What do you do when your family outgrows your family room? Ask Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom! As her six kids got older, she realized her family room had turned into a space no one wanted to spend time in. So, she turned to us to help transform the space into a colorful, inviting room that’s perfect for playing games, music lessons and spending time together. Read on to see the space and learn more about Gabrielle.
What was the most challenging part about redesigning your family room?
Well, the room really needed to do two totally separate jobs, but feel like one cohesive space. First, the room needed to be a traditional family room with a TV, hang out space, board games, books, Legos, and dolls.
But the room also needed to be a music room with a place for the piano, the drum kit, the keyboard, the guitars, the mandolin, the trombone, the trumpet, the clarinet, and the ukulele. How obnoxious is that list? Plus all the books and accessories that music lessons require. And it’s not even like we have any super serious musicians among the kids — like I don’t think any of them are aiming for music as a career. Oh well. #parentingisawesome
We needed to make the space work for both of these purposes, without the room feeling at odds with itself. There were several times during the design process when we really considered just abandoning one or the other, but I’m so glad we made it work. It went from being the least used room in the house to the most loved room by far. It has already hosted dozens of Monopoly games, movie parties, jam sessions, and sleepovers.
Where do you go for inspiration?
My favorite way to find inspiration is to get out of the house! Window shopping, flea markets, bookstores, museums, a walk in the redwoods. Here in Oakland, we have a legendary event called the White Elephant Sale, that happens right around this time every year. It’s basically a giant tag sale of donated goods, and all the proceeds go to our art museum. An afternoon at the White Elephant sale is always good for filling my inspiration well.
What was the inspiration behind your family room?
So, we have a bright green piano. Like grass green. And we knew it would be going into this space. If you have a bright green piano, you kind of have to start there — wherever we ended up, we knew the green piano would need to make sense color-palette-wise. And then, I’ve been pinning blue velvet sofas for years now. I wanted one so bad. You can’t imagine how happy I am that we ended with TWO BLUE VELVET SOFAS. Dream come true.
So once I had blue and green on the list, I thought using white walls and neutral pieces like metal and stone and wood, paired with other bold pieces in saturated colors, would be really fun. We added the yellow ladder, the red ottoman, and filled the high ceilings with colorful kites.
We also took direction from the room itself: the shape, the lighting and skylight, the failed attempts we had tried before in this space, and what activities we wanted to facilitate in the room.
How would you describe your design style?
Modern, bright, with a touch of mid-century and vintage mixed in. Or if I’m being really honest, my design style = whatever is easiest to manage and maintain with six kids.
The biggest design mistake I ever made was…
Leaving the stunning farmhouse (restored by an artist!) we lived for years in France.
Current trend obsession?
Mustard yellow. And velvet. Velvet everywhere on everything.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
You can change your mind.
Three things you can’t live without?
Apple Jacks, Pear Jelly Bellys, Sour Patch Watermelons. Basically, I like the same foods as 5-year-olds. Sigh.
What’s one of the best things you’ve learned from your kids?
You can reinvent yourself at any time. No one is paying as much attention as you think they are.
What are you watching on Netflix right now?
Portlandia. The Good Place. The Crown. Have you seen the Crown? Stop what you’re doing and go binge season 1 and 2 right now. It’s mind-blowing because these are characters that are still alive right now. I have no idea how accurate it is, but it’s so good.
Wanting more? Visit Gabrielle’s blog to learn more about the transformation and her experience working with a Design Associate at Room & Board San Francisco.
Photos by Kristen Loken for Design Mom