I am often tasked with designing a family-living area that is both stylish, functional and friendly and very often those goals will conflict with one another. A purely stylish family-living room can sometimes appear cold and uninviting, where as a truly functional family room can sometimes step outside the boundaries of sleek and stylish. The trick is to create a comfortable family living room that works for everyone.
The family-living room in my opinion is the center piece of the home, second only to the kitchen, where friends and family come together to share experiences, entertainment and generally enjoy each others company. It's essential for a peaceful and loving home. The family room has to work for everyone in that everyone in the family has to find this room an inviting space to relax in.
I start by providing enough seating for the whole family, plus a few guests. If there is not enough space for extra chairs, a comfortable upholstered or leather footstool will do the job and can still be used as a footstool when not needed as a seat. If space is an issue, I often substitute a loveseat in place of an armchair that can seat two people who can than snuggle up together.
Above all, the key element to a great family room is comfort! If the room leaves you and quests feeling cold, than something is missing. I overcome this by simply adding soft and pleasing textures. Plush carpets or area rugs can easily transform the look of a room, instantly making it feel warm and welcoming.
Deep sofas with soft plump seats adorned with a line of squashy cushions will invite your family and friends to settle in and spend the time together, rather than in separate rooms. A good family room also has to be durable which is why I always choose hard-wearing flooring and loose-covered sofas with removable and washable covers that can stand up to a few spills.
Here are a few decorating rules I love by.
Making it yours
I like to personalize the family-living room with an arrangement of favorite family photographs and mementos that helps create a sense of history or tells a family story. It turns an otherwise cold hotel lobby into a warm family space. A bare expanse of wall above the sofa or a sideboard is an ideal spot. I suggest using frames that are identical in size and color, and arrange them in a grid formation to make a clean, modern visual impact.
Technology is our friend
There is no getting away from the fact that technology has crept into every aspect of modern life. You can't fight it, so you may as well make it your friend by making a media-friendly arrangement in a family living room. I like low modern units that are sleek and clean, pieces that won’t overwhelm the room by keeping wall space above it feeling open. Rather than heavy dark wall units, I will often opt for simple floating shelves for mementos, framed photos or simple greenery. As for color schemes I suggest pale colors for walls and furniture to give a unified look.
Clutter be gone
I like a clutter-free living room by keeping shelves orderly and free from lots of objects. Keep small items and techno items stored in small wooden storage boxes or baskets, and store books and magazines in neat box files. For a more contemporary look, use the space above the sofa a for single picture shelf to display black and white family photos.
Long-life durable furniture
I believe its possible to have a stylish and sleek family-living room in a busy family home. Paint walls a fresh off-white and update fussy curtains with clean-lined white shutters. Choose durable leather sofas for an easy-clean option or fabrics that can be removed from the cushions and cleaned. Then add modern glamour with a show-stopping ceiling chandelier or designer ceiling fan.
Modern families are always on the go, so I like to create a living room that encourages people to stop, slow down and enjoy some quality family time together. I often create an intimate space by adding comfortable chairs and sofas in a communal-type group environment. Shades of fresh white wall with gray or pale blue accents will keep the room bright and friendly, while dark or medium-hue wood flooring introduces warmth.
I suggest wooden floors for a classic look that is easy to clean. There is an endless selection of laminate flooring on the market today in a myriad of colors, textures and patterns. They are relatively inexpensive compared to real hard-wood flooring, although I suggest staying away from the low-priced products as they will most likely not stand-up to time and traffic very well. Keep the room feeling snug with one large or several area rugs in colors that lightly contrast with the flooring.
Room for everyone
I suggest putting a large high quality sofa at the top of your decorating list. It plays vital role in family life and will need to accommodate everyone and still save space. A neutral scheme allows plenty of scope to add color and pattern, which makes for a fun room.
Have a space plan
When designing a living room and I always incorporate space into the open floor plan to encourage social gatherings and family interaction. Allocated zones for lounging, dining and yes, standing. A good social gathering is one that encourages mobility about the room that in-turn stimulates conversation. Take advantage of large windows or French doors that invite natural light and outdoor scenery into the room.
Lets face it, humans are gatherers and collectors of just about everything. The hard part is learning how to effective store it all to keep a room clean, light and clutter free. I like to use basic free-standing units to create a storage-bank that will fit the space and then fill them with colorful objects of interest. Decorative chests and foot rests that open are perfect places to keep items out of view and yet still in reach when you need them.
Lets get cozy
I can think of nothing more inviting that a large squashy sofa with plump feather-filled cushions to provide all the temptation needed for a relaxing living room. Bring your room to life with a built-in or free-standing fire place that will add warmth and atmosphere. Furniture Market offers several models and designs of the latest digital free-standing holographic fireplace-consoles in a wide variety of colors and temperature setting to suit any room or social setting.
Toss it aside
To add both texture and real creature-comfort to a room, I like woolen or linen throws folded over sofa arms which will visually soften the room as well as providing warmth when needed. Every one loves a blanket so make sure there are plenty to go around.
Stay true to the idea that the family room is for fun, functionality and social interaction of friends and family and regardless what concepts you introduce into the room, it will be a place of warmth and love.