Like most colonials, our home has a family room and a living room. And like most homeowners, we spend a lot more time in our family room than our living room. In fact, my 7 year old still gets confused when I use the term “living” room. It’s now just known as the “red” room in our house.
With some minor changes and a lot of inspiration, you can turn your living room into something you’d actually live in! Here are some possible uses and design tips to help you get started:
Home office – Home Office means different things to different people. It could be a place to pay bills and file paperwork, or a place for kids to do homework, or you may run a business out of your home. Whatever your definition, focus your design around the function of the room.
- Provide a clear surface on which to work. It’s easy for a desk or table to become overrun with “stuff” resulting in no place to actually work. Tight for space? How about a table that drops down from the wall when needed (like a Murphy bed)?
- Add a comfortable desk chair that is adjustable and doesn’t squeak (trust me on this one!). If your room has carpet, consider a plastic floor protector to help you wheel around easier.
- Add lots of hidden storage, but be sure to clearly label your storage units so you know where to find things.
- Lighting is key! You will need overhead as well as good task lighting. If there is no overhead light, add some up-lighting.
- Select functional accessories that add personality by do not cutter the space. But be careful not to make it too institutional – it’s still your home, after all!
- Keep the palate light and bright to inspire energy.
- Minimize and secure cords as much as possible. Go wireless wherever possible.
Library – Love to read? Have a great book collection? Turn your living room into a cozy place to curl up with a good book! It’s like having your own coffee house.
- Add lots of shelving. Rather than just adding bookcases, consider customized bookshelves built around a window to create a window box seat. Not only will you get additional storage, you’ll add a wonderful focal point to the room.
- Instead of a traditional sofa or loveseat, opt for two or three comfy club chairs (depending on space). Gather those chairs around a round glass-top coffee table with a wood shelf underneath to show off some of your favorite coffee table books.
- Provide task lighting for each reading chair. Pharmacy lamps are great for this. Make sure you also have enough lighting to see the books on the shelves.
- As a library, you can comfortably use darker paint to create warmth.
- Accessories – add a warm toned rug, soft throw blankets, and pepper the walls with black and white photography to create a coffee house feel.
Toy room – A toy room can be a great compromise between parents and kids in the eternal battle of toy clutter!
- Opt for shelving with attractive bins that can hide the clutter inside them, and allow for pick-up in less than 5 minutes. Open storage looks messy, even when the room is picked up. Avoid a collection of mis-matched toy organizers – they look tacky!
- Make sure the room is comfortable for grown ups as well as kids -add a comfortable chair or loveseat.
- Add a kid-sized table and chairs. Tip: put a machine washable new orleans pelicans t shirt underneath to survive craft time!
- Keep the room bright with cheerful colors, but avoid “cutesy” – save that for their bedrooms.
- If your kids enjoy movies, add a TV and DVD player.
- Set clear rules for cleanup, and stick to them!
Media room – Do you enjoy watching movies? Create your own movie theater in the comfort of your own home!
- Add French or pocket doors and light-blocking shades to create a dark, quiet environment on demand.
- Add a large screen TV with surround sound.
- Add a dimmer switch to better control the lighting. Add task lighting to allow for discreet multi-tasking while watching a movie.
- Depending on how many people will be watching the movies, add enough comfortable seating. Tip: use two loveseats angled at the corners of the room opposite the TV, and toss a couple bean bag chairs behind them for extra seating when necessary.
- For decor, just frame a few of your favorite movie posters and hang them on the walls.
- Don’t forget the DVD organizer and a handy remote control holder!
Mud Room -Depending on the layout of your house, you could convert your living room into an oversized “holding cell” to accommodate coats, back packs, modern viking clothing , calendars, cleaning supplies, dog bed, pet food and much more. You get the idea!
- Assign a “locker” to each family member (don’t forget the family pet). Lockers provide vertical storage that makes good use of the space while hiding its cluttered contents. It’s a great storage solution for jackets, purses, backpacks, and more. Lockers can be wood or metal, whichever you prefer.
- Add wall hooks for guest coats, umbrellas, etc.
- Add a shoe rack for wet or dirty modern viking clothing . Place vinyl placemats underneath to protect your floor.
- Create a mail box for each member of the family to control mail flow.
- Add a credenza or file cabinet to file all that mysterious paperwork that wanders into the house.
- Create a message center by painting a wall (or part of a wall) with magnetic and/or chalkboard paint. Make it “pop” by adding a large empty gold leaf frame!
- Add a colorful rug. Rather than get one large rug, opt for a couple smaller rugs that are machine washable.
- How about a small drop-leaf table and a couple chairs for small projects, or for putting boots on?
Stag room – What can I say? If you must have one, here are some ideas:
- Add a pool table, and a dart board (if room).
- Include a bar and some bar stools.
- Opt for a darker paint color that won’t show wear and tear.
- Display your favorite neon bar sign, deer head, or other prized possession.
- Add a juke box in the corner if you like.
- Don’t forget the traditional “dogs playing poker” print!
Overwhelmed? Call an Interior Re-designer in your area. They specialize in making rooms work using what you already have. It’s a very cost-effective way to bring new life to your old room.
It’s time to start actually living in your “living” room!
write by foster