3 Rooms Styled by Real Simple

We teamed up with the simply stylish minds of Real Simple to bring you three rooms that can do it all – an elegant, but easy-to-clean living room, a convertible office/guest room, and a beautiful bedroom with a super-storage setup. With all of their tips & tricks, from how to mix patterns to seating that can stand up to spills, you’ll be able to create a space that’s fashionable AND family-friendly. Be sure to check out the tabs above for exclusive videos and articles on the three rooms styled by Real Simple.

How to Create a Family-Friendly Living Room


The living room is where the family gathers to relax, spend time together and entertain guests. So how do you make such a busy room sophisticated and kid-friendly? We asked the editors at Real Simple magazine to tackle this common decorating dilemma and create a living room the whole family will love.

Consider Durability and Washability

Practicality and style are no longer mutually exclusive when it comes to fabric choices. Today, there are a wide range of family-friendly options available. For the sofa, the Real Simple team went all in with our luxurious Queens Velvet fabric in a fun and poppy yellow—proof you don’t have to sacrifice personality. Our kid-strong velvet has been tested to withstand up to 100,000 rubs! The matching chaise and wingback chair are upholstered in rugged indoor/outdoor Sunbrella® fabric—a truly stress-free choice. Likewise, the zippy Chevron Rug is actually an indoor/outdoor design that stands up incredibly well to foot traffic and even spills.

Take the Edges Off

If you’ve got little ones, it’s best to avoid sharp furniture edges altogether. Instead, look for pieces with rounded edges or soft surfaces. The experts at Real Simple chose seating with padded, upholstered arms and placed round accent tables throughout the room. An added bonus: the pair of side tables bunched together in front of the sofa provides yet another seating source for your guests.


Go Light and Bright

Bright color and chic patterns not only up the level of sophistication, but they also go a long way in creating a happy vibe in the family room. The Real Simple editors had fun playing with pattern, but they balanced the look with bright white accessories. They also relied on the decorating rule of three for full-proof pattern mixing: stick to the same three colors in all of your patterns. In our family room, they went with a no-fail gray, black and white palette. Art is another way to add instant drama. An easy way of working in art is to select one large piece that you love and make it your centerpiece.

Make Way for Space

Create a seating arrangement that’s anchored by main pieces but still has plenty of open spaces for young ones to get down on the floor. You can always toss large throw pillows on the floor for extra seating—and a comfy spot for your kids to rest. The Real Simple team added to that sense of space by choosing pieces with exposed furniture legs. Bulky, heavy furniture sitting directly on the floor adds a lot of visual weight, something we certainly don’t miss in this amazing living room.

With a few easy decorating tricks from the editors of Real Simple magazine, you can create a comfortable, family-friendly living room without sacrificing your personal style. What do you like most about this living room? And what are your favorite kid-friendly decorating tips? Tell us in the comments below.


How to Create an Office in Your Guest Room


Many of us lack the space to dedicate an entire room to a home office, so we usually make-do with the next best thing: carving out workspace in the guest bedroom. But it shouldn’t feel like you’re sacrificing one for the other. We asked the editors at Real Simple magazine to show us how to blend style and function to create a space you’ll love to work in that also caters to overnight guests.

Avoid the Corporate Look

The most important thing to remember is that you’re creating an office in your home, most likely where your overnight guests stay, so avoid furniture and accessories that scream office cubicle.  Choose pieces with soft lines and organic shapes. The Real Simple team went for a French-inspired desk with feminine cabriole legs and traded in the standard office chair for an Upholstered Cube. The round mirrored accent table adds instant glam—a decidedly un-office-y look, don’t you think?

Keep It Tidy

To make the space feel more welcoming to visitors, keep clutter to a minimum. Keep your desk against a wall to make it easier to conceal computer cords. Tuck away bills and files, and shelve the typical office organizers for pretty trays, bowls and baskets to house your office essentials. The experts at Real Simple hung an inspiration board above the desk to keep track of tears, recipes and invitations in an attractive way.

