How to Decorate Your Family Room

After Hurricane Sandy severely damaged their family room, the owners of a waterfront home in West Islip had only one request for the remodel: keep the baby grand. Nancy LaCalamita and her sister Mary Middlemiss of Twice as Nice Interiors were up to the task of redesigning the canal-facing room with the family’s white baby grand piano as a focal point.

It was a careful balancing act between showcasing the piano’s curvilinear shape and not letting the distinctive piece overwhelm the room. “Basically, I had to do a floor plan first and find the best spot for the piece so you can see it when you walk in,” LaCalamita said. “So it wouldn’t just be shoved in a corner somewhere, but there would still be room to entertain.”

Once the location of the piano was determined the rest of the room could take shape. The design duo chose a color palette inspired by the views of the canal beyond the windows. Shades of blue punctuate neutrals like chocolate brown and ivory to complement the beauty outside. “I was inspired by the water and the South Shore’s natural colors,” said LaCalamita. Elements of distressed wood and natural textures strengthen the tie between indoors and out.

Facing the seating area, the piano is perfectly poised for impromptu performances. (credit: tim williams)

Facing the seating area, the piano is perfectly poised for impromptu performances. (credit: tim williams)

To accentuate the space’s waterfront vistas, vaulted ceiling and multi-level windows, towering floor-to-ceiling curtains frame the view, but feel airy thanks to their light loom. Similarly, the open whitewashed console tables and the white fireplace mantel keep the space feeling light and bright, while tying in that statement-making baby grand.

The family of four, including two teenage sons, wanted to keep the room casual and comfortable. “The rest of the house is very formal and she wanted more of an informal space,” said LaCalamita. “We tried to keep in mind that it’s a family space. Functionality and practicality were important as far as the upholstery.”

The chocolate brown velvet of the couches is durable, high quality and dark enough to hide normal wear and tear. Even the driftwood coffee table’s uneven finish will only improve with age. “We were able to give them the look that they wanted and still be able to use the space and make it functional—to actually sit down, have a glass of wine [and not] worry,” LaCalamita said.

Rustic touches on accent pieces boost the accessibility of the space while adding textural interest as well. The cowhide ottomans in front of the fireplace and distressed finish on the wooden table lamps combine natural elements with more traditional silhouettes, seamlessly blending formal and informal. Details such as the nailhead trim on the pair of armchairs or the sun-washed stripes of the throw pillows further enhance the impression of a relaxed yet stylish atmosphere.