We’re planning an extension on our house at the moment, and the plans include a new family room. But what exactly are they used for?
A family room is any large informal room measuring at least 12-feet by 18-feet where your family, extended family and friends can get together to watch TV and films, play games, socialise, have parties, play music and hangout.
Join us as we define a family room in greater detail, compare it to other similar rooms in the house, and discover how to furnish one…
What Room Should Be The Family Room? (What is a Family Room?)
Family rooms are all about gatherings, fun and food. The family room wears a lot of hats: TV room, kid’s play space, music room, teenager hangout, board game room and club meeting space.
The family room should be large enough to accommodate the whole gang – family, extended family, friends, neighbors, and the whole club.
Family rooms are traditionally located at the back of the house, near the kitchen, so those snacks plus some delicious blender drinks are close to hand. Having the family room close to the kitchen will also help the morning after clean up.
What’s The Difference Between a Living Room and a Family Room?
Living rooms and family rooms are actually quite different in location and purpose.
A living room (aka the front room) is usually located at the front of the house, near the front door. It is the first or one of the first rooms a guest will come to in your home. A living room is generally for adults.
Designers often say that a living room is more formal than a family room. That’s true, but a living room doesn’t have to be formal per se. A living room can be in the style that suits your family, whether that’s contemporary, farmhouse, boho or a mix.
Living rooms are quiet, peaceful, and organized spaces. They are almost always tidy. Living rooms are calm places for introductions and conversation. In a living room, you can quietly get to know your neighbor, chat with someone you work with, or catch up with an older relative or friend.
Some designers say that the living room should house your best stuff – best art, furniture, or antiques. Best or not, living rooms are spaces where you can sit amongst your favorite things – away from the chaos and energy of kids.
Living rooms are good for chatting with others, but they can also be peaceful, solitary getaway spaces in busy, bustling homes. They are the perfect place to quietly read on the couch in the sun with a cup of joe.
Here’s an article on using feng shui to get the vibe you want in your living room.
A family room, on the other hand, is noisy and fun. Chaotic. High energy. Maybe messy. A family room is for family, sure, but also friends and neighbors.
Because the family room may house so many people, it is usually much larger than a living room. The family room has to house more furniture and have space for toys and large TV’s. A family room is often located close to the kitchen because drinks and food may flow freely.
The family room almost always houses a giant TV. It is the setting for Movie Night and Game Night or is the arena for multiplayer video battles.
Family rooms are ideal for kids to play in. They are often filled with toys or are the site of fantastical couch cushion forts. A family room is also perfect for kid sleepovers, whether on pull out couches or free-form piles of kids on the giant sectional.
What’s The Point of Having a Living Room and a Family Room?
The point is that people relax in different ways. Some may need some peace and quiet, even solitude, to recharge their energy. Others recharge with lights, sound, and action, either by themselves or with friends.
The ideal home is home for all. Introverts and extroverts. Old and young.
What’s The Difference Between a Family Room and a Den?
In most places, not much. Usually, “den” is a slightly old-fashioned term for a family room.
But in some places, there is a difference in the meaning. A den is usually a smaller room, ideal for solitary reading or crafting. It can’t house the entire family, but it’s perfect for one or two people to enjoy quietly.
Or in some countries, when a home is listed as having a den, it is a sort of code for a family room with no windows, like a finished basement space.
What’s The Standard Size of a Family Room? (How Big Are They?)
Family rooms are usually large. Maybe the largest room in the house. For a family or group of six to ten, experts say that a 12-foot by 18-foot room is ideal.
Don’t have a room that large? If you have a smaller family, you can be comfortable in a smaller space. If you have an unfinished basement, consider making a family room in your basement.
Basements are great for adding a family room. They are somewhat hidden away, and they can have the space you need. Consider adding a bar with a small refrigerator for drinks and snacks – maybe even a small sink to wash up. Add bright lights for kids to play or read.
Plan ahead for all those toys with functional shelving. Choose carpets and furniture that will wear well and clean up easily. Keep the wall colors light or consider scrubbable wallpaper.
No money for a basement finish? Even unfinished basement rooms can be transformed with warm and colorful rugs, comfy furniture, updated lighting and a fresh coat of light-colored paint. To make the space feel cozy, consider adding pops of warm colors, like orange, red or yellow pillows or rugs.
What Furniture Do I Put In a Family Room?
Fill your family room with enough furniture for everyone. Sectional sofas, recliners, hanging chairs, bean bag chairs, giant floor cushions, coffee tables, side tables, lamps, and rugs.
Everyone should have a space to sit or lounge comfortably and everyone should have a table space for their plates and drinks.
When choosing furniture for the family room, consider making couches and tables child friendly. That means choosing chair and couch fabrics that will wear well and clean up easily. Save your money for fancy fabrics in the living room.
You are sure to have a large screen TV on a TV cart or media stand. You may go one step further and have speakers around the room for a surround sound experience.
Next, you’ll need enough side tables and coffee tables for everyone to set a drink and a plate of nachos. Food always goes with TV watching and board games. There should be enough space for everyone to set down a plate and a drink.
Bars go well in family rooms – or at least a bar cart!
If your family is big on board games, then you’ll need a table large enough for the games and enough side chairs or floor cushions to allow everyone to sit around the table. For some games, table lamps or overhead lighting is helpful.
Tables should be toddler friendly, so avoid choosing ones with sharp corners. Consider a large, fabric-covered ottoman table in front of the couch. Glass tables should stay in the living room – in the family room, they will be endlessly smudged.
Designers call the floor the fifth wall. In the family room, make your fifth wall bright, colorful and stain resistant with a rug. Let the rug to help you pull couches and chairs together in front of the room’s focus – the fireplace or the TV.
The colors in your family room should be informal and friendly. Warm. The style can be sassy or funky. Consider some boho wallpaper to coordinate with the rug you choose.
Here’s The Spruce on 35 family room ideas. Finally, everyone in a family room should be cozy, so add some fuzzy throws. Here’s a high-energy video on how to level up your cozy.
So that defines what does and doesn’t make a family room, and I’m clearer now that we really do need one when we plan out our extension.
I’m actually really looking forward to having a messy, informal space where we can have fun with all our family and friends.
We’ll definitely need to buy some new furniture and board games though. 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry James started Castle of Mine to bring you the best articles on home improvement, based on his years of experience in homemaking projects. Read more >