Marietta Traditional Project: Family Room

Starting from scratch is not alway necessary in design. In fact, sometimes the nicest results come from blending together new and old and updating the old to feel like new. That's just what we did with the Marietta Traditional Project and I love the results! 





As you can see, the room was not bad! It has good seating, solid, good quality furniture, and lots of storage. BUT, it also has dare I say too much storage and the built-ins with the large cabinetry visually overlap one another (their lines do, not physically overlapping). This space is just off of a porch so the window is shaded and there is not much natural light at all. Because of that, it feels dark and the darker colors on the furniture feel even darker than they are. 


My client did some smart things to try to get more light in the room with lighting and a mirror to bounce light around. There are 3 points of light (table lamps, overhead, and floor lamp) but it still felt dark and the cabinet on the left feels heavy and a little oppressive for the space. 


As you can see here, the window is a little odd. It's sort of a bay window but the wall does not follow the shape of the windows at all. The crown moulding all around makes the walls feel shorter with the vaulted ceilings being minimized by the horizontal line of the crown. 


Yes, the cutest family ever lives here. This area is technically a part of the family room but feels almost more a part of the breakfast room. Just off the backdoor and between the family room and breakfast room, this space did not have much function. The kids have grown up a lot since this portrait, and while they're still small, they're not using a tiny table this small anymore. This space needed functionality and purpose. 


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The plan started with electrical. We needed to get more light on the subject so I drew up a plan for the layout of the room and added can lights across the ceiling to distribute more even lighting. We kept the existing wiring for the ceiling fan and swapped the fan out for a really pretty light fixture. In the South, we need fans. They're not pretty but they're often very necessary. However, in this room, due to a very good HVAC system and a nice shady situation thanks to the porch, a fan was not needed so so we could ditch it in favor for something much more attractive!

You'll notice a few other pieces have changed in this floor plan, more on those later. 


Next, we devised a plan to address those windows. This expert drawing above (ha!) shows the plan: to make the window feel like it was supposed to be that way with drapery. I determined that the layout of the space was actually the best layout to use in this case, so the sofa was to stay put. We selected this gorgeous fabric with some embroidery detail to span the space as both a valance and drapery panels on either side. Now, I know most of the time a valance is used, it's over the top of the panels and hardware but I really wanted that pretty hardware to show and to put the valance as flush against the wall as possible to minimize the look of that gap between the window and the wall. 


My clients really like their existing rug, so we kept it and used it for the basis of the color scheme. The walls were yellow with white trim and a popcorn ceiling. To start, we selected a very soft neutral with a bit of pigment in it. It's not a great idea to paint a dark room too white--it will look sad and lonely and cold. SO we chose Sherwin Williams Conservative Gray. We used this color on nearly the entire first floor of the house to create a nice flow from room to room. The color has a little blue, a little green, and is a nice neutral backdrop that still holds its own. The painters took down the crown moulding, skimmed the ceiling, and painted the walls and ceiling Conservative Gray and WHAT A DIFFERENCE!


Like I said earlier, you don't have to start from scratch. While we were making some big changes in this space, we did not replace and of the upholstered furniture! When you buy good quality pieces, they'll be an investment up front, but you'll have some serious quality that lasts you for years and years. If your tastes change, great--just re-cover it! And that is just what we did. Using the rug as inspiration for the color scheme and our new soft neutral walls, I selected a beautiful tan and cream stripe for the wingback chairs, an animal print for the ottoman in a hardwearing stain-resistant material, and some splashed of green on the pillows. Pretty trims tie it all together for a complete look. 

The sofa is a nice leather that was still in great shape. However, the cushions had taken a bit of a beating of the years and were looking a little sad and saggy. My awesome upholsterer came to the rescue and reformed the cushions with a nice foam interior that will stand up to lots more sitting and maybe even a little jumping! After that, the sofa looked as good as new. 

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Remember the little area with the tiny table? Well, to make it functional, I suggested we create a little mudroom. As you can see in this hyper realistic drawing ;) we did just that with a piece of custom made furniture. It has hooks for coats and hats, baskets to keep shoes in, and cubbies for homework and mail so that it can be hidden away and off the kitchen countertops. For comfort when taking shoes on and off, we added a cushion on top. 



