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Living space - e.g. lounge, family room, playroom - how do you use them and how old are your DCs?

(17 Posts)
Milco Wed 10-Aug-11 23:05:44

Hello all

I'm looking for a bit of advice.

My DCs are 3 and 1 and we have just moved from a house with just a kitchen and then open plan lounge/dining room to one where there is quite a bit more space, but not currently arranged in a particularly family friendly way.

Within the next couple of years we hope to sort out the layout downstairs. But I'm really struggling to work out what will work best. Those of you who have family rooms, what do you use them for? Are they near your kitchen? Do you also have a playroom or lounge - if so, how do the rooms differ? And how old are your DCs?

At the moment we just seem to have masses of toys which we have put in one room, and there really seems little room for anything else in there - it's a bit like a large toy cupboard! Does anyone have a playroom that they think works well? If so, how is it arranged?

Also, I find it difficult to think ahead to when the children are older and how they will spend their time. I'd like to have some family space near/linked to the kitchen, so we can spend time together after school etc, but I'm also wondering how much space I need to allocate to toys and don't really want my kitchen overrun with them now that in theory we have the space to shut them away. So I guess I'm wondering whether having a family room and a playroom is a good idea or a waste of valuable space.

Any thoughts much appreciated.

NasalCoffeeEnema Wed 10-Aug-11 23:10:47

My children have the largest room as a playroom and we have a more snug room(with woodburner) as our 'grown up' living room.
I have 4 children 2-8

The playroom is at the opposite end of the house to the kitchen. It's rented so we just fit around what is here

Milco Thu 11-Aug-11 23:09:56

Thanks for the reply.

I'm guessing you find the playroom gets used, if its the biggest room. Perhaps that is the trick. As I say, at the moment, what we are using as a playroom seems a bit more like a cupboard (even thought its a perfectly reasonable size) as the children seem to gravitate elsewhere.

If you are at home in the day with the children, do you tend to spend time in the playroom with them/use that as your main living space?

ChasingSquirrels Thu 11-Aug-11 23:32:04

I have a 17x12 lounge with double doors along one of the shorter walls into a 11x10 (narrows from 12 v quickly) playroom - both rooms have separate doors to the hall.
The playroom is newish (the lounge was longer and I had a small extension and took some of the lounge to make the playroom last year).
My boys are 8 and 5.

The playroom contains;
- family pc (which I don't use as have a laptop)
- "home corner" which is basically 3 wooden sides 1.2m x 0.6m with a door and a window and contains a toy cooker, food & accessories plus other similar things. They don't use this any more and I need to get rid of it, but I also use to to store other things that they do use (dressing up basket).
- Big bookcase/storage unit behind the door in the slightly wider part (so doesn't impinge on the room) which holds jigsaws, games, baskets with smaller toys etc
- toy box with wooden railway track (which is also never used) but which is next to pc and is used as a seat
- 3 or 4 plastic boxes with lego, action men, hot wheels

- (and as I type) 2 sleeping boys as they wanted a camp out in there!

It gets used A LOT, they play in there, but because there is double doors to the lounge (sliding doors into the wall - fab) they can see me / know I am there and so don't seem to feel the need to bring the stuff into the lounge.
I think this is the main reason that they use it, rather than just storing stuff in there and then gravitating with said stuff to where I am.
Although if I am in the kitchen or upstairs they still play in the playroom.
Maybe it is also because it isn't closed off to the rest of the house in a room on it's own, but - when the doors are open which they almost always are in the day - is like an extra bit of the lounge.

In the lounge we have the TV and a Wii - I think that in the next year or so I will get rid of the home corner bit, and the toy box, and get a sofa and a smaller TV for in there and put the Wii in there as well.
Hopefully it then becomes more of a den for them as they get older, but they aren't hidden up in their rooms.
(alternatively I might swap it round with the dining room which would keep them downstairs but give them that extra bit of privacy).

We then have a kitchen with an open conservatory on it which has a kitchen table in, so all meals are in there, and all messy stuff happens there - painting, craft, hama beads, colouring etc along with homework.

In the winter the kitchen/conservatory is cold, so we don't use it as much!

For us these two sets of rooms (lounge/playroom and kitchen/conservatory) work really well - but ideally I would change the interaction of the locations of the rooms (but that is impossible) and have the kitchen/conservatory as more of a large square room with kitchen area, table area and a sofa.

Milco Fri 12-Aug-11 07:26:11

Thank you very much ChasingSquirrels. That's really helpful. My children are def keen now to be where the adults are - Obv really as they are so little - but it's useful to know that that is likely to remain a secret of success.

I like the idea of the sliding doors - much better than folding ones which take up space. I will look into them. Are they new , from when you created the playroom? Do you mind telling me where you got them from?

