All photos/art by David Carmack
Family Room Makeover
Kerry Carter’s family room had started to overwhelm her. With three children and a full-time job, this Sudbury, Massachusetts, mom was too busy to figure out how to make the most-used area of the house really work.
The piano had been shoved into a corner; built-in shelves were stuffed with games, puzzles, and books; and the sofa was situated without a view of either the TV or the picture window. Kerry turned to Laurie Heffernon, owner of Done in a Day Decorating, for a redesign consultation.
Instead of hiring an interior decorator — which often comes with a hefty price tag and the expense of buying new furniture, drapes, and art — Laurie works with existing furnishings, photos, and personal treasures. She saw that Kerry’s room lacked coziness because there were few items on the walls and because the TV, picture window, and fireplace were competing focal points.
First, Laurie found a new home for the piano along an unused wall in the dining room. Then she rearranged the sofa and one of the two armchairs to face the TV, and simplified the shelves to include some books, select photos, a plant, and a few mementos. Without the piano, Laurie added an antique sewing machine that Kerry had hoped to bring into the room to create a richer atmosphere.
For even greater warmth, Laurie grouped on one wall a collection of prints done by Kerry’s mother-in-law. And above the mantel, now holding only a few framed photos and special treasures, Laurie hung a mirror.
(See top photo)
1. Two large armchairs are placed haphazardly, breaking up the symmetry of the bookcases on either side of the picture window. They also distract your attention from the window, which should be one of the room’s focal points.
2. The position of the red sofa — the only strong color — on the long side of this rectangular room makes the piece appear quite low and the room itself very long. It’s not a warm and inviting arrangement.
3. Two round side tables are squashed amid the sofa and the armchairs, blocking access to the end of the room.
4. An upright piano is squeezed into a tight space between the sofa and the bookcase. You’d have to climb over furniture to get to it.
(See second photo)
5. The sofa is now placed perpendicular to the long walls and centered on the picture window. When you enter the room, your eye is drawn first to the piece’s bold color, and then to the window and the scenery behind it. The bonus: The sofa no longer appears too low for the space.
6. Two slipper chairs are centered on the fireplace, a secondary focal point. (The armchairs would have crowded this space.) Red pillows extend the sofa color around the room.
7. The coffee table sits in front of the sofa, instead of facing the fireplace, since the primary focal point is the picture window.
8. For fun, the rug is positioned at an angle, drawing your eye to the picture window.
9. A compact antique sewing machine replaces the piano, which was moved to the dining room, where there’s plenty of space.
10. Topiaries are positioned symmetrically on the windowsill, drawing your eye to the view.
What’s the Best Part?
“I especially like the mirror,” Kerry says. “It was a gift from my mother, and I’d never found the right place for it. Laurie did things I never would have considered and created a sophisticated look.”
Laurie’s goal is to give a room personality while keeping it usable. “Often you can achieve that look,” she advises, “by simply decreasing clutter and highlighting objects with personal meaning and beauty.”
Laurie Heffernon, Done in a Day Decorating, Marlborough, MA
Rate: $325 per half-day. 508-485-7602; doneinadaydecorating.com
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