The living room is the hub of family life. Whether you’ve just finished child-proofing your home for your first brand-new little one or are a parenting pro seeking to reorganize your family’s lifestyle, a functional living room can be reimagined from a cookie-cutter sitcom backdrop to a space that inspires and shapes itself to your family life.
What can your living room become? Every project will shape itself to its own living-room dwellers. Try opening up a discussion and making reorganization a family project! And as you do, consider:
Too often, in our digital age, the living room has become defined by two things: a television, a coffee table, and a sofa facing them. But even if you value catching your shows or giving your children their gaming time, living rooms don’t have to exist in any such rigid formula. Sectional sofas or easily-moved chairs are a natural way to keep your living room from becoming an unintentional shrine to the television, while keeping it viewable with sufficient seating for family movie nights.
Storage in the Living Room
Yes, storage. What? That thing relegated to the hall, to tucked away cupboards? Not anymore! Living room storage should be all about creating the space your family finds most usable.
Do you do a lot of puzzles, or host family board game sessions? Whether it’s a regular habit, one you want to get back into the swing of, or a new tradition to start, family game night can be helped along by keeping your options close on hand in a central location. Consider glass-top tables with an easy-access shelf underneath. If that feels too cluttered for your lifestyle, that’s alright: many furniture companies make tables, chairs, ottomans and more with hidden storage.
What else should be stored in the living room? That depends on your family’s needs. If your children do their homework in the living room, consider creating an area with cubbies for school supplies, or wall-mounted in and out boxes for homework, permission slips, and papers. If you have pets, you’ll find great use out of an easy-to-reach bin for interactive toys—though maybe the bin should be easier to reach for humans than for their animal companions. Cedar chest and ottomans with built-in storage can be used to keep clean blankets, for huddling under on movie nights or hosting a last-minute guest.
The latest gaming consoles and theatrical surround sound aren’t designed for every budget. But that doesn’t mean that your living room can’t use an electrical pick-me-up. Consider replacing agitating LED or halogen bulbs, which flood our eyes with unhealthy amounts of blue light, with warm toned compact fluorescents. Look specifically for ones marketed as giving off warmer tones to avoid circadian cycle-breaking blue light—great in the workspace, less so in the living room!
Or maybe you want to invest in smaller, family budget-friendly speaker systems that can be connected to play music as well as game and television audio. Dimmable lights can help your family wind down after the sun has set, rather than a clear-cut “on”/”off” switch that can trick our brain into not producing enough melatonin and recognizing when it’s time to call it a night.
In a living room that feels like home and runs smoothly enough to cut down on family stress, it’s the little details that can count the most.
Keeping it Comfy-Cozy
You know those throw pillows you pass on your errands, or the candles you pause to envy should you browse through a little boutique? There’s a reason, beyond frivolity, that they stay on the market!
Consider starting with just one scent you like, one fluffy pillow or couch throw, or letting your kids pick (within reason!) one small item to make the living room feel more cozy and welcoming.
A Splash of Fun
What’s the living room for, if not living? Liven it up! Desk toys like newton’s cradles or magnetic building sets can make a perfect side table point of interest, and will do more than coffee table art books ever did to draw your children out of their rooms.
We’re not knocking the art books! Browse your local bookstores or cafés that patronize local artists and photographers to find those conversation starters you’ll love to flip through even alone. Does this book inspire your kids to ask about your favorite childhood band, or this one highlight gorgeous photography of your spouse’s home country? Family photo albums or travel albums can bring in an even more personal (and DIY!) twist to the coffee table book.