Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Before + After: A Family-Friendly Game Room


There's nothing more visually satisfying than a before & after post -- especially when the project's done on a tight budget -- so I've been itching to get this recent job photographed and up on the site but I've been swamped lately.  I finally buckled down and slogged through it all this weekend (warning: this is a behemoth of a post BUT I've included a source list at the end so bear with me!) ... and here it is in all its glory.

First, the all-important after picture...


... better, no?

So the clients on this project were probably my favorite part of this entire job.  They're a great family: sweet, kind and funny; just the kind of people that I love working with. They bought their current home -- a grand old Victorian lady -- about 4 years ago and have been slowly renovating it room by room ever since. When they moved in, the room looked like the top picture.

Blocked it from your memory already? Let's refresh then, shall we?


Ick. Ew. Gross.

It was the previous owners' formal dining room and was covered in peach-colored wallpaper, had a light fixture that belonged in a bordello and was, generally, pretty hideous. There, I said it. Sorry, not sorry.

But the space had great bones and got lots of natural light. From day one, this laid-back family had envisioned the space as a comfortably-chic game room. They spent hours removing the wallpaper,  painting the room their favorite shade of blue and hanging curtains ... and then things came to a halt. When they called me, the room looked like this.  


A big improvement already but it clearly wasn't the kid- and adult-friendly room that they'd dreamed of. They wanted a welcoming family space that could stand up to the inevitable abuse that comes with kids but which also felt "adult" enough for cocktail parties and game nights with friends. But they weren't sure where to start...


...and they were scared that the combination of a large scope (they didn't have a single piece of furniture on-hand) and a tight budget wasn't going to let them get the results they were hoping for.


Once we sat down and worked through the numbers though, I was confident that we could get them what they wanted if we took our time and waited for sales, trolled Craig's List and eBay and scoured antique & thrift stores.


The first thing we found was the pair of mid-century bergère chairs. When we bought them, they looked like this (forgive the grainy photo; it's a screen shot of a screen shot of a screen shot).

vintage bergere chairs

But the scale, proportions and bones were perfect. We took a trip to Zimman's in Lynn, MA (best. place. ever.) and bee-lined for the remnant section. After rooting through the various bolts, we found two Sunbrella fabrics (which are great for families and high-traffic areas); a neutral linen-like khaki for the seat and arms and a classic geometric pattern for the back. Once they came back from the upholsterer, we were off and running.


After we did some preliminary research, the clients waited until Boston Interiors had an upholstery sale and snapped up a great tufted loveseat upholstered in a custom rich gray velvet (which is surprisingly kid friendly). For what it's worth, I'm a big fan of Boston Interiors for people on a budget; their upholstered pieces are well-made (in the USA; a really big deal in my mind) and they've got a great variety of options.

The antique pine coffee table popped up on Craig's List one day for around $100 and once I sent the link off, the client fell in love. It's worn and loved and fabulous for kids' activities, board games and cocktails.

The console table was a World Market find (I really wish we had one in Boston; it's a great place to find interesting and affordable pieces); it blended beautifully with the coffee table and the clean and refined lines worked well with the chairs and the sofa. And the size was perfect for the bay window.

The room needed something quietly colorful and plush underfoot given all the wood; I scoured eBay for about three weeks before a fabulous 9 x11 Oushak wool rug popped up for about $350.00; the client snapped it right up.

The client tracked down the curtains on Target (is it me or has Target been on a serious design roll for the past year or so?); I love how the simple fretwork design references the pattern on the back of the chairs and that the color picks up the accents in the rug.

The coral-colored poufs were a score on One Kings Lane; the children love to pull them up to the table for games and coloring.


The pair of table lamps are from HomeGoods for $80.00;  I adore how the various shades of blue work together to draw the eye across the space.

The side table and floor lamp are more Target finds; such great stuff at such great prices.

The artwork is all vintage; I found some on Craig's List and some in area antique, vintage and thrift shop finds.

In the end, we were able to create a family-friendly space that is at once crisp and cozy while staying well within the clients' budget.


It took a little over six months to get to this point, we're still hunting for some additional art/items for the walls (actually, this mirror I posted on Instagram last week has since made it's way on to their wall) and some of the smalls in the photos (i.e. the white ceramic parrot, striped blanket throw, white vase on console, hobnail glass vase & vintage clock) are out of my own personal stash (#notahoarder #promise #okmaybeIam #butheyresopretty) but we're about 99% done and the end result is comfortably-classic, sunny and snug. And after writing this monster of a post, all I want to do is curl up on that couch under that fouta throw and take a nap! But I promised a source list and so you shall have it....

(All "after" photos by D. Peck)

Source List:

  •  Paint Color: Dutch Tile Blue by Sherwin Williams
  • Loveseat from Boston Interiors (velvet upholstery fabric & throw pillows from BI's upholstery selections)
  • Pair of Mid-Century Bergère Chairs from a dealer no longer in business in the area. Similar here.
  • Console Table from World Market
  • Coffee Table from Craig's List. Similar here.
  • Brass Side Table from Target
  • Area Rug from eBay. Similar here
  • Fretwork Curtains from Target. 
  • Curtain Hardware from Smith & Noble.
  • Pair of Salmon Poufs from One King's Lane. Similar here
  • Pair of Table Lamps from HomeGoods. Similar here.
  • Floor Lamp from Target.
  • Fouta throw from a trip to France. Similar here.  
  • Tin Coral Tray from Target. No longer available. Similar here.
  • Antique Miniature Landscape Painting from Pick Up Modern in Peabody, MA. Similar here.  
  • White Vase from Target. No longer available; but this one is gorgeous (and it will be mine as soon as I can find it in the store). 
  • Book with the Striped Spine is Elements of Style: Designing a Home & A Life by Boston-based blogger Erin Gates (it's a really great read -- funny and informative -- and the book itself is gorgeous).


  1. Adam, I use a bunch of different people; it really depends on who's available and their turnaround time....

    1. Are there any in particular you can recommend in the Dorchester area?

  2. Oooh, that's asking *alot* of a designer. But ... I'll give you one of my favorites {JUST DON'T TELL ANYONE}:

    Melo & Sons in Beverly (www.meloandsons.com). They'll give you a quote via email if you send them the dimensions of the chair and attach a picture, will pick up the chair and then deliver it as well. Their work is spot on ... but their timeline starts to get long as well so sooner rather than later is better.

    They're also famous in the region for being able to cut down sofas when they won't fit through the famously-minute doorways of Boston and then rebuild the whole piece in your new place.