Bonus Room Becomes an Upstairs Family Room


fter a little tease,  it’s time for the reveal. A little background first…

In Georgia, when a builder finishes the room above your garage, your home is said to have a “bonus” room. When I first walked through this house, that was to become my home, I was happy to see it did, indeed, have the oft desired bonus room.

Then, surprisingly, the room sat almost empty for 3-4 years years while I stewed over how to use this wonderfully large, space. After all, this is the woman who took 16 years to buy a coffee table, remember? The answer came one day, disguised in the form of a home tour. The home was in Buckhead, surrounded by mansions in one of the older and tonier areas of Atlanta. While touring the one and only home on the tour, I saw something I’d never seen before…an upstairs family room. There was a downstairs family room…and…an upstairs family room, complete with a sofa, chairs, and yep, a t.v. Hey, I liked this idea!

But I wanted my room to serve more than one purpose, I truly wanted it to be a “bonus” room in every sense of the word. I also knew it needed to be decorated in a completely different style from that of my downstairs family room. You may recall, the downstairs family room has floor to ceiling judges paneling…with a definite library/hunt feel to it. The bonus room is bright and sunny, thanks to windows on two walls. It’s also quirky and whimsical with it’s slanted ceilings, little nooks and window seats. I knew there would never be any cherry or mahogany furniture in this room.

It was around this time, an issue of Traditional Home magazine arrived in my mailbox…and there on the cover was the inspiration for the bonus. My mind raced with all the possibilities…all the ways I could decorate and furnish this bright, sunny room.


The Bonus Room…This photo is deceiving…the room measures approximately 16 feet wide (not counting the dormers) by 24 feet long. The ceiling is 8 foot down the middle…slanting down to 6 ft, 4 inches at the lowest point. The tall case clock is 6 ft, 8 inches tall.


I furnished the room primarily with Swedish antique pine furniture, inspired by the Traditional Home article. Sofa and two plaid chairs are Highland House. This is the only time I’ve ever selected fabrics and then ordered pieces to be made. I’ve always been afraid to do that, fearing I’d dislike the pieces when they came. I felt comfortable doing that in this case because I was able to see the denim fabric on a different sofa and I also saw the plaid fabric on another style chair…putting my mind at ease.

Upstairs Family Room


I really wanted to keep this room casual so I chose a heavy denim fabric for the sofa. You will see this same fabric repeated in all three window seats.

Create Upstairs Family Room from Bonus Room 4


I purchased all of the antique pine pieces from a gentleman who lives very close to me. He used to travel twice yearly to Sweden/Denmark to purchase antiques he hand selected. Because he knew I was looking for certain pieces, he always called me after each trip so I could have first pick of the treasures that would arrive weeks after his return back home.

Feather Christmas Tree in Upstairs Family Room


I was told this armoire is an old country piece and would have been hand made. Because of the design inside, it appears to have been made to hold clothing. Shelves were added prior to my purchasing it, so it now holds a t.v. and lots of books. It was not uncommon for furniture to be painted after it was made. Because the paint is usually very dark and sometimes not in the best of shape, the paint is often stripped off prior to shipment to the states.


I love the way the antique pine looks with the rich blues and yellows in the fabrics in this room. The walls are painted a very pale yellow color called Tea Biscuit…it’s a Duron color.


I don’t like overhead lighting and never use it in any of my rooms. I had the area on either side of the window seat wired so I could add the brass wall lamps. Yes, shiny brass…sorry guys, I love my shiny brass.

White Ceramic Garden Seat for the Family Room


Sometimes I have a painted bunny window hanging over the window at the far end…just a little touch of whimsy for the room.

Upstairs Family, Bonus Room


The cushion in the window seat is covered in the same denim that was used for the sofa. I found more of the plaid fabric at Calico Corners and had lots of little pillows made to go on all the window seats. The window seat is filled to the top with board games and puzzles…this was one of my son’s favorite places to hang out with his friends. I’m looking forward to the day his son can play with them, although I hope it doesn’t come too fast. They grow up way too fast as it is, right?! (Pumpkin is a denim project from this post: Make a Denim Pumpkin From Old Jeans)

White Ceramic Garden Seat for the Family Room


A close-up of the bunny window…


Remember, I wanted this room to serve multiple functions…the sofa is a sofa sleeper for over-flow from the guest bedroom. The linens and pillows are stored in the trunk/coffee table for easy access.

