other curtains may look better at the windows?

  93. I am not in love with the curtains. You could do a barn door that when open would cover the TV and but could be closed to close off the room and then the TV would be visible. Or some sort of sliding door solution. I am also not a huge fan of having the TV in line of sight, but the curtains are not doing it for me.

  94. I’m finding this post and all the comments really interesting because I feel like this room is like a classic awkward English room (Ginny might be able to relate).

    It’s really refreshing for me to see a room where the furniture can’t go in the middle! A lot of our rooms are awkwardly proportioned with quirks and often furniture has to get pushed against the walls and can look like a line up rather than pulled together. Also, a lot of us don’t have a surplus of rooms so they have to multi-task, like both a sofa-bed and an office space in the living room.

    I think it’s a fun challenge and I really appreciate you sharing your progress and hit-and-misses because it gives us confidence to make mistakes and keep fiddling till it clicks too.

    I also love that this is going in a very different direction from your previous house; it makes it exciting to follow. I think some readers are just taking a bit of time to adjust, perhaps, English-style houses aren’t easy so compromises are a big part of the design!

  95. I agree with you. It seems as although the colors clash, it breaks up the mood, and it’s totally distracting. I’d love to look some thing more diffused that we could the fantastic sofa and beautiful curtains sing

  96. I think everything in the room right now looks beautiful and I love the colors! Can’t wait to see what you do with the window area! Also I’m dying to know where the little rounded terracotta pot with the olive tree (?) in it is from. I’ve been looking for something like that everywhere!

  97. The Family room has been a room that I’ve struggled with since we moved in. We didn’t know how we would use it and if you don’t know how you are going to use the space it sure is hard to design it. Would it be a play room? TV den? And how much time would we want to spend here? Well, I’m happy to say that we have figured that out and it’s coming right along …

  98. Thank you for taking us along as you work on this room! 🙂 If the curtains add value to how you use the room as a family, I’d say absolutely keep them. I love the idea another reader mentioned of putting the pom-poms on the outside edges. To further blend the two curtain groupings together, would this be a situation where you could mix the two sets of panels together? Meaning, are the solid panels such that some of them (or if they are only two large panels, could they be cut in half width wise), and used as the outer panels on the main window – and then the current outer panels of the print pattern could come over and be sandwiched in between the solid panels? There may be a million reasons why that wouldn’t work with the current panels, but just a thought to make them look like they match.

    Thank you again for taking us along on this, I am LOVING learning from all the changes and thoughts behind them!

  99. I think I would find a bug old round table in an old rustic wood (nothing polished and put it in the window flanked by two small upholstered armchairs on castors. You could add a lamp, stacks of books, artifacts on the table and use it as a space to use the laptop or kids to color. The armchairs could be pulled closer to the TV for extra seating.

    I feel it needs a large statement piece on that end to draw your eye away from the sofa and to balance the room.

  100. I actually put up a curtain panel to close off this nook we have in our apartment and not only does it work really well, the detailed pattern brings life and texture to the adjacent room when its closed. I love this idea!

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