A Relaxed Cottage Family Room


After all the years I’ve been working in design, and all the different types of projects I’ve worked on, this one remains one of my all-time favorites! There is something about the unrefined simplicity of the space that makes me smile every time.

This space started out as a cottage you would walk into and go “EEEK!” and walk right back out. It was dingy and dark and stinky. And now it is anything but. Check out their amazing colorful kitchen before diving into the details of this beautiful living room.

A Relaxed Cottage Family Room

Create Interest Where There is None

To me, interior design is about A LOT more than just the final finishes and colors that go into a space. It starts out with interior space planning and architectural elements. This room was literally just a box. There was nothing interesting in sight — so we added it. Fully gutting a space and starting from scratch gives you that luxury. We decided to go with all white walls ( I hear the collective gasps of moms right now —  stay with me, we’ll circle back to this) and go with dark black trim. This allows the architectural features of the space to pop, without drawing attention to the small area and low ceiling height.

Even with the black trim and casing, we were still feeling like this space needed more to break it out of the “plain white box” status. We tossed around the idea of creating faux beams on the ceiling — would this make the room feel TOO short?! We went for it. I always suggest that my clients avoid trying to disguise an undesirable feature, but play it up instead. Have a super-small powder room? Paint it black! Have low ceilings? Add Beams! Now I understand that this doesn’t always work, but I love the idea of celebrating the imperfections of our interior space, not hiding them. 

Do What Works for YOU, Not Someone Else

OK…so that white couch, those white walls. I know this will be a topic of conversation on kid-friendliness. It always is. I will start by saying this: this is a real person’s house with real kids living here. The white walls and white sofa were not pushed by me as a necessity of the design aesthetic. Contrary, they were actually requested by this client — a mom. The point is, do what works for you and what you like. If you are OK with doing a little extra maintenance to keep white things white around kids, and you really want a white sofa — BUY IT! If you are not OK with that extra maintenance, then don’t buy a white sofa.

Not everything that we put into our homes has to be completely kid-proof. It’s nearly impossible to design anything that way — those little buggers will find a way to destroy anything! What it does have to be is within the realistic expectations of how we live, and what we are willing to tolerate in our home. We shouldn’t bring anything into our home that makes our lives more busy, complicated or stressful.

Sidenote: This sofa is completely slipcovered. Which means the entire thing can come apart and be washed. And in a lot of ways white is the easiest to clean (when it can be thrown in the wash) because  — hello BLEACH!

Play with Texture

One of the keys to a great design is the layering of textures and contrasting items. In this case we went with some rough-edge coffee tables mixed with sleek, modern side tables and clean-lined sofas.  Creating a space with a variety of materials + texture is huge. Think linen, leather, chunky woven rugs, sleek metal and raw woods. The variety of texture is one way to keep our eye moving through the space.

And keeping your eye moving through the space is what makes your mind find visual interest.

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-Allison H.

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  1. 100% fully and completely in love with this space!! I’m obsessed with the beams…which you always think would look awful with low ceilings, but I love your approach about celebrating and highlight the ‘flaws’ in a way to embrace them. Same could be said for our own flaws, no? LOVING this article. Keep em coming!

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