Erika Ward Interiors transforms a bland great room into a colorful welcoming place for family and friends.

Each week I receive an email from a reader needing help with their two story great room. Rooms like these are very common in the Atlanta area, especially in new construction. When potential buyers visit model homes they are instantly captivated with the decor and the soaring ceilings.

photography by Erika Ward


What buyers sometimes forget is that their new home will look more like this (below) and require more of this ($$$$$). The blank canvas they purchase requires work and often times professional help to become the showplace they fell in love with.

The above room belongs to a client who emailed me after reading a story about my family room. Prior to contacting me, she had the room painted twice and purchased this huge leather sectional, chair, and ottoman. Her daughter (the more creative of the two) made attempts to assist her, but they both agreed it was time to give me a call. I was asked to design a window treatment, add color to the space, and to make it comfortable for large family gatherings.
Because custom drapery is big investment, I create mockups to give my clients a loose interpretation of what I envision for the space. I also wanted her to focus on the large-scaled wall art in this mockup.

My client was not home the day I installed her job so I was on “pins” until I got her call that afternoon when she returned home. I took a few shot of the space before I left…

Her husband, usually very opinionated, was firm about his only request. He wanted his clock and television mounted above the fireplace.

Here’s a view of the fireplace with the necessary request from the “Mister.”

Here is an aerial view of the family room taken from the second floor. Notice the ample moldings and coffered ceiling…gorgeous!

Have you had challenges in decorating a tall space? Do you have a two story family room that needs some expert attention? Please share your story in the comments section…

Are you looking to greatly improve the look and feel of your home? Need quality home furnishings that outlast current trends? Contact me to schedule an online or in-home design consultation.

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About Erika Ward

Multi-passionate entrepreneur, spokesperson, speaker, and philanthropist, Erika Hollinshead Ward worked in the design-build industry as an accountant before turning her passion for interior design into a successful business. Named by Atlanta Tribune as having one of the top design firms for two consecutive years, Erika is a highly sought after expert whose work has appeared in several media outlets such as House Beautiful Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, Fox 5 (Atlanta Affiliate), Huffington Post, HGTV.com and many others. Her influential voice in the home improvement sector has lead to marketing collaborations with leading home and lifestyle brands including Home Depot, S.C. Johnson, and Home Decorators Collection. Erika holds an undergraduate degree from The University of Georgia and resides in Atlanta with her husband and five children. With her sharp business acumen and design prowess, you can rest assured that she is one to watch as a voice for working mothers, women entrepreneurs, and interior design enthusiasts.

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  1. Janell @ Isabella and Max Says:

    Outstanding! These spaces are really hard to decorate and you are so right about the scale, it has to be big to work. Love the window treatments, art, it all brings warmth to the space. And those ceilings are amazing, now the room lives up to them. Great job! Janell


  2. Angela Says:

    What an outstanding job! The big sofa intimidated me in the before pic but now everything flows and is welcoming. I love the ceilings and the fireplace. Nice work.


  3. Anonymous Says:

    This is really great! I love it you really transformed their space. I of course like how you used some of their old furnisher and accessories. @caramelglam


  4. Design Esquire Says:

    Great job! You really warmed up that room. Your use of scale is great too. Your client must be thrilled!


  5. niki.mac Says:

    I looove the way you did those mock-ups, GREAT idea!


  6. froulala.blogspot.com Says:

    Wonderful Erika! You are so talented! The drapery is dramatic and valances really fit the room. Thanks for sharing!


  7. Mrs. Chic Says:

    The windows treatments look great!


  8. HollowSquirrel Says:

    Wow, you made it look SOOOOO much better. WOW! Fantastic! I bet they were both THRILLED!


  9. Anonymous Says:

    You are truly talented. You did a wonderful job with adding a few simple touches. Please continue to share more of your projects. It is truly inspiring.


  10. Kelly Berg, IIDA, IACC-NA Says:

    Such a design challenge, working with those sky-high ceilings!!! There's only so many things you can do to create a homier, cozier atmosphere!! You've done a great job – your clients must be thrilled!!! And your renderings? Fabulous!


  11. Kiran Says:

    Love it, Erika…Great Post! ~ xx KC


  12. Divamom-Act II Says:

    You're a genius!
    I'm glad to be back visiting my favorite sites.
    Great post Erika.


  13. L.Duncan@Home23DuncanBoys Says:

    Love the way the ceiling is painted! And the clock above the TV works! Great job girl!


  14. theLENNOXX Says:

    Fantastic! I love the color you picked, and the area rug is a piece of art in itself. It looks so much warmer and more "liveable" after you waved your magic wand :)

    xo Linda


  15. Kim@Living with Little People Says:

    I really love the artwork and rug. The space feels so sophisticated, but still comfortable.


  16. Ian Says:

    Yeah..I noticed that. I’ve been there and even looked for a room which resembles a typical New York apartment. Rental/short term contracts were feasible for me because I was just a student then, and I could not afford these classy two-level houses. I ended up visiting seven houses (and exploring them), and got amazed by different interior design motifs. Though my plan was thwarted, that day was a great experience.
    The next day, after few tries, I finally had my short-term apartment rental!(New York City -inspired!)

    What’s the reason behind Atlanta’s artistic two-story houses?


  17. VONDA Says:

    Simply beautiful!


  18. Anonymous Says:

    Beautiful Makeover! Shakira


  19. Jake Says:

    The room is already elegant before it was renovated. After the makeover, the room became more beautiful and more elegant than ever. Did you change the wall color? Or just the lighting? Either of the two can enhance the beauty of a room. Likewise, there is an apartment for rent in Key West that has also the same beauty like this room. Apartments for rent (Key West, FL) are not like the typical apartments, they have class and great style.


  20. Frank Damon Says:

    This apartment looks so vibrant and elegant! No wonder why the owners love living in this kind of home. My mother and I used to live together in an apartment too when my father died. But when I got married and had my own family, my mother decided to stay at an assisted living program here in San Antonio, Texas. At first, I thought that she will not be happy there, but when I visited her in the assisted living in San Antonio, TX, I can see it in her eyes that she's truly happy and that she's being taken cared of there. Although I missed her so much, seeing her that way makes me happy and relieved as well.


  21. Emily Says:

    Wow Thank you for this post! I love it, you have inspired me. I was one of ‘those’ people lured by the model home and then discouraged and overwhelmed once I moved in.


  22. Jennifer L Says:

    Thank you for providing inspiration. We bought a home with a two-story great room this summer. I hate tvs on the wall, but I loved the idea of a large piece of art over the mantle with a clock above it. We had a large antique-look world map sitting rolled up in the box. We finally had it dry mounted and framed to hang above the mantle, and will hang a 30″ diameter clock above that later today. The map looks so great, and I can’t wait to see it with the clock above. Clock and map – time and place. And the extra bonus is that the kids will have a geography lesson always close at hand!


    • Erika Ward Says:

      Time and place! I like that Jennifer. It’s wonderful that your double duty decor can also serve as a teach tool. Talk about getting bang for your buck. Awesome!



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