Get This Look: Family Friendly Living Room with a Modern Vibe

This spring I tackled another course towards my Diploma in Residential Décor at Algonquin College. The course was “Colour in Décor”, and most of our assignments involved mixing paint to create our own paint chips to match the colour scheme from a magazine photo. Harder than it sounds, I tell you! It was frustrating and time consuming, but ultimately I think it taught us a lot about the use of colour in decorating.

Our final project was much more fun: find a real “client” in need of decorating help, and create a mood board for their room. I immediately thought of my friend Christie.  With three young children, ages 10, 8 and 5, she had a problem many of us share – a rarely used room that had become a landing place for random piles of “stuff”. Unfortunately, the room in question was her formal living room, which is clearly visible when you enter her open concept home. The dining room half of the space had been re-imagined into a functional and comfortable homework area with a gorgeous custom-made table incorporating built-in storage for books and school supplies. Christie wanted the attached living room to be a place where she and her husband could read and relax while the kids worked or played at the table, but she wasn’t sure where to start.

c's living room

1. Flatiron Ocean at Tonic Living  2. Butterfly prints at Etsy  3. Varenna Sky at Tonic Living 4. Mellow table lamp at EQ3  5. Frame coffee table at EQ3  6. KVARNVIK storage at IKEA  7. Scroll tile rug at Pottery Barn  8. Gabardine sofa at Urban Barn

The room was pretty much a blank slate. Apart from the homework table, the only piece of furniture Christie wanted to keep was a tall black painted wood cabinet with glass doors. There are two tall, narrow windows and the floor is a medium brown hardwood. The homework table is a similar wood tone. Her existing furniture is somewhat traditional in style – think Pottery Barn – but she has recently been drawn to more modern pieces, so one of the big challenges was mixing the different styles in a coherent way.

I started by looking for fabric with a fun print to help keep the space young and inject the modern vibe Christie was looking for. I suggested using “Varenna Sky” for window panels for maximum impact and interest. The fabric’s white background is crisp and fresh and the large-scale pattern in sky blue, lime green, and charcoal grey gives a playful feel to the room while providing a calm colour palette.

The grey and white scroll pattern rug gives the eye a rest from the warm wood tones in the room and defines the seating area. The black coffee table coordinates with the black cabinet and has an industrial feel, with casters to make it easy to move around and an easily wipeable finish that’s uber practical when you have kids.

The sofa has the modern lines Christie admires and will be upholstered in a dark grey textured fabric that will serve as a neutral backdrop, allowing accessories to be changed easily in the future. I chose the turquoise and off-white chevron fabric to re-cover the chairs at the homework table, adding a fun element to offset their more traditional style.

Christie loved the direction of the mood board I created for her and has started to purchase the big-ticket items. She has the rug and is waiting for her new sofa, which she ordered in a custom fabric, and accent tables. Once it’s all in place, I’ve promised to go on an accessory shopping trip with her to pull everything together. I can’t wait!

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Saturday Shopping: From Zone Maison to your maison. A $500 Giveaway.

Do you need one more reason to like Zone? Well here it is: they’re having a contest for a $500 giveaway. They’ve just recently joined Facebook and are celebrating with a lovely reward for one of their fans. You can enter today and tomorrow by Liking them & filling in a form. How would you spend your $500 there? My short list definitely includes:

  • The Retro metal stool for my dream kitchen reno.
  • The FAB gray throw cushion for my Fall living room colour scheme.
  • The COSTA wooden fruit bowl for my dining room table, although I’m not sure if I’d fill it with fruit or just awesome accessories.

My short list might get a little longer every time I step in the store or view their site. What’s on your list?

Bonne chance!


Welcome to Newberry Sykes!

Hi there,

We’re Meredith and Susan and we love staring in people’s windows to see how they’ve decorated their house. 95% of the time we are staring through our computer screens, but if there’s an Open House, a model home or a neighbour has left a curtain open in the evening, we’ll probably be there. (Creepy? Or are you right behind us peeking?)  We love reading house & home blogs, magazines and MLS listings. And since we’re both pretty happily settled in our own houses, we thought we’d spend some time writing about what we love, instead of getting caught for minor neighbourly misdemeanours.

Meredith: I’m a big fan of the modern traditional style. I’d love wainscotting up every wall in my house, but my husband would probably shoot me for asking him to install it. I am constantly moving furniture around in every room in the house; sometimes my dog isn’t even sure where his pillow will end up next. I’m a big fan of my husband and I doing projects ourselves. And I’m currently circling an abandoned pallet on the street next to mine because I’ve got a great idea for how it would look on my dining room wall. I live in downtown Ottawa just in case you want to close your windows or move any pallets you have in your alley way. We bought our house four years ago when it was a teeny tiny piney-panelled bungalow. We’ve since updated the existing house and added onto the back with a two story addition.

Susan (or you can call me Sue, most of my family and friends do): I guess one of the first clues that I was going to be obsessed with houses and design was when my childhood snow forts were actually more like true-to-scale floor plans for my dream home du jour. I’ve lived in 17 different homes so far in my life and although we love our current one I’m not convinced that there’s not a few more moves in our future. For now, I’m happy personalizing our suburban palace in Ottawa’s far west end, dreaming of painting my kitchen cabinets white, and smuggling my latest HomeSense scores past my husband. One can never have too many throw pillows, right?

Thanks for checking out our first post on our new corner of the Internet. We’ve planned some fun posts that will shed light on shopping options in Ottawa, awesome houses in the Nation’s Capital and a few of our own projects that we’re working on. We’d love to hear from you if something is interesting or if you want to share your design dreams with us.

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