Bonus Upstairs Family Room


The Macon Telegraph and News decided to dispose of all their bound volumes of old newspapers. Not sure why they were bound this way. Anyway, my sister, Glenda, was able to save quite a few of them and some of the ones she saved dated back to WWI. For years I stored the ones she gave me under a bed…then one day I got an idea. I had a piece of glass cut and stacked them here to use as an end table. Every once in a while I pull them out and flip through them…just the ads alone are amazing. Maybe one day I’ll do a post showing some of those.



Update: To see a post showing ad and articles inside these old bound newspaper volumes, click HERE.


The beach theme of this room is evident here above the sofa.


The light house watercolors you see here and on either side of the armoire were done by artist, Donna Elias. I met her in Hilton Head back in 1994. She has traveled all over America, photographing and painting over 250 of America’s light houses. Click HERE to visit her website to see more of here beautiful lighthouse and beach themed art.


Plate rack is antique and holds a few pieces of old flow blue and Blue Willow I’ve collected.


I found this large flow blue platter in an antique shop on a skiing trip in Oregon. Fortunately, it survived the plane trip back home.



The mirror that hangs above this Swedish antique pine chest is an old family piece. You saw a little snippet of the corner of it yesterday.



This is a Danish Bornholm clock made in 1830. You saw a close-up of the worm holes that the old pieces frequently have…apparently insect control was quite the issue back then.  I actually read recently that some current furniture manufacturers make fake worm holes in some pine furniture to make it look old. Can you imagine what a person living in 1830 in Sweden or Denmark would think of that?


Remember the little snippet of this side window?


This room has two dormer windows. I had them wired for wall lamps…love the way they light the little window seat and the way the dormers glow when viewing them from outside.

Dormer Window Seat 1_wm





Hope this room lived up to the suspense…thanks for stopping back to see the full view!

Upstairs Family, Bonus Room


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  1. does this mean that when it gets cold outside, I can move in from the porch? I love it!

  2. Well, I just couldn’t wait. Here I am and it’s not even Thurs. yet! I knew from the tease that I was going to LOVE this room as much as all of your other rooms. There are so many things I love in this room-those bound newspapers are just so neat, and what a great way to use them and still be able to browse through them. That clock is absolutely gorgeous and that armoire, and of course the painted bunny window is perfect, and, and, and… Well, as usual, when I visit one of your rooms, I love it all. I think I’ve probably read every issue of Traditional Home and unfortunately, still have a lot of them! I remember this issue well. When I come to visit you, I want to stay in this room. I’ve always thought dormers and slanted walls are so charming, and your decor makes it that much more charming. Sorry about my book. Laurie (bargainhunr)

  3. What a beautiful room–I love your Flow Blue and the pine antiques. You did a wonderful job!

  4. Susan, you are so talented, lady! What a warm and interesting room. All of the details you put into a room is astounding. Very classy and bravo to standing up for shiny brass! It’s so easy to get caught up in the current trends but you are faithful to the things you love. Everything looks lovely, love the seashells and the journals used as a table is brilliant!
    Another great post, you are really making me feel like a slacker, here!
    Be Good,

  5. Sigh! Now you’ve done it. I want to come home at least to visit my room which, per our agreement, you are leaving me in your will one day!

    I still love that room. My favorite one in the whole house. I remember when there was nothing but an air mattress in there, stiped wallpaper, and snoring Persian cats.

  6. Very pretty. I love the whole look! I especially love the books for a table and the clock…wow, beautiful room, beautiful post!

  7. Susan, if your “real” job wasn’t so important I would say you should quit and write decorating books and do interiors…You just have that something-something that knows what makes things work and how! 😉 Bo

  8. So glad I found your blog! The new room is beautiful to look at and also looks cozy and comfortable. You did a wonderful job!!!

