We’re entering the final phase of our sunroom renovation (well, new build, actually since we tore it down). I CANNOT wait to get into this room! I already love it so much and it’s not even full of pretty things yet! We’ve been working with the fabulous Nik Monahan from Monahan Contracting (best builder experience to date, for real) and everything is coming out exactly as I had hoped.
Last week the V-groove walls and ceiling went up and I got really giddy. Between that and the windows there is SO much light, which is a lovely departure from the rest of our house which tends to be on the dark side with low ceilings. We’re adding wood beams to the ceiling, which will really be exciting. And today it’s all being painted Benjamin Moore White Dove (which is the trim color throughout the lower level of the house)
This is looking back to the current living room… the cut out for the fireplace is smaller than it will be and we’ll be putting our TV above it with a floating wood mantle and the bookshelf to the right will hosue Henry’s toys and books (and some of our prettier books and objects)
Under the row of windows to the left I need a storage piece for MORE of Henry’s toys- I’m torn between a casegoods piece with doors or an upholstered storage bench which would offer even more seating plus storage. See the board at the bottom to chime in!
This corner will be filled with our custom sectional that is currently being made by Kristin Drohan! It will be a tailored, slipcovered style in a Crypton linen. It was important to get this sofa exactly right- comfortable and the exact dimensions we need to maximize seating in here (it’ll be 9 feet x 7 feet). Kristin’s furniture is eco-friendly/chemical free and made of sustainably harvested hardwood and hand-tied spring down cushions. Investing in really well made upholstered furniture is something I ALWAYS suggest- it’ll last you so much longer and look so much better (no flat/sad cushions).
We widened the opening between the living room and new room. We may eventually add glass french doors if we feel we need them but right now it’ll just be a cased opening. We also turned our fireplace into a see through gas one which allows us to enjoy it from both rooms and adds to the feeling of openness between these two rooms. It cost a lot to do, but I think it’ll be worth it.
I had slim custom brass fireplace doors made and chose this double sided insert. On the living room side we’re refacing the surround and hearth with marble (hopefully Danby but maybe Carrara as finding larger remnants of Danby is proving to be tough). On the family room side it’ll be soapstone.
I’m keeping this space very neutral and light. I want it to feel like a breath of fresh air, but also cozy and comfy for our family. You can see how the beams will look in the top left image and the mantle in the bottom right image.
baskets // chandelier // ottoman // lamp // bench // cabinet // floral fabric // zebra pillow // ikat fabric
I have that credenza, and I love it for toy storage. I have a 5 and almost 3 year old and the shelves are great for toys or games. Kids can easily get to it (just like the Ikea option some mentioned) but it hides everything and there is also space for small baskets inside! They used to to touch stuff on top but not so much anymore so I do have stuff on it as well.
I vote storage ottoman/bench! It’s beautiful, full of storage to hide away kid toys and one less thing to worry about kiddos falling into!
Cabinet for sure. those toy benches become black holes and my child stopped playing with everything that was put in there. The cabinet will be great for stacking puzzles, coloring books, etc. and will grow with you much better than the bench.
Oh hells no to that credenza with children, especially in a light color! I like the Ikea or PBTeen storage idea. Henry is a growing boy and you are a growing family so your needs are going to change. The great thing about the Ikea shelf idea is that they are so damn inexpensive you won’t feel badly once you no longer have a use for them/outgrow them. Though, I kinda shudder to think about Ikea in such a gorgeous room… I know it will look gorgeous whatever you decide.
PS: On another note entirely, I am a new patient of Rachel Ashby’s, discovered her name on your blog. She is ahhhhmazing. She is just the perfect combination of empathy and tell-it-like-it-is. Couldn’t be more grateful to have found her via your blog, Erin!
I love your choices! The main thing I would worry about with the credenza is that children will def gravitate towards that and use it for coloring, running cars and toys across it. It’s perfect height for little children. It may get ruined very quickly. I like the idea of the upholstered bench, softer look. Especially with a young child.
