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, I often look for a location near the kitchen. If there is no space on the site, we’ll either look at a location such as in an unfinished basement, or consider adding onto a second story. One recent trend 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 room to allow for the functions you need. Here are some things to consider:
1. While it’s a luxury to have a separate media room, often the space or funds are not available. 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 pieces. A sleeper sofa can comfortably sleep two. 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.
3. One of the complaints we frequently hear about homes is that the dining room is too small for big family dinners. But when asked how often people entertain large groups, it is usually once or twice a year. A family room addition can help solve this problem if space is designed in for a large table.
4. A oversized 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, 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 thinking about details such as fireplaces, the TVlocation, 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 television 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 issue.
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 space feel larger, and in warmer weather the space can open up to the outside.
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 determine 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.
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