  9. Susan, you are such a tease! I love everything, as usual! You asked me about Charles Faudree’s floral book, it isn’t my favorite. I think the signature book is the prettiest of the three I have, I noticed how you use decorating books as a base for your charming accessories, I also noticed Charles does the same. Was he your inspiration? Anyway, I am doing the same thing. It looks warm and cozy, I think. I realize some would say it makes my already cluttered room, more so, but I don’t care! Always love everything you do!!!! Connie/puddin07

  10. RetiredAtLast says

    An absolutely delightful space. The color combinations are wonderful. I know exactly how Joy feels. It’s come a long way from an air mattress.
    A very good way to keep your child happy at home, by providing a place for them to “hang” with their friends. Smart lady.
    That bunny window reminds me, at a distance, of stained glass.
    Beautiful plate display and the colors match perfectly. Really enjoyed a closer look at this room.

  11. How lovely….and your attention to detail is amazing! ENJOY! Lori

  12. Another wonderful room! I can’t wait each day to see what you are sharing with us. Love your attention to detail…a warm and cozy room. Linda

  13. I recognize one of the teddy bears from when my oldest daughter was born. It’s the bear which was placed far left in the back row and he is Mr. Tubby from Jordan Marsh, circa 1979. I’d know that cute guy anywhere since he still lives with us.
    Your bonus room is amazing. It’s beautiful!!!

  14. Wow! You obviously spent a lot of time collecting all of those treasures. I can’t believe you were able to keep that secret! I’d be blabbing all over town. 🙂 It’s a perfect family room.

  15. WOW!! Susan this is really a BONUS for sure…I so love the Swiss pine it looks so much like Enlish pine to me and with the yellow its really brings out the wood tone just beatiful..and of coure the stain glass window is great, I have such a weakness for stain glass and all the work involed in it..That Clock is awesom girl and how you made every piece of furntiure fit..usings those books as an end table really you says YOU with your love of books..I can see why your son and his friends loved hanging out here…I have a doormer guest room, and I tell you I had a H of a time finding pieces to fit all the walls…bought an Armoire and I swear it looks like it would fit..but was 2 inches to high…Learned the hard way to bring my tape measure, I had to use it in my office…live and learn. Just another great Design by Susan….Love all the flow blue one of my favorite…So glad you finally did the unveiling girl!! You are a tease…Have a Great day. Hugs and smiles Gloria

  16. GM susan, Is there anything thing that you do that I don’t love? I don’t think so. I love the pine, a favorite of mine. The clock is to die for. My chair in my family room is Highland House. I love their stuff.The blue and white looks wonderful,so sunny, my favorite.The end table made of the newspaper books is amazing. I love all the little details that makes the room so YOU! Keep sharing we love it. have a great day. Oh I almost forgot , I bought two new lamps for the dining room and they have birds painted on them . I will post soon on my space at RMS. Have a wonderful day. hugs Kathysue

  17. decorator101 says

    Oh my, this was soooo worth the wait… there are so many things I “love” about this room. You know I adore the bunny window. I’m wondering, does Glenda want to adopt and share some of the old books?? That is a terrific idea and fits your personality perfectly. I loved learning about the Swedish pine.. I wasn’t aware that it was stipped before hitting the U.S… I love, love, love the flow blue..what a “great idea to display them somewhere besides a kitchen. SO.. I’m calling dibs on the flow blue!!! Now, about Joy and you leaving it to her in your will… ummmm we might have to have a “very LONG” discussion about that…I think when she comes for her visit I must come as well…can you imagine the roof raising time the three of us would have??? This was another wonderful tour of your home…hugs ~lynne~

  18. This is really beautiful, but so welcoming and cozy!! Love all of the details, especially the flow blue. What glimpse of your home do we get to see next? Sally

  19. One word….fabulous…Ann

  20. Darlene - Our Creative Life says

    Looks very cozy! I have a similar shaped room but the ceilings are lower. I use mine as an office. It is attached to the master bedroom & called the sitting room.

  21. Your room is STUNNING!

  22. Lynne, you’re more than welcome to join me on my visit, but you aren’t getting my room.

    It was so much fun to come home from college and see the transformations of the whole house, but I fell in love with this particular room from day one.

    My family room today is very much like this room buy with red instead of yellow. I had a very good decorating teacher!

