How You Can Create Family-Friendly Living Spaces

Designer Carey Karlan of Last Detail shares her best tips for creating stylish and family-friendly spaces.


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Family rooms located in the main traffic area of the house are becoming more formal. Designed with higher-end fabrics, and finer carpeting and décor, they tend to be high-style and a little higher-maintenance. Though they have TV's, sound systems, and perhaps a game table, you would not expect to see toys scattered on the floor in these rooms. These areas are becoming more adult-only family rooms: distinct from formal for-guests-only living rooms, and are theoretically for the whole family but really styled as the new comfortable living rooms. Therefore, the real family-friendly spaces have moved to basement levels or the bonus rooms above garages.
 

User-Friendly Living Rooms that Double as Family Rooms

If you have older children, try to create an adult-style family room off of the kitchen. With a JD Staron custom wool and mohair carpet, cream sofas, and polished case goods, this is an example of the adult family room becoming the "new" user-friendly living room. You could entertain comfortably in this room and yet enjoy the relaxed vibe of the kitchen/family room layout.
 

Cozy and Comfortable Family Rooms 

This family room is also right off the kitchen but is family-friendly because though the kitchen is white, bright, and sparkling, this area is much cozier and enveloping with its dark walls, strong stone fireplace, and thickly woven carpet. It's a warm cocoon that envelops you in comfort. The sofa is quite large and relaxed, a great spot for everyone to pile on. The coffee table is oversized and extremely durable. It's distressed wood finish will only get better looking with time. Great for games, magazines, and books galore, and casual dinners in front of the fire. Nothing is too serious. There is a large unique "personality" chair which suggests this is a room to have fun in. The club chairs are swivel chairs, which is practical for TV viewing and relaxed for socializing and taking in the water view. There is a large bookcase to showcase a revolving display of children’s art, collections and family pictures. The pops of orange are invigorating and happy.
 

All Purpose Family Room

An alternative family room for everyone is a downstairs "man cave." This is an all-purpose family room that is truly for the enjoyment of the whole family and close friends, a multipurpose room for everyone to pursue different interests using the same space. There is a game table, homework area in the bookcase, display case for children’s art, TV, sounds system, an open floor plan which allows plenty of room for active games and rough housing, and a music corner.

The fabrics are extremely durable. Crypton fabrics and leathers are the best to withstand heavy use and spills. The carpet has a pattern, which hides dirt and stains. There are also a large, easy-access custom storage cabinet for toys and games that makes clean up a cinch.

On the basement level the amenities are upscale, though, including a bar area, a bathroom, French doors to the yard, and a stone fireplace. Case goods such as the storage console and the bookcases are built-in, contributing to the finished feel of the room.
 

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