Focus on the Family Room

When it comes to do-it-yourself home decorating, family rooms can provide a challenge. Before leaping head first into decorating this room, there are several aspects to consider.

The family room takes on many roles. It serves as a comfortable room for watching television, listening to music, doing homework or using the computer. It can also be a reading room, a game room or, most importantly, a place to gather family and friends for informal entertaining.

It’s a room you want to look great, be inviting and reflect your lifestyle.

A room that serves so many functions to so many people must be truly versatile and able to stand up to all the use.

The home furnishing and home decorating industries have made great strides in providing the function and durability most homeowners seek when decorating a family room. Most people want this room to look pulled together, yet easy to maintain.

Upholstery fabrics that handle wear and tear…and clean up easily are readily available today. Carpet manufacturers have greatly improved the stain-resistant quality of fibers used to make carpets. Furniture makers are continually altering favorite styles to adapt to today’s hi-tech lifestyles.

Don’t overlook the importance of comfort in the design of your family room. Over-stuffed sofa and chairs are right at home in the family room. Soft, textured fabrics on the upholstered pieces exude casual warmth that is unpretentious and inviting.

If you cringe at the thought of Dad’s favorite, but hopelessly worn out and out-of-style chair, don’t panic. There are wide arrays of chairs available today. There is sure to be something that pleases Dad and fits in well with the atmosphere you want to achieve.

Speaking of atmosphere, choose your colors carefully. Remember colors can have a strong effect on emotions. Your family may not be able to relax in a room that is painted in colors more conducive to action.

Like it or not, the TV has become a major consideration when trying to arrange the family room. Televisions are becoming bigger, more sophisticated and more of a challenge to decorators.

Cables stretching across the floor because the TV is nowhere near the cable box can spoil even the best furniture arrangement. Think twice before telling the cable installer to “put the outlet anywhere.”

If, in addition to the TV, you add the DVD, the CD player, the VCR, the cable box and whatever new electronic goodies will be out by the time you read this, you have quite a collection to deal with!

One solution to this decorating nightmare can be the self-contained media or entertainment center. They can be found in many sizes, price ranges and styles…from traditional to contemporary.

A word of caution about the size of the entertainment center: in addition to measuring the hall you are going to place the unit on, be sure to measure any doorways the it has to go through to get there! This could avert a major problem when the unit is delivered.

The television brings to mind another point to ponder…actually two, focal point and traffic pattern. Is the TV competing with the fireplace as the focal point? Is the best way from the hall to the kitchen through the family room passing directly in front of the TV?

When planning the family room, it is crucial to draw a floor plan and determine the best furniture layout. It could save you from moving the sofa three times to find where it best fits and has a clear line of vision to the TV.

For more detailed information on developing floor plans for your family room,be sure to read’s Drawing a Floor Plan.

In today’s homes, the family room often flows into other rooms, usually the kitchen or breakfast area. If this is the case, choose color schemes that transition easily between the two spaces. Fortunately, this isn’t hard to do. Choose coordinating fabrics or wall-coverings to tie the rooms together. Having similar furniture styles in the connecting spaces will bring harmony to all the rooms.

A relaxing gathering place becomes increasingly important as our lives become more and more hectic. Having a room where everyone is drawn and feels comfortable can make a difference to the family. Ask other family members what they would like to see in this multi-faceted room. Decide which ideas best fit the needs of the family and incorporate them into your plans.

Then, once the decorating is done…sit back, relax and enjoy!