Gorgeous Family Room Furnishings on a Shoestring Budget

Hi Everyone,

Oh man, before we get into our gorgeous family room furnishings…

It sure feels like the calm before the storm, right?

First turkey-day (have you started shopping yet if you’re cooking?) and then full-speed ahead to the December holidays.

And, then, it’s another year, shot to hell.

Well, not just yet. There are still six weeks to go.


But, I for one, feel an immense amount of gratitude and sense of accomplishment.


I hope you do as well. But, if not, don’t beat yourself up. I went for years knowing full-well that I wasn’t living up to my full potential.

One thing I’ve learned is to decide what you really, really want.  Then, once you do, go after it– full speed ahead. Don’t think too hard about what might go wrong. Or, even about whether or not you’ll succeed or not.


Even if you don’t succeed, then, hopefully, you’ll have learned something from the experience and will be the better for it.


And, if your mind can’t come up with anything, you really, really want. Sit down with yourself and try to figure out where the blockage is.

Easier said than done. And, again, I tried that too many years ago and came up dry. However, I’m proof that it’s never too late and don’t give up on your dreams even if you don’t know what they are yet.

End of sermonette!


Last year, many of you will recall we were treated to the talents of a reader, Laura, who is not a professional decorator. (yet.) And, she’s not a professional home stager or stylist. (yet.)


But, IMO, she certainly could be.

So, please let me take you back to the beginning………..

Laura, a brilliant musician, I have no doubt and her pipe organ playing hubbie along with their two (pretend) children live in a large home they share with in-laws. But, they live separately.


Laurel, forgive me for interrupting, but what’s a “pretend” child?


Oh, I see… Well, if you have to ask, it means you either never had children and/or you HAVE a pretend child(ren.) Those who have REAL children will fully understand.

Pretend children, most commonly girls (apologies for being a sexist pig, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.) are those like myself, that virtually raised themselves. Raise your hand if you were a pretend child.

Yes, as I presumed, nearly all of you.

You will definitely know if your child is not a “pretend” child.

Children who are not “pretend” are those who do things like throw ice at the waiter and tantrums (when they are waaaaaay past two) in the middle of church. They also require a great deal of parental supervision. In fact, many require a leash. Actually, that is no joke. These are the children where it not only takes a village to raise them, but a town, county and state, as well. I see a lot of nodding heads.

That gives me comfort to know there are others in the same boat.


Moving back to our topic. I promise that there won’t be a lot of further unnecessary chatter as we’re all busy.


After we were treated to Laura’s glorious music room that she “threw” together for just over 1,000 bucks,she presented us with her kitchen.

And, family room sea of brown heaviness.

I remember that post, because I had the worst headache after I finished it.

Well, several weeks ago, Laura sent me some photos of the new family room furnishings.

But first a refresher of what was. Below is one image from the Excedrin Headache family room. I’m calling it. There are many more images on the post.


However, after everyone’s great advice and for only $3,300.00, she went from this:


Bookcases open floor plan - family room


To this!


family room furnishings on a shoestring budget

Oh my!!! I know. Laura sent this shortly before my mom passed away last summer and it brought tears to my eyes to see how beautifully she transformed this room. And, with very little money!


Let’s take a closer look at more of what she’s done with these family room furnishings.


family room furnishings - beautiful bookcase styling

Love how she styled the bookcases. Honestly, I never imagined that they could look this good. Laura still isn’t wild about them. But, actually, I think at this point, I’d rather her put that money into the kitchen. What do y’all think?


Family room furnishings - Opium coffee table

Laura says she found this opium coffee table for $175.00! Wow! That’s amazing! Really, my only note would be that I’d do some larger vases, but this is really awesome.


This is very similar to the coffee table I did several years ago.


One other slight thing and I’m being super knit-picky-fussy.


But, these are pretty hunky sofas, so I’d do the pillows about 10% bigger. For this size sofa, I find that a 22″ pillow and 20″ pillow look great.


Paxton Sofa from Arhaus

Actually, I found the sofa at Arhaus and it’s on sale right now!

In fact, they’re having a 40% off upholstery sale!


And don’t forget that whether you do a down and feather insert or a down alternative, that the insert should be two inches larger than the pillow.