  23. Oh Susan, this is so beautiful! I love the beautiful pine pieces. WOW. Your bonus room is my favorite INSIDE room! (The porch remains #1 of course.) Diane

  24. I absolutely love it! I’m a fan of blue and yellow together – I have a guest bedroom done that way and I never tire of it. Very nice!! PAM

  25. OMG, FIGHT,FIGHT,,now Lynne you know Joy is younger and has seniority girl!! so back away and let an old lady take her on!! I’ll even take the air don’t know about the snoring cats and Joy Mama should show your house now and lets us see what a great teacher she was…you indeeded learned from the best girl!! Glad I came back, have always enjoyed a good clean cyber fight…hugs and smiles Gloria

  26. LOL! Gloria, Susan and I have actually talked about showing you my family room along with the “inspriation room.” But because I am very, very much like the woman who pretty much raised me in my teens, it isn’t done yet.

  27. OH Joy, too funny !!! Susan wasn’t even my teacher…but I still have rooms not done,,,you did notice I said rooms???I can bet Susan enjoys your company when you go home!!! Gloria

  28. Hi Susan, I stopped by early this morning but didn’t have time to leave a comment so I’m back! I love your upstairs family room. The pine pieces are wonderful. It’s just so cozy up there. In Illinois, the bonus room is known as the FROG. Finished Room Over Garage. Isn’t that funny? Somehow, I’d rather spend my time in a bonus room than a FROG! Ribbit! love, Carol

  29. There are just so many things I love about this room that I don’t know where to begin! First, it turned out beautiful! I think I might have to steal that clock! Okay, might have trouble getting it out the door. The table from the old newpaper is a fabulous idea, too! Great job!

    One other thing, aren’t those big Buckhead mansions incredible. P’tree Battle road is my favorite!

  30. SUSAN! I am so excited because I have finally been able to get back to your blog….but had to get here from Gollum’s??? I know that makes no sense but whatever it takes, I’ll do cause this is SOOO special and inspiring. This room is gorgeous, I wasn’t “in” on the “tease” since I couldn’t get here yesterday. My favorite is the bunny window…I wish SO much I had about 10 houses that I could decorate..I love so many “styles” and “looks”, that I am sure I could fill at least 10!!!LOL! Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful room with us. I’ll be back tomorrow..YEAH!!! Hugs, Pinky

  31. What a beautiful room!
    Susan, you are very talented lady….Yes BRAVO for standing up for shiny brass.. To me it’s sooooo classy. Susan, your home is so warm and elegan…..thanks for sharing…Pat H aka 9405018

  32. DishDiva aka Kay says

    I admired this room on RMS ,but showing it like this has really been a treat!So lovely. You really know how to tell a story with your pictures.
    This was better than any “Home Tour” I have ever taken!

  33. Lynne, just know, I will fight you to the death for the clock.

    I’d love to have the “room” because it’s attached to the house. But, sadly, the house is in Georgia, and I don’t do heat and humidity anymore. More like cold and mountains these days.

    However, if you decide to become the permanent house guest (and I hope you don’t mind cat lust because there is no greater life for a cat than in that house), I highly, highly recommend the guest rooms accomodations. Just down the hall from “MY ROOM” and pampering comes rushing to mind.

  34. What I wouldn’t give for a personalized tour of your beautiful, and so very well appointed home, along with the stories of how the furniture and accesories were found and put together. How about a coffee table book?…I’d buy it! Thank you for the reveal! Jan

  35. What an awesome room! I love the blue accents and the window seats and so much more. Just found your blog it’s great!

  36. Pat@Back Porch Musings says

    I love your bonus room. It’s gorgeous.

    We have a bonus room. I have a sort of track lighting system in the room, because I used it as a studio. This year, I turned it into a cottage retreat with all my leftovers.

    We’ve been to a couple of those lighthouses, depicted in the watercolors.

    Wonderful post, filled with great inspiration.

  37. Beautiful, timeless room. I too love my shiny brass. My father sells antiques, and has been gradually giving me a collection of wonderful brass candlesticks. Even when they’re not perfectly shiny,I can’t imagine my mantel without them. IF you start a “shiny brass” club, I’d be honored to be a charter member!

