10 Important Things to Consider in Your Family Room Design

Are you looking for some family room design ideas? I will give you my best tips for creating the perfect family room design for TV watching and lounging.

The family room is one of the most used rooms in the house. I’ll share with you the thought process and the questions I ask when designing a family room for my clients. I’ll also share with you a family room design layout I have created for a client with a very awkward space.

Family room example

1. What is the function of the space?

The most important question you need to ask yourself is what is the function of your family room? It may sound strange, but not everyone uses their family room in the same way.

Some people have a separate media room so their family room may be more about conversation rather than TV watching, like the space above. But in most houses, the family room has to do a multitude of things. Usually, the most important aspect of the family room is TV watching.

Living room layout 1
Living room layout 2

2. What is the focal point of the space?

Not every room has a focal point. That can make it almost easier to design a room because you can create your own focal point. Sometimes, a room has too many focal points.

Family room design
TV as the focal point in a room
Living room with large windows
For example, in my own family room, the fireplace is a major focal point but I also have a beautiful window wall overlooking the patio and ravine. But for me, the TV is the focal point.

TV above the fireplace 1
TV above the fireplace 2

3. TV placements

So the number one mistake I see people making is to put their TV over the fireplace. I do not like a TV over the fireplace. There are very few instances where I will put the TV there and that’s because it’s the only option.

TV over the fireplace

If it’s a more contemporary room where there’s a long, linear fireplace that’s close to the ground, a TV over the fireplace isn’t a bad idea.

TV sizes

4. TV heights

But in a situation like mine where the mantel is very high to be in scale with 11-foot ceilings, the TV would be too high and uncomfortable for watching.

The ultimate height to the center of the TV, regardless of the TV or ceiling height, is 54 inches above the finished floor, A height of 54 inches gives you a viewing height when you’re sitting down that doesn’t strain your neck.

TV sizing to couch size

5. TV sizing

There’s also a formula for determining the best size TV for the spot. The size of the TV should be multiplied by 1½ times to 2½ times for the ultimate distance away.

For example, if you are looking to buy a 55-inch TV, you would multiply that by 1½ to 2½ times to get the proper distance you should be sitting for the best viewing experience. You can either decide how far away your couch is and scale your TV to that or if you have a larger room, you can put your couch farther back.

Ideal furniture placement in a living room
Sofa across from the TV

6. Furniture

You need a sofa across from the TV, not two sofas facing each other with the TV on the side. The sofa in your family room is one of the most used pieces of furniture in your home.

Sofa placement
Couch cushion construction

It’s important to properly scale the sofa to the room. Invest in a comfortable, quality, properly-sized sofa. Prices will dictate whether you are going to choose a foam or down-filled seat.

Overhead and ambient lighting 1
Overhead and ambient lighting 2
Overhead and ambient lighting 3
Overhead and ambient lighting 4

7. Lighting options

You’ll need overhead and ambient lighting. You’ll need lamps next to seating areas so the overhead lights can go off when you’re watching TV or reading. Art lighting offers beautiful ambient lighting that doesn’t distract from the TV.

Rug that is too small for a living room
Living room rug dimensions and proportions 1
Living room rug dimensions and proportions 2
Living room rug dimensions and proportions 3
Large rug in a family room

8. Carpet sizes

Go as large as you can here so all the furniture sits on it and it will visually expand the size of the room. A too-small area rug makes a room appear smaller.

Spacing between the couch and coffee table

9. Coffee tables consideraitons

I like to keep tables 18 to 20 inches away from any seating. If you have a sectional couch, you want to make sure there’s 18 to 20 inches of space to comfortably walk between and around the couch and the table.

Two-tier coffee table
Contemporary coffee table

The height of contemporary coffee tables may be only 14 inches high to go with contemporary sofas that are also lower to the ground.

Ottoman coffee table
Standard-height coffee table

A standard-height coffee table is 18 inches.

Cocktail-height coffee table

For eating, go for a cocktail-height table of 21 inches high.

Display and storage 1
Display and storage 2
Display and storage 3

10. Display and storage

Built-ins can hold the TV with open shelves and closed storage. Or, you can do a console beneath a wall-mounted TV.

Sample floor plan 1
Sample floor plan 2

Sample floor plan

Here’s a sketch of a family room floor plan. The space is awkward because it’s over 20 feet long and 12 feet deep. It’s a sunken space with steps down and a railing, there’s a sliding door to the yard, another exit to the hallway, and it has an uncentered wood-burning fireplace.

I’ve decided to keep everything in place but will replace the fireplace with gas. I will remove the railing and put up a half-wall for a neater look that can offer some privacy without blocking too much of the space.

I’ll also put up a heavy sheer curtain to block out the view to the outdoors but will diffuse some light. I’ve given the client a few scenarios based on budgeting.

Family room design

I hope you were able to find some helpful and inspiring guidelines and ideas for your family room design. As you can see there are plenty of considerations but they are all for comfort and practicality.

Let me know what you think of these family room ideas and designs by leaving a comment below.

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