For more about throw pillows, please check out this post.


Family Room furnishings with piano

Laura still plans to change out the carpet. Admittedly, it doesn’t bother me as much as it did with all of the brown. However, I do think a hardwood floor and a beautiful area rug, would take the space to an even higher level.


AND, there’s more that she has planned for this room.


But, seeing Laura’s classic baby grand piano reminds me that there’s a section in the new Rules and Tips Guide You Need To Know, about pianos.

I’ve had a few requests for a post about how to work with a piano. However, I’m not sure if enough people are interested. So, I put that info in the new guide which just came out on Friday.


piano before


A little teaser. But, in the guide, I take this room a reader sent me not too long ago. And, discuss what I would do to make it work with that big black grand piano.  I think you’ll enjoy the way it turned out. There’s an easy trick I love to use when you wish to make an element not stand out so much.


333 decorating rules you need to know


How do you get the guide?


There are three ways:


  • One, you pay for it.(please go here)
  • Two, you order something else (Laurel’s Rolodex, Paint and Palette Collection, Six Figure Income Blogger or a combo of the above) and get it as a freebie.
  • Three, if you ordered anything from me in the last year, you were bombarded last night with emails from me with a promo code, so that you can get a free copy. I hope you’ll forgive me, for my bungling. So, if you’re looking for it, please check your email. The last one has everything you need to get your free guide. Sorry, this offer is only for those who’ve ordered in the last year because they paid more.


please note: What you will be receiving is only part I – Living room rules.


Parts II and III – Dining Room and Bedroom Rules will be coming out on December 12th. So, you will get a whole new and complete book at that time. The living room rules and tips are already over 100 pages!

And, note that this is a digital download. I cannot print it out for you. But, should you wish to do that, you can have that done at a place that does that sort of thing.

Also, please note that gifting is available. When you go to order, just click on the gift icon and put in the info and time you’d like your gift sent.


Alright, back to Laura’s beautiful family room furnishings!


Here are some comments Laura made about what she has done.


No matter how much I love my classic yet masculine proportioned Arhaus down sofas, that carpet! Ugh. The arches. Ugh.

Really, I’m hardly noticing them now. Ahhh… the power of paint!!!

What shade of white paint, you ask? I think Laura may have mentioned it, but I don’t remember for sure. But, I’m pretty sure it’s one of these.


Laura went on to say about her family room furnishings:


By religiously following your posts about furniture that can work with every style and the classic pieces that never go out of style, I have gathered a (hopefully) cohesive blend of antiques and Craigslist/Facebook marketplace finds. And, for a total of about $3300! And  I’m really starting to dig this room!


Me too! I’m very impressed once again with Laura’s innate decorating talent!


family room furnishings before and after

please pin to pinterest for reference


Thanks so much for sharing your lovely home with us, Laura. I’m looking forward to seeing the room as it evolves further.




Please also check out the newly updated hot sales and the holiday shop filled with great ideas for holiday decor and gift guides.


35 Responses

  1. Looks wonderful! I think you repainted the walls again? Looks even better. Don’t worry about the shelves the open shelves let’s the styling sing and I agree that you can turn your attention to the kitchen.

  2. Laura, you have truly transformed the space! It looks casually elegant, collected, spacious, comfortable and very livable. I think if you wanted to move the sofa by the piano to face the fireplace and move the leather accent chairs to the piano side that would work also.

    I mention that because an influencer with a tv show did just that after a few years of facing sofas (and even trying a sectional). It works better for her family and looks good, too. Even if it is not the ideal styling choice! She has a child-centered home and a thriving brand (1m on IG) and a much smaller (open) living room than you. Smiley face, to make sure you know I think you’ve done a terrific job with guidance from Laurel’s blog and your own great taste and eye!

  3. Love your thoughts on kids. I have one “pretend” child and two real children. Parenting is no joke! Thanks for the laugh, Laurel!

  4. I think the trouble with the bookcases it that the cabinet doors on the bottom have such a meh panel shape. She might be able to find an inexpensive, even used, replacement set.

  5. Beautiful job, Laura. It went from dark to wow! I have a similar type of family room and have thought about white paint, but my home has natural wood trim and cabinets all over the entire home. It’s definitely something to keep thinking about after seeing this.

