Furnishing the Main Floor of A Beautiful New-Build for Two Empty Nesters | Day Session Diaries


Back in January I made my way to Grand Rapids to help a couple of empty nesters furnish the main floor of their newly purchased home. The home was essentially a new build, with the previous owners only having lived there for one year.


Below are a few photos from the listing when the home was staged to sell. It was staged very beautifully, but not quite in the clients style, and there were a few things about the layout that weren't ideal for our clients purposes, which I'll get to later in the post. Our goal was to furnish the living, dining, and sun room:





I'll walk you through our conversation and what we came up with. Let's jump in!


Style + Function Discovery Conversation


My client wanted a space that was idea for hosting. They were very drawn to the openness of the space, and planned to take advantage of that, especially as things with covid slowly get better and better. They are empty nesters, but they have their kids over often, and wanted this to be a space they could comfortably spend time together.

Style wise, she liked neutral earthy colors, warm wood tones, and clean lines. She specifically said "I don't tend to like diagonals", which I thought was adorable! We had a handful of items she wanted to incorporate, including a dark wood vintage style coffee table, a large leather arm chair, and a wooden parsons style end table. My client also has a large number of "tchotchkes" and hoped for a place to display some of them behind glass doors.


Functionally, she wanted the dining area to seat at least 8, and the living room to seat five comfortably. The sun room, she imagined, would be used mainly for drinking coffee and reading books.



Creating The Floor Plan


I was especially interested in two things when thinking about creating this floor plan: the first was that I wanted it to flow very naturally from one area to the other, and the second was that I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful views out their giant back windows.


For the living room, I chose a layout with the sofa and accent chairs facing each other, perpendicular to the fireplace. What I liked about this arrangement, in contrast to how it was staged, is that it allowed for a very natural flow from the dining area into the living area.


What I've experienced, when the sofa sits with its back to the dining room, is that it creates a natural barrier, and often will discourage people from naturally moving into that space. With this layout, someone could sit at the sofa having a drink and very comfortably chat with someone sitting at the dining table.


What I also liked about the sofa in this position is that it gives the most comfortable spot it the very best view. These clients back up to a beautiful run of woods, so it's the perfect spot to sit and watch birds or clouds pass by.

On either side of the fireplace, I planned for matching cabinets of some kind, preferably with glass doors, as a place she could display her decorative items.


In the dining area, I planned for a longer dining table that would sit eight, along with a very long sideboard with a mirror and lamp above.


Lastly, in the sunroom, I planned to use her existing leather chair, paired with a new sofa and coffee table.



Selecting The Furniture


In the living area, I chose a neutral single-cushion sofa with clean lines as my starting point. I knew I wanted to bring some darker elements into the space, so I opted for two gorgeous black and natural oak display cabinets on either side of the fireplace.


QUICK TIP: This kind of setup with cabinets on either side of a fireplace gives a similar feel to builtin bookshelves, but is almost always wayyy more cost effective.

Next up I balanced out the light sofa with two smaller scale dark leather wing chairs. For the coffee table, I used her existing dark wood coffee table, which was a nice juxtaposition of traditional style against our more modern elements. I brought in two small brass drink tables on either side of the sofa, and between the chairs, I opted for a marble top brass base accent table.


The wall behind the sofa was very large, so to fill that space, I selected an oversized piece of artwork with a beautiful geometric pattern in subtle neutral tones. We then tied the whole space together with a neutral mid-tone rug with lots of color variation to hide dirt from puppy paws.



For the dining area, my client had mention she loved trestle tables, of which I am a fan. She has darker wood floors, so I chose this lighter wood extending dining table, which would get her the number of seats she desired. I paired this with two light brown leather arm chairs and six black spindle back chairs.


Her husband had mentioned he loved the idea of a bar cart, so we included a small one on the wall just to the right of the sunroom with a small framed print above. This is a very central location in the layout, so would make it easily accessible no matter which room you were hanging out in.


Finally, I I gave her the option between two sideboards to run along the back side of the dining room: the first was a very long modern sideboard in a mid-tone wood, and the second was a similar sized console in a rich dark wood. In this area, they have large transom windows at the top of the wall, so since there wasn't the height to do a large piece of art here, I opted for a long narrow mirror hung horizontally over the sideboard. And to add in a little soft lighting, I also included a black pottery style lamp as well.

In the sunroom, I utilized her existing leather chair, and matched that with a small side table and vintage style reading lamp. In this space, I also reused her existing side table, and toped that with a ceramic ombre table lamp. For her sofa in this space, I chose something slightly darker than the living room sofa, in more of a grey tone. I liked that this sofa had a metal base, so it gave a little bit of variation between this one and the living room sofa.


I suggested a darker round coffee table to soften up the many straight lines in the space, along with a round pedestal side table in a dark metal. Lastly, we had a similar situation above the sofa with some larger transom windows above it, so I selected a longer narrow piece of artwork to hang horizontally above it.


The final area of the space we looked at was the entryway. Originally, she thought she wanted some type of console in this area to display photos and such. However, we quickly realized there was no closet and no coat hooks, so as the main entry point for guests, we decided on a long leather bench. We found some cool coat hooks from Rejuvenation in a dark matte black, and we planned for this dark arched mirror to hang in the hallway that leads to the kitchen.



The Wrap Up


All in all, this space came together so beautifully! And the best part is that we were able to create this entire design all in a single 5-hour session, which my client can then execute on their own timing.


When we set aside this focused time, I find that it helps my clients to get really clear on their desires and come to our session very prepared, and it also lends to making decisions more, along with coming up with some very creative solutions.


For this particular project, my clients left our session with a style board showcasing the exact pieces I recommended, a link to their custom collection of furniture which they could order using a one-click checkout, and a to-scale floor plan of their living and dining rooms so they know how to set it up when everything arrives at their home.


Our Designed in a Day service is definitely our most popular option with clients, 1) because it's incredibly cost/time effective, and 2), because it is an incredibly versatile service as far as the kinds of projects we are able to tackle. We cover anything from furniture and decor, to space planning, to window treatments, to making selections for a renovation project, or even just working our way through a list of design woes.


SO, if you find yourself wondering whether your own project might be a good fit for a day session, click here to view more details about the service. There's some great info there, or simply complete our project intake form here and I'll reach out to schedule a discovery call to discuss your project.


PLUS, did you know that it is good for your mental and physical health to live in a space that meets your needs? You and your family deserve it, and I can't wait to help you create a space that works for you!


Thanks for visiting my little corner of the internet!


- Lauren, XOXO