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This Is How You Make a 270 Square Foot Family Room Look Spacious

Is there anything that Emily Henderson can't do? We're pretty sure the answer to that is no, even though it was a rhetorical question. She continues to blow us away with her aspirational yet approachable style and her latest room reveal from the Portland Project proves she hasn't lost her touch—you have to see the stunning primary bedroom and pewter green kitchen.

The term "Primary Bedroom" is now widely used to describe the largest bedroom in the home, as it better reflects the space’s purpose. Many realtors, architects, interior designers, and the Real Estate Standards Association have recognized the potentially discriminatory connotations in the term "Master." Read more about our Diversity and Inclusion Pledge.

But this family room didn't come without its challenges. At just 270 square feet Henderson had to figure out how she could create a cozy space you could relax in while dinner is getting ready but still have it feel spacious and open. "As a designer, my main goal was to effortlessly connect the dining room and kitchen aesthetically," she tells me. We think she nailed it.

Ahead, Henderson takes us through the design process of this neutral, cozy, and layered family room.

Emily Henderson—Living Room Makeover
Sara Tramp ; DESIGN: Emily Henderson

Typically, Henderson draws inspiration from the personalities of her clients and really considers how they want the room to look, feel, and function. "Then I troll the internet, travel, and go through the flea market for inspiration to make each room personal to them," she explains. But this house/room didn’t have a client (aside from Henderson) so she had to take a different approach. "First, we considered the style of the architecture of the house then we got an insane amount of inspiration from Portland itself and all the amazing makers we got to work with," she says.

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Emily Henderson—Living Room Design
Sara Tramp ; DESIGN: Emily Henderson

Since the two rooms on either end of the family room have bold design elements (one side is wallpaper and the other is dark green paint color) Henderson knew she needed to tread lightly on both the style and palette. "So to not visually overwhelm that whole area we went neutral and cozy, only bringing in a hint of color from those two spaces and a lot of natural wood," she says.

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Emily Henderson—Living Room Ideas
Sara Tramp ; DESIGN: Emily Henderson

As we mentioned earlier, this room/house was a constant challenge. "Everything," laughs Henderson. I'm kidding, but also not." This was the hardest room to design because of the layout and how she wanted it to function as a welcoming family space. "It’s a pass-through room between the family and the dining room with lots of doors and doorways to consider," she adds. "This is very inconvenient because where do you put the couch? We played with the layout for hours then all of sudden it just worked and honestly couldn’t have turned out better." 

Emily Henderson—Small Living Room Makeover
Sara Tramp ; DESIGN: Emily Henderson

All the pieces in this room are so special but Henderson's favorite element is the indoor/outdoor fireplace. "I loved it so much that I stole the idea and put it in my mountain house project and it’s awesome," she says. "I only wish I was snuggled on that sofa looking out over all that Portland nature at all times." 

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Emily Henderson—Small Living Room Design
Sara Tramp ; DESIGN: Emily Henderson

As you can see, small doesn't have to be cramped, it can be stylish, spacious, and quite possibly end up being your favorite room in the house. We can certainly see this one being used frequently by everyone.

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