  6. Thanks for the friendly kick in the pants with the sermonette. I found it very encouraging as I’m in the midst of making a career change and second-guessing myself as I do it.

    Also… I gasped when I saw the room’s makeover photo. It doesn’t even look like the same room. Way to go, Laura!

  7. Dear Laurel, Thank you for your sermonette today about going after things you really want and not letting our mind’s obstacles stand in our way. Jump in! Take that high dive leap. I am 65 and about to do that. Like you said, it is never too late. Better to try than to always be wondering.
    I appreciate the information and great illustrations in many pictures you present to teach and educate us on good design. Plus you sprinkle it with plenty of humor. We are grateful for the leap you took and have been the grateful beneficiaries of your knowledge and generosity. Thank you, thank you

  8. I love seeing what Laura has done with her entire house on a budget. The fireplace wall is such an improvement over the wood. What bothers Laura is probably not noticeable to anyone else. I see they actually use that room and I am so glad she has brought in reading lamps where she could. Last house I was in I needed to drill through the floor to the basement so I could use table lamps—which are necessities, not accessories to me. How would you plug in lights in the middle of the room in a situation like

  9. Wow!
    Beautiful Laura! You work like a pro 👏👏👏
    Thanks for your kind words Laurel. You sound so happy! I hope it is contagious… Ha ha

    1. I am incredibly happy and I hope it’s contagious, too! But, another thing I’ve learned is that you have to seek out that happiness. It’s not going to automatically show up. Come to think of it; pretty much everything good that’s ever happened to me, required a lot of effort. But, it was effort born out of love. If it hurts, it isn’t love.

  10. Lovely room but I agree about the crowding. And the way the couches aren’t centered on the fireplace would drive me nuts. I’d get rid of the couch near the piano and put the chairs in place. I would have left the wood on the back of the bookcases too.

  11. Thanks for the intro, feeling such a great sense of accomplishment is very special and deserving of its own post which I would love to read about 😉
    Amazing transformation, I would have painted the
    whole ceiling & rugs to give definition.

  12. very nice ceiling before and after. However I am so over those round convex-style mirrors. Happy Thanksgiving to all, especially you Lil’Buttercup. Love, Susie and Teddy

  13. I had wondered about Laura and her house. What a beautiful update! What happened to the woman who had to move into the middle of no where, and cold to boot because of her husband’s job? I’d like to see that update, too. Keep going Laura and Laurel. Let’s see what you do next! Gorgeous!

  14. This is a stunning renovation on an even more stunning budget. All those mirrors and frames could have added up to the total budget.

    I am assuming that the seating was planned for Laura’s lifestyle, so I have no critique there.

    If there is a wood floor in the kitchen, might there not be a wood floor under the family room rug? She must have already checked.

    If Laura installs a wood floor, I would paint the entire ceiling white. I am loving those coffers.

    The kitchen seems like a very costly change, very.

    I remember reading about the kitchen and being too intimidated to comment. Being too intimidated is not my style, so there is a lot to do in that kitchen. How about sanding the floor and painting it? How about a very light wood floor in the family room after painting the whole ceiling white?

    I bow down to both Ls for taking a massive step forward.

  15. YESS!!! Sort of Joan Ross/M.O. Endres meets William McLure! So beautiful. So absolutely livable for real life. Lots of seating. Lots of play space on the table for children to enjoy. Thank you for showing us that thrifty can still be gorgeous. We have to stretch our money, too. Laurel, I’ve read your blog for years and eagerly soak in all your great teaching (and lovable sense of humor 🙂 Your success is such a joy to me. You worked hard for it and deserve every good thing that comes as a result! Laura, your room is so easy on the eyes. Loved your music room, too. What will you decide to do with your brown (or orangish) kitchen? Working on decisions for our own very brown kitchen. Can’t wait to see more!

  16. Agreed. My second thought (after noting the improvements) was how crowded the room looks. I’d be inclined to move the sofa that has its back to the piano so it faces and is centered on the fireplace. Swing the coffee table around 90 degrees, too. Move the wing chair on the left back so it’s closer to the piano. Probably would get rid of the little black chair & footstool.

    I’d never have had the nerve to paint those bookshelves, but they really do look nice!

