Make the Most of the Family Room

It’s where you and the kids spend the most time. Make it great!

By FamilyTime


Family rooms are nothing new — families have long gathered in a central part of the house to talk, play and study. In the middle of the 20th Century, the room apparently got its name when authors George Nelson and Henry Wright published a book called Tomorrow’s House with a chapter about a room “without a name.” By the end of the chapter, they had named the space a “family room

Family rooms fall under the category of “I’ll know one when I see one,” but otherwise are a little tricky to pin down.

Family Room or Living Room?

Family rooms differ from living rooms primarily by their placement in the house. They tend to be adjacent to the kitchen and near the back of the house. Often the family room and kitchen flow into each other.

Living rooms usually are in the center of the house, near the front door. Typically, they are situated so that guests can be ushered into them without having to pass through the kitchen.

For homeowners who have both living rooms and family rooms, the former generally are more formal and often are the place to display artwork, antiques or elegant furniture. The latter are relaxed with informal, sturdy furniture and built-ins.

Furnishing the Family Room

When it comes to outfitting the family room, start with the walls and windows and work inwards. Choose a neutral color that can easily be accented by painting the trim a different color or relying on colorful window treatments, sofa pillows, or area rugs.

Bright curtains help a room that’s painted a neutral shade. If the room is large enough, think about floor-length drapes to enliven the room and also give it a feeling of coziness when drawn on cold nights.

If you have a choice, pay attention to the floor. Light hardwood makes small rooms seem larger, while dark wood makes large rooms feel intimate. If wall-to-wall carpet is your preference, choose one that wears well. White or beige is appealing, but a slightly darker shade usually is more sensible.

It’s a good idea to buy comfy furniture that is easy to clean. Or, barring that, does not show the dirt! This can mean machine-washable slipcovers, faux leather that stands up to damp sponges, and/or dark patterns with textures that don’t show every scuff mark and food stain.

Consider large cushions that kids can lounge on while playing video games and watching TV. Cover these cushions with washable covers or buy inexpensive pillows that can be replaced when they look ratty.

If there’s room, arrange the furniture so that it’s not flat against the walls but is near the center (or another logical area) of the room for good conversation, group movie viewing and game playing.

Organize shelves, built-in cupboards, and baskets so that toys, games, and lap blankets easily can be stored. This makes tidying up the room quick and easy.

More Family Room Features

The family room will probably be the place for the television as well as the communal computer. Many child-rearing experts recommend situating a computer in a trafficked, common area such as this to help keep school-age kids safe while they surf the Internet.

If there’s room, set up a table where kids can hunker down with their homework. This could double as a place to play board games and cards. If there isn’t room, consider keeping a folded card table nearby.

Even if you have a living room, the family room surely will surpass it as far as the hours spent in its confines. And as the kids grow up, the family room, too, will mature. It will hold fewer toys and games and might be able to support slightly nicer furniture.

Family rooms, like the families that live in them, are ever-changing. And at their center are full of love.