Think Boutique Hotel

Infuse lots of personality into the room and make it feel more like a retreat for your overnight guests. The Real Simple editors went all out with a chic global-inspired décor. The large-scale patterns in the room work so well together, because the gray pattern reads as a neutral. The artwork adds loads of natural texture and a welcoming pop of bright blue.


Choose Double-Duty Pieces

To keep the room from feeling crowded, choose dual-purpose furniture that serves both needs of the room. The Real Simple team fell for a pair of Upholstered Twin Sleepers that offers plenty of comfortable seating without taking up too much space. They easily fold out into twin-sized beds for guests. The ottoman offers the perfect solution for file storage, and when closed it serves as extra seating. Perhaps our favorite trick, though, is using the luggage rack for guests’ bags as a side table when it’s not in use. Simply place a tray on top for instant storage. Why didn’t we think of that?

Have the editors at Real Simple magazine inspired you to make an office in your guest bedroom work for you? Share your favorite tips and own ideas in the comments below.


How to Create More Storage in Your Bedroom


The bedroom is often the last place we focus on when it comes to decorating and organizing, simply because it’s the most private room in the home. But we actually spend a lot of time in the bedroom, and it should be a restful sanctuary. We asked the editors at Real Simple magazine for ideas on how to make the best use of space in the bedroom, so we can quell the chaos and have sweet dreams.

Think Beyond the Dresser

Rather than going the traditional route of a dresser, the Real Simple designers turned to our Abbeville customizable modular system to create a wall of storage and display. The team loved the flexibility of mixing and matching pieces to suit a variety of storage needs using baskets, bins and drawers. The end result is a super smart, totally chic storage solution. In fact, we don’t even miss the dresser.

Create a Dressing Room

If there’s one thing many of us have in common, it’s our love for shoes, jewelry and other go-to fashion accessories. The Real Simple team fell head over heels in love with our Sarah Storage for stowing shoes, boots, bags and jewelry. The team used different components to create a “U” with a mirror in the middle that provides the perfect spot for checking makeup and trying on accessories. Regardless of the space you have, you can play with the different components to create your own little dressing room—one of life’s little luxuries.


Make Room for Seating

The editors at Real Simple agree: every bedroom needs a seating area. In our bedroom, the team used slipper chairs—the perfect scale for a bedroom and a great alternative to a bench at the foot of the bed. Seating gives you a place to put on shoes, watch TV or even stack laundry while you’re putting it away. And you can use an accent table to keep your magazines, books and remote control. Short on space? Try a pair of upholstered cubes or a small-scale bench instead.

The Real Simple team provided inspiring ideas to maximize storage for a clutter-free and oh-so-dreamy bedroom.  Now it’s up to you to tailor them to your lifestyle and needs. What do you think? Do you love this bedroom as much as we do? Share your feedback in the comments below.


Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply

    Doreen Passariello

    August 30, 2013

    I really like the silver square wall clock shown in the office picture and wanted to order it. Do you still carry it?

  2. Reply

    Deb Mehlhaff

    August 12, 2013

    Where did you find the black serving tray sitting on luggage rack in office / guest room?

    • Reply


      August 13, 2013

      Deb: Unfortunately, the black tray in this fabulous room is a photo prop. Style Studio Team

  3. Reply


    May 7, 2013

    Love the design and the storage system, but I don’t want to rest my head in that beautiful room to look at shoes! The storage would be great in a dressing room, but my traditional heart would break if it were in my bedroom. Folding screen, doors, shades, curtain, anything that bestows beauty, visual peace, and serenity; and hides the organized clutter!

  4. Reply


    May 1, 2013

    I love the dual use of the Sarah Storage for both storage and display. Shoes at the bottom and fun colorful items at eye level. What a great idea!

  5. Reply


    May 1, 2013

    All this color is so refreshing!

  1. Reply

    Shannon Sometimes | Living In Color

    June 14, 2013

    […] living room styled by Real Simple is fresh yet sophisticated with mixed patterns and sleek […]

  2. Reply

    Real Simple + Ballard Designs – Simply Stated Blogs | Real Simple

    May 2, 2013

    […] Our senior home market editor Kelley Carter designed the rooms and made videos with her tips for each. You can watch the videos below and see additional photos of the rooms on Ballard Designs. […]