  17. Laura, you are so talented! This room looks amazing! And I love that you did it for so little money. Thank you so much for following up and letting us into your home. Laurel, I love when you do posts like this, using “real life” examples of how we can beautify our homes. I also love when you give advice to people who write to you. I’m grateful I stumbled onto your blog about a year ago – you have changed my life! (Really…I’m not even kidding!)

  18. Beautiful room! Amazing transformation for $3300. If the carpeting is in decent shape, I’d leave it as is and layer an oriental area rug over it.

  19. I usually don’t comment but today’s one of the exceptions, absolutely fabulous! And more so because of how little money was spent! The only thing I would love to see is a beautiful light fixture. If fan is important
    (mine are on 24/7-10 months of the year) you can get them with fan hidden in light fixture. Doesn’t have the same movement of air as you have now but could work. Wayfair has great selection.

  20. Good morning!
    Laurel, thanks for showing us Laura’s updates. She did an amazing job. I can’t begin to imagine how much work went into painting all that woodwork. YIKES!
    And I think it’s great she bought her furnishings second- hand. That’s so good for the environment.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you & all your readers!

  21. That ceiling is a best part. I didn’t even notice the fan for a while! The room is fantastic.

    If they can afford wood floors in the future, that would really top things off.

  22. Absolutely brilliant! Now the carpet becomes part of the background, and the sofas go with it — so much so that I have doubts about a wood floor, which would bring more brown back. I think what really helps to make this is the paint: it lightens the ceiling while keeping the architectural interest. An all-white ceiling would be simply banal instead of a feature as it is now. And with the same paint all over the walls and panelling, the arches are also less obtrusive. The two Federal-style mirrors are great additions to the shelving, to get the formal/informal mix. Hats off to Laura!

  23. The most important thing is that it’s now an inviting, comfortable room. I’m envisioning wonderful parties, with a talented player at the piano. I can imagine a quiet Sunday afternoon, curling up with a book. Or having a cup of tea with a friend in front of the fire in winter. Laura, you did a great job.It’s a lovely, welcoming room. A room to live in.

  24. Dearest Laurel, I love that part about sense of accomplishment and you described exactly my feelings exept that I’m on the opposite side of this now. Your words are very meaningful to me as this advice is exactly what I need. For example, I want to be an actress (A-list, of course) and I’m old (32 y.o) and find my peace in reading about interior design as I become fearful of my real dream. I hope to do something about it. But for now I’m enjoying your blog post and very thankful to all your lessons- about decorating and other things. Great post and $3000 well spent!

  25. Paint does wonders to a room. She did an amazing job but IMHO there is way too much seating in the room now. Feels overcrowded to me. I’d remove one of the wing chairs and both of the brown chairs in the foreground of the pic. Maybe when you’re in the room it’s different but I think she went overboard on the chairs. I love whatever she put on the piano music stand it adds subtle style to the room.

  26. Hello Laurel, I had every confidence that Laura could do it! Her musical talent, interesting pieces that she had already, and analysis of what was wrong with the room were all good auguries. I still would like to see that beamed ceiling go, but that would likely be an expensive change, and as you say, the kitchen now takes priority. After the painting, I think the biggest change was the removal of those doors in the woodwork, that added so much heaviness and unpleasant secretiveness to the paneled wall. And comparing the furniture in the before and after photos is a design lesson in itself!

  27. One tiny suggestion…..paint out the entire ceiling in the white rather than leave stained panels. Remove the ceiling fan (maybe its necessary in the climate Laura is in?).
    Love her changes on a budget and when she has more $ I agree with Laurel about adding the hardwood floor and area rug.

  28. Just stunning! Laura’s home is becoming the recurring guest star of this blog for good reason. Kudos to her showing off how limited resources can be made gorgeous with hard work and a great eye for design. Wishing her and her family many years of happiness in this lovely room!

  29. Wow Laura! You are such a talent with these rooms and your budget, it’s very inspiring. Obviously Laurel’s advice was a just right fit and excellent guide for your own creativity. Bravo!

    Those bookshelves look awesome, by the way. Don’t be self conscious about the styling at all! They just blend in and look super lush and interesting without standing out for any wrong reason.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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