Many people would jokingly name the kitchen since it’s often said ‘the quickest way to the heart is through the stomach.’ But where does your family really spend the most time and what do you call it? Until about the late 1990’s average Americans called their most used space a family room. You know, where the family came for entertainment, play and to just hang out. Say family room today and most people will know what you’re talking about – even though media room and great room are also terms that have risen to prominence. It’s usually a casual space where yelling, rough-housing, music-blasting and binge-watching are allowed.
Believe it or not, family rooms have only been around since 1945 or so. After World War II, the US enjoyed a time economic prosperity. Along came more children and thus the need for a space for family recreation. These differed from the living or sitting rooms which were more formal and set aside for entertaining guests or for display of family heirlooms. Think parlor adorned with grandmother’s china and Uncle Henry’s Civil War era memorabilia, high backed chairs with armchairs protected by doilies.
The family room was more casual in both style and use. In the mid-century they included large, practical sofas and comfy chair to flop down in after a rousing game of ping-pong or charades. It became the hide-out for kids where toys, a record player and eventually a television resided.
We know how the family room is used, now let’s talk about decorating it. The seating is always the most important element. This is where you should invest the most money whether buying leather or upholstery because it is ‘the bones’ of the space. More people are going with smart sectional designs like a L-shaped sofa or a full U-shaped sectional. Depending on your sleeping accommodations for extra guests, a sectional or sofa with a fold-out bed might be smart. American Leather carried by Ennis Fine Furniture has some wonderful Comfort Sleeper® designs widely regarded as the best in the industry. Additionally, they are offered in King, Queen, Queen Plus, Full, Twin and cot bed sizes. In other words, they are right-sized for every space from a townhome to a sprawling beach house. Another unique feature of American Leather sofa beds is the Tiffany 24/7® platform system. This eliminates the rods and springs of old and delivers a smooth, even surface for your choice of a Premier, Gel or Temper-Pedic mattress.
Another central furnishing choice for the family room is the entertainment center. More televisions are wall-mounted, but a beautiful unit beneath the screen helps balance the wall and provide storage for gaming devices and DVD’s. It’s also wise to consider a unit with shelves for displaying books, games, treasured items and of course plenty of framed family photos. Ennis carries a wide selection of armoires, entertainment bureaus and bookshelves that are both practical and great looking for storage. Furniture with open shelving and coves for baskets or closed storage are most practical for stashing items when you want a quick clean-up.
Finally, one of the smartest pieces you can add to a family room is the storage ottoman. One, because it has storage. And two, because it’s a great way to add style. Ottoman’s come in thousands of colors and designs at Ennis Fine Furniture. For starters, the top surface can be hard – think marble or wood. And the body can be upholstered in leather or fabric to complement the other furniture in the room or add a central exclamation point! An ottoman is smart because it can pose as either a table, a stool or an extra seat.
These are just some basic ideas for the infrastructure of your family room. An Ennis designer is happy to help you achieve the look and function that works best for your home. And remember, it’s a service that comes free with purchase.