From Every Room

By now you’ve probably seen these stunning photos of the spaces created for the Gill family  by Traditional Home and Ballard Designs.

This room was an empty room with a few chairs and some instruments.  But the family “wanted a “salon” – a room to sit around and enjoy each others’ conversation, listen to music and just hang out with family and friends.”

The before isn’t too shabby huh?  That just confirms the fact that good bones can take a room far.  High ceilings, millwork to die for, big windows for natural light and french doors, wood floors…I’ll take it.  But when I see photos like this from a house I’ll never have I fight the feeling to shrug it off and think thoughts like it’s hopeless, I give up, forget it, only people who win contests and have rooms called salons can have such a pretty home…. Instead, I shake it off and try to learn.

I believe that you can learn something from every room whether you like the style or not, whether you have wood floors or not. Just because this house is nice and had a talented design team work on every inch doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it and even get something for ourselves.  Really, they didn’t do this room just to show off, although it’s totally brag worthy.  It’s supposed to be inspiring~and I believe it is. It’s worth it to watch this quick 1 minute transformation video, then we’ll discuss, ok?


Here are three of my observations…

1. There are lots of seats

I’m a big fan of seats and so is my hiney. Since this isn’t a family room where they will have game night and watch tv together, I like that the designers opted for lots of chairs and a dainty settee instead of a big sprawling sofa.  When you have a group of people over, everyone breaks up into smaller groups to chat anyway.  Look next to that settee in front of the windows, there are two wooden side chairs, personally, I would not have thought to put those there but they work as a surface like a table or for seating if you have a little crowd.  A smart idea.  Even though I don’t have a salon in my house, these photos remind me of one of my old goals with our family room, sneak in as much seating as possible.

2. There are lots of styles of seats

The two leather Chesterfield style chairs were already in the room but remember, you don’t have to get a Chesterfield sofa to match.  You don’t want the matching police to fine you. It’s fine and even considered good design to use a mix of different styles.  As you look at the seating there is overall balance but not a Rooms to Go look. It looks like the pieces were as they say collected over time with their different heights and profiles and materials and scale.  It looks layered and gives us permission to pull chairs from different rooms to get the same look.  Makes me want to pull in some random chairs I have from around the house just to see what I can fit together.

3. Mix up the surfaces.

I see three small tables and a shelf {and look, a little orange bench~more tush resting ability}.  I love the different heights of the tables.  The one here on the left and in front of the settee are both higher than what many of us might choose.  I know I automatically assume I need coffee table height. But, since these tables are so airy and open, they almost disappear.  And on the right in front of the french door is a drum style table.  And don’t forget the shelf on the left wall…

Just because something is called a book shelf doesn’t mean it has to be loaded with books. It’s great to have bookshelves with books but, I like the idea of incorporating an open shelf on a large wall.  You can use a shelf instead of a dresser or table as more of a display area.  {sidenote: I am in love with that white branch candle up there}

The design team also styled the shelf three ways.  I notice texture, color, glimmer, crisp white, and layering used in each photo.  Remember, in this room, it’s not for books.  No need to get defensive and claim it’s unrealistic to not pile books on a book shelf, this is a display piece on purpose.


I see so many more lessons from this room as well, layering, pops of color, texture, neutrals, I really could go on.

Do you have a take away from this room?

Don’t forget tomorrow is the yard sale linky party.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. I love this room, like you I think the ‘matching police’ are an urban myth…in my work so many people believe that you cannot even go with different wood species…I try to change their minds, it ain’t easy LOL. ….tho I usually do not think I will make a copy of other peoples work..I LOVE the mirror !! [may have to go through my woodpile….hmmmmm.]

  2. What I took away from this room and your thoughtful post is something different than one might think. I JUST sent a note to a friend asking (not very seriously) if my expecting to be able to encourage people to encourage other people is the same as other people expecting me to do things that come naturally to them? (With my friend, I used the example of volunteering/working in a nursing home, which is something she has done) Your post made me think, “Wait a minute!”…is my expecting to be able to encourage people to lift other people up (spiritually & emotionally), the same as if I expected them to be able to walk in any space and decorate it? Design is one of my passions, but I don’t expect everyone else to be designers. Hmmm…it’s just something I was thinking, in addition to thinking that that is a lovely room! I hope you have a blessed day!

    : )

    Julie M.

  3. I love how the touch of orange color just “pops” and ties things together!

  4. I love the numerous seats too and how they are all so different, but work so beautifully together. Also, the wonderful pops of color through accessories is exactly what I love! :)

  5. I get caught up in feeling like every seat has to be engaged with/connected to every other seat in the room. This is a perfect example of pockets of seating and it works so well! (And the fact that it is mostly chairs means they could be turned to engage if the occasion arose)

  6. I took away money can buy anything. Not sure I understand why a room that looks like it is from a catalog is POP. Most people buy matchy matchy for the cost savings or the time savings. This is what you get if you have the money to drop. Just looks like a new take on the parlor not something from this century where people really use the room. Sorry to be negative but not my style.

