Family Room Update: Cheap Home Picks From Amazon, Design Notes, Future Plans

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Neutral gray family room renovation

Jun and I have been taking a break on home improvement projects the past month since we’ve been burnt out (and are also trying to enjoy some summer fun!), but I wanted to share an update on our family room! We still have a lot to do, but I really didn’t wait to wait to share our progress so far.

Here’s a before of what this room used to look like (LOL at the balloon weights as ceiling fan pulls). It doesn’t even look like the same space! It just goes to show what a little planning can do. We haven’t even done any extensive renovating yet – the most time-consuming project was painting the walls and fireplace.

Window Treatments

You’ll notice in the before photo that the two windows beside the fireplace aren’t placed equally – the left one is closer to the corner and is offset to sit closer to the window on the intersecting wall. This REALLY drove me insane, so I had Jun properly measure and install the rods equidistant to the fireplace so I could evenly drape the curtains on both sides. This creates an illusion of symmetry without us having to remove the windows and install wider ones.

All throughout the house, the windows had really old and outdated blinds along with some cheap metal cornices, of which many were half broken off, so we took them down. We still have the blinds on the three windows by the fireplace since I like to draw the curtains during the daytime and want some privacy, but they will be replaced with new shades soon.

Affordable window treatments using curtains

Curtains: Curtains can be extremely expensive and we need blackout thermal curtains since it gets up to 100+ degrees 8 months of the year where we live, so I got these really affordable curtains on Amazon and hemmed them myself. The longest ones I got were about 95″ tall and are less than $35 for a pair, which is great if you’re trying to put curtains up on a lot of windows at once without shelling out tons of money. They’re unlined, but surprisingly do a GREAT job at blocking out heat as well as light – when we close all the curtains in this room during the daytime, it’s pitch black in this room with no light leaks, which is incredible for daytime TV, since the light coming through these windows can make it hard to see the television.

Side note: I also got these AmazonBasics blackout curtains for the master bedroom, which are available in a very similar grey. These ones are lined, but much more stiff as a result. I wanted the family room curtains to serve more as decorative curtains – however, they work really great at blocking out light and heat. Additionally, for my office I used another brand curtain that is the same material/color as the ones in this family room, but the grommets are bronze and not silver (they were cheaper, and I’m not necessarily loyal to specific brands on Amazon since most similar items are sourced from the same wholesale merchants anyway).

Curtain rods: I have to admit that my although my rods seem to look like they match, they don’t. The finials are actually plastic and the short rods next to the tv are actually plastic as well (gasp!). So they might not be a good option for tall, heavy duty curtains or wide windows, but they look great, hold my curtains without bowing, and are extremely affordable.

I made sure to get a 1-inch thick rod to get the most support. The longer rods are metal rods with plastic finials, and if you look closely, the bay window curtain rods are actually 3/4-inch with slightly smaller finials. It was impossible to get all matching size rods/colors for a low price, so I sourced the same brand from various merchants to make them look as similar as possible. The 3/4″ bay window curtain rod is from Amazon and was a STEAL at under $35 including brackets, finials, and mounting hardware. Most bay window rods are $50! You can barely notice the size difference, especially with the 1″ curtain rod above the French doors being dead-next to them.

The L-curtain rod in the left corner of the TV was actually modified courtesy of Jun – I got a 144 in. curtain rod ($14) and had him cut it down for the larger window (we used the remaining for another curtain rod in the office). Then he used a swivel-socket to connect it to the short rod ($13) to the left of the TV. 

Neutral gray family room renovation

Paint Color

I absolutely love Benjamin Moore’s Barren Plain – it’s a really gorgeous neutral gray and pairs so well with the curtains, and ironically makes the room feel much brighter than the flat beige that was previously on the walls, despite being a darker shade. I cannot thank Wynn from Wander x Luxe enough for the recommendation! Of course, at about $65/gallon, it wasn’t reasonable for me to use this paint simply for the guarantee of one-coat coverage since our walls are knockdown textured anyway. We would probably wind up having to do a second coat and waste more paint. To keep costs low, I had it color matched at Home Depot and got Behr Premium Plus Ultra paint ($31/gallon) in an eggshell finish for an easy-to-clean matte finish. Added bonus: Premium Plus Ultra also has mold inhibitors which makes it a great paint to use for areas like the kitchen and bathroom. More info on how we painted our home in this blog post: How to Paint Walls: Money-Saving Tips to Do It Yourself

Fireplace

I wasn’t a fan of the orangey glossy wood on the fireplace and matching kitchen cabinets, but I wanted to salvage the tile on the fireplace. The fireplace was probably used once or twice at most by the previous owners, so it wasn’t necessarily something I wanted to remove and replace – simply spruce up. I had a leftover gallon of Snow White General Finishes milk paint from our kitchen cabinet makeover project, so I figured why not paint the fireplace to a neutral color that matches the light grey tile? It was a 1-day project for me to do alone and I even wound up painting the bay window bench during the same day.