Now we have a smoothed ceiling, more light throughout the room, new decorative light fixture, reupholstered ottoman and wingback chairs, all new pillows, new chair in corner, basket for blankets, new side tables, drapery, media cabinet fitted to the room size in a dark finish to balance the color of the sofa, restyled bookshelves, custom artwork over the mantel, moulding and large cabinetry removed, new hardware on the doors of built-in cabinet doors, and a very functional family space. 


Our gorgeous custom piece for keeping shoes and coats and homework serves its purpose well and keeps things tidy and functional. The cushion is upholstered in the same material as the wingback chairs across the room to create some continuity. We actually had these baskets custom made to be stained in the same finish as the wood on top of the cubbies and fit perfectly into each cubby and I love them! It's so satisfying how perfect they are. 

As you can see, it is very possible to take what you have and make it work for you. Use a little imagination, be willing to make big changes, and be honest with yourself about what is working and what is not in your home. Is it too dark, too crowded, too hot, too cold, too loud? Whatever the issues are that are bothering you, use that to begin your redecorating and then let your favorite pieces inspire your look going forward. We loved all of the furniture my client already had, it just needed a fresh look. They love their rug, so it was the inspiration for the color scheme and just like that, we were on our way to creating a beautiful and well loved space that is the heart of the home for this sweet family and you can do the same with your home. 

If you need help making the best use of what you have and you want your home to be the best it can be, contact me today to schedule your consultation!

Design, concepts, and written content by Susie Mae Design.

All completed room images by Christina Wedge Photography

Local Artists to Watch

There are so many things to love about Atlanta; the southern charm, the history, the food! But did you know there is a thriving art community in our fair city? Atlanta is home to SCAD Atlanta and The Art Institute of Atlanta, and the Portfolio Center as well as a number of museums and galleries dedicated to showcasing art. 

In previous posts, we've told you about art walks and festivals you can attend, but today we want to introduce you to three local artists you want to follow. Please welcome Alison Tallman, Ted Freeman, and Wanda Frey! I asked each of them to tell us a little about themselves and their work. 

Alison Tallman

Alison Tallman. Clockwise: "What I Think Italy Looks Like", "Streets of Richard Dr.", "A Memory Loss", "Slum Hill"

Alison Tallman. Clockwise: "What I Think Italy Looks Like", "Streets of Richard Dr.", "A Memory Loss", "Slum Hill"

I met Alison in 2010 when we worked in an office together. I distinctly remember when we met and she said "What are you doing here?" I knew she was going to be someone to keep me on on my toes! She was meaning to ask me what job I had accepted and explained that she is a native New Yorker, so sometimes things come out differently than your typical southern girl may say them. Alison is a good friend, motivating those she cares about to do what they love, work hard, and be their best. I appreciate her direct nature and admire her talent! 

"I've been making art since play doh. I was one of those kids with paint in my hair and crayon all over the walls in my bedroom. My mom, who is creative, naturally told me to latch on to that and ride the wave till college- where I went for a Fine Art degree.
I love mixed media. I love art that thinks outside the box and creates un-expected beauty. Maybe even trick us or blows our minds through materials. I guess thats why I find it amusing that I use craft glue to create fine art."
Alison Tallman, image at right recently won 2nd place from the  Marietta Cobb Museum of Art juried art show

Alison Tallman, image at right recently won 2nd place from the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art juried art show

"My inspiration [for my collage pieces] comes from my bad vision and memory actually. I remember light or a feeling more than what things looked like exactly. Im not interested in realism but how life makes us feel or how we perceive it."
Alison Tallman, Inked Girls series

Alison Tallman, Inked Girls series

"My art right now is in my upstairs storage room or in various friends homes. Maybe one day soon Ill have another show. My last one was two years ago at a hair salon in Inman Park." 

Interested in Alison's work? You can find her @ARTinATL on Instagram and Twitter.

