When Alissa hired us to help her transform not one, not two, but three rooms in her new home (!) we jumped at the chance to add three times the swank-factor to her Northern California ranch. Here’s her letter:
We just moved in to our Northern California ranch. We plan to make this our forever-house, so we’re ready to pull out all the stops! We prefer a traditional style, but nothing fussy. I can follow any plan and am excited and thrilled that you’ll build one for our living room, dining room and family room all at once!
As for what must stay in the living room: nothing. The TV should be relocated to the family room and I need great window treatments. The fireplace mantel is fine, but the green & black marble is not my favorite. The room is in an L shape and the area near the dining room (see Christmas tree) was used as additional dining but because we can set up appropriate seating in the dining room, we’ve considered using this space for something else.
When it comes to what must stay in the dining room: again, nothing. I’d like a table that can comfortably seat 8 – 10 people. Perhaps you can even recommend some kind of tablecloth/protective padding to help keep this new table beautiful during our days of silverware-banging kids. PLEASE help with the light fixture. We have a very large chandelier that was in the living room that we can place here if you think it would work.
And as for the family room, this is where we spend family time. The TV, computer, and toys (kids are ages 3 & 1) all need to live here. All furniture that exists in the living room can be relocated here if it makes sense. The computer desk is built in and may be difficult to change. Also, the TV could sit on the cable ready cabinets where the build-ins are. Oh and we need help managing coats/shoes- we can put them IN the abundant closet space, we just need a system! Thanks a million! – Alissa
And now for three mood boards to bring on three major transformations.
The Living Room:
The Dining Room:
The Family Room:
Here are the mood board breakdowns.
Living Room Mood Board:
1. Our color palette for this room includes some rich brown tones, some soft neutrals to tie all three rooms together, and a fun punchy turquoise as our accent color in this room along with the adjoining entryway (not pictured). For the walls we actually love the current restful tan tone on the walls accompanied by crisp white trim, so we think keeping this color (and adding something complementary in the two other rooms) is the way to go.
2. We’re actually going to anchor the main seating area (by the fireplace) with two sofas which will add balance and that cozy inviting vibe as soon as you walk in the door. Two of these great finds from Pottery Barn (for just $1399 in a durable, stain resistant and kid-friendly tan twill) will be positioned facing each other on either side of the fireplace (one will tuck under that gorgeous window and the other will roughly take the place of the darker sofa pictured above (which will soon live in the family room). Presto: instant seating area, with style to spare. Oh and we brought in a pillow (on sale for $19!) with some swirly blue tones to tie into our punchy blue accent color in the space.
3. Curtains make the room, and hanging these thick grommeted ones high and wide around each spectacular window will add soft warmth to the space along with some great height. And by strategically picking white ones, we’ll echo the white built-in bookcase on the other side of the room for balance and flow throughout the L shaped layout.
4. Oh how we heart this great coffee table (that just happens to be on sale for $100 off). The x-details, the dark rich hue, and the square shape all contribute to making this the perfect coffee table for Alissa’s new fireside seating area.
5. And we can’t just talk about the fireside living area when there’s a whole other area to address in the space. The Christmas tree is currently living in an otherwise unused corner, but we think that area could easily become a little library nook. Just by adding two or three glass fronted white bookcases (on the cheap from Ikea) along with a nice comfy leather club chair, that corner will become a totally usable space for reading and napping alike. And by removing the shutter-esque doors that lead into the dining room, Alissa will free up a ton of space for at least two or three of these bookcases to sit side by side for that true library feel. Oh and the white shelving will mimic the built-in bookcase on the other side of the room for, you guessed it, balance and height that feels cohesive and inviting.
6. We searched high and low for heartstoppingly gorge art to hang above the mantle, and fell in love with this great oversized photograph of a turquoise pottery piece from art.com. Framed above the mantle it will introduce our happy accent color and tie all the other turquoise accents together while creating a truly stunning focal point.
7. And speaking of the fireplace, we think replacing the green marble with some soft and neutral porcelain tile (which will actually be carried through the dining room and the family room floor) will instantly crisp things up and add current and cozy style. And by sticking with the same tile for the fireplace as well as the dining and family room floor, Alissa will be left with less leftover tile (and save loads of money) while keeping things effortlessly cohesive throughout the entire space.
8. Here’s the glue to this whole room. A soft hand loomed 8×11 wool rug (big enough to ground two facing couches) in a soothing neutral tone will create a warm and inviting look when paired with the crisp white curtains, the deep chocolate coffee table and the similarly toned tan couches. Yummy.
9. And for the entryway (not pictured) this amazing console table (on sale for just $99!) will set the scene for the stunning living room just around the bend.
10. To keep this seating area open yet interesting, two identical accent chairs facing the fireplace (with a sofa on each side of them facing each other) will complete the seating arrangement with style.
11. And because we found such a lovely console table for the entryway (not pictured), we thought it deserved an equally lovely art piece to hang above it. This square almond branch print will add a punch of style in the hallway and establish our turquoise accent color in the living room beyond.
