Ah, family rooms. Undoubtedly, it’s the most casual and comfy space in any home for the whole family (yes, even pets!) to gather, relax, and lounge out. It’s the happy medium between formal living room and media room, where conversation and movie marathons all take place. It’s also the busiest space where children, for the most part, have free reign.
With all that in mind, it’s also easy to see why it can be a challenge decorating a family room. There needs to be a balance of function and style, from making sure there’s practical storage to having a TV setup that isn’t a complete eyesore. There often needs to be kid-friendly designs also. And most important, there needs to be big, comfortable seating, because the family room is designed to be used every day.
The Difference Between Living Room vs. Family Room
Before we dive in further, you may be wondering what’s the difference between a living room and a family room. For the most part, the terms are interchangeable today, but they ultimately do refer to different spaces.
First, the living room is commonly seen as a more elevated, formal space, while the family room is a cozier and informal gathering spot. Second, the living room is usually located in the front of the home, to welcome guests, while the family room is often more tucked away, either closer to the back of the house or in a basement. And finally, while some homes have both these spaces, others only have one main living area, in which case, it tends to be used more like a family room.
Either way, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to decorating. Just be sure to decide how you want to use your space, and follow your design instincts!
Now to help you design a space that’s right for you and your squad, we’ve rounded up our best family room decorating ideas from our designers. Find out below!
1. Prioritize Comfy Seating
Casual and comfortable seating that’s no frills and easy to clean is key to a functional family room. It’s similar to any living room furniture except you want to opt for larger scale pieces with comfy proportions that invite the whole family to lounge and spend time together in the space. Plus, family rooms often have media, so you want the most comfortable seating for watching TV and movies. Think a wide sectional with the chaise and ottoman, extra poufs, and plush side chairs or reclining armchairs. It’s all about creating a homey and welcoming environment.
Because it’s a space that gets a lot of use, especially if there are kids, having upholstered furniture in durable fabrics is essential. You’ll want to look for performance materials that are stain resistant and easy to clean, slipcovers you can toss into the wash, and quality leather that can stand up to wear over time.
2. Center Seating Around Technology
If the family room is primarily used for watching TV and movies, arrange your seating around the media area for ease. By centering your main seating with your TV, it optimizes the space with a family friendly layout that’s designed for practical everyday use.
Additionally, just because the TV is centered in the room doesn’t mean that it has to look like an electronics focused space. Add a media console that elevates the look of your TV or if you’re pressed for space, hang a flatscreen on your wall and surround it with cool art for a more balanced look.
Check out our TV viewing layouts for other family room decorating ideas that seamlessly incorporate media.
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3. Make It Personal
A family room is a ‘family’ space, so it should feel personal and not overly prescriptive or precious. Adding personal touches will help make your family room feel more inviting while still keeping an elevated look and serving all your practical daily needs.
Consider incorporating family photos, mementos from travels, and even artwork and crafts from the kids. Some tried-and-true family room decorating ideas like a gallery wall of black-and-white personal photos or a bookcase filled with favorite heirlooms and objects are always guaranteed to bring a touch of personality and flair.
If you’re at a loss for family room ideas that feel ‘you’, you can always start by adding a few of your favorite books, a few plants, or a grouping of small accents on a tray on the coffee table.
4. Create Spaces for the Whole Fam
The family room is meant to be a gathering spot for everyone in the house, including the kids and pets. So it’s important to factor in every person’s needs for the most family friendly space.
Consider different areas for each person when everyone uses the space at the same time. You don’t want everyone competing for the best spot on the sectional, so be sure to have several comfy spots for lounging.
That means taking into consideration how each family member would use the space—which can be a cozy reading chair for dad, a place for books for mom, a play area for the kids or the perfect corner for a pet bed for Fido (also see: pet-friendly design tips.) And if your family room functions as a multipurpose space for homeschooling or computer games, be sure to carve out spaces for those too.
5. Pile on Layers of Comfort
You can never have too many pillows and throw blankets in the family room. After all, it always comes down to extra layers of comfort that can be shared by everyone in the family room.
Beyond comfort, layering pillows not only adds style and pattern, it also brings texture and warmth to your seating area. Try starting with a mix of three to five pillows for your sectional, then add in one or two throw blankets at each end. You can also take it one step further with a basket full of throw blankets for guests or for when the whole family piles onto the sectional for a movie night.
6. Kid Proof With Soft Edges
When it comes to kid friendly family room decorating ideas, proofing your space with furniture that have rounded edges and soft surfaces is top priority.
