Manisha’s Design Dilemma

This decorating doozie is all about accent pieces and accessories that can completely alter the style of a room. Manisha dreams of a lighter and more contemporary family room, and gosh darn it we love to give the people what they want. So we whipped her up a custom mood board to solve her problemo. Here’s her letter:

Dear Sherry & John- Your home and design choices are really beautiful and inspiring and your blog is a favorite daily read of mine! Where I need your help is in our family room. I purchased a sofa set that had red, gold, and mustard pillows and thought I’d try for a fun global eclectic look but boy was that a horrible idea. The room started to look really confusing and gave me a headache whenever I entered it. I’d like to stick with neutral colors but move away from a more global and traditional look to something much lighter and more contemporary. With that in mind, I’d like to purchase a sunburst mirror for over the fireplace, a new rug, some lamps, window treatments and a coffee table – any suggestions you have would be great. Thanks!! – Manisha

The bones are all there. The creamy tan wall color and camel couches are the perfect starting point along with the deep wood tone of the side table. And those white shelves are particularly reminiscent of our own dining room shelves– which are über clean and modern. Manisha’s room is primed for a light and bright transformation, so let the fun begin.

Here’s the mood board breakdown.

1. We’ve pined after this gorgeous Pottery Barn rug for months, and think it would be the perfect addition to Manisha’s neutral family room. The geometric pattern adds a contemporary feel and the soothing blue tones immediately lighten and brighten the whole space.

2. This amazing lamp is another way to inject more of the new pale blue accent color into the room. And at an unbelievable sale price of $23, ya just can’t go wrong.

3. If lightness is the goal, look no further than a sparkling reflective surface. A silver sunburst mirror over the fireplace would make the room seem more open and airy while adding a splash of glamour. Good call Manisha.

4. The white shelves would fit the new contemporary and clean feel if they sported yummy reflective accessories in tones of nickel, chrome, glass and pale blue. This gorgeous mirrored obelisk from ZGallerie would absolutely take the cake.

5. These perfectly priced Target pillows in pale blue silk would definitely work with the existing chocolate ones on the camel couches. Along with the pops of blue in the lamp bases, a few splashes of color on the couch will keep everything feeling balanced and help break up that sea of camel and chocolate.

6. The new color scheme is a classic combination of chocolate brown (in the rug and the wood furniture), camel (in the couches), pale blue (in the rug and the accessories) and creamy tan (on the walls and in the rug) along with pops of crisp and classic white. Mmm- it’s one of our favorites.

7. This West Elm coffee table sports clean lines and a deep chocolate color to ground the pattern in the rug without feeling too heavy. It would be the perfect place for some big hardcover books about the ocean, the sky, the mountains or anything else with glossy blue and white cover art.

8. Here are some more light and contemporary accents, this time in the form of apothecary jars stuffed with breezy beach shells. They’d look fab on the white shelves or the existing dark wood side table.

9. Crisp white curtains from Ikea would finish things off and invite the sun into Manisha’s new light and airy family room. These particular curtains rock our world (we have them in our living room as well as our sunroom) and the price (for two!) is oh so right.

That about sums it up. We’d certainly love to relax in a family room chock full of the items above, but what do you guys think? Ideas? Comments? Ready, set, sound off.

Update: We sadly can no longer find the time to take on client commissioned mood boards (we now whip up general inspiration boards instead) but if we ever reinstate them we’ll make a big announcement!


  1. Joni says

    Love the concept board! May I ask how you put these together? I tried one in Powerpoint, and, sadly, it hardly compares!

  2. says

    I love the items you chose for that room! I hope that they take each suggestion and send in an “after” so we can see the finished product.

  3. says

    I was a googlin’ and ran across your site today. Ya’ll have a great thing going! My husband and I lived in Lynchburg for years. We miss good old Virginia.
    We are about to close on our first house; I’m coming back and browsing all the archives for more inspiration!
    (I love your choices for this room, by the way. AWESOME.)

