Family first

Carol O’Callaghan says doing up a family room can be fun, especially if you put some thought into planning.

REVAMPING your family room can be enormous fun and an excuse to go shopping to create a space for every use and task.

However, passing around the colour cards while everyone is determined to have their say, might just wear you out before you’ve even started.

Remember last time when sample paint pots yielded six different streaks on the wall and as many opinions to match? Remember too, that democracy in decorating doesn’t work.

Whatever name you’ve given this space that might be the front parlour of a cottage or a sitting room or living room elsewhere, it’s a very hard-working area.

Doubling up as a place to chill with family and friends and to catch up on emails, it’s also where you might stretch on the sofa in a near-moribund state, while staring glassy-eyed and wearily at the telly after a day’s labour. Normally you’re also surrounded by the debris of family activity — toys, shoes; books and homework — strewn across the floor.

So consider how you want the room to be used and what you need included in the space. Seating is the most obvious, and after that you’re likely to want to include a telly, and maybe storage for the debris mentioned earlier.

You do need a focal point of television or fireplace, or if you have a neglected wall that needs some tender loving care, large-scale art or photography could provide a far more interesting focus. Then let yourself fall in love with a grown up wall colour, one of those gorgeous sophisticated greys or a deep heritage shade that oozes sophistication and grand country living. Introduce a handsome sofa, beautifully structured and well built so it will withstand the rigours of the day-to-day life you’ll inevitably inflict upon it.

Large sofas, especially L-shaped models if you have sufficient space, are great to accommodate slouching in comfort in the manner of a chaise longue. It can face the telly or fireplace or those lovely photos you’ve framed and hung, and the shape will also help to ensure there’s no fighting for the best chairs from which to watch Saturday night telly.

If you’re stuck with your existing sofa even though it’s not quite as handsome as it was when you first bought it, and your regard for it has faded as it has, then move it around the room until you find a satisfying spot that shows it in a new light. Or if not, recover it, and it may give you quite a few more years of pleasure, comfort and support.

A coffee table is almost a prerequisite as a surface for books, newspapers, cups and wine glasses. Rugs are desirable but only become essential if you have a wooden floor or if you enjoyed a hot Mediterranean holiday romance with a tiled floor that now is too cool for comfort. But experimentation is exciting when vamping up a room. Impulse and novelty making exciting bed-fellows.

* Next week we’re looking up at the neglected state of the ceiling.


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