For most of us, formal living rooms and sometimes dining rooms are a thing of the past.  If we have them, they rarely get used.  Unfortunately, most of our homes still have them.  So what are you supposed to do with those formal front rooms?  How can you make the space useable and functional?

Well, the winner of the custom mood board giveaway, Nikki, had this exact problem in her 1960’s ranch home.  The previous owners had renovated adding a large family room on the back of the home.  The former living room at the front of the house was now open to the entry and kitchen, but it had no purpose or definition.  With a large family room and a large eat-in kitchen, Nikki has no need for a formal living room or dining room.  She left the space empty and asked all their friends and family for ideas, hoping something would stick.

Nikki was super excited to win the custom mood board and finally get some solid ideas for what to do with her empty front room.  The room has beautiful hardwood floors and columns leading into the kitchen.  Here are a few before pictures and panoramic pictures of her space:


Nikki was off to a great start with her entryway.  She had a fabulous navy buffet with a fun gallery wall above.  And, you know I love that pretty ikat damask lampshade!  But, without a need for the front room…they had a family room, eating area, office…Nikki was paralyzed with indecision about what to do with the space.  One thing Nikki knew was she liked a modern, coastal style.

Working with her desired style, I aimed to give Nikki a reason to use her front room.  Besides making it a pretty and welcoming space for guests entering through the front door, I wanted to make it a multi-functional room.  Making a room pretty and giving it function are both key to creating a useable room.

Nikki did not have a set budget in mind for the room, so I made one up.  Actually, I made up two budgets.  I decided to give Nikki two mood boards; one with a high price and one with a low price.  I channeled my inner Sabrina Soto and created one high-end mood board, then recreated the whole thing on a lower budget.  Despite thousands of dollars difference in price the rooms have the same function and style.  I kept both budgets extremely reasonable for furnishing an entire room.  The high-end is just above $5000 and the low comes in at just under $3000.  Nikki will be able to mix and match from the two boards to create her perfect room.  Read on for the complete source list and price list for both mood boards.

I turned Nikki’s unused front room into a:

  • Morning Room – A spot to have coffee and catch up on favorite blogs :)
  • Reading Room – Complete with bookcases and a cozy spot to curl up with a good book.
  • Work Room – A table for writing, paying bills, or working on the laptop.
  • Lounge Dining Room – A settee, table, and two accent chairs can create a cozy, lounge-like dining area for intimate dinners.

Higher Budget Cozy Coastal Front Room

Coastal Living Room

High-Budget ($5200 total) Source List:

  1. Ellie Bookcase – These bookcases have a beautiful detailing on the side.  They are open and airy.  I recommend purchasing two bookcases to flank the settee on the far wall of the room.  ($449 each)
  2. Elton Settee – This petite sofa has high-end tufted detailing and a nice sloped back.  Tuck it in between the bookcases for “built-in” seating. ($699)  Shown in Iron Basketweave fabric.
  3. Rope Handle Glass Cloche – A great coastal accent piece.  Use the cloche on the bookshelf to showcase some of your beach finds like seashells, a piece of driftwood, or a stack of starfish ($84)
  4. Rectangle Basket – Baskets are a great way to fill up and style a bookshelf while also concealing the less attractive items you might want to store.  In the price tag I calculated using 6 of these baskets on your bookshelves.  ($17 each)
  5. Small Round Leather Mirror – A round mirror with leather strap, called a Captains Mirror, is a great nautical accent for the wall space above the settee.  ($395)
  6. Twist Bistro Table – A small bistro table in front of the settee provides casual seating for writing, working on a laptop, or doing a puzzle.  It can also be used to turn your front room into a lounge-like dining area, just pull up the accent chairs to complete the dining set.  ($399)
  7. Boundary Navy-Mint Pillow – A simple navy pillow with a cool mint edge detail.  ($35)
  8. Jasper Aqua Rug – The pattern and color on this rug are amazing.  The price is pretty nice too for an 8 x 10.  The rug will help ground your seating area and add some softness to the room.  ($599)
  9. Loft Shade Chandelier – Hang a beautiful modern drum shade pendant overhead.  ($299)
  10. Glass Bottles (Small, Medium, Large) – Add a splash of aqua on the bookshelves with this trio of glass bottles.  ($35 for all three)
  11. Chevron Waves Abstract Art – Love this abstract take on a chevron pattern in the perfect coastal colors ($429)
  12. Starfish Bowl Silver – For a casual fruit bowl on the bistro table or a decorative accent on the bookshelves.  ($25)
  13. Saddle Office Chair – I recommend a pair of these amazing upholstered chairs.  They are somewhere between an accent chair and a dining side chair.  For everyday place them in front of the window with an accent table in between.  For lounge dining pull them up to the bistro table.  Along with the settee you will be able to comfortably seat 4 for brunch or dinner.  ($349 each)
  14. Slate Blue Velvet Curtain – These mid-weight velvet curtains are beautifully soft and formal looking without being stuffy ($90 for two panels)
  15. Driftwood Balls – The idyllic coastal decor accent.  Use these for styling the bookshelves.  ($93 for one large and one medium)
  16. Ginger Salt Side Table – The fretwork on this metal side table is reminiscent of similar detail on the bookshelves.  Use this as an accent table between the two chairs.  ($299)

