HOW-TO 101

James Tre­ble shares his tips for smarter open-plan liv­ing.

Homes+ (Australia) - - CONTENTS - WITH JAMES TRE­BLE

James’s tips for fam­ily rooms.

THE FAM­ILY HOME HAS BEEN sub­ject to many changes over the past 100 years: the size of houses is dif­fer­ent, as are the at­ti­tudes and needs of mod­ern fam­i­lies. This means that homes need to be more flex­i­ble to al­low for the many dif­fer­ent de­mands of ev­ery­one who lives there, and they need to be able to adapt as chil­dren grow and re­quire dif­fer­ent spa­ces.

To en­sure that the whole fam­ily can en­joy the home at the same time, it’s be­come im­por­tant that spa­ces can be used for more than one pur­pose, so it’s not sim­ply all about the kids. With a lit­tle thought, many rooms in the house can be used for a range of fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties. Here are my thoughts on how you can cre­ate mul­ti­pur­pose liv­ing spa­ces in your home and keep the whole fam­ily happy.


The big­gest change in fam­ily homes has been the re­moval of in­ter­nal walls creat­ing large open-plan homes. These are per­fect to en­ter­tain and great for the whole fam­ily to spend time to­gether as one unit, but it can pro­vide in­ter­est­ing is­sues as the fam­ily grows and ev­ery­one tries to get a lit­tle bit of that space to them­selves.

“Zon­ing” a room with fur­ni­ture can go a long way to creat­ing spa­ces that are clearly de­fined within an open-plan area, al­low­ing more than one fam­ily mem­ber to be in the space at a time. Plac­ing fur­ni­ture strate­gi­cally, like float­ing the sofa in the mid­dle of a space, and us­ing sim­ple tricks, like po­si­tion­ing large floor rugs to de­fine zones, can clearly de­fine the din­ing, liv­ing and cook­ing ar­eas.


Many of my clients are build­ing new large fam­ily homes, and one of the

“must haves” is of­ten the home

the­atre. This room is a great place to en­joy movies in a cin­ema-style en­vi­ron­ment, with sound and light ad­justed to suit the movie ex­pe­ri­ence. But the home the­atre doesn’t have to be used for this func­tion alone.

If you al­low the seat­ing to be eas­ily moved around the room, then you can sim­ply pull back the block­out cur­tains, let the sun shine in and en­joy this space as a play­room or read­ing room. If you in­clude a sofa bed, then you have the clever ad­di­tion of comfy cin­ema seat­ing as well as some­where for fam­ily or friends to stay overnight.

Re­mem­ber that light and sound are im­por­tant is­sues in this room, so hav­ing darker walls, as well as suit­able

cur­tains to block out light, will usu­ally be the most prac­ti­cal choices, so you can en­joy movies even in the mid­dle of the day. And as sound is a fac­tor, re­con­sider dou­ble glass doors as sound will pass through them as well as light.



With many of us work­ing from home, or at least tak­ing work home, it’s not just the kids that end up with home­work these days. We don’t all have the lux­ury of a sep­a­rate home

of­fice, so a clever way to have that im­por­tant study space is to in­stall a home of­fice in­side a cab­i­net or retro­fit the in­side of a built-in linen

cup­board or wardrobe. There are plenty of great ideas to help you make a study/home of­fice in­side this small space, al­low­ing all the fam­ily to get on with their work, be as messy as they wish, and then when it’s time to eat or friends ar­rive, you sim­ply close the doors and hide all of the mess away. It also al­lows the space to be in an open-plan room, so even when the kids are work­ing, they’re not cut off from the rest of the fam­ily and, im­por­tantly, you can keep an eye on what they are up to on the com­puter.

“Let the sun shine in and en­joy the home the­atre as a read­ing room or play­room.”

Rug up Use large floor rugs to zone liv­ing ar­eas.

Two for one

A me­dia room can dou­ble as a play space for young chil­dren. Built-in beauty In­stall a desk and shelves for a smart study nook.

Clever fur­ni­ture Po­si­tion the sofa in the mid­dle of a space to de­fine the liv­ing area.

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