NasalCoffeeEnema Fri 12-Aug-11 10:19:25

I sometimes play in there but it depends which of my children I am with. We decided to do it that way round because there is four of them with stuff and a need of space to actually play whereas we sit on chairs and watch tv/read/etc so only need space for furniture really. The older children sometimes do stuff at the dining table, jigsaws, board games and the like.
The ayroom has quiet corner (which also has a tv) with a couple of kids sofas,
a corner with a table and stools and these are divided with those ikea units with their toys in. This leaves most of the other half of the room for actually playing in. i have noticed when it is messy and there is no space to play they tend to try and go elsewhere so room for actual play is the must I think.
ds3 has a small basket of toys in the living room as he sometimes needs an adult around a bit more being 2.
It is a big room though and we are lucky in that we had money from grandparents to kit it out.

Just had a thought I have a picture somewhere

NasalCoffeeEnema Fri 12-Aug-11 10:22:12

I have! here though I'm stood on the open space int he pictures

ChasingSquirrels Fri 12-Aug-11 10:57:43

I used the Eclisse system, it is a framework which is built into a stud wall which then takes normal doors. As I was having a new dividing wall built anyway it was ideal, and the doors just match the rest of the doors in the house.
I brought from IronmongeryDirect who also sell some other systems, I have brought other stuff from them and they seem to be well priced and very quick next day delivery.

As I said mine are 8 and 5, and while I think this is a great layout now, I'm not sure as they get older as they will presumably want that extra bit of privacy.

I think this thread is definitely going to prompt me into sorting the room out into more of a den in the Autumn though.

Love to see Nasel's pics, but it is asking for a password.

NasalCoffeeEnema Fri 12-Aug-11 12:09:06

I like that stuff chasing. Will bookmark for if we ever get out own place again ( I live in hope)

realised I posted the link for editing this should be it

It looks abit better now as I got rid of even more stuff. There is a bit of storgae the other side of the room too but most is there and the rest I rotate into being packed away. they have too much stuff

ChasingSquirrels Fri 12-Aug-11 12:30:40

looks good, I like the different zones

kbaby Fri 12-Aug-11 18:20:39

Not sure if this helps, we have a playroom about 10 ft square, it houses a settee, one wall of cupboards, a pc and lots of junk. I find the same as you that no one actually plays in there, we bought the cupboards to tidy it up thinking they may prefer it but they still don't use it, Ds uses it for the Wii though. They seem to prefer their bedrooms or the living room.
We have a fairly big kitchen and breakfast room where they do their painting in and play on scooters. I'm normally in the kitchen watching tv as they have taken over the tv in the living room. We are thinking ok knocking down a kitchen wall to create a kitchen/family room and then I'm going to persuade ban them from the living room and into the playroom.
I don't want to get rid of the playroom as it is handy to keep all their toys in there and as they get older and want their friends round they will have a private space away from their bedrooms
Heres our playroom without the playing grin

kbaby Fri 12-Aug-11 18:23:04

m.flickr.com/lightbox?id=6035966380

Should say the dc are 7+5

beanandspud Fri 12-Aug-11 22:39:46

We have a 'grown up' lounge and dining room which we use if we have people round or in the evenings.

We had an extension built to make a 'family room' and it was the best decision we made. It opens out onto the garden and we have comfy sofas, tv, dvd player etc. Nearly all of DS's toys are in there in baskets , on shelves etc. Tbh, most evenings we sit in there rather than moving to the lounge as it's a lovely, cozy room.

The plan was always that as DS grew up we would have a room that he could have friends round, watch tv and be downstairs.

beanandspud Fri 12-Aug-11 22:40:55

kbaby - your cakes are fabulous!

Milco Fri 12-Aug-11 23:11:35

Thanks everyone for some great ideas and insights - esp for the pictures! Messages I am taking away I think are - need to make sure there is free space for playing - not just mountains of toys! - so any playroom needs to be a decent size, and ideally be linked to some other area where adults might be. So our room fails on both accounts at the moment! But we've only been in the new house for 2 weeks...

Unfortunately it will be quite a while before we are able to start any building work, but this has really helped me get my head around what we are aiming for, so that I can start having sensible conversations with an architect (we have to do quite a bit of knocking down walls and possibly extending anyway, to get the kitchen in a sensible place, amongst other things).

Any other thoughts most welcome, but thanks very much.

confusedperson Sun 14-Aug-11 19:44:52

NasalCoffeeEnema I wonder where those small sofa beds come from?

singforsupper Mon 15-Aug-11 00:32:42

We have just finished our 'side return' extension, and now have a u-shaped space. The wall in the middle is useful as we have tall ikea cupboards in a neat line all along which store all the gubbins you could ever want to store. Walls are good, but doors are bad.

Our front room is a bit redundant now but we use it to watch TV, movies and use the wii and it has the comfy sofas.

The family room is generally where we hang out, receive guests, eat, cook and use computers. DP works in there two days a week and I study. Essentially our space is flexible. We can do most things in whichever area. I'd like to squeeze a sofa into the family room as well and will move the desk into the old back room area.

I like the idea of dcs sharing their friends in our space, but they tend to go upstairs anyway.

We have just redesigned the garden and have a nice seating area out there which flows from the main room.

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