Hutchins Project - Living Room Reveal

It’s been a long while since I’ve written a project reveal post, so I apologize if I’m a little rusty.

Today, I’m breaking down a family room we installed in December for our Hutchins Project. First order of business: is there a difference between a family room and a living room? Not really, but kind of. They’re mostly synonyms. Both terms conjure ideas of a sofa, a coffee table and a media center with a television. A family room is just a bit less formal than a living room. In fact, a family room is sometimes referred to as an “informal living room” in architectural plans. In designing a family room, we focus on creating a space that can be enjoyed by all family members and we take special considerations for the wee ones.

With the (little) kid-friendly factor in mind, we designed this family room with lots of soft corners and lots of storage, but still incorporated all the elevated touches and beautiful details that make it feel polished. It’s sort of like the dress that goes seamlessly from day to night.

Gray Oak Studio - Hutchins Project Family Room Reveal

For this project, we were asked to incorporate the existing sofa, armchair, rug and media center - all the large furniture. In this regard, this room was not a typical project for us. But, we love a good challenge.

Before we even considered the elements we would need to bring into the room, we changed the layout. The sofa and armchair were originally next to each other, both facing the media console. We shifted the armchair to the opposite side of the room to create seating more conducive to conversation (without detracting from TV viewing angles!).

{Design Tip}: Perpendicular seating, versus caddy-cornered seating, is best for conversation because no one is craning their neck, and, the right angles created by the furniture arms are modern and clean.

Unfortunately, we forgot to take a true “before” photo because during our initial meeting with these sweet clients we moved the armchair immediately after shaking their hands and introducing ourselves. “Hi, I’m Sonia.” “Hi, I’m Leah.” Awkwardly long pause as we make eye contact, know exactly what needs to be done, quickly consider if it’s too soon to start moving their furniture, then ask even though it definitely is too soon, “Would you mind if we moved your armchair? It’ll just take a sec…”

In the “before” photo below, we had already shifted the armchair. So just imagine the armchair next to the sofa, also facing the television, on the side closer to the camera (not the window side).

Gray Oak Studio - Hutchins Project BEFORE photos

After (immediately) tackling the layout, we dove into the design. With this being a family room we had a few goals in mind: storage, comfort and beauty. We added storage with two floor baskets and four baskets in the media console. We envisioned the floor baskets as catch-alls for random toys that sneak out of the playroom. Pop a snuggly blanket over said random toys and the clutter is hidden for guests or for your own sanity.

Gray Oak Studio - Hutchins Project Family Room Reveal

In addition to creating storage, the baskets in the media console were also great for creating a more simple, clean visual that doesn’t compete with the television. Because when you’re watching Trolls for the 157th time, you need to be able to focus. I kid. But truly, styling open shelves around a television is a different ball game than styling a bookcase.

A media console is already filled with the TV, cable box, stereo equipment and some other necessary uglies. Keeping the surrounding decor simple will create visual comfort in this naturally busy element of the room. Using a simple color palette and larger decor is key. Here, we switched out the silver knobs for matte black, and kept the palette to brown (woven baskets and wood vases), blue and white. The greenery is our only true color. For decor, we repeated just a few items: baskets, books and vases/planters.

Gray Oak Studio - Hutchins Project
Gray Oak Studio - Hutchins Project Family

The cozy factor was met and exceeded with two overstuffed, wool ottomans. They have fabulous texture that is great for kicking up your feet or launching off onto the sofa superman style. Throw pillows and blankets also added to the cozy vibe while remaining functional for all that impending fort building. And the long, linen curtains added to a comfortable, inviting feel of the room.

Gray Oak Studio - Hutchins Project Reveal - Family Room

At last - how did we make it pretty? We started with a fresh coat of paint on the walls - Nimbus by Benjamin Moore. We also added a beautiful (and textural…cozy vibe) light fixture and two lamps. The addition of any type lighting is an opportunity for beauty and function. Finally, we created “movable” vignettes. These were pretty little nooks and crannies that made the room feel polished, but could be removed and easily hidden away when fort building is underway. For example - All the smaller decor (vases and books) on the tray on the ottoman can be relocated to another surface or hidden in a media console basket without much work.

Gray Oak Studio - Hutchins Project Family Room Reveal

Here is a side-by-side of before (left) and after (right). LOVE seeing the full impact of each design element brought together is one awesome transformation.

