Family Room Refresh

Hi there! Gonna do my best to keep this one brief! We’ve lived in this house, (our first!), for quite a few years now - going on 9, actually! Our home has always been my ‘canvas’ of sorts to try new ideas and learn more about how I want our home to feel - both to us and to those whose company we get to enjoy within these walls. Our family room is in our basement, but it’s only partially underground so we do get some good light down here! It’s got some weird quirks, like an old brick hearth from a previous owners wood stove, and a 12” ‘bump out’ that provides extra insulation where the space is underground. But I love brick, I love wood, and I love built-in shelves! Until recently, I hadn’t touched the shelves flanking the brick:

5 years ago:


This winter I was feeling the need to wake this space up. I have loved it as-is since we moved in, but I just wanted to freshen it a bit, you know? I know there is a lot out on the web for how to decorate for less, but I still want to share how I refreshed this space for $75. You can create a lot of impact with a little!

First, here is what I spent at a glance:
Thrifted mirror: $20
Thrifted file cabinet: $20
Thrifted accessories: $10
Plants & containers: $25

The theme here is thrifted. It took me a couple months to gather these items, and each time I walked into a thrift store I tried to just look around with an open mind. I had measured the heights of my shelves so I wouldn’t get anything that didn’t fit, and knew I wanted a couple interesting shapes. Other than looking for a wood file cabinet that I could refinish, and a large mirror, I was pretty open to items that simply stood out for the shelves.



All accessories here are thrifted accept the art! The trees print was on clearance at Target, and the abstract on the bottom shelf was a GIFT. I still can’t believe it. Our sweet friend Melissa is a talented abstract artist using the most unusual techniques, (like avocado oil, thread….she never ceases to amaze me). Her work is so striking but even more so is her heart behind her work. You can find out more about her and her work here if interested!


While Craigslist, Facebook, and thrift stores are busting with file cabinets, I really wanted a wood one with brass hardware that I could refinish. I finally found this one and grabbed my black chalkpaint, (by Valspar at Lowes!), the same day! It was a quick afternoon job and I love how it turned out. Our basement doubles as office space and so I figured our functional file cabinet could at least serve as a cute end table, too. At the end of the day it’s still just a file cabinet. Not my favorite piece of furniture, but it doesn’t bother me as much in this matte black finish.


I really don’t care for excessive decorative pillows, (they get sat on and thrown on the floor in this house), so when I want to change things up I prefer to ‘shop my house’ and steal from other rooms. All of these pillows have been around for a while in various rooms,, and I’ve discovered that 20x20s or 22x22s are our magic size for our TV lounging sofa here. Anything smaller just doesn’t work for us.


Two tricks I’ve discovered when styling shelves with a lot of books: 1) Break the books up into stacks and mix in with small accessories. Have a row of vertical books on one shelf, then a few stacks of horizontal books on another. Shelves of JUST books can feel a lot like college again. 2) If you’ve got books with covers offensive to your eyes, take em’ off. Matt’s Harry Potter set was sticking out like a sore thumb to me. I just like more muted tones, when possible. So I took the neon covers off and prefer the naked bindings, (top left).


Mixing in a plant or two here and there is another great way to break up books.


Our TV has sat on the same refinished/converted dresser I thrifted 8 years ago. I think this piece was less than $20! It’s not my style now, but it also doesn’t bother me one bit! We’ve definitely got a few pieces like that that aren’t what I would pick now, but also just don’t bother me to the point of urgeny to replace.


This desk Matt built along our stairs is as useful as it looks depressing. He settles here when he has work to do from home - I can’t do it. Hah! But it’s a great way to make use of a nook in a small home.


That’s a wrap! Hope you feel empowered to shop used or even around your own home the next time you’re looking to refresh a space. It’s always a great place to start. And a can of paint doesn’t hurt, either!

Thank you so much for coming by today! Have a wonderful weekend!

Reveal: Industrial Meets Cozy in Beantown

Got another eDesign reveal today! The client started with a very industrial 2 bedroom space - interior brick, city views and large windows; all my favorite things together! I had complete stylistic freedom, but a limited budget and limited time to get it complete, so I started with some design inspiration to help me hone in on the ideas I wanted to prioritize. Some of my favorite inspo images are below and with each one I had made a note of what caught my eye most.

For this project I was given a sketched floorplan and a video tour of the space. Since I didn't have photos to go by, I was meticulous with the floorplan. I had a vision of what I wanted the space to look and feel like, but a vision is just a vision if the pieces don't fit perfectly and the flow is not a hundred percent comfortable. I created a floorplan for each room in the space and several for the living room - it was an oddly shaped room and I wanted to try some different layouts, but the one seen below is what we ultimately followed the closest!

Finding the right pieces for this space was an absolute blast, but not without some particular challenges! The client needed the design completed 2 days from handing me the specs on the space, so I needed pieces that were not only friendly to our budget, but that offered a speedy delivery! Below is one of the final moodboards of the living room. I used several to indicate some specific details, but this one shows the jest of it.

Boston Sonder Living Room 1.jpg

And voila!


I really trusted the client's measurements of the space as well as the measurements indicated with this sofa - if either had been off it wouldn't have worked. Luckily it was a perfect fit and I got to tuck the sofa cozily inside this brick clad nook.


I'm so grateful to the hardworking installation team that carried out this design to 'T'! eDesign is most successful when the designer can clearly indicate the details of the design and the installation team interprets the instructions properly. The team did a fantastic job carrying this design to fruition; it turned out exactly as I had imagined and hoped!


Although the kitchen was an itty bitty little thing, the client desired a small eating area that could accommodate 4. I used a modest round table and simple chairs on the smaller side, but also shared in the design boards a couple fun alternative options for one of the chairs to be used elsewhere for when space is needed during meal prep. Options are always good!


I wanted to give the bedrooms a cozy, sophisticated feel that is so true to Boston. Bostonians are not excessive in their style; nothing too contrived, function over form. Always. It's been a while since I've lived there, but that aspect of the city as a whole has been around for ages. There's an old story of a Boston matriarch bein where she got her hat, to which she responded, "We don't buy our hats, we have our hats."

Bedroom 1:


Nothing too fancy here, just classic, comfortable design.


Bedroom 2 is the slightly less sophisticated younger sibling of Bedroom 1. But they 'speak the same language', as Cate says, and the laid back, comfortable vibe is consistent between the two.


It's such a delight to see this space finished - it was a whirlwind putting it together in a matter of days but I absolutely adore how it came together! Even with such a short timeline to work with, the creative freedom to do just about anything I wanted with this space was an incredible opportunity to be entrusted with. I look forward to sharing more such projects with you soon!

Thank you so much for coming by!