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Alternative Uses For Your Living Room
Like most colonials, our home has a family room and den. And like most homeowners, we spend far 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”. Now it’s just known as the “red” room in our house.
With a few small 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 can be a place to pay bills and file documents, or a place for the kids to do homework, or you can run a business out of your home. Whatever your definition, focus your design on the function of the room.
- Provide a clear surface to work on. It’s easy for a desk or table to become covered with “stuff” that has no place to work. Fit for space? How about a table that drops off 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 move around more easily.
- Add lots of hidden storage, but make sure you clearly label your storage units so you know where to find things.
- Lighting is key! You will need good task lighting. If there is no overhead light, add some lighting.
- 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!
- Keeps the palate light and bright to inspire energy.
- Minimize and secure cables as much as possible. Go wireless whenever possible.
library – Do you like to read? Do you have a large collection of books? Turn your living room into a cozy place to curl up with a good book! It’s like having your own coffee shop.
- Add lots of shelving. Instead of just adding shelves, consider custom shelves built around a window to create a window box seat. Not only will you get extra storage, but you’ll add a wonderful focal point to the room.
- Instead of a traditional couch or sofas, opt for two or three comfortable club chairs (depending on the space). Gather those chairs around a round glass-topped coffee table with a wooden bookcase underneath to display some of your favorite coffee table books.
- Provide task lighting for each reading chair. Drugstore lamps are great for this. Make sure you also have enough light 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 throws, and paint the walls with black and white photographs to create a coffee shop feel.
Toy room – A toy room can be a great compromise between parents and children in the eternal battle of toy clutter.
- Opt for shelves with attractive bins that can hide the mess inside and allow collection in less than 5 minutes. Open storage looks cluttered, even when the room is collected. Avoid a collection of mismatched toy organizers – they look tacky.
- Make sure the room is comfortable for both adults and children: add a comfortable chair or sofa.
- Add a child-sized table and chairs. Tip: Put a machine-washable rug underneath to survive craft time.
- Keep the room bright with cheerful colors, but avoid the “pretty” – save that for your bedrooms.
- If your kids like 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 curtains 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 discrete multi-tasking while watching a movie.
- Depending on how many people are watching the movies, add enough comfortable seats. Tip: Use two reclining chairs in the corners of the room facing the TV and throw a couple of beanbag chairs behind them for extra seating when needed.
- For decoration, just frame some of your favorite movie posters and hang them on the walls.
- Don’t forget the DVD organizer and a handy remote control stand.
mud room -Depending on the layout of your home, you can turn your living room into an oversized “holding cell” to hold coats, backpacks, shoes, calendars, cleaning supplies, dog beds, pet food, and more. You get the idea!
- Assign a locker to each family member (don’t forget the family pet). Cabinets provide vertical storage that makes good use of space while hiding your messy contents. It’s a great storage solution for jackets, wallets, backpacks and more. Cabinets can be made of wood or metal, whichever you prefer.
- Add wall hooks for 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 sideboard or filing cabinet to file away all that mysterious paperwork that comes 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. Instead of getting a large rug, opt for a couple of smaller rugs that can be machine washed.
- How about a small table and a couple of chairs for small projects or to put on your boots?
Single bedroom – What can I say? If you must have one, here are some ideas:
- Add a pool table and dart board (if there is room).
- Includes a bar and some bar stools.
- Opt for a darker paint color that won’t show wear.
- Display your favorite neon sign, deer head or other prized possession.
- Add a juke box in the corner if you want.
- Don’t forget the traditional “dogs playing poker” print!
Overwhelmed? Call an interior designer in your area. They specialize in making rooms work using what you already have. It’s a very cost-effective way to breathe new life into your old room.
It’s time to start really living in your “living room”!
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