a family room fit for a family

Do you have little ones but also want a nice space to entertain? Or do you maybe have grandchildren that you take care of during the week that need toys and books to keep them occupied but you don't want your house to feel like a daycare?

I have raised my children in all sorts of different family rooms from a townhouse to a little house to a two bedroom apartment to a big custom house, but I refused to allow our family room to feel like a playroom. Years ago, when I had my first toddler, a couple of my family members visited us and commented that they couldn't even tell we had a little one because the family room was so neat and tidy. It was just a normal room to me but that comment got me thinking that either I:

a. am so type A that I can't even allow my child to have a normal childhood


b. won't compromise the feel of a nice gathering space by displaying Doc McStuffins and all of her friends

Yep, I'll admit it, I'm totally Type A, but I’m going to have to go with "b" on this one. So much so that we have almost always had...wait for it...white couches. Although, full disclosure, I was the one who spilled a whole glass of red wine on our first beautiful white couch BUT thankfully I paid the furniture showroom where we purchased the couch a little extra to treat it with a fabric protector, that red wine came right out.

Here are some tips and tricks to help make your family room a space where every member of the family can live happily:

1. Console or Media Cabinet:

This gorgeous piece from West Elm is so versatile and will last your family a lifetime. As seen here, it can be placed behind a couch or in front of the couch with a TV on top. You could also put it in an entryway or on a wall adjacent to the family room. Fill it with board games, books, DVDs, gaming systems and arts and crafts. If you have very little ones then this is the perfect spot to store diapers, wipes, burp cloths and creams in a little caddy or basket.

2. Storage Coffee Table

I love almost any furniture piece that has the word "storage" in it. I am not a fan of wasted space and I love to get the most out of my purchases. A coffee table with storage inside is a great place for blankets, small pillows and stuffed animals. I suggest one that is covered in fabric so you don't have to worry about little heads hitting hard corners when they inevitably take a tumble (or, if your kids are like mine, host a WWE match in the family room). Here's a great find that has an even better price tag! Martha Stewart Adina Storage Ottoman

3. Baskets on Open Shelves:

If you are lucky enough to have built-in shelving in your family room then you have great space to hide those toys away. If you don't have built-in shelving then bring in a high or low bookcase and you can still achieve the same storage look and feel of built-ins. Add a number of matching baskets to the shelves and fill with like items (ex. Barbies in one, tea sets in another, building blocks in another, etc.) so that clean up is super quick and easy for both you and for the kids. If your shelves go all the way to the floor, make sure you store the heaviest things in the bottom baskets. Here's a beautifully styled built-in with storage baskets by House by Hoff:

You can use almost any type of storage basket (wood, metal, seagrass, linen), but make sure they all match, for the most part (you can mix any of the materials with metal). ALso, make sure you keep all of the sizes the same on each two big ones on one shelf, or three smaller ones on one shelf, but not one big one and one smaller one on the same shelf. Make sense? I absolutely adore these baskets from The Container Store. Aren't they so cool?! And they even come in two sizes so you can customize your shelves for your needs.

4. Sofa Table with Trunk or Storage Ottomans Underneath:

I love the look of a sofa table with something underneath it, whether it's a stool or two, ottomans or, like you see here by Denai Kulcsar Interiors, an awesome trunk. I know my grandparents used trunks and chests when they traveled back in the day so, not only would something like that be really beautiful to look at, it would be so very functional. If you have a sturdy family heirloom that can store your little one's treasures then pull it out and make use of it!

Here is a neat little steamer trunk that even has wheels so you can pull it out for playtime and roll it on back once playtime is over: Grasser Accent Trunk

my blue nest

a perfectly put together mess