Freshened Family Room

By Kate Riley August 4, 2010

Picasso went through his monochromatic blue period ~ clearly, I am going through my own blue phase.  I went through my first blue period when I was first married over ten years ago, but it was more of a cobalt blue fixation back then.  Then I rejected blue altogether and banished it from my house.   Blue was forbidden for years!  But being a fickle and forgetful gal, I’ve returned to yet another blue and white phase, this time I’m drawn to soft gray blues, robin’s egg blue, soft turquoise, and intense hues like peacock blue.   

My home office?  My living room?  My master bathroom?  Yep, they’re mostly blue.  I make no apologies, I happen to find the shade is extremely calming, and complements just about everything.  Think about it.  Soft blue works with chocolate brown, red, pink, orange, gray, green, white, everything !  So I prefer it over other colors, as long as it has plenty of gray in it. 

Now I’ve gone and saturated the family room with blue too, but more by force than by choice.  Allow me to explain.   


   cg sofas


Here’s our family room two years ago:

family room before

Let’s just pause for a moment and soak in its ordinariness. 


Now let’s look at it today:

cg family room after switch

Much improved.  Now, we’re getting somewhere, whew. 

The dark olive green couches we’ve had for a decade, but the fabric is waaaaay too dark and drab for me, hence the reason I’ve never photographed our family room.  To reupholster the green monsters in my fabric of choice will cost me muy moola  so that’s on the back burner.  But then I had a middle-of-the-night genius! idea to switch them with the slate blue PB slipcovered sofas from the guest space.  Now why didn’t I think of that months ago???   The room was instantly lightened by making the switch. 

The family room lacks its own window, so we moved the family photos to another room, then added mirrors above the sofa instead.  The power of mirrors to pull light into a room never ceases to amaze me.  This trio mimics the divided white panes in our kitchen’s garden window which is directly across, and also lightens and enlarges the space. 

kitchen window fr mirrors

I had a pair of these Grand Palais mirrors from Ballard sitting in my garage for over a year ~ they were ordered for the living room last year but ended up being too big to fit above the living room mantel, so I ordered a third, then spray painted them with Rustoleum’s ‘Heirloom White’, a favorite shade.  

cg family room in blue


Since the kitchen is all white, and the adjacent dining room is very neutral, I felt the dark family room was in need of a splash of color, so I started with this $5 dollar brass lamp from the Goodwill.  It got a dose of Rustoleum’s glossy ‘Night Tide’ spray paint leftover from my laundry room makeover, which is a gorgeous  shade of deep teal or peacock blue.  So did the satin ribbon that trims the drum shade ~ oh yes you can spray paint fabric ribbon !

brass lamp before and after

Just a little hot glue to trim the linen shade with the ribbon did the trick.

 hot glue ribbon


So I admit these colors all all very summery ~ if I had my act together, this all would have been better timed and I would have made these changes back in May, but I’m so easily distracted. 

The peacock blue velvet throw pillows and white tray are from Pier One. 

 cg glass bottles on tray


Although these are summery colors, they still make sense for August.  I’ll tweak the room for cooler weather in October.  As I mentioned here, deep blue and dark orange can look incredible together, so for fall I’ll mix it up with a pumpkin throw and other earthy tones, and I’ll bring out the fall candles.

I’m desperate for a new rug for this room, currently loving these, the first from Overstocks, the second from Dash & Albert. fr rugs

Maybe Santa will be generous this year.  

So there’s the new ‘summer’ look for our family room . . .

cg sofas

. . . just in time for all the fall decor in all the catalogs.  


Spruced up any of your spaces lately?




  1. I need more blue in my life…er, house. It’s so funny how our esthetic can change. I always preferred warmer colors, but now I look around the house and dream of more soothing colors. Love what you’ve done, friend!

  2. This post is AWESOME!! You’re so inspiring…always. What an amazing change! It makes a big difference. Love all your bottles too.

  3. What a beautiful family room! So calming. I’m in the robins’ egg blue and turquoise phase, myself. Love those colors! What a transforamtion for your family room! Gorgeous!

  4. I love what you did. The colors are so nice and peaceful and will totally work for fall too. I can’t wait to see what else you get done. The windows are the PERFECT touch. At first glance, I thought it was a window.

    Out of those two rugs, I really love the one from overstock (my favorite store to shop). Gorgeous!

  5. The change is really stunning! It looks wonderful…I love the pillows, I love the glass bottles, I love the lamp!! You took a room from bland to beautiful!!! Amazing job Kate! Angie xo

  6. Beautiful! I love your family room. It looks so relaxing. I am constatly sprucing and trying to improve spaces here and there.

  7. Fabulous room! Makes me want to redecorate right this minute!!!

  8. Wow! I love your new space the blue is so peaceful. I can’t get over the lamp (who’ have thunk it). The color is awesome and the painted ribbon was such a nice touch. Great Job!