Yep! I had my beautiful Hickory Chair laquered black side table precisely one week when visiting toddler decided to draw a picture on top of it, and of course the crayon marks went beyond the paper to new table top. If you are ok replacing the credenza in a few years or the room will be infrequently used by kids then go for it. I do prefer the look of the credenza over the bench. And I love the light fixture (it’s in my living room) and leather ottoman (paired with a sectional in our basement family room!).
Years ago toy box lids used to come down on kids heads so laws were passes to redesign them. Make sure your storage bench cannot fall on Henry’s head when he is going in there by himself.
oh my gaahhhh. It looks gorgeous.
I would also go for the cabinet/credenza. Just thinking of my two boys and as toys/hobbies change a cabinet is great for organizing!
I would vote for more storage. You can always bring in some x benches, etc. for seating, I worry about fingers and hands getting smashed in a storage ottoman or bench. Maybe it is just because I have two boys, but I wouldn’t chance it! :)
This is looking Amazing! I can’t wait to see it when it’s done! I noticed that some of the others were pointing out that the storage bench would be great for extra seating , so I wondered if you could just have a cushion custom made for the top of the credenza? I have seen this done and it looks great! Whichever option you go with will be spot on as always though. :)
You’re the bomb Erin!
Thanks for posting!
Hi! Do you mind sharing the source for the sofa in the picture? I’m looking for something just like that! Thank you!
The cabinet for sure!!! Room is looking great, can’t wait to see the final look.
It all looks wonderful and I too vote credenza for clean lines and something different than the upholstery. Do you have a source you love for woven blinds? Thank you for the wonderful posts!
I vote for a console with drawers and 2 xbenches under it that you can pull out.
It looks beautiful! Quick question – do you mind sharing the source for the rug in both the new and the old rooms? I’m trying to decide on a kid/dog friendly neutral rug for our very large and centrally located living room. Both of those look like the could be good options and I figure they’ll fit the bill given your cute little mess makers. Thank you!
I vote for the storage bench! We have a large sectional in our family and I always wish that we had extra seating. It’s fine for our family, but when we have guests over, everyone gravitates toward the family room and it’s just a little awkward to all bunch up on the sectional with the chaise. Your room is just beautiful and I can’t wait to see it decorated!!
Credenza. Classic and stylish.
Hi Erin! Where will you be getting the shades or any suggestions for the woven woods? I’m looking for something just like this right now and don’t know where to start!
Brit- I think they are from select blinds (search window treatments how/what/why in one of erin’s older posts). I looked at the site and they seem to be the ones in the picture.
We’ve had all options mentioned above for our 5 year olds’ toys over the years – mid-century credenza/buffet with drawers and cabinets, storage ottomans, and bookshelf from land of nod with baskets. The storage ottomans were my least favorite as i felt like it was always a huge mess and things were hard to find – everything ended up on the floor from digging for one teensy toy. The credenza and shelving/baskets have been the best options and have been the easiest to keep organized and put away . An open but closed combo of the two would be perfect… I agree with the wear & tear comments – our pieces have a good amount of dings and scratches, but neither are so precious I care very much. Interested to see what you decide on!
Cabinet to balance the room and you can use the surface to setup refreshments etc when entertaining. Kids grow up quickly.
credenza. another casegood will balance out the upholstered pieces.
Cabinet! It all looks beautiful. Love that sofa.
Very pretty! I was wondering if you were going to use Crypton fabric when I saw that light colored sofa so I had to go back and read. I have Sunbrella linen and it has saved my sofa and chairs from three boys and a dog.
Not sure you’d consider this, but Container Store has fabric cubed covered storage that holds toys inside and people on top! 😊 You could have your fabric person cover them in the fantastic zebra print and kapow, amazeballs.
Enjoy the process!
