As households grow, so do their space requirements. Suddenly a house that seemed adequately sized for two or three may feel tight when more family members arrive. If a home already has enough bedrooms, a family room addition is often a useful addition to increase the amount of square footage in a home and increase the functionality.
Where an addition is placed on a house will vary depending on the layout of the home and actual site conditions. If there is space on the site that allows for a family room addition on the main level of a home, I often look for a location near the kitchen. If there is no space on the site for a ground level addition, we’ll either look at a location such as in an unfinished basement, or consider adding onto a second story. One recent trend we are finding is locating a family space adjacent to bedrooms, especially if the space is located adjacent to kid’s bedrooms. This family room space often becomes the kid’s ‘hang out space’.
Often a family room plays many roles, so it’s important to design the space to allow for the functions you need. Here are some things to consider:
1. While it’s nice to have a separate media room, often the space or funds are not available for this luxury. Consider designing the family room to accommodate movie night by incorporating room darkening black-out shades and the necessary electronic equipment and speakers.
2. If you often need a place for extra guests to sleep, a family room can be converted easily to a sleeping area if you incorporate the right furniture. A queen size sleeper sofa can comfortably sleep two (look for ones with an inflatable mattress topper for additional comfort. Also standard size sheets will fit better since the mattresses are as thick as a conventional ones). If additional sleeping space, or individual beds are desired for activities like kid’s sleepovers, then look for furniture such as ottomans and chairs that fold out to single beds. If you have the space, you may also be able to incorporate a day bed. For additional sleeping, look for a day bed with a trundle below (these are also great for kid’s bedrooms for a friend who sleeps over).
3. One of the complaints we frequently hear about homes is that the dining room is too small for big family get togethers. But when asked how often people entertain large groups, it is often only once or twice a year. A family room addition can help solve this problem if space is designed in for a large expanding table.
4. A large table is also useful in a family room because inevitably kids will end up doing their homework where the family gathers. A large table is a perfect multipurpose addition to the family room. To save space, it can even be placed with an end against a wall surface, and pulled out when additional seating is needed.
Once you’ve identified all the necessary functions that the new family room needs to accommodate, you’ll want to start designing the details such as fireplaces, the TV location, and furniture layouts. The primary issue with incorporating a fireplace in a family room is that it competes for the same space as the TV. There are many ways to solve this problem, with the obvious one being placing the TV above the fireplace. Be careful with this solution, though, as it can lead to an uncomfortably high viewing angle. Often incorporating a television that is adjacent to the fireplace, or arranging a seating group that is at right angles where one side faces a television and the other side faces a fireplace can solve this problem.
When possible we like to expand the family room addition to the outside by adding French doors or sliding doors. A deck or patio outside a family room can help make a smaller room feel larger.
A well designed family room can serve many purposes if well thought through in the planning stages. This often means thinking ahead and planning the type of furniture, the size and location of the television, and the location of the fireplace. But once you figure out all the pieces of the puzzle, they can be assembled into an artful solution that integrates into the existing house and provides a new space that will serve your family well for many years in the future.