How a Plain, Large Living Room Transformed Into a Cozy, Multipurpose Space

Color, more furniture, and décor accents made a big difference.

Left Photo by Jaclyn Joslin, Right Photo by Sarah Sweeney

Sometimes bigger isn’t better—especially when you’re not sure how to fill a space. That was the issue for interior designer Jaclyn Joslin of Coveted Home’s clients: a young family of four with a dog. “The biggest problem was the sheer size of the room,” Joslin says. “At the time, it just didn’t have enough furniture, making it feel even bigger. And despite its size, open layout, and large windows, it still felt really dark.”

Since the living room was the main space for the whole family, Joslin wanted to decorate with that in mind: “With two young boys and a dog, my main objective was to ensure that the space be both kid- and pet-friendly, and still remain comfortable and stylish,” she says. “As the main hub of the home, it serves many purposes from entertaining guests to housing toys.”

To start, she added custom built-ins on each side of the fireplace. “This made a huge impact on the overall look,” she says. “Originally, these walls were blank and made the room feel very empty. Now there’s plenty of storage and spots to display collectibles, which is key for a multipurpose, kid-friendly space.” Then Joslin added some fresh color—Farrow & Ball’s Pale Powder for the walls and Light Blue for the built-ins—to brighten the space. Joslin also brought in more furniture to scale for the size of the room: two large sofas, two plush armchairs, accent tables, and a large ottoman.

To create a cozy, livable space in any expansive room, Joslin says: “Start by anchoring the space with a rug and opt for furniture that is plush and comfortable, which adds a cozy element.” To define and anchor the seating area even more, she placed accent tables strategically in the room, like the console table behind the sofa, which acts as a border. “Finally, add personality,” she says. “We displayed personal mementos in the bookshelves and hung beautiful art pieces.”

And even though the space looks stylish now, it’s still a livable room for two young kids and a dog. “There’s no need to sacrifice style to make a space kid-friendly,” Joslin says. “Opt for furniture and accessories in darker colors to keep them from showing stains. Always choose durable fabrics for upholstered furniture, so that they hold up to wear and tear and are easy to clean. Lastly, think about sharp corners—the tufted ottoman in this room was chosen in place of a coffee table for this very reason.”