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Alternative Uses For Your Living Room
Like most colonials, our home has a family room and a living room. 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.” It is now 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 would 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 for the kids to do their homework, or you can run a business out of your home. Whatever your definition, focus your design around the function of the room.
- Provide a clean surface to work on. It’s easy for a desk or table to become overwhelmed with “stuff” leaving no room to really work. Tight for space? How about a table that drops from the wall when needed (like a Murphy bed)?
- Add a comfortable office chair that’s adjustable and doesn’t creak (trust me on this one!). If your room has carpeting, consider a plastic floor protector to help you move around more easily.
- Add lots of hidden storage, but be sure to clearly label the storage units so you know where to find things.
- Lighting is key! You will need general as well as good task lighting. If there is no overhead light, add some lighting.
- Choose functional accessories that add personality without taking up space. But be careful not to make it too institutional – it’s still your home, after all!
- Keep the palate open and bright to inspire energy.
- Minimize and secure laces as much as possible. Go wireless wherever possible.
Library – Do you love to read? Do you have a wonderful 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 multiple shelves. Instead of just adding bookcases, consider custom shelving built around a window to create a window box seat. Not only will you have extra storage, but you’ll add a great focal point to the room.
- Instead of a traditional sofa or loveseat, choose two or three comfortable club chairs (depending on the space). Group these chairs around a round coffee table with a glass top and a wooden shelf underneath to display some of your favorite coffee table books.
- Provide task lighting for each reading chair. Pharmacy lamps are perfect for this. Also make sure you have enough lighting to see the books on the shelves.
- As a library, you can comfortably use darker colors to create warmth.
- Accessorize – add a warm toned rug, soft blankets and pepper the walls with black and white photography to create a cafe feel.
Games room – A toy room can be a great compromise between parents and kids in the eternal battle of toy clutter!
- Choose shelves with attractive bins that can hide clutter inside and allow for pickup in less than 5 minutes. The open storage area looks cluttered, even when the room is occupied. Avoid a collection of mismatched toy organizers – they look tacky!
- Make sure the room is comfortable for adults as well as children – add a comfortable chair or chair.
- 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 “cute” – except for their 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 cinema in the comfort of your home!
- Add French or pocket doors and light-blocking shades to create a dark, quiet bespoke environment.
- Add a large screen TV with surround sound.
- Add a dimmer switch for better lighting control. Add task lighting to enable discreet multitasking while watching a movie.
- Depending on how many people will be watching the movies, add enough comfortable seating. Tip: use two angled corner chairs in the corners of the room opposite the TV and throw a couple of beanbag chairs behind them for extra seating when needed.
- For decoration, simply frame some of your favorite movie posters and hang them on the walls.
- Don’t forget the DVD organizer and a handy remote control case!
Mud room -Depending on your home layout, you could turn your living room into a large “holding cell” to hold coats, backpacks, shoes, diaries, cleaning supplies, dog bed, pet food and more. You get the idea!
- Assign a “cupboard” to each family member (don’t forget the family pet). Cabinets provide vertical storage that makes good use of space while hiding its messy contents. It’s a great storage solution for jackets, purses, backpacks and more. Cabinets can be wooden or metal, whichever you prefer.
- Add wall hooks for guest coats, umbrellas, etc.
- Add a rack for wet or dirty shoes. Place vinyl mats underneath to protect your floor.
- Create a mailbox for each family member to control mail flow.
- Add a credenza or filing cabinet to house all that mysterious paperwork that wanders around the house.
- Create a message center by painting a wall (or part of a wall) with magnetic paint and/or chalkboard. Make it pop by adding a large empty gold leaf frame!
- Add a colorful rug. Instead of buying a large rug, choose a few smaller machine washable rugs.
- How about a small table and a couple of chairs for small projects or to put on boots?
Deer Hall – What can I say? If you must have one, here are some ideas:
- Add a pool table and a dartboard (if available).
- Includes a bar and some bar stools.
- Choose a darker paint color that won’t show wear.
- Display your favorite neon bar sign, deer head or other valuable item.
- Add a juke box in the corner if you like.
- Don’t forget the traditional ‘dogs playing poker’ print!
Contrite; Call an Interior Remodeler in your area. They specialize in making rooms work using what you already have. It is a very economical way to breathe new life into your old room.
It’s time to start living in your “living room” for real!
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