Welcome to Why This Works, a new Curbed column in which decorator and former shelter-magazine editor Alexa Stevenson looks point-blank at professionally decorated rooms and breaks down the elements that make it work. Have a suggestion for someone whose work should be showcased? Do let us know.
The family room is often one of the hardest-working spaces in the house, and therefore tends to suffer when it comes to design. Not so with this Denver room created by decorator Ramey Caulkins of local firm Griffin Design Source. Caulkins managed to make this particular family room sophisticated and pulled-together yet sturdy enough to manage children and, at times, rowdy adults.
1. When it comes to picking a fabric that's kid-friendly, you can still do pretty while staying durable. The key? A dark pattern that absorbs all kinds of stains, and a strong enough texture. "This is a Cowtan & Tout weft weave velvet that's absolutely forgiving and still looks sophisticated enough to stay in the room when cleared out for a party," Caulkins says. "You won't worry about kids jumping all over it and if the adults want to stand on it for late night karaoke, no problem."
2. "I use this substantial tripod lamp all the time. In this instance, it's in a corner, so you don’t need anther piece of furniture—that would just overwhelm the space. It also gives just enough light so canned light isn't necessary. The unexpected salmon pink shade is such a great neutral that goes with warm and cool tones."
3. A chandelier in a family room is unexpected, but that's what Caulkins loves about it: "I went with painted metal bamboo with black shades to add a little edge to the room. It's much more unexpected and interesting."
4. People assume that painting walls a dark shade creates a dark room, but that's not the case if you have natural light. "The chocolate-brown walls here create drama and a wonderful backdrop for photographs and artwork," Caulkins says. "The dark color grounds the room and everything just pops against it."
5. Chairs from the '60s were reupholstered in a warm raspberry to pop off the browns that run throughout the room. "Every space needs some eye candy, and you can’t be afraid to use color. I also love these Moroccan poufs because they can move around the room as decoration and the kids love to sit on them."