Ted Freeman

Ted Freeman, "Atlas Robot" Bartender at left, Fernbank Museum at right

Ted Freeman, "Atlas Robot" Bartender at left, Fernbank Museum at right

Ted is one of the more interesting guys you might ever want to meet. He is the life of the party (and also usually the host!), welcoming, always buzzing with what to do next and has a contagious enthusiasm for the city and art. Do you recognize the Atlas Robot from anywhere? He is featured on The Big Bang Theory! Pay close attention when they are in the comic book store for a cameo.

Ted Freeman, "Hotlanta Fan", Five Points Marta Station

Ted Freeman, "Hotlanta Fan", Five Points Marta Station

"Since childhood, I’ve had a fascination with space exploration; on car trips I began drawing rockets, but once I experienced Star Wars I was constantly drawing that imagery all over my homework.  As I got older, love of music with its many graphic components was another focus of my inspiration and output. At Auburn, I studied Industrial Design, Art and Architecture while also immersed in music and cultural groups outside of class.  Since graduation, I’ve worked in various capacities in the built environment and graphic design, and held leadership positions in design groups across Atlanta.  I currently do package design work at Home Depot and consult as Creatometry Design Lab; a part of this is FunnerThan Furniture and the Atomic Playrooms furniture line.  I love taking planar media and creating 3D solutions to defy the sense of flatness inherent in that material." 
Ted Freeman, "iCrow", Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Ted Freeman, "iCrow", Atlanta Botanical Gardens

"For inspiration I visit a mix of design blogs and sites, and love to travel for added new experiences.  I have always appreciated mid-century and cold war era ads and styling for authenticity and ideas. And - to keep current on Atlanta creative trends, I organize events for two meetup groups; Art Openings Atlanta for fine art galleries, and The Dayglow Technicolor Actionpack for anything else exciting, right-brain, and artistic.  Join us anytime!
Along with industry recognized Point of Purchase and Tradeshow Exhibit design, my furniture and sculpture has appeared in major media outlets and blogs, with favorites being the MoMA, the NYT, and the set of The Big Bang Theory. Locally, my designs have been seen in the 5 Points MARTA station, along Peachtree Street, at the Museum of Design Atlanta, and the Botanical Gardens.

Interested in Ted's work? Check out his website and contact him to find out where he will be next and how you can join in on some of the art events he hosts!

Wanda Frey

Wanda Frey, "Sandhill Cranes"

Wanda Frey, "Sandhill Cranes"

Wanda is a true lady. She is gentle, kind, loving, and an absolute role model. She is a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, active member of the community in both outreach programs to help those less fortunate, and within Christ Church Presbyterian where she is a member. Her art represents life--it is realism with feeling and it moves the viewer. I am happily the owner of one of her pieces. It's proudly displayed at the entrance of my home and it brings a smile to my face each day when I walk in and see that beautiful scene on my wall. 

Wanda Frey, "Plein aire, South Georgia" and "Missouri River"

Wanda Frey, "Plein aire, South Georgia" and "Missouri River"

"I have been making art since I could hold a pencil, so, over 50 years. My Mom's books were all colored in at the front and back where the blank pages are, I was so desperate to draw. I like to do some water color botanicals, but my favorite mediums are graphite and oils. I have been known to color in my 5-year-old granddaughter's coloring books in crayon with her though.....STILL fun." 
Wanda Frey, "Hog Jowl Road"

Wanda Frey, "Hog Jowl Road"

"I find inspiration in all that I love. Nature provides lovely landscapes, (in England, Montana and GA.) and pinecones, flowers and wildlife. Children, dogs and loved ones get corralled to become models, though our dog is camera shy and the children want to make monkey faces. Photography by stealth ensues. Better still, I'll draw from life. Inspiration is like an energy that must find expression. God made people that way, I think.
I hope to display my art at the Genema Gallery at the new Christ Church PCA building that opens in a couple of weeks on Peachtree Street conveniently across from Sam Flax. I work mostly by commission from home."

Interested in Wanda's work? We can make sure you get connected! Email her at for inquiries.