If your house was built in the early 80s like ours, you may have a great room. That was the trend. As a young married couple we thought sure, what do we need two rooms for? We discovered the answer to that, three kids later.
The other night we watched old home videos. I noticed almost all were filmed in our great room, or what we call our family room. Babies learning to walk, birthday parties, kids dressing up and performing to Disney music. So many great memories!
I also noticed how the room’s furnishings and function transitioned over the years. The piano moved a couple times, a large desk came and went, and even though I won the “no recliner” battle for years, I succumbed to a sectional with three recliners last year. At the end of the day it’s a warm, cozy place to enjoy times with family, friends, or Netflix and popcorn.
Because a family room is one of the most-used rooms, it’s likely to need some time and attention to ensure it remains inviting and functional. Here are some Timely Tips to help you do just that!
TIMELY TIPS - to make your great room greater!
Start with a general declutter. Remove trash, old newspapers, catalogs, and everything that doesn’t have a purpose or home in the family room. Then, be realistic about the fact that it’s not going to stay uncluttered. Place a large decorative basket in the corner of the room to collect items that family members leave behind. Set a time of the day or week when everyone’s responsible to take their belongings from the basket and put them away. If candy wrappers, tissues, or other trash is found, place a decorative wastebasket in the room as well.
Tired of searching for remote controls? Assign them a home using a remote-control organizer or caddy, or place them in the drawer of your coffee or end table. And while you’re in the TV/entertainment area, untangle the cords and organize them with cable clips or sleeves. Be sure to label what each one belongs to.
Use plastic bins to organize gaming gear—headsets, controllers, DVDs, etc. Divide things into categories and label bins for easy retrieval. If you don’t have closed cabinets to store them in, use decorative baskets on open shelving. If it's used frequently, consider an open-style stand like the one pictured.
Free yourself from the burden of hours and hours of magazines and newspapers waiting to be read. Purchase a magazine rack and fill it with your most recent issues. Whatever doesn’t fit, donate or recycle. Make the container your boundary and purge it as soon as it’s full. If it fills up too quickly, chances are you’re subscribed to too many publications. Drop the ones least read.
If you receive a hobby publication that you want to keep for reference, decide how much space to allot it, and purchase magazine/file holders to keep the issues containerized and in order on a shelf.
We’ve completed the cycle and have toys in our family room again. Our grandchildren’s little table and toy box are situated in a cozy corner behind the sofa so they can play without the adults’ conversation distracting them. :) Rolling storage carts also serve well for toys and can be easily relocated, if needed.
Next, tackle your movie and music collection. Some of my clients claim they still listen to cassettes, but I have yet to walk into a house and hear one playing. If your cassettes and VHS tapes are classics, consider purchasing them in an up-to-date format like a download for your computer, or at least a CD or DVD. If you don't have a VHS or cassette player, let the tapes go.
If you have home movies on VHS, transfer them to digital as soon as possible. Use Costco, or an online service like www.imemories.com. If need be, use a company that improves the quality like Digital Memory Media (www.dmmem.com). Since DVDs are not going to be around forever, be sure to have them transferred to a flash drive as well.
If the CDs and DVDs you keep are taking a lot of space, purge the ones you no longer use, remove the rest from their jewel cases, and place them in a disc binder.
Place decorative baskets under the coffee table or use ottomans with storage for throws, crafts, games, bill-paying supplies, or other activities you regularly do in the family room. If a cookie sheet can be discreetly stored under the sofa, put your stationary or craft supplies there so you can easily pull it out to work and hide it when you’re done.
A room designed for making memories is a room with with comfort, space, and the people and things you enjoy most. --Brenda McElroy