  9. All I can say is WOW. You are truly amazing. I can’t tell how in awe I am at your ability to see something for what it could be (i.e. brass lamp) with just a little tweeking. Beautiful. I think I’ll have to feature you on my blog, again.

  10. Love the tranquility of your living room. These are some of my favorite colors but alas, I have very little in my decor!
    Enjoying your blog…

  11. Seriously amazing! I did the come back to blue myself, just in different tones. I love it in my bedroom.

    Your room is just so relaxing and put together. I love your mix of pillows. I love it all! Did you paint the walls or is it just the pictures? Looks different but you did not mention it.

  12. Beautiful! I am definitely picking up some of that spray paint.

    What color are your walls?

  13. I am in this same mood lately too. I want to redecorate/refresh and purge. I hope my efforts will end up looking half as beautiful as yours.

    Giveaway going on, stop on by!

  14. Your living room is GORGEOUS — Light and airy…exactly what I love! I definitely like the change and what you did with the room. Fab.

    Are your walls a bit more green or blue? And what color did you use?

  15. Love everything that you’ve done!! I had to go back and look, just to make sure that this was the same room! Love it!

  16. I’ve been reading your blog for a while and am absolutely blown over with what those mirrors did for that room!! When first I saw, thought you had added indooor windows! Amazing…what a difference. You know it’s all amazing but I just can’t get over those mirrors!!!!

  17. Gorgeous! My entire downstairs is blue, too! And I’m totally stealing your mirror idea because I don’t get much light in my house. It’s just all so pretty!

  18. i LOVE that room. as always, you’ve done an amazing job!! don’t worry about the blue fixation – you’ve obviously done it right!

  19. Your revamped room looks fabulous and I had to smile at the beginning of your post because my mother’s favorite color is blue and when I moved out I swore I would never have it in my own house. That resolution lasted about seven years. I am now sitting about 4 feet away from my bedroom closet, which is getting a makeover of its own. I just painted the walls “Seaside Villa” which is a wonderful pale blue. Due to a crazy schedule, the closet organizer system won’t be installed until this weekend. In the meantime, I can’t let a space go undecorated so there is a pale blue runner in there and a small ivory chair. If I didn’t need the space for clothes, I would seriously contemplate turning it into a little clubhouse for me!

  20. I love blue too. I always keep coming back to it. I love your redesign. Can I come & live in it for a while?

  21. Wow, what a difference those mirrors made- they really give the appearance of bright windows! When you painted the mirrors, did you just tape and cover the mirror or just remove the paint that got on the mirror later? What’s the best way to remove water-based paint from a mirror? I also love the spray-painted ribbon- so clever and the color is divine. Both rugs are awesome too- the latter a bit more dramatic. I’m really loving patterned rugs right now.

  22. I LOVE this room!! You are a girl after my own heart with the blue!! I have my LR, kitchen, sons room, spare room and master bath all in blue! My husband says enough the blue already!! Your transformation is really quite spectacular!! It’s like it’s a different house. I can’t believe you don’t have windows in that room; the first thing I noticed was how bright it was!! I guess the mirrors are really doing their intended job!! Well done!!

  23. Blue is beautiful! I have lots of gray-blue in my home, also… I love the fabric of the couch pillow closest to camera, bottom pic. Where did you get it? :)

  24. I LOVE your after room! Love the colors, love the furniture (I’m lusting over the PB slipcovered couch), love the mirrors…it is gorgeous. Another fantastic job!

  25. This is absolutely beautiful…I am using a lot of blue in our home too! My heart sigh’ed when I saw your before family room and green couches. We have green couches and I’m desperate for a change. Thanks for the inspiration and motivation to keep on changing!

  26. Amazing makeover – much better than before. Thanks for mentioning the fact the ribbon could be painted.

    Were the mirrored panes a DIY project?

    Keep up the inspirational work!


  27. I’ve never been a fan of blue but your room looks awesome…so cool and peaceful. I tend to go with bright colors and I’m seeing lately that my taste is changing somewhat. Uh oh…that could get expensive!!

  28. Love the redo! Beautiful beautiful room! I’m using the same colors in my living room (that’s being painted TODAY! EEK!) and already have a hurricane with small blue Japanese fishing floats (from PB). I’d love to have a larger one somewhere else in the room. Where did you find your larger one that’s on the end table?

  29. so pretty! Reading your blog and seeing your updates is such a joy- thank you for giving your readers so many great ideas and inviting us into your home :)

  30. I love blue, but my husband does not…which is why I must live vicariously through others. I love your room, I just want to plop down on your sofa! I also love that we have the same beaded paisley cushion from Pier 1. I love the idea of sprucing up the shade with ribbon.

