Abbey’s Design Dilemma

Abbey’s family room is bursting with potential. Here’s her letter:

I am sooo excited about submitting my request for a mood board for my family room. I found your blog about 3 weeks ago and have been hooked ever since. My home feels like a railroad apartment where you walk into the living room, which then opens into the dining room and then finally the family room. I would like to have a cohesive look that flows from one room to the other. The family room is very bright and opens to the kitchen. It doesn’t really have any style and I’d like it to have a more cohesive & polished look. While I like neutral & muted tones (tans, browns, beiges) my husband prefers a bit of color. So I’d like to be able to find a happy medium. I’d like the room to feel modern, contemporary and warm (I like reds, oranges, golds, browns). Also storage is critical. The configuration of this room is awkward so I’m anxious to see what you come up with. I’d also like to add a desk to the space. What stays: the TV, the green armoire (we are willing to paint it) and the sectional. Items that can go: the tables, the curtains, possibly the TV stand, the lamp, the console with the plants. We’re open to a new wall color and we’d like something that works with the other colors on the main floor (suggestions for the kitchen walls are welcome!). I look forward to your suggestions! – Abbey




This space is primed for a major makeover. Here’s the plan:

Modern, Warm Family Room

And now for the mood board breakdown.

1. When it comes to our color scheme we’ll be bringing in all sorts of browns, golds, tans and reds since they happen to be Abbey’s favorite colors (and they’ll work beautifully with the existing couch). We’ll also replace the lighter toned wood accent tables with clean-lined modern pieces in chocolate brown for a crisp and polished look in a snap. As for the wall color, we’d love to see a warm and regal golden tone on the walls (Benjamin Moore’s Westminster Gold 200) and as for some color for the adjoining kitchen, a softer goldy-yellow (Benjamin Moore’s Cornsilk 198) will really warm things up in there.

2. Bringing in a deep textural round coffee table in the place of the existing rectangular one will instantly add to the flow of the room and create a warm and welcoming atmosphere that’s still modern and crisp thanks to the deep, rich color and the contemporary shape. And since this table is a bit on the pricey side of things (although it’s on sale), we also dug up a cheaper alternative just to toss into the mix.

3. A few of these lovely geometric pillows (just $21 each on sale!) will add punch and pattern to the existing red sofa while tying into all the browns and golds that we’ll be introducing through everything from the golden curtains to the striped rug.

4. Since paper storage is key, and Abbey would like to create an office in this space, we actually though that converting the armoire into a mini work station would be a great solution (as demonstrated by this similar green armoire from Pottery Barn). Many people are relying on this solution when it comes to having an office that functions within another space (like this family room) and we love that when it’s closed no one will be the wiser that it stores a computer and a slew of office supplies (and when it’s open there will be a chair nearby that can be pulled over and used as a desk chair in a moment’s notice). We also liked the idea of bringing in one of these handsome dark wood filing cabinets which can be placed where the console table with the plants currently lives. With a handsome leather parson’s chair next to it (which will serve as the office chair whenever the armoire is open), our little corner office will instantly become fully functional yet oh so easy to tuck away.

*Our alternative to the office in the armoire would definitely be to bring in a desk like this to be placed under that pass-through (it’s extremely light and clean-lined so it’ll take up less visual space than most desks would).

5. And now for another corner of the room. We thought replacing the existing TV stand with something a bit more substantial that tied in with the rest of our chocolate wood furnishings would really add to the entire room. And this media unit (on clearance!) will slide into the corner like it was made for the room.

6. These shimmering golden silk curtains (in “sand dune”) will add height,drama and luxe appeal when they’re hung high and wide on each window to drape from the ceiling to the floor on either side of both windows.

7. Bringing in some rich, golden abstract art will really transform the room in a snap, and this lovely Yves Klein print will add a whole lotta drama without breaking the bank like real gold would…

8. Clean-lined glass & metal nesting side tables (on sale at Pottery Barn!) will create perfect balance on either side of the sofa while injecting an airy & light vibe. We always love to keep things from getting overly matchy-matching, and bringing in metal and glass side tables with a woven coffee table will really keep things feeling sophisticated, layered and inviting.

