Ten Tips for a Great Family Room

10 Tips for an Awesome Family Room

Want to create an exceedingly comfortable and stylish family room?  Here are a few ideas to help you create a social, styled and modern family room space in your home. 

1. Create a Social Seating Arrangement:
The Family Room is one of the most social rooms in your home.  I would say its pretty competitive with the Kitchen as Top Social Space in the house (and the kitchen is starting to show signs of jealousy).  To better promote this aspect of your family room, create a furniture arrangement that embraces the idea of conversation. Seating, such Sofas and Chairs, placed around a a central element, such as a Coffee Table or Ottoman, can turn the conversation inward.  Its obviously easier to converse with people when everyone is sitting in some semblence of a circle as opposed to a straight line.


2. Make your Media Center the Focus:
Many of us use the Family Room as the major place of media consumption in the home. By combining the principal above about social seating arrangements with the TV as a focal point, you can combine both of these features.  You can direct your view towards the Media Center, and still allow for conversation and interaction with others in the room.  Am I overstating the obvious?  Well, the point is that you may have a space in your home that does not allow for the flexibity that you want.  To get the most out of your new oversized HD TV, you’ll want a great surround sound system too.  That requires planning.  It also requires a some sort of permanence on where the seating is because the TV and Speaker Surround are not going to be moving.  The flexibility comes with other furnishings that can be moved in and out of the social arrangement. This is not the room where you sould be creating your serious home theater, but a social room where you can enjoy company while watching…whatever.

3. Adjustable Lighting:
Creating the perfect mood in your Family Room can be as simple as adding a dimmer switch to your main lighting source.  But also, using lighting in a creative way can highlight or accent certain areas of the room. Cove Lighting and Wall Sconces are fixtures that add a dynamic touch to your space.  Directional Recessed Can Lights can highlight wall art, or a special architectural element in your room such as columns or fireplaces. Table Lamps add some task lighting to a small area, or provide some general ambient light within the space.  Lighting can be designed create whatever feel you’re aiming for.  Following some simple Lighting Basics can help you use lighting for tasks, ambiance and accents.

4. Appropriately Placed Tables:
Aside from seating, the other major furniture within the Family Room would be Coffee Tables and End Tables. They allow for a more usable space and provides you with a place to set down your drink when you’re watching the game.  These tables are also important pieces from a decor standpoint.  A nicely designed table set can be a cohesive element with your family room.

5. Personalize your Decor:
This idea is more about your own personal tastes.  Styles change over time as we all know.  The decor should work together to create a common theme in the space.  Paint color: should you go light or dark or colorful or muted?  Furniture: should your sofa be fabric or leather?  Window treatments:  should the be elaborate or simplified? Wall art:  Should it be picture, or paintings, modern or traditional?  Again all of these items will reflect your personal tastes.  However, stand back and look at how all of these pieces work together to create a theme that ties everything together.  Everything in your room should have a place.  And remember, clutter is the enemy.

6. Ability to Privatize:
In architecture, we refer to some spaces as being public and others as being private.  But I’m not referring to that.  What I mean here is the ability to shield or restrict views into a space in your home.  In this case the family room.  The family room is by no means a private space.  It is not in the realm of a bedroom or a bathroom, which obviously are.  However, I’ve walked into some houses where you could stand at the front door and see clear into the family room of the home.  In some cases, the front door opens up into a family room.  I am personally not a fan of this.  I like to keep some spaces visually separated from outsiders.  Although the family room is a public space within the home create a visual barrier if you can. 

7. Openness and Circulation:
Back to the statement of the Family Room being a public space within the home. Once the visual barrier to outsiders is created, you can take your public spaces and have an open flow between them.  Take for example a kitchen adjacent to a family room.  This is a common occurance in many home layouts.  Often there is a visual connection between these spaces.  Separation of these rooms does not have to be defined by a solid wall.  Room divides can be implied by other things such as interior colannades or floor finish transtions.  This helps visually open up the home and creates and easy circulation between the spaces.  And once again, the social aspect of the family room is improved with an open floor plan.


8. Natural Lighting:
Natural Lighting is as important to the open feel of a space as the open floor plan is. Gone are the days where family rooms were like english basements with half windows letting in a microscopic amount of light.  There is nothing like being able to flood your family room with natural light during the day. Large windows, sliding glass doors and skylights can work together with the space to create the light and airy feel of a modern family room space. But the key, here, is control. Being able to adjust or even remove the natural light within the space can offer the most flexibilty for how the space (family room) is used. Watching a movie during the day might require you completely shut out the light so there is no glare on the TV. Adjusting the shades might be appropriate in the summer to reduce the heat gain in the space. Controlling the natural light coming into your family room is the key to its flexibility as a multi-use space.

9. Accessorize with Soft Furnishings:
The Family Room is less formal than a Living Room and more formal than a Rec Room.  So you have an in-between space in your home that can probably slide either way depending on your tastes and decor.  If you want to soften up the space, you can add soft foam furnishings to fill in the gaps.  Create some alternative seating and really make the family room a more comfortable space.  Foam Chairs come in all shapes and sizes to fit any room in the home.  But most importantly, you can find almost any fabric from Casual Twill to a more Elegant MicroSuede.  These pieces can offer variety, flexibility and fun to your family room.

10. Add a Water Feature:
This is for people with aquarium hobbies who don’t mind the extra work involved here.  But having an aquarium can really help the space become a serene place as well as create an interesting conversation piece.  Its fun to watch fish swim around in an aquatic environment.  I have a turtle tank with two red eared sliders.  They are fun and interesting to watch and friends and family are always curious about them.  I look forward to a day when I can create a water pond for my turtles. But for now, their current home in the corner of my family room works just fine for me and them as well.



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