All in the Family Room: Creating the Perfect Space
Some of our favourite moments take place in the family room, whether it's cuddling up with some popcorn for a movie, playing video and board games, or building epic blanket forts! We all want that cozy, ideal space in our homes, so in honour of Family Day, let's look at creating the perfect family room, and how to get the kids involved.
Why a dedicated family room?
Ottawa real estate agent, REALTOR® and father, Andrew Miller, mentions many home buyers and families want to have more than one living space in their homes. “It's not uncommon for families to seek out homes with two living rooms, if not three in some cases.”
“This space is typically the most comfortable [room] and has become an essential part of the home,” says Miller. He goes on to state the key advantage of a dedicated family space is sheer functionality. Most homeowners enjoy entertaining these days, and with open concept living and dining areas, it's easy for clutter to take over (especially with the modern trend of hoards of childrens' toys in the home). It's great to have a dedicated space for family entertainment where the kids can have their toys, so when—not if!—toymageddon occurs, it's generally contained.
Layout and space
Carefully consider your space. If you have a larger room, you might dedicate areas for specific purposes like seating, playing, reading, or other activities. A sofa placed midpoint in the room can serve nicely to separate entertainment and play or activity areas. This is a good time to get some input from the kids—they love drawing. Their imaginations can come up with some creative ways to map out these spaces.
If you only have room for a few furniture pieces, then consider the best orientation for your room. A smaller coffee table or wall-mounted television can go a long way in freeing up space which helps make the room feel larger and more open. Modular furniture is also a great way to maximize seating and optimize the space, as it can be reconfigured periodically to freshen the room's layout and adapt to your family's evolving needs.
Make yourselves comfortable
Must-haves for any family room are throw pillows and blankets. Pillows add extra support for grownups when sitting on chesterfields, and make excellent floor seating for children in a pinch. Plus, with a selection of blankets, cozying up together is a cinch. Pssst. They also make great building materials for forts to defend from marauding goblin hordes.
A cool way to unleash your children's creativity while also injecting their personality into your space is to make your own tie-dye throw pillow covers. It's a fun activity to do together as a family!
Different activities call for different types of lighting. If movie nights are a regular feature in your home, consider theatre lighting which can include strip lights, recessed pot lights, or wall sconces. The important thing is that you can lower their intensity without overly dimming, which can cause eye strain.
Daytime glare on your television can pose a problem, and blackout curtains or blinds make it easy to control the amount of sunlight entering the room, which is perfect if you enjoy recreating the matinée experience.
If you find yourself on the smart home bandwagon, then smart lighting is just the thing to elevate your family room experience. You can easily set different light scenes depending on your activity, and control your lighting from your mobile device or voice-activated hub. You can also create lighting effects that match the tone of the program or movie you're watching on the television!
You can even create your own mood lighting with the kids using LED light strips. The kids will love placing LED lights in mason jars along with shells from your last vacation or coloured ornament balls.
Stand lamp combos are excellent for overall lighting, plus the secondary reading lamp is perfect for story time, lighting up an activity area, or just curling up with a good book on a rainy day.
Keeping clutter at bay calls for storage solutions. Hollow ottomans perform double duty as foot rests and sneaky storage for blankets or toys. Stacked coloured toy bins for your play area will keep toys out of the way and organized, while cubby units with cloth bins work well for toys or activities, and gaming devices and components.
Because this is your space, you'll definitely want to express your personality to set the tone. Go to the paint store and let your children help you choose colours that express your collective personality. Then consider making gallery walls with photos of memorable things you've done together as a family, and layer in some of your children's artwork for an extra kick.
Keep things fresh by cycling through your child's latest masterpieces! Used frames can be found for reasonable prices at second-hand and thrift stores.
Give your family room the modern treatment with an epic entertainment system. With the popularity of bluetooth technology, it's easy to place wireless speakers around the room for a surround sound movie experience. Having an eye-catching wall unit to display your well-curated Blu-ray or video game collection also keeps these items easily at hand.
You also can't go wrong with a gaming system that suits your family. If motion-sensitive games or VR is a thing in your household, be sure to plan for plenty of clearance in front of the television. If space is an issue here, then consider ditching the coffee table in favour of an end-table, or maybe adding one on wheels that can be moved easily when needed.
When things get messy
Spills happen, especially when you have small children, so it's best to choose textiles strategically. Selecting a durable, spill-and-stain resistant fibre can save you money on cleaning costs down the road. According to Forbes, some indoor-outdoor acrylics are well suited for indoor use, both for their strength and cleanability.
You also can't go wrong with a natural fibre like leather, thanks to its durability and ease of cleaning. It may carry a hefty price tag but will stand the test of time, children and pets. If animal welfare is important to you, faux leather makes a fine substitute. Microfibre, wool and vinyl are also durable choices that resist spills and stains for easy cleanup.
While wall-to-wall carpet has its perks, it's best to go with laminate flooring. It's cost efficient, easy to install, durable, and stands up to the most voluminous of spills. Softening floor space with area rugs is a great way to create contrast, add depth to the room and they can be cleaned more easily than carpet, especially with liquid spills that often seep through carpeting to soak into underpadding. Interlocking foam playmats are also perfect for softening the floor in play areas while adding a fun pop of colour to your children's space.
What about pets?
Don't worry, we didn't forget about Rufus or Whiskers. Some coffee and end table designs incorporate pet beds! It's also possible to buy mini pet sofas that fit right in with your existing furniture. It's also easy to make room for a regular dog or cat bed, or keep a basket of toys handy under an end table, plus other ways to incorporate pet-friendly design into your home.
However you choose to make your family room perfectly suited to your family, and no matter your layout, purpose, or how you decorate your space, the most important thing is that you make the most out of your time together. Life is precious and as long as you are happy doing it together, that's what matters most.