Decorating Dilemma: Tanya’s Family Room

Giving a family room a beachy, cottage vibe

Decorating Dilemmas is a weekly column in which our stylists answer your design questions, so you can tackle your home decorating project with complete confidence.

Dear How to Decorate,

This is our new family room that we’d like to redecorate! We’re using furniture we have at this time, but I need some new pieces. I want to create a clean, cottage, beach-y vibe for this space. I have some pictures I’d like to hang that will introduce some pops of red (see them sitting on floor). I’d love your suggestions for replacing the middle brown sofa. Maybe a dark blue? I’m thinking I will keep the brown leather loveseats on the sides.

I was also thinking a pair of book shelves beside the fireplace. On the back wall that is now blank, I will have black and white photos of family. I’m looking for a white piece of furniture to place below those photos.

Any inspiration you have to help this room would be appreciated.



Tanya's family room

Tanya's family room

Tanya's family room


It appears your space is bathed in natural light … the ideal element for a ‘beachy’ feel. The existing colors in your space create a fantastic canvas for a room sure to be as comfortable as it is beautiful.

The Davenport Sofa has simple lines that will flow flawlessly with your current furniture pieces. A slipcover in our Buffalo Check is inspired by the sand in your beach-y space! Plus the slipcover can be removed and laundered. Tuck a Benedetta Console behind the sofa in rubbed white to give a spot for additional family photos, personal treasures and a lamp for reading. We chose our Luciana Table Lamp in Blue.

We have several size options in our Toulouse Collection, so pick the one that meets your exact spacing needs. The finish of the shelves feels a bit like driftwood, which we love for your space. Hang your pictures above the bookshelves, and then add in several throw pillows to repeat the artwork color. As a final light and airy touch, we suggest adding a Bornova Cocktail Table in whitewash.

Happy Decorating!

The Design Team

Giving a family room a beachy, cottage vibe

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How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Reply


    November 21, 2014

    Help me please with the colour for my living room walls: I have a sand (mustard) sofa, burnt orange and cream designed carpet and a dark brown (wenge and taupe coloured modern bookcase). Thanks would really appreciate an early reply

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      March 3, 2015

      Hi Antoinette,
      We would love to help you choose a color for your living room walls. We actually offer a free service where our experts will help you with design questions like these! Simply complete this form, and we’ll reach out to you. Don’t forget to include photos of your space with the form!
      We look forward to hearing from you,
      The How to Decorate Team

  2. Reply


    November 20, 2014

    Beginning to re do a difficult, small living room in my home in South Florida Exploring ideas, furnishings and possibilities.
    Really like Ballard Designs and have bought from you before.

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      November 21, 2014

      Thanks, Alice. What fun to be redoing a room in your home!
      Best of Luck,
      The How to Decorate Team