    • I think the original goal was to have a “music room” — the early shots show guitars and a keyboard in the corners. For a musical family (mine is) where you ALWAYS have people playing and singing, and people filtering in and out to join them, a room like that is perfect and a true “living room”…. I grew up singing with my family more than than watching TV, and with a guitar for nearly everyone in the house, so this room looks “right” for that kind of activity.
      I’ve also seen nearly every single item I can see in those photos offered on Craigslist here in Atlanta in the last month. Each piece would take a little work, but it’s something that’s doable, if you have patience to keep looking for the pieces over time.
      What I see here is lovely, but mostly I see a room driven by a specific purpose. You can’t play guitar as easily on a sofa as you can on a chair or ottoman. Tables don’t get in the way of their passion, either, and decorations as such seem to be confined to the bookshelf and mirror on the wall. No knicknacks to be careful of, if you want to have a musical hoedown. :-)

      • We are also a family of musicians, but I had the opposite reaction! :) My first reaction was that the ability to play music together was complicated by so much new furniture. Someone would be sure to knock something or someone with the neck of a guitar, and there is no longer any place for the keyboard (which is a pain to drag out and set up every time- I am a keyboard player, and two of my kids are… they would never play it if we had to set it up first each time). I do like that the chairs are easy to turn and regroup (as opposed to sofas). I am in a simplifying mode, so I also felt like the shelving just made a way to put more “stuff” into the room. And it made me want to get more creative in my yard-sale-ing for more seating this summer! I am always nervous about mixing styles in… I’m going to go for it this summer! :)

        • I totally agree! I love the before shot of this room and would love to have a room like that for my family of musicians and for my piano students. To me the finished room IS matchy matchy and the furniture complicated with curlicues and arms which just dont go with guitar playing! My 9 by 12 foot room is looking pretty uncluttered compared to this room ( well it would if I picked up all the music off the floor lol). But I definitely appreciate the style here and the take away thoughts.

  7. I love good design period. No matter the style if its well done I generally like it. I always try and learn something from a design, I thought I was just weird because most people just reject something if it doesn’t appeal to their sense of style. This is a beautiful room. I love the mix of modern and traditional and the use of color and lots of other great things but I don’t want to write a novel LOL. This is a great post, lets me know I’m not alone.

  8. that I want to add some orange to my house!! Where did the lamp go?? I liked the lamp :) Thanks for a fun to read, informative post!!! And the video. .thanks for taking the time to post that too!!!

  9. Gretchen says:

    I like all the seating too, although it’s a little busy for me overall. I actually have a very similar room in my house that I’ve been wondering what to do with since we moved in almost 2 years ago. Here’s my question…where are the instruments? They said they were musical and wanted a place to hang out and play music (which, btw, my family is too….)…so what did they do with the piano and guitars?

    I also like how they moved the curtains from both sides of each window to just one side. Gonna steal that.

    This does motivate me to get on the stick and start working on that room! (Right after I finish my kitchen…)

    • Guitars are portable, so maybe they come in and out. We never see the 4th wall, so maybe the keyboard is back with us, the viewers? (Although I hate keyboards and think they look hideous.)

  10. I also like what they did with the window treatments, and I like that they let the beautiful woodwork speak for itself, without loading the walls down with stuff. I always marvel at how designers figure out how to incorporate more seating–that’s something I need to learn to do!

  11. Love it… it even looked great before but you made it amazing

  12. Marissa says:

    Really great stuff. It looks like maybe they used the curtain fabric to reupholster the chair??? Its running in the opposite direction, but I LOVE that! Thanks for reminding me that I can take the good from this room and apply it….instead of clicking away the moment I see that beautiful paneling as something I don’t/will never have. I need THAT kind of inspiration.

  13. I love your observations!!!

  14. loving the grey/orange. my husband was just “contemplating” (to put it nicely) the number of seats in our house…your comment made me smile.

  15. I like the idea that they used the bookcase as an “art” piece. Like you stated – bookcases don’t always need to store books. So why not use one instead of hanging up pictures. Some walls need a little extra and it is a nice way to display a collection of trinkets. I like how you dissected the room design and totally agree that you can learn something from any room design – which is why I now keep all my home decorating magazines for reference! However, that may not be a good idea considering how many magazines I get ;)

  16. It’s neat that the ottomons don’t match the chairs they’re placed with. I knew it was good to mix up the seating, but I can’t say I would have thought to not have a matching footstool with a chair- I like it! In fact I love the freedom to mix and match. I definitely want to work on layering in my home.

  17. When I looked at the photo I liked it. Colorful but not chaotic, and modern mixed with traditional. Then I read the last thing you wrote. “Do you have a take away from this room?” And I went back and really looked again. (Don’t you feel powerful? ;) ) The second and third time browsing the photos I noticed how some things aren’t “just right”. I always feel like things in my house need to be “just right”. For example the little stand in front of the love seat… not centered… not balanced by something else on the other side. It’s just there. And it works. And I bet if someone sat down with a drink they would think “oh nice. I can set this here.” rather than “You are not just right.” When I look at this room I notice several things that if in my home I would feel bothered by. This post makes me ask myself why when I see something “not just right” that someone else did I feel like it’s great… but then when something is “not just right” in my home I feel like I need to fix it? How do I get from here to there?

