I am often asked questions about how to make a large family room feel more cozy and what to do with expansive blank walls to make a home feel homey. This obviously isn’t a problem in my 1100 square foot cape, but my friend recently moved into a home with a large, over-the-garage bonus room. Not only was the 800 square foot family room ENORMOUS, it was not really functional for her family and she said that it often felt like a giant waste since no one really wanted to spend time up there!! Can anyone else relate to a large family room?? I have some tips for you~ How to not get overwhelmed with large spaces!
Let’s take a look Rachel’s Large Family Room Before and how we made it more cozy!
Thank you Walmart for sponsoring this post
Family Room BEFORE-
Either because of the size of the room, or the fact that it was an unused space, Rachel felt overwhelmed on where to start in this family room. Can you relate? For you, it may not be a whole bonus room… but maybe you have a large wall that has been blank since you moved in, or maybe there is an area of your home that you feel like could function better. If you don’t know where to start, I suggest making a list of things you want to have in the completed space and things you want to get rid of in a space.
Ask yourself: how do I envision this space being used? What is keeping us from using it in that way? For Rachel, we knew that she needed toy storage, comfortable seating, a focal point and fun elements. She mentioned having Christmas morning in this family room or using it for family hang out sessions on Sunday afternoons. We also wanted to address the things that she wanted to get rid of: the niche above the fireplace was too small and felt dated, the three ceiling fans also felt a bit excessive, paint colors were mismatched and dingy. Thinking about the way you want a room to work for you and the people you live with, and creating a vision of that that will look and feel like makes it easier to start seeing the space in a different way.
Once you start having an idea of how that space COULD be used, make a design plan. Unless you are new around here, you know that I am always
shouting at inviting you to START WITH A DESIGN PLAN!! Don’t buy anything for a space without know what look you are going for in the end. This is a great way to stay focused and on budget on any space. You can read more about putting together a plan here.
Family Room AFTER-
Fireplace and TV niche-
Phase one of the project started with the fireplace. Rachel wanted the fireplace and the TV, so we creating a design that used both elements. We wanted to make it the focal point. A fireplace is a natural focal point and because of the location of this particular fireplace, we wanted it to be more substantial by widening it. Before the room was divided in half. By emphasizing the fireplace, it draws the two halves together and created a cozier feel around the TV/fireplace. Something Rachel wanted to get rid of was the TV niche. We filled it in with studs so that a TV would be supported and sturdy once hung. She hired a contractor do this work and after giving him a quick sketch, it took him an hour or two to knock it out.
Billy Bookcase Hack-
The next thing on our list of “must haves” was some built in storage. A great way to cozy up a space or fill a large wall is by adding built ins or wall treatments. My built ins in my Connecticut house were the reason we bought it! They add so much character, function, and value, but can be pricey to hire out.
- Rachel started by removing the baseboard along the wall she was treating. This allows the bookcases to sit flush and give that custom look.
- She then built a simple base out of 2x4s to give the Ikea bookcases something to sit on. This also allowed her to run the baseboard she had removed along the front of the frame while preserving door function.
- Once the bookcases were positioned, she mounted them to the wall studs behind and screwed them to one another.
- The last thing that made these Billy Bookcases look built in and like one continuous piece was the stained board she ran along the top of them.
- She used a pine project board and stained it with Minwax Golden Oak stain to get this mid-tone color.
When we came up with a list of wants for this room, she asked her kids how they wanted the room to look. They all agreed that it should be fun. After she widened the fireplace wall, the tile needed to be widened as well. Since new carpet wasn’t in the budget, we decided to add this fun pop of tile.
Tile is something that can be done by a beginner. Especially decorative tile that wont be stood on. Rachel has tiled a lot, so we knew this was something she would DIY. She started lifted the carpet and removed the tack strip. She didn’t cut the carpet since she wasn’t sure how much the installer would need to tuck it back around the new tile. She worked around the loose carpet. Once the tile was set and grouted, she hired a carpet installer to come and re-tuck the carpet around the newly installed tile.
Another way we added some “FUN” to this space was with these two swinging chairs. They are statement pieces that the kids really enjoy. Rachel told me that they are the favorite place in the house to do some reading, watch a family movie, or play bumper swings (We don’t recommend that).
Rachel did not like the tan ceilings so that was on the list to ditch. In a large space, it may surprising to hear that one color can make it feel cozy, but it really can. By painting all of the walls and the ceiling the same shade of Benjamin Moore Simply White, it let your eyes rest on the furniture and decor. It also made the ceilings of this bonus room feel much higher. We used a flat paint for the ceiling and a Satin for the walls. I recommend painting the ceiling first because the walls are easier to cut in.
Art from Walmart!
Top of the list of wants for this space was creating a gathering spot for her family. We knew that we wanted to incorporate some personal family photos to the fun art I picked out for them. We made it feel cohesive by doing black and white photos and black and white frames. I have written more tips about gallery walls here. We also made the room come alive by adding lots of air-cleaning plants to the space. The vibrant green makes the black and white art feel dynamic.
When picking art, look for images that feel authentic. If you can’t find custom art I suggest taking your time and search for art that reflects your personalities. The art for a space could really be the jumping off point for a whole room design! Rachel’s family loves to golf and spent several years living in Texas. The art we chose, reflects their interests too! I found all of the art at Walmart.com!!
I found a lot of great art at Walmart.com HERE. You can search by the category of art you want for your space, making is super easy to shop online. For instance I searched for “golf black and white art” because this family LOVES golf. So it feels very personal to them. Walmart has become my go-to for affordable and timeless home decor.
Ceiling Fans and Lighting-
This is an area where the family’s lists diverged. Don’t worry if you have a spouse or someone you live with that doesn’t always see eye to eye with the direction you want a room to go in! Rachel’s husband really wanted the ceiling fans in this large family room. When she first took me to this space, we joked that if all the fans were on at the same time, you may get swept up in the whirlwind! We eventually agreed that a ceiling fan is a must in this space since it is an unfinished garage beneath and can get hot and stuffy, but three felt like a bit much. We found a slim, low profile matte black Hunter Fan for the center and two flush mount LED lights in a warm white for the outside two fixtures. This compromise meets both home owners’ wish lists and looks stylish.
What do you think?? Does it feel cozier to you?? I also added a rug where she did not have one before. I get asked all the time if you can do a rug on carpet. YES!!!! It really defines the space and makes it extra cozy! (find the rug I used HERE)
Click on an image to shop the room or something similar from Walmart.com-