16 family room ideas

Design a gathering space the whole family will love with these family room ideas for both indoors and outside

Encourage free play

Thomas J. Story

Encourage free play

A media center doesn't have to be the focus of the room. Consider going unplugged instead and providing ample play space for games and puppet shows.

More: Tour an unplugged home

Transform unused space

Christina Schmidhoffer

Transform unused space

Once this small building was, literally, for the birds. It was a pigeon coop, abandoned long ago, and it was falling to the ground. But it sat at the end of the lawn and screened a view of the neighbors’ yards. The family wanted a play area for the kids, so it made sense to save it. Now there’s room to relax on a daybed with a book, draw on a chalkboard, or play at a kidsize table. Later the family may turn it into a studio, office, or guest house.

More: See the before and after

Design a social space

Design a social space

A functional seating area, placed in a U-shaped configuration, encourages conversation. Artifacts from family travels reflect the personalities of those who live here, while the fireplace and television anchor the space.

More: 30 living room style tips

Get crafty

Thomas J. Story
 

Get crafty

Magnetic paint creates a fun display board in this cheerful playroom.

More: 15 fresh ways to display your art

Keep it minimalistic

Thomas J. Story

Keep it minimalistic

Want to keep your space uncluttered and your home life pared down? Take a cue from this home. In the playroom, there are four bins of toys. The rule is simple: If the boys want something new to them, it needs to fit in the bins. If the boys outgrow something, it’s donated, sold, or re-gifted.

More: The zero-waste home

Put fun in front

Thomas J. Story

Put fun in front

By turning a sloped plot into a modern play den, a designer created usable family space where none existed before. In this Greenbrae, California, front yard, Ive Haugeland (shadesofgreenla.com) placed concrete planters along the sidewalk, and filled them with ‘Firebird’ phormiums to create friendly screening without totally blocking off the yard. The raised patio is edged with concrete to help level the area and create a flat lawn and distinct spots for the family to dine, entertain, and play.

More: Our Dream Garden Awards

Pick adult-friendly kid stuff

John Granen

Pick adult-friendly kid stuff

Kid-friendly style doesn't have to mean beanbags and Legos. A room built for kids can double as a sanctuary for grown-ups with smart decorating choices.

More: Color ideas from a playful house

Let creativity soar

Thomas J. Story

Let creativity soar

Budding artists in the family? Dedicate the space to arts and crafts.

More: How to curate your children's artwork

Stock superb supplies

Thomas J. Story

Stock superb supplies

If you convert the family room into an art space, keep shelves well-stocked with kids' creative project supplies--any crafter's dream.

More: 15 fresh ways to display your art

Make movie night the main event

Jennifer Cheung

Make movie night the main event

With the help of landscape designer Mark Tessier, Rika Houston and her architect husband Brian Ten overhauled their yard to create a gathering spot for the family, which includes 9-year-old daughter Maya and teenage sons Cole and Taro. With a simple set-up, they transformed it into an outdoor movie-screening space. As movie night took off, the neighbors started to join in. Sinking into the cushy sofa with lanterns lit overhead, guests watch The Birds or The Sound of Music on a screen nearly as big as the garage wall. “In the summer, every Friday is movie night,” says Houston.

More: See the complete makeover

 

Allow room to grow

Ericka McConnell

Allow room to grow

By adding an extra story to this Craftsman-style home in Oakland, CA, the homeowners created enough space for an extra room. Now it serves as a playroom for their daughter, but later it could turn into a library or studio.

More: Old meets new in this Craftsman remodel

Go prefab

Thomas J. Story

Go prefab

Need a little more room? A pared-down modular prefab project provides a bit more square footage without the need for an over-the-top home addition. Rooms are highly flexible, including this  4- by 51/2-foot prefab playhouse.

More: Readymade backyard cottage

Bring it outside

Gary Parker

Bring it outside

Surprise the kids with a unique play space. A cheerful red tipi on the back lawn inspires hours of outdoor fun and imaginative play--and is surprisingly easy to make (no sewing required).

More: How to make a tipi playhouse

Choose a versatile palette

Thomas J. Story

Choose a versatile palette

All-white walls and moldings form a neutral backdrop for contemporary furnishings, finishes, and fixtures. The contrast enlivens this comfortable family space.

More: Pick the perfect paint shade

Opt for durable materials

Opt for durable materials

A neutral microfiber sectional and rugged cocktail table are durable enough for everyday use in this family room. Red and blue accents provided by the area rug and pillow fabrics complement the room.

Blur the boundaries

Lisa Romerein

Blur the boundaries

Every room is a playroom in this home; large sliding glass doors blend the living area and the kitchen with the outdoor dining room.

More: 30 living room style tips

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