Family room decorating covers a multitude of ideas. First off, how do you define a family room?

If you look up the term in dictionaries, you'll find certain words recurring. They are Family (obviously!), Recreation and Relaxation.

  • Family - It's a room specifically for family members
  • Recreation - The family should be able to pursue their individual pastimes and hobbies (within reason, of course.)
  • Relaxation - They should know they can always go there to relax, a room free from stress, worry and conflict.

Now many of these features can be applied to other rooms such as living rooms, kitchens, etc. But these rooms have other main objectives, such as cooking in the kitchen, for example.

The main objective of the family room is the well being of the family.

A suitable room

Family room decorating can only be applied to a suitably sized room. You probably won't have all family members in there all the time, but they may well all be there on occasion. So you need to plan for that.

Which means the room needs to be a decent size. Cramming people into a room and expecting them to happily carry on with all their varying activities just won't work.

Suitable furniture

What furniture do you need for your family room decorating? Think about the activities which will take place.

room with sofa and rug
  • Reading - books, magazines.
  • Watching TV, Videos.
  • Listening to music.
  • Chatting.
  • Playing games.
  • Eating snacks.
  • Doing homework.
  • And just plain chilling out.

So you'll need...


Sofas, easy chairs, table chairs, stools.


Coffee tables, side tables, main table, card table.


Bookcases, cupboards, shelves.


Even with the wide use of laptops and tablets, it's nice to have a desk where you can work. If you have one or more computers then desks are an important part of your room furniture.

Suitable furnishings

Because this is a room which needs to be comfortable both to sit in and to look at, the furnishings you select are important.


You may decide that for practical reasons you'll have a wood or other hard floor. If so, it would be a good ideas to have one or more rugs on the floor. These will soften the feel of the room, and also make it quieter as any fabrics absorb sound. They are useful as well for identifying different areas of the room. So you could have one rug in a seating area, and another where you have a table and chairs.

Another option is to have floor tiles. These can be very hard wearing, but softer underfoot than wood. They come in many colors and designs, and if you're on a reduced budget they are not too difficult to lay yourself.

Window treatments

Here you have a wide range of options. Shades, blinds or curtains are all acceptable. It could be argued that curtains will give a softer feel to the room, especially if the windows are large. Curtains will make the room very cozy on a cold winter's evening, and they do provide good heat insulation and cut out draughts.

Shades are normally a less expensive option, and will do a good job of giving privacy and protecting furniture from direct sunlight. They are also very useful in reducing glare when working at computer monitors or watching TV.


Because the room is going to get a lot of use, it's a good idea to use tough fabrics for your family room decorating.

Most suppliers will give some sort of indication of how their fabrics stand up to normal wear. This could be a figure such as used for a Martindale Rub test, or just a general guide such as medium wear or heavy domestic.


You'll definitely need background and task lighting for your family room decorating.

  • Background lighting for casual conversation, watching TV, or just doing nothing!
  • Task lighting for reading, writing, working at desks and other sight intensive activities.

Ceiling lights, downlights, standard lamps and wall lights can be used independently or together to provide background lighting.

Table lamps, floor standing lamps and directional lights can all give adequate task lighting.

Suitable colors

Although you want your room to look great, it might be difficult to get everyone to agree on a color scheme.

Because it's a room you want to be comforting and inviting, it's best to go for warmer colors (these are the ones on the red/orange side of the color wheel). Don't be afraid of making these quite deep. It's more usual to go for mid or light tones, but these won't give you the same depth of character. Deep, strong colors will make rooms appear smaller, which is one reason why your room should be a reasonable size.

Family room decorating lends itself to what's know as an 'eclectic' style. This is where objects from different periods and styles are all mixed in together. Everything is held together mainly by color.

So for example you might have an old oil painting which strictly speaking would go in a traditionally furnished room, and a modern vase. If both contained a similar strong accent color, they could live together in the same room quite happily.

Use the same principles you'd use for any other room - proportions, balance and other factors all come into play. (See the section on home interior decorating for more details).

Use lots of pillows, pictures, ornaments and other items to give character to your room. And again, don't be afraid of color.

Get the family involved

This is key to the success of the room. By encouraging family members to bring their favorite items into the room, you may end up with a scheme you wouldn't have chosen yourself. But the combination of their item choices will produce a totally unique room, one you'll all feel belongs to you.

Even if you were to design your room to the last detail, others will bring their bits and pieces into it anyway.



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