A Dated Family Room Gets a Fresh Update!

It began with dated and stained wood built-in shelves that were filled with memories and mementos from raising three children through the years, two of which have now moved on to start their own families. 

We initiated the process by talking about what changes my client wanted to see in their home. They talked about how it felt dark and the space didn’t make her feel especially well. On top of that, she has a busy schedule filled with extracurricular activities; having a comfortable space to relax was a priority. In summary, they were looking to create a laid-back space that felt both fresh and inviting.

Living in a military town means resale value is top of mind for them, so having a universally appealing style is important as well. My client really prefers the Coastal style, but wanted to incorporate some contemporary elements as well to address the need to appeal to a broader audience. 

After our initial consultation, I had a good idea of the direction we should go for the design refresh. I began putting together concepts that embodied the laid-back California Casual appeal with a dash of contemporary design details that kept the space feeling uplifting, modern and friendly. Since my client is a pet-owner and grandmother to curious young children, we also factored in materials and pieces that would be friendly to inquisitive young minds and easy to care for.

I recommended a washable rug to lay the backdrop and honed in on the coastal feel with a brightly detailed teal specimen. My client knew it was the one from the very first moment she saw it.  To add a touch of nature to the design, I recommended a faux fiddle leaf fig plant that could be placed inside a basket. While my love for plants is no secret, I understand that having a real plant is not always practical for life when you have pets or little ones who might topple them over during an innocent investigation. There’s an endless variety of options out there for plants that look very convincing and won’t break the budget; for this project, we chose one from IKEA.

Next, we met with three different painting contractors to help decide who would provide the best quality paint job for my clients’ timeline and budget. Painting existing built-ins like those of my clients was no small task. 

For starters, it requires at least one coat (and sometimes two) of an oil-based primer to cover the lacquered surface of the existing shelves and cabinets. On top of that, oil-based primers have a strong odor, which means it requires adequate ventilation and that can present another challenge when the outdoor temperatures are less than favorable. The room is also the prime television viewing room for my clients who are serious about watching their favorite sports and television shows.

Once the primer was added, the room began to transform and the true impact of a simple coat of paint became apparent. The feel of the room shifted from dark and sunken, reminiscent of a burrow to something more vibrant and new, filled with hope and positivity. The room was beginning to come together just as we’d hoped.

The top coats were applied to the built-ins, and a complementary color was added to the main walls above the wainscoting, creating a fresh, new canvas for the proud display of wall art and treasured family photos. The showstopper of the room, however, was the untouched wood beams on the ceiling. The natural, rich coffee color of the beams contrasted beautifully against the fresh shades of white paint and enhanced the California Casual feel that we were working toward. 

With design, even refreshing a space for a completely new look doesn’t mean that every single thing has to change. You can come up with something more spectacular sometimes by seeing the potential with keeping certain elements as they are.

I wanted to add some more texture and visual interest to the main center panels of the built-ins, however it was also important that what we chose was affordable and realistic to complete within the timeframe, as this project was set to complete just prior to Thanksgiving. I began by looking for some peel-and-stick wallpaper options that aligned with the style of the room and provided some welcome contrast and added depth. After presenting several options, I found a stacked stone-look paper that fit the bill. 

While the painting was wrapping up, we ordered the new rug, the wallpaper to add a dimensional touch to the center of the built-ins, as well as picked up the basket and faux fiddle leaf fig from IKEA. All this was organized through a shopping list I created for my client to keep track of everything needed and the purchasing status for each item.

Once the rug had arrived and been installed, we set out to find sea turtle wall art that really resonated with my client. Wanting something different than the original piece that we selected in the concept for the main wall as you enter the family room, we began looking for another piece. Panic had begun to set in for finding the piece in time because of shipping times and when the art arrived, my client was less than pleased. The color was not as it was represented. Knowing how my client was feeling and what vibe we really wanted for the space, I began to search locally for art pieces. I happened upon the perfect artwork at HomeGoods! There were three different sea turtle wall art pieces in all the same size, as well as a seagull that would add a touch of whimsy to the room. Laying them out in a grid pattern on the wall behind a reclining chair was the perfect scale for the wall space without taking over. Sold!

Still looking for a coastal element for another wall, and preferring to shop local and from small businesses, my client found some unique string art from a craft show and was ecstatic to find that another piece she had was made by the same artisan! Talk about meant to be! We worked together to create the layout and placement of the wall art to be just right. The beauty of pulling the space together did not escape us! The wall art in various shades of coastal blues and creams mingles with the beautiful teals and golds of the rug. 

In one word: glorious! Design isn’t always about a complete overhaul, there is beauty in leaving some elements alone and letting them sing along with the new.

My client is very happy with their new family room- it is now inviting, relaxing, and peaceful and is now a space they can come home to and fully relax and unwind from a busy day of work and extracurricular activities. 

The changes in a home are not just surface or superficial. They run deep and I love how that can begin to transcend a clients’ life into the positive and take them to a place of encouragement. 


Clients may apply a 10% discount to any of my services using the code TRIBE on my website during checkout.

Catherine Perez | Peacock and Dahlia

Catherine Perez of Peacock and Dahlia is an interior stylist serving Hampton Roads, Virginia and beyond. As a young child, she enjoyed exploring paint colors, decorating and creating pieces that fit her personal style and personality. After marriage and children, Catherine decided that it was time to pursue her passion. Her style is a mix of bohemian, modern and eclectic with a solid appreciation for old-world charm and coastal decor. Catherine’s goal is merging style and function to create a space that compliments your personality and life.

Learn more about working with Catherine Perez of Peacock and Dahlia through her eDesign Tribe member profile!

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