Gray Oak Studio - Hutchins Project Family Room Reveal - BEFORE
Gray Oak Studio - Hutchins Project family room reveal

If you’re interested in reading other client project reveals - click here. And, otherwise, until next week!

- Leah

Wednesday Five - 24

Slow start on the blog for 2019. But I’m back and I have a bunch to share! Happy (belated) new year to all you faithful followers and welcome if you’re finding us for the first time.

“Wednesday Five” is our weekly (…sometimes bi-monthly) blog post full of all sorts of random tidbits - five random tidbits, to be exact. Sometimes it’s behind the scenes action, sometimes I share a favorite design trend, sometimes I tell you what television I’m binging or recipe I tried. It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. A quick read when you need a momentary pause from your day.

1. Chatbooks is offering our followers a $10 credit (for first time users) with the code “grayoakstudio”. Awesome, right? Especially because this means you get a FREE book. A whole book, all yours, free.

If you’re not familiar with Chatbooks, it’s an app that connects to your Instagram account and allows you to make photo books with your instagram pictures. What I truly love is that you can sign up to get books automatically made and sent to you. It’s the “no thought” thoughtful self/family gift and also the super low cost gift ($10-$20/book). Each book is 60 photos, which takes me about 1.5 years to accumulate on my personal Instagram account. Once every year or so, I get a surprise photo book in my mailbox with all my favorite pictures. It’s THE. BEST. You can add automatic settings to add dates to each picture/page and include (or not) the caption. You just set it up in the beginning and forget about it until you get your cute, little book in the mail.

I keep all of my volumes (4 so far) on my coffee table and have so much fun going through them with my kiddos on the regular. The new fashioned photo album.

Gray Oak Studio - Wednesday Five - Chatbooks discount code

2. I bought a pair of jeans from Madewell during one of their post holiday sales and I’m obsessed with them. They’re a little high waisted, but not too high. They have have some distressing, but not too much. They’re like the perfect bowl of porridge.


3. I started reading a new book - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. That’s right, good, ole Harry Potter. I’ve never read the series. My oldest (6-years-old) is a veracious reader/listener and I’ve been starting to wonder if she’s old enough for the series. I just love reading her chapter books (My Father’s Dragon series is one of our favorites), she’s such an engaged listener. I have imagined how fun the Harry Potter series would be - especially now with the illustrated books. Not being sure if she’s old enough, I decided to check it out myself. I’ll keep you posted. And I’d love to hear from you if you’ve read these with your kids and at what age it felt right and worked!

4. Sonia and I have both been binging the new Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (trailer below). If you’re not familiar with the MariKon method, the (very) basic idea is that you only keep material items in your home that “spark joy” and carefully organize the items that do. She has a special folding method for clothes that allows you to see everything in your drawers. She has a thoughtful way to gain closure when letting go of things that have had sentimental value at one time. I could go on (here is a link to her book that started it all).

The show is quick and fun, and will have you ripping apart the chaos in your garage to conquer your own clutter issues. A great watch to motivate that 2019 goal of cleaning, minimizing and organizing.

5. We have 4 installs planned between now and the end of February. How exciting is that?! FYI - on install days, we post photos and videos of our progress in our Instagram stories - some behind the scenes and sneak peaks. Be sure to follow us so you don’t miss it!

Have a great rest of your week!

- Leah

*This post contains affiliate links*

A Look Back at 2018

Today I’m giving you a whole year in review…which is why it took me a little longer than usual to crank out this post. As a side note, I write posts at night while eating cookies on my couch and watching The Real Housewives. It’s a good time. Before you judge my TV choice, know that I only watch The Real Housewives when The Bachelor isn’t in season. So there. It’s actually a wonder that the phrase “the final rose” doesn't sneak it’s way into the occasional post.

But, I digress.

This year we worked with over 3 dozen clients. So amazing. We were invited into almost 40 homes, where we worked with clients of all kinds on projects of all kinds. From a one-time consultation where we blew a client’s mind by finding the perfect space for a walk-in closet that didn’t involve a 200k addition to her house (the original plan!) to a full service project where we ripped down a bathroom to the studs (the reveal will come in 2019!), we had so much fun working with truly lovely people to make their homes more beautiful and more unique and more functional. Mix in some personal projects and a few professional milestones, and we had a seriously awesome year.

Here is the highlight reel.


We started 2018 with a reveal of the office from our Mayberry Project. Navy walls + modern/industrial mashup + sports memorabilia. All good, manly things.

