Best Family Room Ideas

Family rooms are not just family rooms. They are often part of our kitchen,they are part of the hub of the house, they often function as media rooms, they are key resting spaces on weekends and, at the end of the work day, key entertaining spaces during the holidays, key “hang out with your kids, peeps, honey, whomever” spots.

Design by Interiors by Donna Hoffman/Photography by David Van Scott

Here are some of my design tips for creating the best family rooms – the ones my clients report never wanting to leave:

1) Napping or Seating – pick one. Do you need to have room for two to stretch out for Sunday afternoon naps with the cat, or do you prefer a few club chairs in the mix to squeeze in extra seating at entertaining time?  Important to know. Adequate seating and support of ideal room function is an early must in planning the ideal family room. BTW, three cushion sofas are preferable to two cushion sofas if maximizing seating for larger gatherings…nobody likes “the crack.” And if budget allows, pay to upgrade the upholstery cushion for optimal comfort and support as well and opt for 8-way hand tied upholstery if possible. Pay attention to seating quality and it’ll put the “ooh” into your “ahh…”

Sofas by Lee Industries

2) Honey, where’s the…? Yes, storage my friends. Family rooms are heavy use spaces and we use a lot of stuff while we’re in them. Drawers or baskets IN the cocktail table could be the solution for the kids “its and bits,” drawers in at least one side table to stow pens and crossword puzzle books is ideal, and yes, I’m a fan of a decorative box on top of the coffee table to house remotes for easy access and quick putaways. Built ins are sometimes a great option.   When you approach family room design, you must ask what will be used and thus must be stored in this heavy use space, right down to where you’ll store the candles and matches that you’ll want nearby to enjoy in there, too.

Storage Ottoman by Vanguard

3) Sofas you want to lie naked on. I’m not making this up. I had a teacher in design school who actually advised that the best sofas were those covered with fabric that made clients want to recline upon them well…unclothed. Sure, I thought, this teacher was loopy for a lot of reasons, but the old gal got it right on this idea…soft, touchable, huggable fabrics will call to you, soothe, embrace and comfort – especially in this room. Leather lovers, you can warm up your upholstery by adding chenilles and velvets in your pillows and throws.

Sofa by Lee Industries

4) Let there be light. And I mean lots of different kinds of light. General lighting is a must, so are dimmers for mood and entertaining. Task lighting by way of lamps is non-negotiable and if possible, let’s get a fireplace in there, too. The more varied and flexible your light sources, the more you’ll use and enjoy your family room.

Andre Arbus Chandelier by Lee Industries

I love designing family rooms for many reasons, not the least of which is that the ones we design make people feel great in their own homes and lives. Oh…and for the record, I have never reclined unclothed on our family room sofa…even though the fabric that covers ours would have made my loopy design professor proud!

What’s on your “Best Family Room Ideas”  list?  Care to share?