Before and After: A Family’s Busy Living Room Becomes a Warm Retreat
Designer Kate Strickland of West Haddon Hall embraced the challenge of transforming her client’s busy living room into the cozy center of their Manhattan Beach home. The hurdles? Her clients are renting their home while looking to buy something permanent, so the transformation would be limited to furniture and accessories, and the young professionals have two daughters under the age of four.
In order to take the space from a crowded room overflowing with toys and paraphernalia to a chic space fit for entertaining and adult conversation, the designer took cues from the home’s coastal California location to craft a space that is at once stylish, comfortable, kid-friendly, and warm.
“They wanted their living room to feel casual but sophisticated and pulled together, while still being kid-friendly,” says Strickland.
“This is a young family who has two little girls under the age of four, so soft surfaces were a must,” the designer shares. “My clients expressed that they were drawn to a high-texture, beachy vibe with lots of blues and greens. They love organic materials like rattan, bamboo, raffia, woven textures, and wicker, and wanted the overall feel to be very casual and livable.”
Since the rental home is temporary, Strickland was careful to select neutral pieces that could translate to a new space, but wouldn't break the bank if they weren’t permanent. “This is a rental and my clients are looking to buy in the near future, so we didn't want to spend large dollar amounts on items they might not be able to reuse in a new house,” she shares.
To unite the interior with the home’s beachside location, Strickland opted for rustic materials and accessories. “I think the room feels very organic,” she shares. “It’s filled with lots of natural materials, plant life, and trees.”
Defying definition, Strickland combined components from several styles to achieve the living room’s harmonious look. “It feels both preppy and bohemian to me,” says the designer. “It’s very California, but has a bit of East Coast influence as well.”
Strickland made several smart choices when it came to making the space both stylish and durable, given the young age of her clients’ daughters. “We used MicroSeal on their rugs, upholstery, and throw pillows to protect from potential spit-ups or ketchup spills,” says the designer. Forgoing a hard coffee table in favor of two soft-top ottomans, and hanging shelving at an out-of-reach height, also helps make the space more kid-friendly without sacrificing aesthetics.
“Though the clients were drawn to blue and green fabrics, we pushed them to add in blacks and browns as well to anchor the look,” says Strickland.
To keep the home comfortable and avoid an overly precious look, Strickland was careful about adding new pieces. “We layered items in a rather informal way to give the room its laid-back and inviting appeal,” she shares. “It is relaxed but polished.”