General Finishes Milk Paint in Snow White: Amazon | Home Depot

Even though it’s pricey paint, I really love the matte look of milk paint. It’s not as flat as chalk paint, easier to clean, and requires less prep work for wood than other paints. I definitely recommend milk paint for any cabinets or wood painting projects since it’s convenient to use and has little to no VOCs. If you’re looking to upgrade your own cabinets, check out my kitchen cabinet tutorial for step-by-step instructions!

Neutral gray family room renovation

Furniture

Right now, we don’t have much furniture in this space. I had the hardest time trying to find the perfect entertainment consoles for the left and right of the fireplace, since the windows are really low. I wanted affordable ones that weren’t narrow enough to create dead space nor too wide to not fit. I searched everywhere – Wayfair, World Market, Ashley furniture, etc. but couldn’t find the right ones that matched both my budget and our space. I finally found this one for less than $140 on Amazon and loved how the wood and color complement the white fireplace perfectly. It’s engineered wood hence the affordable price tag, but looks beautiful and is well-built!

I bought a coffee table with a similar color to match them, but unfortunately, FedEx lost my package so I wasn’t able to photograph it for this blog post. I’m really excited for the arrival of our replacement – it’s actually a lift-top coffee table that works perfectly for me and Jun because we like to watch our favorite Netflix shows while eating dinner in front of the tv.

I also got this console table for behind the sectional, since it felt a little naked to me.

And lastly: the sectional. Admittedly, it’s not the plushest couch – the cushions were incredibly stiff when we first got them – but they’ve broken in nicely after a few months of use. We were lucky to have gotten it for $500 plus tax at a local discount furniture outlet store during Black Friday last year, but the same exact one is available on Wayfair in a variety of colors and comes in both fabric or pleather. Even at around $750-800 and free shipping, you really can’t find a better value than that, so it’s a really great budget-friendly starter sofa. I also love the studded detail!

Neutral gray family room renovation

Future Plans

Flooring: I really detest the beige carpet that’s throughout the entire house, and Jun has a bone to pick with the Saltillo tile in the adjoining kitchen (he says it’s “Fred Flintstone” tile, LOL). We’re planning on doing a wood-look tile for the majority of the house but are stuck between a caramel-brown or grey-tone wood. I think the brown would look great against the whites/greys/black theme!

Ceiling: We currently have popcorn texture on our ceilings with flat beige paint, and we’re definitely going to take that down. We were going to remove the texture, paint the ceilings and then add crown molding, but we’re now leaning towards installing wood plank ceilings with faux rafters to cover the popcorn texture and stain them to match the wood flooring. We might not do that for the entire house, but only the main spaces like the kitchen/family room and living room. Check out all the great planked ceiling ideas on Pinterest!

New Ceiling Fan: I hate how much of an eyesore ceiling fans can be, but it’s non-negotiable since we live near the desert. I’m not sure if we can replace the lightbulb covers with something more modern, because if we could do that then we could save money and just paint the fan blades. But I have a feeling we’re just going to wind up getting a new type of ceiling fan altogether with a more unique design. 

Windows: When we install double pane windows I also plan on adding window casing so they look more finished. I’m getting so much inspo from Pinterest on DIY window casing and it looks like a really affordable project to do ourselves. Additionally, we will install some woven wood shades to pair with the grey curtains sometime soon to help hide the uncased windows!

Paint: Originally, I wanted to paint the majority of the house in Barren Plain. However, I think I’ll be repainting the right-side wall next to the fireplace in black since this wall is large and can serve as a gorgeous accent wall. I was inspired by Bobby Berk’s darker home makeovers on Queer Eye’s season 3, and it’s really warmed me up to trying out black. We’ll be testing out black walls in our bathrooms first – you can actually check out our progress on my Instagram under my “BATHROOM RENO” highlight.

Decor: In reference to the large (soon-to-be black) empty wall, I also want to install some wooden floating shelves or an industrial-style library bookcase. Additionally, I’m thinking about potentially adding a grey and white Persian area rug where the sectional is located.

What do you guys think so far? Thinking of grabbing some of my budget-friendly picks for your own space? Let’s chat in the comments below! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and subscribe to my newsletter for more DIY home improvement projects and decor tips.

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