  18. Wow. Wow. Wow. LOVE IT. Couldn’t possibly be more in love with it. Love the mix of styles, love the seating arrangement (I’m always at a loss when it comes to creative seating), love the bursts of coral-y goodness. This is my dream room.

  19. Jennifer Spadaro says:

    I liked the room as a whole, I really like things when they are not too matchy matchy, but I didnt really love how dainty the settee was compaired to their bulky chesterfield chairs, I thought the scale was off. Also I think that the “coffee tables” were much too high and a bit akward. What I really enjoyed was the lighting. They had sconces by the bookshelf, and standing task lights behind the chairs. I thought that was really smart since all their tables werent big enough for lamps. I love all the pops of coral, and how they covered 2 unmatching stools with the same fun fabric, it brings it together while still feeling collected which I really appreciate. Overall a beautiful room

  20. My first reaction was that the family lost the unique touch that made them special. I looked for their instruments in the new room and they all disappeared! Perhaps the keyboard could have gone behind the big chair, kind of like a library table. The guitars could have had a spot next to the shelves or maybe even hung on the wall beneath those matching wall lamps. A room needs to do more than look great in a magazine or in an advertisement. It should say something about the real people who really live there.

    • I agree with you Maureen.

    • that was my thought too. the room is very attractive, but the one thing they wanted was a place to play and listen to music, even better than they could before, and instead they removed all of the instruments and didn’t leave any places to put them or use them! attractive rooms that cannot be used for their intended purpose are pointless.

  21. RuthAnn says:

    Nester- can we talk about the stairway/hallway where they added the lovely couch/sette as well? (from their website link)
    love the little initial G pillow. the whole area is warmed up, welcoming, like a “waiting” area!!

  22. Sorry, Nester, I don’t understand this project. What is the purpose of design? To solve a problem–or, if you like, to create interiors which will do what they are supposed to do. That’s what “design” does. “Good” is an adjective describing how well the design solves the problem: not just how something looks. This room? If the “problem” was to find a way for a family to make music together then, other than the fact that they put a lot of different styles of chairs in the room, they’ve failed. It may look good, but it doesn’t look easy for the room to fulfill it’s proposed function.

    As always, though, you’re an inspiration to me. Thanks for this.

  23. I like the mix of neutrals in this room with the pop of orange color. It’s my preference to use neutrals to make a room look clean and then pop a color in there for fun! I also like the mix of styles that looks like it was built over time and reflects some personal style and soul.

  24. What I took away from this post is this line you wrote: “It looks like the pieces were as they say collected over time with their different heights and profiles and materials and scale.” This is great news to me! I didn’t think that everything had to match but that it was suppose to “go together.” (My problem was that I never knew what “go together” looked like!) This is going to allow me to look at my furniture differently. (It has been collected over time – a long time.)
    Thanks Nester!

  25. I liked the sense of scale with the large sunburst mirror over the dainty settee. It makes me want to put in a large, dramatic piece in my small space. So bold!

  26. i LOVE the eclectic nature of the house. since all of the things in my house are in one way or another hand-me-downs, I think it’s great fun to find ways to make mismatched styles work. this totally has that feel to me.

  27. The gorgeous mirror is the focal point. It draws your eye right into the room. They used a pretty neutral color scheme with pops of orange. I never would have thought of using orange, except when you look at the before photo – they had an orange lamp, so the designers knew they liked that color! Part of the room is very symmetrical and part of it is not. It really is a beautiful room.

  28. I always believe that your room (or make that space) should represent yourself and the lesson you’ve learned in life. I got this philosophy from my own experience. In every design or layout I applied to my bedroom and living room, there’s almost always a story behind it.

    If I’m feeling a bit happy, I have to make sure that my bedroom and / or living room has something bright or sunny on it. If I’m overwhelmed or excited, I should do something about the fixtures’ arrangements, or something.

  29. Bridget says:

    I love most of the pieces individually but feel overwhelmed by all of them in the same room. The room feels crowded to me and a bit cold. I’m sorry to say I don’t find it in the least bit inviting. I’d take your family room hands down a million times over this room.

  30. I’m another who doesn’t like it, but I do think that American style is much busier than Australian style (is it because many of you are trapped indoors half the year?). To me, there are too many legs in the room — it’s very busy at floor level, but is saved by the height of the room. And I don’t think the patches of coral counteract that cold grey and black enough, or make up for a relative absence of curves. Unless it gets a lot of sun, it’s a cold, busy room.

  31. I love the drapes with the horizontal stripes. I see those horizontal stripes in movies from the 40s all the time and just love them!

Speak Your Mind