12. And here’s the leather club chair we mentioned back when we talked about the little library nook in the other end of the L shaped room (where the Christmas tree currently lives in the second picture). This traditional- and wipeable- leather armchair (for over $200 off!) will only look better as it gets lovingly distressed over time. And having a little spot to take a load off and read something fun is just the thing to add purpose and architecture to the empty corner of their spacious living room.
Dining Room Mood Board:
1. The color palette in here will again be soft and inviting. We’d love to see a warm cream color (try Wishes by Glidden) on the walls- to work with the existing tan tone of the adjoining living room- and some glossy white moldings and window trim to add even more dimension and detail to the space. We’ll also bring in some rich brown wood tones for depth and drama along with some warm neutrals to again add cohesion among all three spaces. You’ll also notice a warm persimmon accent color that we threw in there. From flowers to servingware and other dining room accessories (like napkins, vases, etc) we thought a punch of warm coppery orange would really work with all the other colors in our classic and timeless palette.
2. Alissa requested a big table to seat at least 8-10 people so we dug up this gem in an espresso finish which can comfortably seat ten. Although it’s our priciest piece of the mood board, it’s also an heirloom quality piece from Pottery Barn that will truly stand the test of time while seating her family and friends for decades to come. And since she mentioned the need for a durable protective pad, we found this great company that makes custom tabletop pads that are guaranteed to be the most affordable and offer an unconditional lifetime warranty. Of course we like things a little beat up so we’d probably let the kids bang away since that solid wood table will look good even if it does get a little “distressed” over the years- but it’s totally Alissa’s call.
3. Alissa mentioned that she hated the grody linoleum flooring in her dining room, so we searched high and low for a durable and cost effective solution. Enter these fabulous 18″ porcelain tiles stage left. We’d love to see these large stone slabs throughout the dining room (and carrying over into the adjoined family room) and compared to other similar 18 inchers, these $6 babies are a lot cheaper than similar looking travertine tiles, yet they’ll lend the same natural look.
4. Alissa mentioned that she debated moving the chandelier from her living room into the dining room and we think it’s a great idea. When it comes to an inviting and traditional space, nothing rivals a glittering chandy, and we think it would look right at home above Alissa’s new table. We do think that the table should be centered in the room (there should still be space to pass through on either side) since to room looks a bit lopsided with the seating area crammed closer to the bay window. And once the table is centered in the space, Alissa and her hubby can swag the chandelier over a foot or two to hang directly above the table for a balanced and cohesive look that beckons people in, even from the living room.
5. In working with our warm and golden color palette, this gilded and glamorous mirror is traditional yet oh-so-current and will bounce around tons of light in the space (while reflecting the gorgeous chandelier from many points of view). We’d love to see two of them in the space actually, each hung above identical buffets (that we found for a steal) which will add endless convenience to the space by providing a place on each side of the room to rest drinks, food, and servingware.
6. And when it comes to accenting that gorgeous bay window, these wheat colored curtains will work beautifully with the cream colored walls, the adjoining tan living room and all the warm neutral tones that we have going on in the dining room after they’re hung high and wide to dramatically frame that gorgeous view. Oh and they’ll look picture perfect with the rug that we’ll bring in to warm up those stone floors and tie the entire look together. Stay tuned…
7. Here are those buffets that we spoke of earlier, and we’d love to see two of them in the space, one for each side of the room where there’s a of space that would come in handy for setting down plates of food or servingware when company comes to town. Using two identical pieces will again add to the traditional and balanced look that we’re going for, and at just $149 each, two definitely won’t break the bank. And while we don’t mind the simple metal hardware on each buffet, we’d love to see it swapped out for clear glass pulls that mimic the existing chandelier and add a bit of formal flair to this simple, clean lined piece.
8. We must admit that we have a major crush on this rug. The room will forever look unfinished without wheat colored curtain panels and a warm honey-toned rug, and we think this traditional yet clean and current looking Persian fits the bill flawlessly. And lucky for Alissa it’s also on sale, so snagging the big 10×14′ one (to ground that long table) will be a bit less painful (almost $300 less painful!). Oh and thanks to the movement and the pattern of the piece, it’ll be a lot easier to keep clean (and the inevitable stains that may occur over time will be about a million times less noticeable than some other options).
9. Oh yeah, and what’s a dining table without a place to park it? We thought these totally kid-friendly Parson’s chairs, made from wipable leather-looking vinyl, would look great on each end of the table (for a bit of diversity we love the look of slightly plusher chairs at the ends of a long table) and would also work around the entire table if Alissa wants to keep the seating consistent. They’re over $200 cheaper per chair than the Pottery Barn versions so Alissa can really save a chunk of change. And if she prefers an airier wooden look for the middle chairs, we think these classic schoohouse chairs (for just $90 each) would also look great lining both sides of the table with two Parson’s chairs at the head and the foot.
Oh and our last order of business would be to address those two shutter-esque doors that appear on both sides of the dining room. Removing them would be a quick and affordable way to open up the spaces and create better flow but if Alissa needs them for kid wrangling reasons, we’d suggest replacing them with gleaming white and glass french doors, which will add even more of that traditional elegance that the chandelier brings to the dining area.