9. Here’s the aforementioned leather parsons chair that will sit next to the wooden filing cabinet to the right of the armoire in the corner to create an instant office at a moment’s notice. And the price for this leather piece is pretty darn amazing too.

10. Two of these table lamps (one on either side of the sofa on those lovely glass nesting tables) will add a ton of geometric interest and effortless style to the space. We love how the tiny circles on the base mimic the circles in the throw pillows for the sofa- and that the cream color is very close to the lightest tone in our area rug.

11. And speaking of the rug, this 8 x 10 stunner (on sale!) will totally make the space. It will ground the sofa and the new coffee table, make sense of the layout, tie our whole color scheme together, and add a bit more gentle pattern to energize the space in a snap.

So there you have it. A multifunctional family room full of modern and polished style. We can’t wait to see what you guys think! And if anyone else out there is in need of a custom makeover of their very own, click here for some decorating advice on the double.

Note: Our mood boards are now posted at least 72 hours after they’re sent to the client (so they have a chance to purchase everything before it sells out).

Update: Abbey sent over her after pics and they’re amazing! Check them out right here.

Update #2: 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. Martha says

    Another inspiring mood board! I love that pillow and might have to find a place for it in my home.
    Come on readers, VOTE for the youngsters!! They have slipped into 2nd place :(

  2. LauraC says

    I really liked how you turned the armoire into an office space, since they already have a spot for the TV (I was wondering where a desk would fit and love that solution instead). Did you think they should leave it green, or did you suggest paint, which I just missed? Just curious. I love how all the brown materials tie everything together. They look so good together and they are all different – wood, metal, woven reed, leather!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Laura,

      When it comes to painting the armoire, we actually don’t think Abbey needs to lift a brush since we like a dash of fun color and it’ll keep things looking collected over time instead of matchy matchy. Hope it helps!


  3. Lori H says

    Another fantastic design solution from the youngsters! I adore that lamp. I catch myself getting impatient for “after” pictures after so many moodboards, but then I remind myself that I’m not the one that has to make all the changes, so I try to be patient.
    I have been voting everyday – thanks again for the reminders. Time flies (except when you’re in a loooong competition that seems to never end, you must be over the whole waiting thing!) Good luck in these last days, and to my fellow readers, vote if you haven’t!!

  4. says

    Hold on. An $800 coffee table?! Is budget something that is discussed prior to making the board(s)? I would be so upset if you showed me something I fell in love with and then realized I couldnt afford it.
    Sticker shock aside, the room is fantastic.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Christina,

      Yes, a lot of our clients either give us an exact budget to the dollar or mention stores where they usually shop (for example, if someone indicates that most of the furniture in their house is from Crate & Barrel that gives us an idea of their price point). That being said, even when people encourage us to spend some money and dole out a big budget, we still can’t help sniffing out bargains while we’re at it, which is why we also included a link to the more affordable coffee table right after the pricier woven one. Hope it helps!


  5. Elle says

    Off topic but…

    Please don’t forget to vote for John and Sherry in the 48 hour challenge. They only got 15 votes yesterday and are falling way behind.


  6. says

    Hey Guys! I am soo excited about the family room makeover. We’ve been busy ordering items and so far I love what we’ve received. As soon as the room is done I’ll be sure to send pictures.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Wahoo! We’re so excited that you’re moving right along with the big family room redo and we can’t wait to see how it all comes out!

      Sherry (& John)

  7. Beth says

    Just a comment about the sticker shock thing – I, too, have occasionally been in shock about the prices of things you list, but I must also say that there are some times when the person was on a total cheapo budget (that would be me) and you’ve done wonders with just two or three hundred dollars. And I LOVE that even when people say something can be replaced, but it will work in the room, you tell people to keep it. THAT is the kind of thing that would make me hire you (unfortunately, I can’t even afford the price of the moodboard, much less the items, but it’s so-o-o fun to look).

    And I have an unrelated question, sort of. I’ve seen in a few of your mood board descriptions that you say a round dining room table needs a centerpiece to ground it. Can you explain why that is, and why a square or rectangle doesn’t need that? And does a round coffee table have the same requirement?

