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Alternative Uses For Your Living Room
Like most Colonials, our home has a family room and living room. And like most homeowners, we spend a lot more time in our family room than in our living room. In fact, my 7 year old still gets confused when I use the term “living room”. It is now known as the “red” room in our house.
With a few minor changes and lots of inspiration, you can turn your living room into something you actually live in! Here are some possible uses and design tips to get you started:
home office – Home office means different things to different people. It could be a place to pay bills and file documents, or a place where the kids can do their homework, or you can run a business from your home. Whatever your definition, focus your design around the function of the part.
- Provide a clear surface to work on. It’s easy for a desk or table to get overrun with “stuff” so there’s no place to work. Tight for space? How about a table that comes down from the wall when needed (like a Murphy bed)?
- Add a comfortable, adjustable, squeak-free office chair (trust me on this one!). If your room has carpet, consider a plastic floor protector to help you move around more easily.
- 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 working lighting. If there is no overhead light, add uplighting.
- Select functional accessories that add personality without cutting into the space. But be careful not to make it too institutional – it’s still your house, after all!
- Keep the mouth light and bright to inspire energy.
- Minimize and secure cords as much as possible. Go wireless whenever possible.
Library – Like to read? Do you have a nice collection of books? Turn your living room into a cozy place to curl up with a good book! It’s like having your own cafe.
- Add lots of shelves. Rather than just adding bookcases, consider custom shelving built around a window to create a planter seat. Not only will you get extra storage space, but you’ll add a wonderful focal point to the room.
- Instead of a traditional sofa or loveseat, opt for two or three comfortable club chairs (depending on the space). Gather these chairs around a round glass coffee table with a wooden shelf below to show off some of your favorite books on the coffee table.
- Provide task lighting for each reading chair. Pharmacy lamps are ideal for this. Also, make sure you have enough light to see the books on the shelves.
- As a bookcase, you can comfortably use a darker paint to create warmth.
- Accessories – add a warm-toned rug, fluffy blankets and dot the walls with black and white photographs to create a café vibe.
Game room – A playroom can be an excellent compromise between parents and children in the eternal battle of toy clutter!
- Go for shelving with attractive bins that can hide the clutter inside and allow pick-up in less than 5 minutes. Open storage looks messy, even when the piece is picked up. Avoid a collection of mismatched toy organizers – they look tacky!
- Make sure the room is comfortable for adults and children alike – add a comfortable chair or loveseat.
- Add a children’s table and chairs. Tip: put a machine washable mat underneath to survive the DIY time!
- Keep the room bright with cheerful colors, but avoid “cute” – save that for their bedrooms.
- If your kids love movies, add a TV and DVD player.
- Set clear rules for cleaning and stick to them!
Media room – Do you like watching movies? Create your own movie theater in the comfort of your own home!
- Add French or pocket doors and light-blocking blinds to create a dark, quiet environment on demand.
- Add a big screen TV with surround sound.
- Add a dimmer for better lighting control. Add task lighting to enable discreet multitasking while watching a movie.
- Depending on the number of people who will watch the movies, add enough comfortable seats. Tip: Use two reclining loveseats at the corners of the room opposite the TV and place a few bean bag chairs behind them for extra seating if needed.
- For decoration, simply 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 home, you can convert your living room into an oversized “detention cell” to accommodate coats, backpacks, shoes, calendars, cleaning supplies, dog bed, food for pets and much more. You got the idea!
- Assign a “locker” to each family member (don’t forget the family pet). Lockers provide vertical storage that makes good use of space while hiding its cluttered contents. It’s a great storage solution for jackets, purses, backpacks, etc. Lockers can be wood or metal, depending on your preference.
- Add wall hooks for guest coats, umbrellas, etc.
- Add a shoe rack for wet or dirty shoes. Place vinyl placemats underneath to protect your floor.
- Create a mailbox for each family member to control mail flow.
- Add a credenza or a filing cabinet to classify all those mysterious documents that are wandering around 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 foil frame!
- Add a colorful rug. Rather than buying one large rug, opt for a few smaller, machine-washable rugs.
- How about a small flip-top table and a few chairs for small projects or to put on some boots?
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 bar stools.
- Go for a darker paint color that won’t show wear.
- Display your favorite neon sign, deer head or other prized possession.
- Add a jukebox in the corner if desired.
- Don’t forget the traditional “dogs playing poker” print!
Overwhelmed? Call an interior designer in your area. They specialize in running parts using what you already have. It’s a very economical way to breathe new life into your old room.
It’s time to start really living in your “living room”!
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