Casual Family Living Room

Designer Sandy Kozar creates a relaxing family room full of favorite artwork and travel souvenirs where a retired couple can each entertain their friends.

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RS_Sandy-Kozar-Blue-Living-Room-2_s4x3 Photography by Edie Ellison

From a basement to an enticing lower-level family room retreat, designer Sandy Kozar of Decorating Den Interiors in Knoxville, Tenn., angled furniture, retained a TV and edited art so both husband and wife got their design wishes.

Describe the homeowners' wishlist.

The homeowners — a recently retired couple — had a room downstairs that they wanted to use for entertaining in a casual way. They are travelers and art collectors and had a Native American picture that they were very fond of and wanted to incorporate. They wanted the room to be a retreat and remind them of their travels.


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What were the homeowners' design problems?

The room needed to appeal to each of the homeowners. In its original condition, the room was feminine. The husband wanted to bring down his golf buddies after being out on the course, while the wife wanted to be able to use it with her friends to play cards and socialize.

What was your biggest obstacle in this space?

The TV had to stay on the wall they had it on. I was able to pull the small media stand together with existing bookcases from another room to stay within their budget. They had a big collection of eclectic art pieces that did not have the same color palette or subject matter, but I was able to narrow down the selection to their most important pieces.

How does the end result match up with your original vision?

I think I was pretty much on target with the plan we put together on installation day. Some tweaks included moving the artwork around and placing accessories to mix their existing pieces with ones I introduced.

What lessons did you learn?

The room's space plan was done on an angle to accommodate the odd-shaped window that seemed to be hung in mid-air. By angling furniture, the room opened up and allowed for all the pieces that were necessary for it to function well. Sometimes, you have to make the best of what you have available to you. Most people can't afford to change every tiny detail. I loved being able to repurpose items that are treasures sitting unnoticed in other rooms. I was able to do this with artwork, as well as tables and bookshelves.

What are the "hidden gems"?

The Native American artwork they loved so much was my inspiration for the color palette. The artwork also inspired the room's design. Without over-indulging in the entire Southwest design motif, I chose subtle hints of it and used them throughout the room. Beginning with the Tibetan area rug, I pulled together colors for a soft cream palette in the sofa and chairs and used a window treatment with subtle embroidered pattern. I chose to angle the furniture in the room to make it feel more open and adjust for the odd-shaped windows. The area rug anchored the seating area and brought life into the entire room.

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