  4. YoungHouseLove says

    Hey Everyone,

    I’m so glad you guys are diggin’ the moodboard. And I’m so happy that Jennifer discovered us while a-googlin’. Yippie skippy. Welcome aboard Jennifer, and good luck with the whole first house thing. We’ll give good ol’ Virginia a high five for ya.

    Oh and Joni, John and I do our concept boards in photoshop since we’re both advertising geeks with a penchant for layouts. It takes a while but it sure is purty. Hope that helps!


  5. says

    Wanted to mention to Joni that is a super, free-to-use site that you can go to in order to make your own concept boards. It started out as all-things-fashion, but you can now pull items from just about any site and plop them onto a little artboard. I’ve done a couple for my blog using items from Pottery Barn and Maine Cottage. It’s very fun, and supercool. And no techie experience required! :)

    Thanks for the VA high fives, Sherry! We can’t wait to come back and visit someday!

  6. Beth says

    Beautiful! Another feature of this blog should be the “after” dilemma pictures. So many good ideas and suggestions — I would love to see what everyone ends up doing!

  7. underwood-dc says

    What’s a good creamy tan wall color? This will totally work in my living room. The only difference is that my couch is chocolate brown! So, needless to say, I am thrilled! And I too have been pining for that rug. I think I’m going to make the plunge!

  8. YoungHouseLove says

    Hey again Jennifer- thanks for the polyvore tip! Oh and VA says “wut up.”

    Beth- That’s totally the plan- although no one that we’ve featured has sent pics as of yet. You know I beg for them, right? Who loves a good before and after more than me?! Hopefully people are just about to hit send (and in their defense, it might take some time to order and implement some of our ideas). Fingers crossed…

    Underwood- So exciting about the rug and that the general design idea should work in your living room! Maybe you can be the first one to send us after pics that we can feature (be sure to take some current shots for us to use as befores). Some of our favorite creamy tan colors are “Sand White” by Glidden and “Oatmeal” by Ralph Lauren (both available at Home Depot). Our only warning is that you should definitely bring color swatches home first to see how the colors look in your space. It’s amazing how a color can look great in our house and terrible in a space with more or less light. Good luck and keep us posted!


  9. Manisha says

    Hi Sherry & John,

    Thank you so, so much! I appreciate it so much. I love everything you suggested and can’t wait to start shopping!! Thank you for being considerate too on the pricing, everything you guys picked out is within our budget which makes it a lot easier. Seriously, I’m going to buy it all if I can. I especially love all the glass and reflectiveness; I know it is the perfect solution to lightening up the space. That rug is really fun too! I really love how you pulled it together for me. I will send you pics when I’m done revamping!


  10. Amy says

    I love your blog. I’m not sure how I came across it but I’ve been reading for a while now. Great job on the living room, I love it.

  11. Kati says

    I saw the after of her fireplace in your portfolio – can Manisha give any details to how she refaced the fireplace?

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Kati,

      Good question! I’ll shoot off an email to Manisha and hopefully she’ll stop in and explain the method to her fireplace magic! Stay tuned…


  12. Manisha says

    Hi Kati,

    After tossing around some ideas about refacing the fireplace by covering the brick with the limestone we chose, we decided instead to demolish the brick so that we wouldn’t have any sharp and potentially dangerous corners for wee ones. So, we hired a contractor for the project and he literally sledge hammered all of the brick away and used glue and grout to apply the limestone tiles. The mantel was custom built and all we had to do was prime and paint it, he then nailed it to the wall. If you are in the southern CAlifornia area, I’d be happy to pass along contact info for the contractors we worked with.

  13. Kati says

    Thanks Manisha! The illogical person in me hoped for a super easy DIY project – but a contractor sounds like a much better approach. It looks fabulous!

  14. Greg says

    Hi Sherry,
    Do you know anyone who has ordered a ‘pre-made’ fireplace surround and install it themselves?
    Any recommandation(s) as far as manufacturers/ suppliers?

    • says

      Hey Greg,

      Good question! We have seen it done (although we don’t have direct experience with it) and the key is usually notching out the baseboard so the fireplace can lay flat against the wall and look seamless. Now suggestions on brands though, maybe just try googling for a local place and dropping in to see some in person? Hope it helps!


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