Lower Budget Cozy Coastal Front Room

Coastal Living Room

Low-Budget ($2900) Source List:

  1. Reflections Storage Shelf – For almost $100 less this bookshelf is very similar, but lacks the drawer.  ($359 each)
  2. Hayden Dining Banquette – This is a great lower cost alternative to the settee.  The dining bench is a generous size, seating up to 3.  The back is more upright than the settee making it more suited for dining than lounging.  ($449)
  3. Wide Terrarium – This terrarium can also be used to display your treasured beach finds.  ($49)
  4. Rectangle Basket – Same as the high-end here.  These baskets provide great texture and look high-end with the leather handle detail.  ($17 each)
  5. Round Captains Mirror – A cheaper version of the Captains Mirror in black.  ($30)
  6. Bamboo Drop Leaf Table – This table is not round like the high-end, but the drop leaf style can still go from casual reading room to swanky dining area.  Since the banquette on this board is longer and can seat 3, I wanted a table that could open up to a rectangle and work better with the banquette.  ($179)
  7. Boundary Navy-Mint Pillow – For the longer banquette, I recommend two of these accent pillows ($35 each)
  8. Stripe Rug – Stripes are classic.  This rug is a great lower price alternative to the high-end rug.  ($378)
  9. Turning Wood Pendant – There is a little less detail around the shade of this lamp, but the turned wood is lovely.  You can also swag this one over the table.  ($149)
  10. Glass Bottles (Small, Medium, Large) – Add a splash of aqua on the bookshelves with this trio of glass bottles.  ($35 for all three)
  11. Living Water Art – This art has the same coloring and abstract water feel, but for less than half the price ($149)
  12. Starfish Bowl Silver – For a casual fruit bowl on the bistro table or a decorative accent on the bookshelves.  ($25)
  13. Upholstered Armchair – These are a more typical accent chair, but still have a cool modern fabric.  ($165 each)
  14. Geometric Window Panel – Since I swapped the rug for stripes in this mood board, I added the geometric pattern on the curtain panels.  ($54 for two panels)
  15. Driftwood Balls – The idyllic coastal decor accent.  Use these for styling the bookshelves.  ($93 for one large and one medium)
  16. Bubbles Ceramic Drum Stool – This ceramic accent table has a beautiful texture.  Use it between the accent chairs.  ($129)

If it were my room, I would use the settee, table, and rug from the high-end version.  I would go low-budget for everything else.  Which version do you prefer?



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8 Responses to Cozy Coastal Front Room {High/Low}

  1. I love both! I am totally enlisting your help when we move into our new house!

  2. Kim says:

    Loving both! Great ideas on how to use the space and what a beautiful home.

  3. Roxanne says:

    I love these! It just makes me wish I had won even more. ;) Honestly, I like nice things. As much as I don’t want to be high maintenance, if I were just looking at the two, I would be immediately drawn to the higher-end. Unfortunately, my budget is not high end! I do love those bookshelves, though. So I would say bookshelves, settee, and table high end, and the rest low end. Nice work!

  4. Jessie says:

    WoW! You said it, Jackie, Nikki is certainly off to a great start!

    I love your recommendations and you are right – those “formal” spaces don’t necessarily go with our lifestyles now a days.

    Can’t wait to see Nikki’s results!

  5. Colleen says:

    I do hope she shows us her results – this is a cliffhanger! Those spaces can be such a challenge. Your mood boards are both very nice.

  6. Jessvii says:

    I love these boards! If it were my house, I’d choose the settee and curtains from the “high” board, and the lighting fixture, drum stool and painting from the “low” board.

  7. Lisa says:

    That was so much fun. You’ll have to do more hi/low comparisons. It really shows me the reality of what it truly costs to have a beautifully designed room. I am loving that saddle office chair you found.

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