    Thanks YHL!!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Beth,

      Thanks so much for the kind words! Always nice to hear. As for the round-table-needing-something-substantial-in-the-center-to-ground-it thing, we can’t really explain it in scientific terms but can only say that from our experience with pedestal tables (we have a big one in the sunroom and a second smaller one in the den) we’ve learned that they look best with something with a bit of visual weight to keep the table from looking restless and unfinished. For example, a round table can look bare and boring, just that “it needs something” feeling, and you can switch out the chairs or throw down a runner but it still feels like it’s not done. Toss a glass vase in the center and presto. Polished and lovely.

      As for an oval table, it can also benefit from a few objects with height, but not one in the middle as much as two medium sized groupings (maybe a stack of books on one side and a tray with candles on the other side). Keeping things from getting overly symmetrical will make it look more loose and appealing (as opposed to scary-staged). And when it comes to rectangular and square tables, while they definitely benefit from something on them as opposed to being totally bare, they can usually appear polished and finished without needing too much height or visual weight (for example, a tray with some bowls and napkins and silverware can look charming on a rectangular dining table). Hope it helps!


  8. Erin says

    Great job again!
    I know this is off topic and probably not the right place to ask- but seeing how I know you read and respond to comments I thought I’d just pose my question here. Would you and John consider posting a homebuying guide or list of tips for first time homebuyers? We are out on the hunt for our first place and we’re looking for something that has potential, like your home, but maybe needs a little work and updating. I have read countless articles on things to look for, but I’d be really interested to read your opinion, because you’ve definitely found a great home and done a terrific job of taking it to it’s max potential!


    • YoungHouseLove says

      Great question Erin! We’ll definitely add your request to our To Do list and hopefully be back with our take on a homebuyer’s guide soon! Stay tuned…


    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Laura,

      Good question! When it’s all said and done a custom mood board usually takes us anywhere from 5-7 hours. First we go through our client’s answers to a questionnaire that we send out to help us figure out exactly what they want from the space and then we check out all their photos and really get a sense of the space. After brainstorming with their pics and info (sometimes sketching out a new layout or figuring out how to make a space multitask more efficiently) we let our fingers do the walking and seek out tons of furnishings and accessories that we think might work for their space. We make our mood boards in Adobe Photoshop, so after we bring a bunch of our favorite items into Photoshop, we size ‘em, cut them out, and add some numbers to create a handy dandy guide that correlates to our explanations.

      When it comes to what goes into the process of picking each specific item that makes the cut, we usually start with the requested decorating style along with specific furniture requests. For example if someone wants a “sleek and modern dining room” we might start with the table (a fab glass one from CB2?). Or we could start with a super cool light fixture (a modern pendant from West Elm?) or even with the curtains or the rug (which might inspire our color scheme).

      In a nut shell: there’s no method to our madness and a lot of what we choose at the start of a project gets bumped by something better that we find later (curtains that looked great with the table might get swapped for new ones that look great with the table AND the new rug that we found). It’s an unpredictable process, but it’s always super fun. Then of course we have to write up a numbered post all about why we chose what and where to put it, so that takes a bit of time as well… but it’s always time well spent when we finally get to feast our eyes on the fabulous after pics!


  9. says

    I recently found your blog and I am addicted. Thanks for all of the info and inspiration. Amongst other upcoming projects, I plan to stain the floor of my art room like your sun room.

    Quick question… I read your answer about the oval dining room table above and I have a follow-up question. I have a very large oval table (54″x70″ withOUT any of the 4 leaves – but perfect for our family of 7) and I want to hang a round pendant like yours over my table.

    But, with the size of the table, should I think about using 2 pendants or maybe one with an oval shape to mirror the shape of the table??? Help!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Lisa,

      Great question! I would go with either a long fixture that will mimic the shape of the table (like this one or this one from West Elm) or a round one, which will still look lovely with your curvy oval table below (just be sure it’s not too dinky- bigger is better). You could also probably do two airy pendant lights (like these) but two drum shades might be a bit too “heavy.” Hope it helps!


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