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What I Learned Redesigning My Childhood Home Alongside My Family

Farmhouse cozy neutral living room.

mStarr Design

Currently, I have the privilege and pleasure of living with my family in my childhood home. And because some rooms haven’t been altered since we moved in, I was delighted to hear that my mom was inspired by the fresh spring weather to reorganize, redecorate, and redesign the rooms in our home that needed a little love. This included our foyer, family room, and formal living and dining room—both of which no one sits in, but are there just in case.

As a design enthusiast who spends all day gazing at gorgeous homes—thank you, MyDomaine—I immediately took the bait and began picking out paint colors, entryway tables, and all of the Studio McGee line of décor from Target to feature in our spaces. But, I quickly realized I needed to pump the brakes. My design style wasn’t the only one to be featured in this refresh, far from it. All of my family's wants and wishes needed to play together in our little redesign, and I’m sharing the lessons I learned making these switches alongside my family. 

There Are Plenty of Ways to Compromise on Color

Living room with blue accent wall and built-ins.

Whittney Parkison

Our first task was choosing a new color palette for my home. Previously, each room had a different color, all “it” shades of the early 2000s: gold, cranberry red, and even royal blue. Though we all agreed to create a more tonal palette, we needed to pick shades that complemented each other and decide where to incorporate splashes of color.

We have an accent wall in our living room that donned the previously mentioned bright, cranberry red, which my mom wanted to paint navy blue. At first, I wanted to ditch the accent wall all together and make the whole room neutral, but she really wanted to hold on to this feature of our home. We compromised on a dusty shade of blue-grey that looks gorgeous, and I can’t imagine the wall any other way. 

There are plenty of ways to compromise on the color palette while still incorporating everyone’s tastes and preferences, and you would be surprised what happens when you give color a try.

Prime Your Walls Before Painting

My family and me? We are expert non-expert painters. We have all the equipment, from extender poles to edgers to designated painting clothes, and we were ready to tackle our blue living room with an all-in-one paint and primer. But, we quickly realized we were no match for that powerful 2000s blue with our one gallon of soft taupe paint. 

We quickly realized we were no match for that powerful 2000s blue with our one gallon of soft taupe paint. 

Despite our painting experience, we made more work for ourselves by not priming the wall. If you’re looking to paint over a bright, pre-existing wall, save yourself the trouble and prime it first to neutralize the color and get it ready to absorb your new paint.

Give Your Space Regular Cleans and Updates

Neat living room with muted color palette.

Lemon Leaf Home Interiors

We found—I kid you not—five phone books from the 90s stacked atop my living room media console that clearly were no longer serving a purpose. A lot of the troubles we ran into in our refresh could’ve been avoided with regular organization and maintenance of our home. 

I think we become accustomed to seeing things a certain way in our spaces—including clutter—and that is definitely how my family saw certain sections of our home that were a bit overstuffed. Routinely find new homes for things like photos and old glassware that were previously bumping heads with each other, and you’ll be thankful you did when it comes time to redo a room in your home.

Marketplace Is Your Friend

One fantastic discovery that came from our home refresh was the success of Facebook Marketplace. Something that was really gutting my parents was the thought of simply throwing away our old coffee table, curtains, and other décor pieces for no one to use again. I opened my mom’s phone, showed her how to list these items on Marketplace, and we never looked back.

Though some buyers flaked out or didn’t give us what we thought our scratched-up coffee table was worth—even though they were justified—overall, a tool like Marketplace made redecorating easy and incentivized. 

Personal Touches Are Meaningful and Necessary

Farmhouse cozy neutral living room.

mStarr Design

In order to paint the once-dingy walls of my living room a fresh coat of taupe, we had to empty out our large media cabinet of old VHS tapes, liquor bottles, and photo albums, as well as take down all of the family photos that were dotting our walls and tables—and with this came a debate about what to display and what to stash away to make the space look clean. 

Things that are meaningful bring joy, laughter, even sadness—and erasing them from the new family room design was not an option.

Yes, minimalism will make any room look chic, but rooms deserve to be lived in and enjoyed as well, and this is what I learned going through childhood photos alongside my family. Things that are meaningful bring joy, laughter, even sadness—and erasing them from the new family room design was not an option, I quickly realized. We reframed old photos, stashed away some from my ugly years, and now can gaze away at our new shelves and gallery walls filled with meaning.