We are still working on the upstairs of our house, but the new family room downstairs, which is both a playroom and dining space, has been in use for a few months now and we now spend most of our time in there.
It might have only been a short while but I can’t imagine being without it!
Family room ideas
I thought I’d share with you some of the main considerations we had when creating our family room, how we have made it perfect for us and our preschoolers and how we hope to use it in future!
1) Go neutral
In comparison with our old front room, the family room is larger and airy, painted in neutral colours with big French doors which bring the light in. It’s lovely to sit in there, even in the winter, with full view of the garden (such as it is at this time of year).
It’s not just a kid’s room so I wanted to stay away from bright colours, wall decals etc – and keep these for their bedrooms! It also means we won’t have to redecorate in a few years as it will see them and us right through.
2) Storage, storage and more storage!
It’s not easy to work or relax with stuff everywhere. However this is our family room on a typical day:
Shudder: toys everywhere and it wasn’t even 10am!
I regularly think about decluttering and have managed to get rid of some things, like approximately one metric tonne of oversized, garish plastic Lego and of course all the baby toys but they make way for more and more!
As much as I hate the clutter, the children love playing, so it looks likely that it’ll be staying a while and the best thing we can do is make it easy to tidy away! We have a whole wall of bargain Kallax units from Ikea and have more on order – a fab tip is to create visual clues on each box so that children know what goes in each box, which is what I’ll be doing when our new units arrive.
It’s fine if you have a lot of space, but if you don’t, you might have to be a bit cannier. There are some brilliant storage solutions over on Pinterest – I love the Ikea bench hacks and have a fairly unremarkable version in my porch.
As the children get older and have fewer toys, we can ditch the cheap fabric boxes and create bookshelves, or even get rid of the units altogether to make way for sofas.
3) Pick your flooring carefully
My husband wanted carpet; I thought he was absolutely mad.
From Play Doh to glitter, from bolognese to milk, from well, vomit to poo and of course aaaaaall the crumbs there are going to be a LOT of substances spilled and otherwise deposited on this floor so it’s very important for it to be sweepable and wipe clean.
I find tile too cold and clinical, and lino is really for the bathroom, so it was down to laminate or hardwood floors. We went for engineered oak which should be tough wearing as well as easy to clean. Slightly cheaper but also tough-wearing and easy to clean is laminate or vinyl flooring.
We have washable, child-friendly play mats which go down in the day, and can be rolled up in the evening. We also have a large piece of vinyl left over from the bathroom floor which we unroll for messier activities!
As the children get older, I hope to have a nice shaggy rug to put in their place.
4) Ditch the TV
We had intended on getting a second TV but soon decided against the idea, and I love it that way. I would highly recommend it! It means the children play without whining about CBeebies and we can chat while they play without distraction.
I have nothing against screen time but it’s nice to separate play and TV time.
As the children grow we might change our mind on this particularly if they start having friends round and want to be in separate rooms.
5) Make sure there is somewhere to sit!
Ideally you want to be able to sit somewhere other than the floor to watch them play!
Our family room is big and spans almost the whole width of the house, so is used as a dining room too. We have a dining table in the corner of the room which is great for family meals and means I can work, or sit and have a cup of tea, whilst watching the children play.
An extendable table is something that is definitely on my wishlist, as it would allow the kids more space to play during the day time.
Not all family rooms would lend themselves to this set up at all but even a small sofa like the one we bought here (now residing in the smallest’s bedroom) is brilliant if you can fit it in.
What would your perfect family room be like? Do you have any family room ideas to share?