As the go-to area for everything from movie nights to play dates and all bonding times in-between, the family room is central to every home. But how do you find the right balance between comfortably cozy and stylishly sophisticated? We talked with interior designer and home style expert Casey DeBois on how to set up, decorate, and maintain your ideal family room.
Let the Layout Flow
When arranging a multi-functional space like a family room, DeBois recommends strategically arranging furniture to keep clear paths open for walking (and running!). “There should be a nice marriage of form and function with enough space to move around without tripping over pieces of furniture,” she says. If you’re centralizing furniture around a couch, for instance, avoid having the back of the couch block the entryway.
Invest in modular furniture
While choosing your sofas and sectionals, DeBois says you want to find ways to maximize seating and comfort potential. To start, anchor the space with a deep sofa with a chaise or sectional. “The chaise part should be large enough to fit two adults,” she recommends. But when friends come over or for fun movie nights you might need more seating options. Her advice: ditch the coffee table for several nesting tables or stools that can easily be moved around for flexible seating arrangements. For even more options, stock your family room with large pillows that not only add extra couch cushion, but can also double as fun floor seating.
Go for a Performance Fabric
Whether your home is full of toddlers or teens, spills and stains are inevitable in any family room. That's why this designer's top tip is to pre-treat everything (preferably, as soon as you can!) to avoid that moment of panic when sticky fingers meet your new couch. If it's available to you, DeBois suggests hiring a specialist to visit your home to pre-treat any surfaces. Otherwise, try to opt for stain resistant fabrics like Crypton's when furniture-shopping. And if you're thinking darker tones will keep you safe from all visible wear-and-tear, DeBois says they'll likely still be as noticable as they would on lighter fabrics. Instead, choose high performance linens and blends that will hold up better against stains and spills. “Restoration Hardware has a great selection that is practically indestructible.”
Keep The Walls Clean
We know your little Picasso just can't wait to share her art with the world. The key to keeping your walls out of the picture? Go with a kid-friendly finish that's easy to clean. “For paint finishes, satin and eggshells are best,” says DeBois. “If you’re using wallpaper, choose a more commercial grade grasscloth that may better withstand general children’s play and is also more scrubbable, if needed.”
Manage Your Momentos
It may be hard to pick your favorite family photos to display -- there are so many good ones! -- but DeBois says there’s an easy way to keep these framed memories from quickly looking too cluttered. "Keep it in the single digits!" she says. In other words, try to display no more than ten framed photos. If possible, also try to centralize photos in one area, whether on a shelf or the mantle, as opposed to scattering them on every tabletop.
Can't part with your little one's latest fingerpainting? DeBois suggests enlarging and framing it. This way, a momento doubles as an accent piece -- and your aspiring artist will be beaming with pride. If you're looking to enlarge a photo for a frame or canvas, she also recommends choosing a candid photo over a posed one. “It’s subtle, but will feel and look more natural and artistic."
Conquer Your Clutter
One must-have for managing mess: “Media centers," says DeBois. "Anything with closed doors or interior cabinets can also double as charging stations and storage for small items like remote controls.” Plus, closed storage also sneakily hides things like cables and wires to help prevent your family room from looking like a frantic arcade.
However, to keep your overall look balanced, she also suggests mixing open and closed storage so things like board games and books are easily accessible on a shelving unit, but smaller toy parts can be tucked away in a drawer once playtime is over. One storage option to avoid: baskets, especially out in the open. These often have the tendency to be tipped over causing major spillage (and who loves accidentally stepping on tiny Lego pieces or Matchbox cars?)
Balance Comfort and Style
Keep in mind that your family room can be cozy without looking cluttered or feel stylish without being too sterile! When mixing comfort and function with design, DeBois says, “It’s all about balance, between light and heavy, dark and light colors. For example, if you have a couch with deep colors or a heavy material, choose airy side tables with legs and stands. Accent pieces like a sqivel chair can also help offset the heaviness.” As for tastefully placing pops of color, the designer personally loves playing with artwork and accessories like pillows or these whimsical bookends that feel fun but are still accessible.
Don't Forget the Floor
While sinking into a plush sheepskin rug after a long day may sound dreamy, consider saving this option for your bedroom. For a space with higher foot traffic, like the family room, Debois suggests steering clear of high pile rugs. “They’re often difficult to clean and tend to hold onto dust,” she says (not to mention pesky crumbs from snacks sessions!). “Low pile rugs are much more forgiving.” When it comes to material and texture, she also recommends opting for a blend over a solid like Holland and Sherry’s rugs. “They’re made with NuSilk -- a high performance luxury fiber that’s ultra-plus and hypoallergenic, so it’s great for a family room.”