  38. The Cozy Parsonage says

    I have always loved pics of your home on RMS and lookie here-a treat-you have a blog as well-can’t waitto explore it some more later!

  39. sarah @ a beach cottage says

    oh wow, I would love a bonus room like that, it all looks particularly divine, I especially love the Swedish pine, I have virtually exactly the same armoire as that in my house in England, we bought it from a dealer who brought pine in from Europe so maybe it came from a similar area

    I love how you pulled it all together and the plaid chairs, I really want some putty coloured plaid chairs but haven’t got the budget at the moment, you’ve inspired me though to look for some fabric and cover a chair I’ve already got

    i reckon you’ve got a long list of people wanting to be house guests and one from Down Under lol!

    have a happy weekend


  40. Oh, I can tell you had a ball decorating this fabulous room. Everything just goes together perfectly. My favorite of all is the plate rack. I just LOVE that. I am saving a picture of it for my hubby to copy…I just have to have one! And, I have a lot of pretty blie and white plates to add to it. (smile)

  41. My goodness…I’m just sighing at the beauty of this room! You have a real signature Susan. All of your spaces are elegant, cozy, warm, and cheery!! The look of this room “reads” someone who is interesting and who also has a thoughtful nature. It so fits YOU! I was fascinated with every pic!! I loved the “book” end tables! You’ve really got such an eye for beauty and for putting it all together. I want to come over and have a cup of coffee and listen to you tell me the many interesting things you know! That’s what this room says to me! Loved this post! T~

  42. Please sign me up for Tablescape Tuesday again this week. I’m ready to go! Sally

  43. OH BOY A slumber party now..lets see Lynne do the pop corn..I’ll do sweet tea..Susan you made the cookies and Joy you bring the pillows for the fight!!

  44. RetiredAtLast says

    Sounds like a party to me. M&M get ready, company's on the way.

  45. Gorgeous room. I tagged along with my husband when he was putting the floor in the attic of an old Victorian rowhouse in Denver. They had used old newspapers, grocery ads, and boxes for extra insulation. I had a wonderful time reading all the newspapers! Lots of dust but oh so worth it…the society pages used to be on the front page of the Denver paper so I read about the parties, the ads for furs and silk stockings. They were mostly around WWI and intermittent through the ’30s. And seeing them from a historical perspective…seeing the articles and knowing what was happening in Europe and what was going to happen…the famous photo from the Potsdam Conference….it was great.

  46. Christine (xinex) says

    I love your bonus room , Susan! I am so glad I came back. You have the most interesting pieces of furniture and accessories and the sentimental value adds to them. Thank you for sharing this room with us. It’s perfect!

  47. Lady Katherine says

    Your bonus room is a bonus, you have deco beautifuly. But you have what I have been hunting every state for. the blue emnamel ware, I I have a few pieces, could buy it new, found wonderful shop, in Tappahonnck,VA, but I keep on looking, thanks for showing us around your lovely home. I noticed ref. to Macon, I worked out the airport there many a time.

  48. I absolutely love everything in this room. After 20 years of blue, white and yellow, I "let" hubby talk me into different colors in the new house. I've regretted it ever since. Stored all my favorite "blue" pieces and now your pictures have me convinced it is time to redecorate.

  49. Wow, that is so incredibly cozy. You really are one talented interior designer!

  50. What a beautiful room, so cozy and warm. I don't think you have overlooked one single detail. I love your little shelf above the sofa.

  51. Liz - says

    Wow, I am in awe of your decorating talents! I love this room and your attention to details! I wished I would have known more about antiquing when I started buying furniture since I have a swedish heritage, I would have loved to find pieces like you have. You must have a terrific selection in the south of antiques. Any guest lucky enough to sleep in that room will be spoiled to the hilt!

  52. I agree that the shiny brass has a pretty warm glow. My fireplace has a shiny brass door and I love it. Refuse to change it. Your home is lovely.

  53. claudette flanigan says

    Susan, I have always loved this upstairs den of yours! The furniture, the beach theme, the blue tones in the furniture. But most of all I love how sunny it is. What a great spot to read!

  54. 2019 and I’m reading a 2008 post! Such a beautiful room! Now I have its background. I can see your two grandsons playing in the dormers, one for each boy.

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