I vote cabinet but maybe not white because kids are hard on furniture and no doubt it will be beat with cars and trucks and the like. I think you need another hard surface to balance all of the upholstery … maybe the reclaimed wood console from Wisteria to keep the light, neutral look of the room. You lose the sophistication of the first cabinet but gain a really useful piece that will hold up to the traffic and use of a family room with a little boy.
The cabinet gets my vote since you have the tufted ottoman. A lovely space.
I want to add a gas fireplace too. Very similar living room. Do you have a recommendation on where to go? Who to install?
I vote bench! Henry will knock the crap out of his sweet little face every corner and door of that credenza or he will use his body to dust it every day and fall off of it. Like someone able stated an upholstered piece has so much more flexibility and is easier/cheaper to reupholster than refinishing the credenza.
I have three grown boys and I remember always trying to come up with the perfect storage answer. I know you would like to have one that is both pretty and functional. The real problem is Henry’s needs change so quickly. One day its all about small trains, cars and puzzles and the next minute its the xbox and games/movies on the iPad iPad! (BTW, Put a charging station, by an outlet in that room). Perhaps for now you should buy what you love. I do think it would be nice to have a case good piece in that room with all the upholstery! Reading through all the comments I could easily find an argument for either direction! Always choose what you love! In a few years, it will wear out its usefulness and as one of my clients always said, “we can toss it , it owes me nothing!” good luck Erin!
+1 sage, sage words.
I would prefer the cabinet BUT I won’t be the one stowing away the toys. And I second the view that anything you put on top will be demolished by a toddler.
So thinking purely in terms being kind to your back and knees during the tidying up times, I think it needs to be the storage ottoman. Or a long bench with front-loading storage bins built in. But that would mean it couldn’t be portable enough to pull up for extra seating.
I would do the storage bench in leather and rethink the leather ottoman/coffee table.
What is the brand of the sectional example? I’m looking for something exactly like this.
I like Allie’s idea. I am not familiar with the IKEA piece she mentions, but we have a bench from Pottery Barn that sounds similar. It provides open shelf storage as well as seating (we put a long cushion on top) and, when it’s tucked under the window, it looks like a built in. Whatever you settle on for that spot, the room will be fab!
I’d also go with the credenza for all the above listed reasons – more practical and sleek. Also if you put a tailored cushion on top, you still have the extra (short term) seating available for parties and for other play times you just put it away. The sectional looks great!
How are you going to live in this room day by day and season by season? Is it a family play space? A party room? Will you be hosting big family gatherings with kids of all ages? Will you be adding more children and how will that change the long term use of the room? How will you decorate for holidays? Seasonally throughout the year?
Will you want to change the design direction of this room in the future (is that even a question?)? Can you make enough future changes with just pillows and accessories (since you do design them!)?
For the TV over the mantel, have you looked at Samsung’s “The Frame”? link to Emily Henderson’s post https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/greenhouse-makeover-frame.
Otherwise it’s going to be one of those things that haunt you later …
Beyond cool! Thanks for mentioning it.
I’m another vote for the credenza. Extra seating is nice, but as others commented, so is an extra place to put good and drinks when guests are over (equally, if not more important!). And you’d still have the storage space in the cabinets that could be organized better than in the storage bench.
My vote is for neither option and I think you should consider an Ikea expedit on its side (or is it kallax now?). I know it’s the least creative and inspiring choice, but here’s why we love it for our toddler — like others have said, I think the bench will be so hard to keep organized, which is annoying for you for obvious reasons, but also your toddler as they can’t find what they want and eventually stop looking there for toys altogether. You can either put baskets in the slots and organize them that way (blocks in one, cars in another, puzzles, etc.) or you can leave them open. That’s also great because it forces you to have fewer things and everything is visible for your child and easily within their reach. We’ve found things get played with more this way and it forces us to edit and rotate toys. And then for the top, you can either put a cushion there for seating or leave it as an additional spot for play (train tracks, etc.). You can paint it to match your trim and best part – give it away guilt free when this season of your life is over and you can have nice things again :).
We have that down in our playroom and it is great– just want to do something different in here. But there is a PBTeen version that is a little nicer looking I may consider too.
