Whether you want to give your home a face-lift before putting it on the market or increase the livability of a small house, a family room can run a close second to your kitchen as the center point of your living space. The differences between the traditional living room and its family-oriented equivalent lie in its expanded uses, including new technologies and shared activities. For entertainment, homework and household organization, a family room upgrade can enhance family life.
Swapping incandescent bulbs for energy-efficient LED lighting can cut the amount of electricity you use to keep rooms bright. In your family room, look to LED replacement bulbs for lamps, recessed fixtures, wall sconces and indirect lighting. LED tape configures a string of light sources into a flat strip you can attach under cabinets, around framed artwork and at the edges of recessed ceilings. LED light sources keep going long after incandescent, halogen and even fluorescent bulbs burn out, up to 25 times longer than filamented incandescents. Swapping out wall switches for dimmers gives you variable control of light levels, ideal for watching movies and other forms of entertainment.
Depending on the size of your family room, you can incorporate an HDTV and home theater system and still leave room for a home computer to handle family budgeting and children's Internet access. Select your TV set so its dimensions coordinate with the viewing distance from screen to seating areas, and mount it on a wall to emulate movie-theater ambiance. A home theater setup includes surround sound speakers placed strategically around the room to locate movie sound effects realistically, so plan your room design to allow space for speaker enclosures and their wiring. Choose a system with a wireless subwoofer to simplify the floor plan and the wiring scheme. Wireless technology also can allow home theater systems to tap in to entertainment sources from other types of technology elsewhere in your home, including music downloads on your smartphone or media player and video files on your tablet device.
Suit your family room furniture to your family members and the activities that dominate your use of the space. If you bought your furnishings before you had children, look for kid-friendly chairs to add special seating sized for the younger generation. On a slim budget, reupholstering and refinishing your existing furniture can give it a completely new look for less money than replacing it, and slip covers can refresh a sofa or armchairs. When you set up a family computer center, keep ergonomics uppermost in your selection criteria, with adjustable seating that accommodates people of various heights.
Painting your family room provides a low-cost way to change its look dramatically. Colors that coordinate with the hues in upholstery and decorative items tie the room together thematically. For a home theater setup, choose dark colors that make it easier to achieve the low-level room lighting that accompanies a theater-style viewing experience. To turn a wall into a collaborative surface on which you and your children can draw or play games, use chalkboard paint. Add a touch of family-specific wall decor with a photo mural made from images you capture with your digital camera. Look online for a local or mail order vendor who can transform your photo into wall-filling output you can use like wallpaper.
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