What should I do in the family room?

Well here is the gist of the potential problem. I say potential because well I haven't painted the walls yet to see if the problem really does show it's ugly head. Anyway, I am in the process of lightening up the old house. We have red walls in the family room with white wainscoting below. Then add to that two leather couches which we need with 4 kids and it seems a bit dark.
Here is a current look- keeping it real so you can see all the mess that goes with it.
We have the dark walls, white below, wooden shades and a nice soft rug. We have the pottery barn table with drawers under it to store games etc. (Don't look at the primer paint swatch)

Notice how it looks so top heavy but then the sofas look so weird against that white?
I am going to paint the top a nice creamy tan -as I have done the entire downstairs of the house. Here is the potential problem? Will it still look so stark with the dark sofas against the white then? I really don't have an option to take the wainscoting down now as the previous owners put it up to camouflage the bad plaster walls beneath it..that would be a honey-do job and well he is in Afghanistan so not gonna happen now.
I figure I will paint the red to the tan color. Then if the bead board still bugs me being too white I could always paint it tan to and make it disappear right?
What do you think?

Now in this picture you'll notice yet another leather chair- I know too much leather but the seat is busting and dang it is so comfortable so I am going to recover the seat in a lighter fabric to lighten it up some. I also have drapery rods with drapes that now will be too much the same color as the wall but I think I may do drop cloth drapes there? good?
Not sure about the rug..it is so soft but then again is darker in color- remember 4 kids so light does not work to well with them.
Over in this corner is an old cabinet that we store dvds and cds in ..I think I am going to paint it cream and distress it some.

Then you'll notice the kids and dad's tv..yeah I wanted only a 36 inch but was vetoed big time. It sets on this old stand that does not even fit the dang tv..and I hate it. So....

I have this antique stand that is wide enough and narrow enough in depth to work..I thought I could put it in there for the tv and electronics. Do you think it will work? It is a light gray in color and though I LOVE the color it is I am not sure if it will work with the dark sofas. Should it go cream like the cabinet?

Help...please. What are your thoughts?


  1. i think the tan color will be just what you are looking for. i personally do not think that the leather couches will stand out too much.

    i love the antique cabinet for your tv, i think you will see a difference once you move that into the corner with the big tv.

    maybe you could bring the color of the cabinet into the room with some frames or throw pillows (or floor throw pillows) or even a blanket that is the same hue.

    post before and after pictures :)

    you go girl.. i envy your ambition xoxo

  2. Ooo goody I can focus on someone else's decorating dilemas instead of mine!

    I say definitely yes to the taupe/tan wall color above the wainscot. I think the rug and couches are fine, but you might find some dark stained things for hanging on the tan part of the wall...Maybe some antique empty frames or an old pine cabinet door or shutter or something. To balance the dark 'weight' of the couches.

    That cabinet would be great for a TV (did you see what I did with mine?). I wouldn't paint it till you see what it does in the room. Same with the tall cabinet. I know you're trying to lighten things up, but that taller cab would be totally cool painted chocolate :) Again, another deep color to balance.

    You can always use throw blankets or quilts in lighter colors as well as pillows on the leather to lighten things too. I'm sure you know all these things.....just helping dislodge them from your mama brain :)
    Can't wait to see how that room transforms.

  3. I so agree with both of the remarks above. The only addition that I have is in regards to the drapes. If they are in the same color family as the tan wall color, then I think they would be perfect. I would then paint or replace the blinds to be white. It's going to be a great room. Hugs, Marty

  4. Ok, you asked so I'll give you my little opinion. When I looked at the pictures, I thought the sample paint was a blue-gray. I was loving it. Did not know that it was taupe. I can envision, chocolate, whites, creams and blues, with a touch or splash of a warm accent color like red. Check out this sea salt paint color- http://www.bhg.com/decorating/color/colors/designers-favorite-wall-colors/?page=5
    For savings on window treatments, I always buy something like Wal Mart's BHG and then add a border on top or bottom to make them reach ceiling height. Your idea of drop cloth is fantastic too, especially if you stick to all neutrals. Dramatic window treatments would draw the eye up instead of down with the wainscoating. They would also add a more substantial look since your furniture is on the heavy side.
    I think by using a cool color on the walls, the brown leather would really pop and add contrast. Throws and pillows would tie the color scheme together. Keeping the darker furniture would also tie together with the darker leather and anchor the room all the way around.
    I know it'll look good b/c you're really thinking it through. Good luck! Can't wait to see what you come up with!