  31. Beautiful, Kate! I love how you freshened things up here! That is one of my favorite colors, too {not a cobalt, but the Robins Egg blue or a grayed blue}. I have it in my master bedroom and after about 4 years, I still love it! I would do similar in other rooms, too, and I really like it here. Plus, if you wanted to warm it up for Fall, bringing brown or tan in would work great. Nicely done!

  32. Dang, your makeover looks wonderful! I have to say that I think blue can definitely work in wintertime – something about the snow looking kind of blue, I guess. You’re right about the mirrors; at first, I thought they were windows! :)

  33. Gorgeous, Kate! How great that you had those other sofas in another space that you could move around. Now that is serendipitious! Love the new look, all those blues are just soothing and calm. Wish I could visit in person. :)

  34. It looks amazing! I have been itching to use more blue in our house too – mostly inspired by all of your beautiful blue-gray spaces. What is the paint color on your family room walls?

  35. Hi Kate, We are downsizing. Selling our home of 33 years and moving into a “garden apartment”. Since it has only 3 windows in the entire place (and they are sidewalk level) we will be using your idea with the window mirrors to reflect some of the sunlight. Also, after seeing your master bedroom, we decided to try your Benjamin Moore ‘Nantucket Grey’ paint in the living,dining and kitchen area (all one huge room). I CAN”T tell you how beautiful it has turned out. We painted white trims and the ceiling is white (for now). Thank you so very much for sharing your home and family with all of us. You’ve made a real difference in my life.

  36. Oh, you’re good! Your room is so beautiful! What a change from your before photo!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  37. This room is so beautiful! Love your blog…you seem to love the same color schemes I do. Thanks for all the wonderful ideas :) I can’t wait to change our family room into a room as beautiful as this~

  38. Robyn, Penny, & others . . . the paint on the walls is the same as the kitchen and dining room since they all are part of the same large space. Benjamin Moore’s ‘Camoflauge’ ~ a very pale gray green. LOVE it.


  39. Really? Camouflage? It looks so different in your living room than in your kitchen. Sadly, I tried it and it looks horrible in my space. So sad, because I love it in yours.

  40. Beautiful, Kate! The transformation is pretty staggering (and gorgeous, of course). I’m loving the Night Tide spray paint! Since we’ve moved out to get our floors refinished I’m on the verge of lots of “sprucing” – we’ll see what changes come about!

  41. You always amaze me. There’s just something about your sense of style that is very relaxing and soothing. I like it. A lot.

  42. Hi there-
    Will you post the link to the overstock carpet? I love it!

  43. Oh no Robyn, that’s terrible to hear ! Just proves that paint changes on different walls and in different light. Also, we all have different tastes, thank goodness for thousands of paint swatches.

  44. Brilliant use of the mirrors! Love the new look! I’d have a hard time leaving that room, so comfy and inviting. Bravo to you, girl!

  45. I get so insanely jealous of your keen eye for color, accessorizing and pulling off different patterns. You have a gift my friend. So light and fresh. I want to come over and have girl talk on those couches sipping mimosas please.

  46. Beautiful!!! I was hoping you were going to show us how to recover our couches – lol. I have a really dark brown sectional in my family room and I really want to either have slipcovers made or try to make them myself so I can lighten the room up. Your family room is GORGEOUS – I love the colors. And the rugs you want are beautiful. I love the geometric one. It’s great!!


  47. Love those sofas! Love the colors! Oh, the lamp! Everything is beautiful.

    Just wondering… what’s the story behind the coffee table?


  48. Color! Love people who use lots of color, Love Love Love what you’ve done!
    Don’t you just love spray paint!

  49. Debra ~ that’s a thrift store find, painted a taupey yellowish color leftover from some paint from our kitchen when it was a Dijon yellow color. Not thrilled with the coffee table, and I might convert it to an ottoman!

  50. So Fresh!
    I love the mirrors on the wall – they instantly brighten up the space :)

  51. I have similar colours in my living room, but I LOVE the addition of the peacock blue!! It really ties it all together… I just might have to take me to Pier 1!!

  52. Where can I find a white tray like the one you have on your coffee table? Love everything about the room!

  53. I love the room!!! It’s soooo beautiful!!!
    This is so very inspiring to me right now as I am trying to incorporate more blue into my home. I’ve had the Old World look going for way tooo long with golds and reds and now I’m doing blues and greens. I never considered decorating with blue before either but I can’t help but love the teals, blue/grays like you’ve used throughout your home.
    I did not know you could paint ribbon, who woulda thunk it!!!!!

  54. Wow! I love your makeovers! You’re my decorating hero! I gotta tell you that your site has inspired me to be more creative with a spray paint can. I think the scale of these couches is a better fit for your living room. Looking forward to more of your terrific posts.

