James Treble shares his tips for smarter open-plan living.
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.
1 ZONING FOR OPEN-PLAN LIVING
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.
2 HOME THEATRE/PLAYROOM/ GUEST ROOM
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.
THE HOME OFFICE/CUPBOARD
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.