  5. I think a tanish color would look great in there and I agree with what cottage instincts said.......

  6. I like a tan for the top. And I think the white will be fine and provide a nice contrast. The stars on your wall right now are hard to see but will really look great against the tan. The cabinet will be great for the tv. Use pillows, a collection of spray painted empty picture frames, etc. . . for pops of color.

    Can't wait to see it!

  7. I think painting the wall a tan color will do wonders for the room. I reciently had the same problem in my family room.

    The walls were a dark navy blue so I painted them a tan color and installed beadboard and painted it white. I had wood blinds which I kept on two windows but added a drop cloth curtain with a little black ribbon to the sliding glass door. Would have loved to add drop cloth curtains to the windows with the wood blinds to give it another layer but it didn't work in my room - - I think it would in yours however.

    We also have dark leather sofa's and I think it works wonderful in the room. I personaly like the contarst of dark against light colors.

    As for the cabinet in the corner, it looks red to me in the photo and being a lover of the color red I would leave it alone. It will give a great pop of color!

    Hope this helps.

  8. Great post! I would love to suggest if i could on the paint! I would paint the bottom half of the wainscotting tan then paint the wall above white! just a thought ~ lulu

  9. I like your idea of painting the top wall a nice tan color. I think I would do this first to see if the white wainscot will still be an eye popper. If it is, then try painting the wainscot a shade darker than the top wall color.

    As far as the dropcloth drapes, I think you will have to paint the top wall first and temporally hang the dropcloth to see how you feel about it. It may be that you love it with the tan wall and white wainscot. Also you can think about adding a three inch boarder of decorative fabric to those drapes to help tie in the colors to the rest of the room???

    I love the antique tv cabinet idea. After you are finished with the wall painting, pull it in the room. I think the grey will be very nice. As someone has already said, you can add accent fabric through out the room in the form of throws and pillows to pull the grey in.

    Whatever you decide will be beautiful...like the rest of your house! :)

  10. Hi Tammy,

    This is right up my alley, one of my favorite things to do... suggest how others decorate their house. The one thing I wish you had mentioned is the colors in the rug. I can't really tell but wondering if there is any green. I disagree with keeping the bottom of the wall white, I think you are still going to have the same problem, there is just too much contrast and with the cold surface of leather the room isn't going to have the warmth you want it to have. (I think) I would consider painting it a sage green but that depends on the color of the top of the walls if it's the color that you have in the hallway, that is a cooler color so the green would need to be the same, a green with more blue than yellow. Does that make sense? As for the cabinets, I am not sure the grey will work but once you paint the room you could put it in and see if the colors on the wall reflect on it and change it's color. My guess is you will need to paint it. If so I wouldn't paint it a solid color I would age it out a bit, maybe even go red with some stain on top. As for curtains I would add a border of about 12-15 inches at the top with some pattern and color. Leather is so practical with children but unless you have other texture and fabric it can really make a room cold. You said you wanted to lighten it up and I can understand that but I am betting you want to cozy it up and loose some of the high contrast. I hope this has been helpful, I love your blog... be sure to share your final room with us! Blessings,Laura

  11. I just found your blog from Little Red Chair, and am looking forward to seeing your transformation. You have a great eye, as you described all of your room frustrations. You've helped me to figure out my posts on the exact same subjects, for each of my "To Do" rooms. Thanks for blogging.
    A New Northern Canadian Friend,