  55. This made me SMILE! :) I was a cobalt blue girl myself…and I too banished it from my home…along with the RED, gold, etc…but just like you, I am loving blue again. However, my living room is still VERY much like your before…almost identical ordinariness here! Your transformation looks AWESOME!

  56. What a major difference! I’m in Orlando right now for the MOPS Convention, but I had to comment on this b/c I love your rooms so much. Wish I could emulate your style! Can you please write a book? ;)

  57. UGHH I am so jealous of all the light. Do you have any ideas for someone with dark stained trim everywhere. I love, love white trim, and my husband hates it. He really likes the look of wood. I am at my whits end trying to figure this out. I am thinking about painting the wall where the fireplace is cream colored other then the brick red I have now. Any suggestions.

  58. Kate, seriously, you really know how to turn water into wine! And I love it! And for the fall, that blue and orange (rust) is going to look so fab!

    Hey, on a side note, are you going to Blissdom in January?! Janell and I have been talking about it and I’m excited about going and nervous at the same time! I was wondering, how did you prepare yourself to be in a room full of women you don’t know, but admire and have been blogging with? If you are going, I’d love to meet you!

    L.Duncan (

  59. Love it! We have the PB Slate Blue Chair in our library…you’ve given me some new ideas to work around. The space is beautiful.

  60. OMG…I didn’t even think this was the same house! I really thought that was a window on first look, of course I love the colors…I use them as accents in my house. It is truly amazing what you do…love it!

  61. I am also going through a blue phase–love your living room! I could just sit in it for hours…may I? The mirrors give it such sparkle, and the turquoise lamp is an inspired touch.

  62. I’d say you did more than just freshen it up! It is gorgeous in there! The mirrors make a world of difference – wow! I’m also going through a blue phase (for the first time ever). I just can’t seem to get enough of it. With you and Picasso, I’d say I was in good company. :)

  63. I seriously think I could do my whole house in blue (in all the different shades you listed!) and white!! Its beautiful!!

  64. LOVE IT! As I’ve been following your blog, a few of the many things you’ve taught me are:
    1. to be daring to think out of the box, so I used enamel paint to paint my bathroom tiles.
    2. just changing the colour of something makes a world of difference. So I ventured out and tried new colours.
    3. to think of cheaper ways to revamp something.
    4. not pay someone else to do something I can do myself (even though I take longer).

    Now I’m keeping my eyes w i d e open for mirrors..

  65. Seriously, I thought you had added windows to that wall until I scrolled down and read that they were mirrors. That made the BIGGEST difference in the room! And spray painting fabric…who knew?
    What a transformation.

  66. I am so envious! I love everything about the room. It all comes together nicely and I can’t believe how much the mirrors added to the light in the space. It is so bright and cheerful! Great update!

  67. Thanks for the tip on spray painting ribbon! I found your blog through a search for Rustoleum’s Night Tide, because I wanted to see what it looked like before we painted three pieces of furniture. A little coordinating ribbon on the lampshades may help tie it all together! Good stuff!

  68. would you mind sharing the wall color from this room? And your room you just mentioned in your newest “fall” post? Love them both! Gorgeous. Love how neutral this color is especially.

    Thanks so much.

  69. Love your style, and love your vision – that lamp looked wonderful once it was sprayed. Hoping to move into a new home in the next year and can’t wait to take some of your ideas and use them on my growing pile of finds!

  70. What a dramatic transformation! I was wondering how big your living room and how does it work out have 2 couches perpendicular? I have a 1 1/2 seat wingback chair perpendicular to my couch and would love to replace it with another couch to increase seating, but not sure if my living room would be too crowded? Any advice? Thanks.

  71. Could you give me a link to the style/color of those Pottery Barn sofas (looked, but could not find them)? They are beautiful and would work perfectly in my living room – I never thought of blue before!

    I just recently found your blog and am in LOVE!!! I have been stuck with with what to do with my house for SO long now (have not done much to it since we moved in 15 years ago)) and have not been able to figure out which direction to move towards stylewise, but looking at your blog has made me see that I can update it and still have it be traditional in style. Look forward to being a fan for many years to come!!!

  72. WOAH! just found your blog and love it! Did you make the window mirrors on the wall yourself? please tell me how to make those! We just finished our basement and have put a guest bedroom down there but it has no windows so those mirrors would be perfect!

  73. I always look at this post, it’s so inspiring for me! I just LURVE it!!!!

  74. Oh, I love it! Now I want to do my living room all over. It is just so serene, soft, and beautiful.

  75. What is the beautiful color on the walls in this family room?? Is it the same as the light bluey color you have in the living room/piano room?? please share!

  76. Where did you get your couches if you remember?? I know you had them already and you used slip covers whichso love!!

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