Family Room Mood Board:
1. For the color scheme in this room we’ll keep the warm neutrals to tie all the rooms together, add some deep browns in furniture (and paint!) and use a warm golden-green as our fresh accent color. And of course liberal doses of white will keep things feeling clean and open. For the walls we’d love to see the warm golden tan color (Glidden’s Monogram Gold) and for the back of the bookcase we’d love a warm golden green (Glidden’s Willow Wood). Then we’d also like to see the fireplace (brick only, not mantle) pained a rich brown tone (try Glidden’s Calm Matter or Oak Alley). And of course the trim, baseboard, built-in desk, fireplace mantle, and bookcase (except for the back wall) should remain a glossy and crisp white. This dimensional scheme works super well for such an open and light-flooded room, and the more saturated color on the walls will keep things feeling chic in this family-friendly space. Hooray for color on the walls!
2. Again for the floor we’d love to see Alissa carry the oversized 18″ porcelain tile that we suggested for the dining room right through to the family room, and her existing rug from the living room will be brought in to ground the seating area while keeping things feeling cozy and soft.
3. And with those fireplace bricks getting a dimensional coat of rich brown paint, we’d love to draw even more attention to that gorgeous feature with this soft curvy mirror hung above the mantle. It will keep light reflecting around the space and the gentle curves will counteract some of the more crisp and square pieces we’ll be introducing.
4. Here’s Alissa’s current arm chair from the living room that she would love to work into the more casual family room floor plan. She actually has two of these and we’d love to see them placed facing the fireplace with her couch floating a few feet away from the wall with the sliding doors to create an L seating arrangement that will soon get anchored by her existing living room rug.
5. And although Alissa’s current couch is a deep brown tone, we think this room would look a lot more cohesive with a tan or white covered sofa, so we suggest snagging an easy to clean slipcover for her current couch or picking up a super affordable white slipcovered sofa like this $399 version from Ikea. Topped with a few of these yellow-green velvet pillows (on sale from Pottery Barn) the slipcovered chair and sofa will suddenly look cohesive and balanced, like they belong together.
6. And since our accent color for this space is a warm golden-green, these green lacquered boxes from Crate & Barrel will look great on the open shelving to provide some cohesive pops of color throughout that wall (and also to provide some concealed storage for items like remote controls).
7. And for a room with this many white accents (white silpcovers, a white built in desk, white trim and baseboards, etc), white sheers are the best way to go with those windows (they’ll perfectly balance the rich medium tone on the walls and look airy and light). Mounting one long rod from one side of the sliding doors to the other with two floorlength sheers framing the view is a great way to balance the heavy built in on the other side of the room. There’s that word again- balance is key!
8. One of our favorite ideas for this space, we’d love to see four brown square storage ottomans clustered in the center of the room to serve as a large square “coffee table” (and also do double duty holding all those toys). Not only will Alissa’s kids have a place to stash their stuff, these soft leather cubes will appear so stylish and symmetrical in the space that no one will have a clue that they’re full of blocks, trains and crayons. And in durable and wipable faux-leather they’re a dream to keep clean.
9. We actually love Alissa’s built in desk area (right under the window for great light and a sweet view) and think adding a handsome desk chair from Pottery Barn will up the swank-factor exponentially. Going with rich brown wood will echo the color of our ottomans and our newly painted fireplace brick to keep people’s eyes moving around the space and avoid an overly whitewashed appearance. A little bit of contrast goes a long way.
10. We mentioned that we’d be bringing in the existing rug from Alissa’s living room, and we think it’ll fit right in with our scheme thanks to the soft yellow-green tone and all the brown details. By floating this rug in the exact center of the space (centered on the fireplace and the bookcase), Alissa can easily place her two floating arm chairs (which will face the fireplace) and her sofa (which will rest on the edge of the rug with the front two legs on it while the back two remain on the new tile floor).
11. And last but not least we dug up this elegant little table lamp which we’d love to see on Alissa’s built-in desk under the window. Rooms always look nicer with a variety of lighting sources, and we love the neutral tone and the crisp lines. It’ll look ab fab on that glossy white desk with that handsome wooden desk chair.
Oh and as for the coat and shoe storage, The Container Store has about a million options, but we thought maybe using a hanging bar for hanging coats and these shoe caddies would be the simplest solution. Thanks to the plethora of storage space in Alissa’s room, she should be able to stash a whole lotta coats and shoes, and any extra toys that runneth over from those storage ottomans.
The only other thing we didn’t mention is that we definitely think the TV will look right at home on the bottom two middle shelves of the built-in bookcase (gotta love that it’s cable ready). And because our couch will be facing the bookcase it’ll be easy to view the screen head-on without worrying about the dreaded neck kink that you get from watching TV from the side.
Whew. So there you have it. Three cohesive and inviting mood board makeovers (and 3401 words of explanation) to take Alissa’s new house to her forever home in a snap. We can’t wait to hear what you guys think!
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!