Decorating the Family Room – The New York Times


Paul and Alison chose a sofa from the Potomac collection at Crate and Barrel.

I’ve spent a lot of my spare time over the past several weeks trying to decide on furniture for the family room. My research has included:

* Poring over every furniture catalog ever published — from Restoration Hardware (beautiful, but expensive) to West Elm (too modern) to J.C. Penney (a little too practical).

* Surfing dozens of Web sites, including eBay (there are currently 764 listings for sofas and love seats, but none is what I have in mind).

* Visiting a number of bricks-and-mortar furniture stores, including Macy’s, LaZBoy, Bassett, Ethan Allen, Raymour & Flanagan and Bloomingdale’s. I even dragged Paul all over Manatee
and Sarasota counties last time we were in Florida, hoping to find the perfect local store. But most of what we saw didn’t fit our taste: Robb & Stucky, a small chain, was way too formal, while other
retailers, such as Kane’s, seemed to specialize in dark furniture, the opposite of the casual, beach-cottage style we seek.

My objectives were fourfold:

1. The furniture needs to be comfortable but attractive.

2. It has to be reasonably priced.

3. It has to come from a trusted source that can provide reliable customer service if something does not work out.

4. It needs to be deliverable the first week of April, when the house will be completed. (Yes, I still believe.)

So the winners, as Paul hinted on Friday, were: Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn.

There’s a Crate and Barrel furniture store three miles from our house in New Jersey; not only are the pieces to our taste, but the shipping policy is going to work well for us. It’s a flat fee of $279
for an unlimited number of furniture items going to a single address. (We also ordered bedroom furniture, which I’ll write about in upcoming posts.)

As for Pottery Barn, a customer service representative patiently stayed with me on the phone for about 30 minutes, while we sorted out ordering some items and making sure they could be delivered in early April.

Here’s what we chose:

Sofas

Paul liked the Potomac sofa as soon as he saw it and sat on it, and I liked the fact that it’s slipcovered, and the slipcovers are machine-washable.
The men in my life — Paul, Peter, Sam and Nick (as well as Buster, the world’s most annoying dog ) — are not quite as neat as I might have liked. We were happy with the stock color, called Oatmeal,
because it’s neutral and we can add color and other details around it with pillows, rugs and lamps.

After measuring the family room space, we decided to get a full-size sofa and a love seat, which we plan to arrange in an L-shape: the full-size sofa will have its back to the kitchen, and the love seat will sit along
the left-hand wall (if you’re facing the kitchen).

Coffee and Side Tables

I loved the Parsons collection. It’s a little modern, but the Travertine top is very sensuous and just a bit glamorous (“a bit”
is as glamorous as I get). The only downside: We have to use coasters. We chose a square coffee table and two side tables.

Entertainment Stand

We ordered a Rhys media console (which was on sale; every little bit helps). We plan to buy a flat-screen TV to put on top, and place this
piece at the back of the family room, in between the porch doors.

I know there will be more needed for the family room — lamps, a rug, pillows, probably another chair or two — but this will be enough to get us started, so we can use the space as soon as we move in.

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