December 2, 2023


Lori Stillman has lovingly restored her historic home in Manassas but desperately needs a new look for the 13-by-15-foot family room. Her 13-year-old daughter has declared it a “mishmash of grandma furniture,” she says, so she knows it’s time to tackle this space. She can move the computer to another room and is looking for suggestions on making the space a warm, comfortable spot for watching TV and gathering, while maintaining the flow of traffic. She gravitates toward a transitional style and wants well-made pieces that will hold up over time.


Designer Michelle Borden suggests a bold paint color for the small, bright space and keeps the placement of the sofa and television while adding versatile seating. She blends traditional pieces with some subtle mid-century modern accents as a nod to the tastes of Stillman and her teenage daughter.


A small space with lots of windows will not feel dark. Try a dramatic paint color, such as Sherwin-Williams’s Porpoise. Use light furniture and curtains to balance it out. Have light furniture pieces treated to resist soil and stains. Try a white cellular shade paired with wool-blend curtains for insulation without sacrificing natural light. Move the desk and chair to the bay window alcove, and hang a piece of art there to create a focal point. Choose a variety of seating options, including armchairs and stools, for a versatile space that will accommodate guests when needed. Opt for neutral, rather than colorful, accents that use texture and variety to create visual interest. The hide area rug, velvet armchair and white lacquer media console help accomplish this. Hang the TV on the wall, about four to five inches above the console, to free up the surface for decorative elements.

Borden, with Perceptions Interiors (202-330-5619, perceptions, is based in the District.


SPLURGE: Solange desk ($2,745,, left. SAVE: Mid-century desk in white ($599,

SPLURGE: Lawson chest ($3,230,, left. SAVE: Mirella mirrored 54-inch TV stand ($700,


Furniture: Essex sofa in natural with casters ($2,199,; clear acrylic Zella accent table ($230,; tufted ottoman in natural ($449,; Angela collection multi dining chair ($220, ); velvet Holloway armchair in light gray ($1,298, Accessories: Library accent lamp in antique brass with English-barrel linen shade in white, size C ($204, restorationhardware. com); Explosion chandelier ($799, potterybarn. com); acrylic tray ($44 for 14-by-18-inch) and floating wood floor mirror in white lacquer ($399), both from; “Symbolism” abstract wall art ($399,; Monroe ­
8-by-10-foot hide rug ($1,199,; Daniel tree stool ($150,; three-fourths-inch light-filtering single-cell cellular shades in ivory (from $237) and pinch-pleat wool-blend custom drapery panels in snow (from $409), both from

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