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Updated Family Room Ideas: Combining Style and Practicality

In this post: There’s no need to sacrifice style in the family room in exchange for practicality. These family room ideas will help to ensure you have both.⇒ If a bag of money dropped from the sky into your lap and the only caveat was that you had to spend […]

In this post: There’s no need to sacrifice style in the family room in exchange for practicality. These family room ideas will help to ensure you have both.⇒

If a bag of money dropped from the sky into your lap and the only caveat was that you had to spend it on your home, which room would you spend it on?

Oh… and it’s not enough to gut your kitchen or master bath.  😉

Many of us would choose the parts of our home we perceive as most in need, but in truth, we should first ensure that the room we spend most of our time in is as perfect as we can make it.

family room fireplace

I spend a good part of my day in the family room. 

It’s where I work, it’s where I listen to music, it’s where I watch movies and it’s where we entertain guests.

And yet, once I decorated it with the basics, I spent more time refining every other room and never quite perfecting the family room.

Well, I actually tried a few times but never quite got it right.

Until now.

family room mantel

And the amazing part is, the final refinement took very little time and not a whole lot of money. In fact I’m including this post as part of our monthly 20 Minute Decorating series because that’s how little time it took to style.

(Please be sure to visit the other posts at the bottom of this one.)

Let’s start by reviewing how I decorated this room to start with.  Here are the basics:

  • We have a huge white sectional that dominates the room. We got this for comfort and to accommodate a crowd. I chose white for it’s versatility and upbeat aesthetic, but made sure it was slipcovered for practicality of cleaning.
  • I chose to keep the fireplace as a pretty focal point and put the TV on a separate wall, so the sectional faces both.
  • The TV is anchored over a console table, so it’s not floating in the middle of nowhere.
  • I added a neutral area rug for comfort and adaptability of style.

You can see all of these elements in my first go at this room.  This is what it looked like when we first moved in a few years ago.

family room sofa

Setting up the layout of the room was foundational and it hasn’t changed since. While I can think of prettier floor plans, this one functions the way we want it to, and that is non-negotiable.

Instead my focus has turned to refining the style and this has evolved in several stages.

One of the first things I knew I wanted to change was the coffee table. The table we moved here with was an old school rustic pine table and it was killing the French-inspired look I was going for. Once I found the table I settled on, it made a significant difference to the space.

But I knew I still wasn’t done.  

family room market basket

Next I started to pull some of the color out of the space, to try to tone down the decorative accents. I packed away the floral pillows and added in neutrals with subtle pattern instead.

I moved the chinoiserie vases to another room and added the finials to the mantel in their place. 

I was getting closer to the look I wanted, but it wasn’t yet expressing my ideal version of ‘modern French Country’.

It was at about this point I became very clear on what my definition of my current style comprised. I still love all the elements of French decor, with their ornate and feminine flourishes. But the key is to present these components against a neutral backdrop, with an overlay of chippy patina and a more minimalist approach to accessorizing.

The very next step was to bite the bullet and get rid of the pale yellow walls.  I think I’d realized for quite some time that re-painting was an essential step for many of the rooms in my home.  But until I finally accepted it, I was keeping our house stuck in the past.  

The painting made a huge impact and the room moved ever closer to my vision.  This is pretty much where we were at for the past year and I’ve been ready for the final refinement.  

family room sofa pillows

It’s remarkable the clarity you gain when you spend the better part of a half-year staring at the details of the room you work in.

With 7 relatively subtle changes, all quite simple but addressed with intent and much thought, I believe I’ve finally got the look I’ve been after.

These updates coincide with my current preferences and were achieved in as little as 20 minutes. 

family room candlesticks

1. Tonal throw pillows

On a smaller sofa I would’ve been fine with the neutral throw pillows, but our sectional is so huge, it really needed large pillows, overstuffed and closer in color to the couch.  The new pillows are brimming with texture and I’m much happier with the cleaner look that the monotone affords.

2. Chippy altar candles

I wanted every decorative piece in the room to be in line with my vision.  I love antique altar candles and in the absence of real vintage ones I found these wonderful reproductions which embody the exact right balance between chippy patina and touches of gilding. I enjoy the understated placement of two, together, in front of the fire box, rather than crowding the mantel above.

french inspired family room

3. Antique garden urn

This one change was actually the driving force behind the entire family room update.  It struck me that the balance of ‘bling’ versus patina was off in this room and I wanted more of the latter.  

I removed the gilded clock that was previously on the mantel and wasn’t a true vintage piece. Whenever possible, I will always opt for real antiques and the petite white cast iron garden urn on the fireplace mantel delivers just that. 

Such a tiny little piece but it makes a world of difference to me.

4. Design books

I’ve been wanting to add these for quite some time and I was very picky about the selections I chose. While I care very much how they look in the room, the content of the books was important, as well. They finish off the look of the coffee table and add a layer of reverence for the field of design to the room that I very much appreciate.

family room small table

5. Tole candelabra

In the spirit of minimalism, I pared back some of what was displayed on the little end table and topped it off with the tole candelabra that had previously been in the dining room.  It was a very fair trade off, as it was overpowering where it sat on the sideboard and adds a note of crystal that I wanted to include in this room, instead.  A win-win.

6. Vintage garden planter

Another decision I felt strongly about was having a lone decorative piece in the center of the coffee table, rather than multiple items that never quite look right together.  I’d been looking for the right piece for a long time and when I found this gorgeous rectangular vintage planter, it was perfect for the space.

I wanted something I didn’t need to move to see the TV and yet have it make a statement in it’s place of importance in the center of the room. The planter makes me enjoy the coffee table even more!

family room planter

7. Stone urn

You’ll notice most of the new pieces are either genuinely old, or made to look so, and they fulfill my quest for patina that gives character to the room.  The large floor urn is the last such piece, and it helps spread that spirit to the other side of the room. It also satisfies my inclination toward one large piece versus many smaller ones, helping to support the clean clear direction my style is moving toward.

family room large urn

Can I guarantee I’m completely finished with the family room?  

No, my taste is constantly evolving.

But for once, at least it’s current state is in line with exactly how I want it.  

So, if that bag of money falls from the sky and still has to be spent on the home?  I’m looking at you kitchen counters!

family room full view

Family Room Ideas Resource List

To get the look, click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options.

(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)

french inspired family room

Please enjoy the other 20 Minute Decorating posts below:

20 Minute Decorating


decorate with calming colors shabbyfufu




French Country Cottage

Peach roses in front of bookcase

In My Own Style

Using paper napkins to make a dining table runner (201 of 1)-4

On Sutton Place

Limelights & Sunflowers from On Sutton Place



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