For more photos from this reveal and project details -  click here

For more photos from this reveal and project details - click here

We ended the month with fun predictions for what would trend in home design throughout the year. We featured predictions from Studio McGee, Bria Hammel Interiors and CC & Mike Creative. And we made a couple predictions too. It is fun re-reading this post to see who was spot on. (Click here to check it out)


We received an enormous accolade to kick off February. A little known design studio called Studio McGee featured my kids’ bathroom on their blog. My head just about popped off my body. I started daydreaming of the conversation I would have with Shea McGee when we inevitably meet on a panel during a design conference and she compliments my sweater…

For more photos of the bathroom and details about the project -  click here

For more photos of the bathroom and details about the project - click here


Later in the month we revealed the dining room from our Pilgrim Project. This transitional space featured lots of texture and pops of green.

for more photos and details on this project -  click here

for more photos and details on this project - click here


In March we revealed an entryway refresh from our Homestead Project. The Homestead Project (living room and home office) was one of our very first. And we were beyond grateful when this truly lovely client asked us to comeback for more!

For More photos and details on this reveal -  click here

For More photos and details on this reveal - click here


In March we also faced some Earth shattering changes in our business - Michele officially parted ways with Gray Oak Studio. Sonia and I would spend the next 6 months intermittently sobbing about it and begging her to change her mind.


Our Pearl Street Project was the big reveal of April. This project was mostly mid-century modern with dashes of global and transitional touches. Our client’s excitement for this reveal was possibly the best to date. I’m smiling just thinking about it.

for more photos and details on this project -  click here

for more photos and details on this project - click here


We revealed another room from our Pilgrim Project - first the main living room and then the entryway area. This was the first time we got to show you a project where our design went beyond furnishings and into the realm of removing walls and creating built-ins. We’re so proud of the finished space and even happier with how much our client loved it.

For more photos from the reveal and details on this project -  click here .

For more photos from the reveal and details on this project - click here.



In June we announced we would be changing it up on the blog. In an effort to keep the blog an active forum for project reveals, design tips and general Gray Oak happenings, we started posting “Wednesday Fives” - a weekly roundup of anything and everything we were up to. It was the beginning of us transitioning our major announcements to Facebook and Instagram.


In July, we were officially off the clock and at the beach.


In August, we had another project reveal from our Pilgrim Project. This time the mudroom. We had installed it way back in March, but I had just gotten around to posting the reveal on the blog in August. Better late than never. As the year continued I became slower and slower at revealing projects on the blog. It was a good problem - we were so busy with client work the blog had dropped on the priority list.

For more photos and details on this project -  Click here

For more photos and details on this project - Click here

Gray Oak Studio - Look Back at 2018 - West Elm Feature
Gray Oak Studio - Look Back at 2018 - West Elm Catalog Feature


In October we publicly said goodbye to Michele and began the process of rebranding. This started with fancy headshots and a little “getting to know us” blog (click here to read it). We also participated in our first room makeover challenge - The 2 Days 200 Dollars Challenge hosted by Cynthia Harper.


In November, we revealed our finished room from the challenge. A new light fixture, a new window treatment and some moody blue paint made a WORLD of difference to a seriously outdated bathroom.

for more photos and details of this project -  click here

for more photos and details of this project - click here


In November we also revealed two projects: Lovell Project and Hutchins Project. The Lovell Project was a dining room and mudroom. Styling a BIG, glass front hutch was our proudest moment of this project. Meanwhile, the living room from our Hutchins Project is one of our favorite transformations to date. We incorporated the existing furniture (sofa, armchair and media console) and made them looking totally and completely brand new. Head to our Instagram or Facebook accounts to see the before and after comparison.

Lovell PRoject

Lovell PRoject

Hutchins Project

Hutchins Project


We started December with a mini reveal of our Dover Project on our Facebook and Instagram feeds. The space was 90% done (missing window treatments), but we couldn’t wait to show it off.

Gray Oak Studio - Look Back at 2018 - Dover Road Project
Gray Oak Studio - Look Back at 2018 - Dover Road Project
Gray Oak Studio - Look Back at 2018 - Dover Road Project

More rebranding happened with an updated logo and some tweaks to the website (an FAQ page and new service offerings). And now, as we are officially at the end of December and peaking over at a whole new year, gratitude is the overwhelming feeling. We are so grateful for our trusting clients, inspiring peers, generous mentors, friendly industry professionals and, of course, the unending support of our family and friends.

Thank you for following along. See you in 2019!

- Leah (& Sonia)