Design Your Family Room
Pulling together an interior design plan for any space can be challenging, but creating a family room can be especially demanding. Combining such a wide variety of needs, wants and tastes into one space requires special planning and purchases.
One for All
Make your family-room redo an all-for-one-and-one-for-all project. Everyone in the home who is using the space should have a say.
“The distribution of the furniture, in a way that is conducive to conversation or to enjoy entertainment, is key to creating a room that will fulfill its purpose,” says Josette Buisson, artistic director for The Voice of Color with Pittsburgh Paints. “Creating zones and defining areas according to the activities they support will help determine the flow of the space and the choice of furniture.”
In most living areas, there are three key elements to consider: the focal point (for example, the fireplace and/or television), storage and the seating arrangement.
Cool for Kids (and Kids at Heart)
As children grow older, many parents look for ways to keep kids wanting to hang out around the house. One way to do that is to create a place where kids and their friends can lounge around, watch movies, play games and have fun. “Keep the design comfortable and non-fussy,” says Scott Thomas, a partner with Thomas-Somero Design. “Avoid using any items that are ‘precious.’” says Taniya Nayak, designer on HGTV’s Designed To Sell. “Make sure that the family room is a place that kids are not afraid to let get a little messy,” she says. “No one is going to want to hang out if they are not allowed to put their feet up or be able to eat a snack there.” If you want to keep kid messes contained, she suggests giving them an area of the room that is all their own.
While a family room is a place to relax, it often is also a place where kids come to do homework, where parents can work or pay bills and where both can surf the Internet for work and play. A few key components to consider include a space-saving work area, functional and attractive seating, proper lighting and organization. “If you need to implement a functional workspace in your family room, try to incorporate it into an armoire or a closet set up that can be easily hidden and gives you a chance to enjoy your space and entertain,” says Lila Adams with Lila Adams Design & Build Inc.
In many homes, a family room can also be a media room—a place where everyone settles in to watch their favorite show, the latest DVD release, listen to music or play a video game. “From the home electronics standpoint, the greatest difficulty in designing a family room is creating a space that has excellent audio/video performance, while not intruding on the aesthetics of the room,” says Conor Coleman, vice president of Audiocom.
“I’ve noticed a few high-tech trends in family rooms,” says Stephanie Andrews, owner of Balance Design. “Homeowners are hiring home-entertainment companies to outfit their entire house with a digital sound system; a movie screen that is concealed and is usable at the touch of a button is another high-tech trend, and modern fireplaces with a minimalist feel (flame only, no gas logs) are energy-efficient and designed to be as clean-burning as possible.”
In addition, with so many people going in and out of the room, having separate remotes for the TV, DVD player, VCR, stereo system, etc. can lead to misplacing them. “Technology has now simplified the remote with a universal touch screen that is easy to use for both kids and adults,” Adams says. “Some even offer help screens to get you back to where you need to be when you get off on the wrong track.”
When in doubt, call an expert. Home theater specialists can help you examine the options for your family room and even help you set up the system, if required.