Look for upholstered ottomans and curvy chairs that don’t have sharp corners, and pad the floor with cozy rugs that are gentle on the feet and soft enough for little ones to crawl and lay out on. This keeps the family room safe for babies, toddlers, and kids across all ages to comfortably lounge and play.
7. Set Up a Fun Zone
In a busy household with children, you can make the most of your family room by carving out a kid-friendly play space for games, crafts, and even homework. It’s one of the most practical multipurpose family room ideas, because it doubles the function of the space and provides a perfect setup that lets you keep an eye on the kids while relaxing.
How you decorate your kids’ fun zone is up to you. You can try adding some playroom elements to start, like a kids table, easel or toy chest if your kids are too young for family games. And you can ground it all with a soft rug that they can comfortably play on. You can find more inspiring ideas with our kid-friendly design tips.
8. Don’t Shy From Color
Most family room ideas revolve around practical neutral furniture. But we’re here to encourage the opposite. Make it a point to liven up your family room with colorful accents, such as a patterned rug, bright pillows, vibrant accent chairs and poufs, and eye-catching art.
In a room where functionality is often the focus, having bursts of color and pattern is the quickest way to add personality and style. And if you’re worried about having too much color, just remember you can always swap out these small accents each season with new shades or neutrals. And if neutral is your go-to palette, you can still add texture and depth with textiles, which will have the same warming effect as colors.
9. Add Playful Accent Furniture
Beyond functional family room ideas, leave room to have a little fun with your design of the space. Playful accent furniture, like a casual hanging chair, pretty patterned poufs on the floor or a stylish home bar cabinet, make for unexpected touches that instantly liven up a family room. These also help set your space up for casual hangouts, no matter the occasion. If kids or teenagers use the family room to hang with friends, these will ensure you have a space that’s fun, functional, and relaxing to hang out in.
10. Carve out a Reading Nook
Give yourself a cozy place to sit and read in the family room. You can easily create a reading nook by adding an armchair in a corner or alongside a bookcase. Just be sure to round out your reading space with other accents, like a side table, floor lamp, and a throw pillow and blanket.
For those days when you just want to curl up with a good book instead of tuning into a show, a cozy reading nook can feel like the most comforting hideaway. And when it comes to family room ideas that are stylish, functional, and inspire a bit of escapism, none come close to a reading nook with a deep armchair designed for hours of comfy lounging.
11. Bring in the Extra Seating
There’s no better use for poufs, benches, and comfy ottomans than in a family room setting. They provide extra seating around the space for entertainment, but they can also conveniently work as footrests and impromptu surfaces.
The best part is that they all make for moveable seating that can be pushed off to the side or pulled in for use in the family room at any time. If you’re pressed for space, you can also try using poufs and benches in place of a coffee table. Versatility is what makes sets these hardworking accent seats apart!
12. Consider Curtains for Light
How comfortable your family room feels also depends on how much light it gets. The best way to control the light in your space is to hang curtains on all your family room windows.
Try adding layered window treatments, like blinds that filter in some rays when you want a little natural light shining through. Or if you prefer less light because your windows face the sun during the day, blackout curtains will do the trick nicely. Plus, nothing is more frustrating than trying to watch a movie and light from the windows create a glare that makes it impossible to see anything on the screen. Having curtains that are just thick enough to block out a good amount of light will help; and the same heavy curtains will also provide a warmer look in your space at night.
13. Keep Surfaces Within Reach With Accent Tables
Don’t forget to also bring in small surfaces to go in your seating area. Accent tables, like poufs and ottomans, are workhorses in a family room. They’re perfect surfaces for holding snacks, drinks, remotes, books, and even a vase of flowers. And best of all, they’re highly functional, moveable, and don’t take up a ton of floor space.
While you don’t need half a dozen small tables crowding up your family room, you do want at least two or three mini ones that you can easily pull up next to your sofa or side chairs. Consider small end tables, like C-tables, nesting rounds or a small drinks table, to ensure there are plenty of surfaces where you can set things down.
14. Make Room for Big Storage
Out of all our practical family room ideas, having a large closed storage piece ranks second only to comfortable seating. Whether it’s a sideboard that doubles as a media stand or a console cabinet that also serves as your home bar, a piece with ample storage will help keep your family room organized and clutter free.
For instance, a cabinet under your TV is the best place to store all your wires and electronics, while also providing room for extra books, throws, candles, and other living room essentials. And in a busy space like the family room, you’ll love having closed storage that keeps all the little things out of sight. If you’re struggling to find the right piece, we’ve rounded up the best home storage to get your started.
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