Beautiful, also warm and comfy looking! I vote for cabinet, no one will want to sit on that bench!
Can you share where you will order cordless shade from?
Looks beautiful! I would also love to see a post of how you made your design choices while considering the flow of the rest of your house. My in-laws just renovated the kitchen in their very 70s home and didn’t hit that mark successfully (IMHO which I kept to myself). It’s tough though, and I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Love this so much, Erin. I vote for the cabinet. I think with a large sectional and a leather ottoman, another upholstered item might feel like a lot. Also, I agree with others that said the cabinet would give another surface for entertaining. I think the cabinet will be more versatile as Henry grows, too.
Definitely the credenza – I can’t imagine that anyone would actually want to sit on the bench and I’ve always found them VERY hard to organize since everything tends to get dumped in them. With the ottoman, you’ve already got extra seating. The credenza gives you so many more useful display options since you won’t have a lot of wall space. Looks like it’s really going to be a nice addition!
Agree with Lauren. This would give you a food/drinks surface on game day or apps/drinks/dessert when you want guests to mingle or not congregate in kitchen. Love the ideas so far.
I vote cabinet! I have 2 young boys and as they get older and the toys change and they can put things away on their own the cabinet will be easier to keep organized with baskets and bins.
I agree with Sara. Henry is getting older every day and and while your reality with him now is that you cannot display things that he might break, that is changing daily. Out of seven children, I have three who touch EVERYTHING, one who breaks everything he touches, and those other two out grew the toddler touching phase quickly. The other four always obeyed the, “look, no touch rule”, or the “gently pet it” rule. Henry will have the self control appropriate to his age before you know it! Cabinet all the way b/c that bench looks painfully uncomfortable. People like to sit with backs, and the cabinet will provide the perfect surface to display items/food, holiday decor, etc.
You’re a ROCKSTAR MOMMA!
I like the cabinet — feels like it would add more.
Question about fireplaces: how do you find a contractor who can do new surrounds/mantles? Is this a particular expertise? Our fireplace needs an upgrade, badly, and I don’t really know where to start…
Can’t wait to see the progress on your family room!
Beautiful!! I think credenza because all of your other pieces are upholstered and it will help balance the room.
Looking beautiful! I like the storage bench as it’s softer, more casual , and more versatile. This will probably be the room for gathering when watching sports with family/friends and you will need all the seating you can get. There is enough display space with the shelving . Out of curiosity, I would love to have a custom sectional made that would be close to those dimensions, could you give an idea as to the cost to have that made? Thx!
Unless the bench is pretty deep, I think the cabinet will be better for toy storage and you could use bins to keep it organized.
The upholstered storage bench gets my vote as the emphasis for this room is ‘family room’ and this gives a softer, more relaxed look plus additional seating. Love seeing the progress and can’t wait for the final look to come together!
Beautiful! I’d go with the ottoman as the credenza will no doubt be used as a play surface and get beat up in no time! At least with an upholstered surface, you can cover any stains it with a fancy throw and claim it part of the staging…..
I say go with the cabinet. Since you are using an ottoman as a coffee table, I think you need a hard surface to balance the room. Plus, it’s very chic!
I agree with Lauren! And maybe a large artwork piece or mirror above the credenza, it will balance the windows on the opposite wall…
credenza for sure! great opportunity for organized storage below and display on top. benches (especially against a wall) are never comfortable to sit on for longer than a minute or two, such as when watching TV or conversing during a party.
Too low to display anything that a toddler wouldn’t grab!
Ottoman. To hide the clutter but also to be able to provide additional seating/prop for Henry to use. Seems to me to be more functional to different potential future needs.
Storage bench! You don’t need another surface with those shelves and I could see pulling that bench over in party situation. Beautiful room!
I was just going to say it would be nice to have another seating option so I vote the bench but the cabinet is beautiful!
LOVE that room! going to look amazing!! my vote is cabinet but think either would look great.