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Ask a Decorator

Hello friends!

Friends of mine recently relocated here to North Vancouver from California. Sarah and Alex and their two kids are on week 2 of their 14 day quarantine and they are currently living in a gorgeous new town home that is pretty empty and in need of some furniture. I thought it would be fun to help them figure out what to purchase to make their new space feel like home.

Here are some photos of the space:

Sarah is originally from West Vancouver, but lived and worked on cruise ships until she met and married Alex and then they settled down in his home town of San Diego.

When the couple was packing up to move here, they sold their living room furniture and wanted to start fresh. Sarah asked me for some suggestions for rugs, furniture and storage and we scheduled a quick facetime call so I could see their beautiful new condo. It's an open concept main floor with a large living and dining room attached to the kitchen. She wanted a contemporary and comfortable space, and she likes neutral design with blue accents. They have two small kids, Emma age 5 and Oliver age 2, so they needed this to be a kid friendly space. Here is what I came up with for this young family (all of the sources are linked at the bottom of this post):

Living Room

I started off with a blue rug with some subtle patterning to define the living area and provide warmth. Sarah mentioned that she wanted a sectional sofa, and I love the Finnala series from IKEA - this is what we have in our family room. The slipcovers are washable...such a great feature for families! To address the storage issue, I suggest using the console as a sofa table, tucked behind the couch. I chose the set of nesting tables in the same finish as a coffee table and I love the way these function (not to mention they are very kid friendly). Next up are a set of beautiful baskets, these are essential for families in my opinion as they can serve as a catch all for the inevitable toys and clutter that come along with kids. After the little ones have gone to bed, you can do a quick toy toss into the baskets and enjoy a tidy room!

A few thoughtful accessories really make the room feel pulled together, so I chose some beautiful blue throw pillows, a faux plant and some lamps for cozy lighting. My favorite detail in the space is the framed San Diego photograph to hang above the fireplace.

Even though Vancouver is home for this family now, having a picture such as this one can remind them of a place that holds special meaning for them. I came up with this room layout to show how I would arrange everything:

Decorator Tips:

  • I would hang the San Diego photo above the fireplace, and make sure that it's the right scale, the width of the artwork should be roughly 2/3 the width of the fireplace.

  • the rug should be big enough to fit underneath at least the front legs of the sofa

  • tuck the console right up against the back of the sofa, just make sure it's far enough away from the counter stools, if it's too close, you can put the console on the backside of the other part of the sectional, facing the dining room.

Kids Play Zone

Like most parents of small children, Sarah needs to incorporate a play space for the littles on the main floor but doesn't want it to be a focal point or take over the room. There just happens to be a small nook right beside the kitchen which is the perfect spot for a play area. I think if you are in the season of life where you need a play area attached to the main living space, it can still be attractive and flow with the rest of your decor. I say embrace it and make it a cute space!

I like having a throw rug on the floor not only to provide a comfortable spot for the kids to sit, but it also helps to define this as a separate area. Emma and Oliver already have this cute IKEA play kitchen so I incorporated that into my design plan. I couldn't resist throwing two of these kids armchairs into the collage. There is just something about a miniature version of a "grown up" item that I just can't resist!

These chairs are so cute, you could even have them in the living room. As for storage, hands down my favorite system for kids toys is the trofast line at IKEA. It's not my favorite from an esthetic point of view, but the white version is pretty clean and minimal and the plastic buckets that slide in and out of the cabinet are so handy. We had these in my girls playroom for all their lego and playmobil when they were little.

Sarah has room for two of these tall skinny Trofast units against the wall by the stairs. There were a few cabinets from IKEA that I thought could be great for toy storage. The ones I chose were regular furniture items, not from the kids furniture section. I almost used this cabinet in my moodboard collage, but in the end I went with the more practical Trofast unit.

Another cabinet I liked, which is from the same series that I chose for the living room (Stockholm) is this one.


Living Room

sofa-IKEA (the sectional appears to be out of stock)


square throw pillow-Tonic Living

lumbar throw pillow-Tonic Living

Kids Play Area

rug- Wayfair

wall map- Etsy

toy basket- Pottery Barn Kids

Do you want some help creating a decorating plan for your space? Email me at

Thanks for reading!

xo, Kerri

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