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  • (Photo: DIY Network)
  • (Photo: DIY Network)
  • (Photo: DIY Network)
  • (Photo: DIY Network)
  • (Photo: DIY Network)

Designing a family room with Anitra Mecadon

When people pick up the phone to call me, they’re usually looking to be saved. I’m not really sure if I’m supposed to be saving them from themselves, or just saving them from taking a sledgehammer to their house! Either way, they are in desperate need of a miracle and looking for me to make it happen.

Over time, the families and the faces change, but what they ask me for never does: “A family room that will bring my family back together again.” I do this every week on DIY Network’s Mega Dens, so believe it or not, I have some opinions.

Those of you with children know that the above request is a tall order. Gone is the “Age of Aquarius”; this is the “Age of Technology”, and the rules are different here! I spent Christmas staring at the top of my five-year-old nephew’s head as he blew stuff up on his tablet. And my nine-year-old niece gave me specific instructions on how and when I could face-time her. Are you kidding me? At that age I was playing with Lincoln Logs.

Do you have any idea how difficult it was to get them to hang out with the rest of the family in the same room? Of course you know; you’re probably dealing with the same thing!

So, how do you create a room that is fun, functional, good looking and cool enough to be dubbed “the ultimate family hangout”? Here are seven tips to help make it happen:

MAKE IT WORK FOR EVERYONE

The number one goal is to create a room with something in it that appeals to every person in your family.This means you have to know who they are, and what gets their engines running. If you know what they like, then you can bring it into the room. If you bring it into the room, they are more likely to come into the room. You see where I’m going with this? This simple, little trick will help stack the cards in your favour.

MAKE A LIST OF WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE

This step is all about possibilities: your hopes, dreams and desires. I want you to take a moment to really think about what you want and need in your room. Think about what features can help make your life easier. Do you need a bar, hidden storage, a place to study, or a playhouse for the kids? These are the things that should be on your list. Tips one and two go hand in hand. For example, if you have a bookworm in the house, designate some room for a little reading nook. If you have a crafter, a crafting closet would be perfect. For a diehard sports fan who likes to tailgate, surround sound and a bar are a must.

DESIGNATE ZONES

Now that you know what it is you want to achieve with your space, figure out a way to make it all work together. My trick is to designate separate zones or areas within your room (i.e., an entertainment zone, a kids play area, a gaming area, a bar, etc). I then highlight each zone with design elements like an area rug or special lighting to make it stand out. This gives each area its own sense of purpose within the room, and helps to create function and flow. Designating zones also helps to eliminate visual chaos within the room, breaking it up but still allowing the room to come together.

TAKE INVENTORY

Is there anything in your home that is worth keeping for your new hangout? Anything you can use or repurpose to save some coin? What I’m getting at is that you do not need to go out and spend a fortune to create a killer family hangout. You just need to get creative, and furniture rescue is a great way to save! A lot of us have pieces of furniture lying around that we’ve inherited or aren’t in love with anymore. Don’t toss these – re-think them! Some old nightstands can become a terrific entertainment centre with a few pieces of wood and a great imagination. That old college dresser could be super cool if reincarnated as a bar. Those old velvet drapes would make a fantastic backdrop for your banquette seat. The possibilities are endless.

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, USE COLOUR!

Can I tell you how many rooms I’ve walked into with beige walls and carpet? No wonder your family doesn’t want to go in there anymore. It’s boring! Not to mention, there isn’t a single person in the universe, other than JLo, who looks good in beige. We are looking to create the“ultimate family hangout” here, and that means we have to kick it up a few notches. Go beyond your comfort zone; show your family you mean business. Colour is your friend! If you can’t bear to put it on the walls, feel free to smack it on your furniture.

Tip: When picking a colour from a fan deck, I usually pick the fourth or fifth colour down on the page. They are more saturated and add to the overall look.

Tip: Pick more than one colour. I like having accent walls to break up my space and help anchor those special areas. The accent colour is usually the darker and more daring of the two.

PERSONALIZE IT

One of the most common mistakes I see (and probably the biggest reason for people’s unhappiness with their rooms) is the lack of personal touches. You want your family to feel connected to their space. Why not get them involved? Have them help you with a few DIY projects. Maybe you could make some custom artwork for your walls together or blow up candid family photos to create a cool collage wall. Turn an old tricycle into a side table or create a trophy wall to showcase their accomplishments! No matter what you do, you have to add a personal touch.

Tip: Ask your kids for their input. This gets them invested in the project and gets you working as a team. Team work = family time = fun time!

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A BIG SCREEN

Yes, I said it! The power of a big screen is too great. Don’t fight it! Think about who this appeals to: the movie buff, the gamer, the sports nut and every child on the planet. You’ve got a big screen, you’ve got a hook!

Tip: Think a flat screen TV is beyond your budget? Think again! Flat screen TVs are now super affordable. If you keep your eyes peeled, you’re bound to find one that fits your budget.

A self-described “DIY, eco-friendly kinda chick who is not afraid to get her hands dirty,” Anitra Mecadon has designed some of the most well-known, hip, and edgy restaurants, residences, boutiques, galleries, and other spaces in Atlanta for the past 13 years. As the host and design/build expert of DIY Network’s Mega Dens, Mecadon designs and builds the ultimate rec room sanctuaries that exceed any family’s wildest imagination.

For more information, visit: anitramecadon.com and diynetwork.com/mega-dens/show; Facebook: Mega Dens and Anitra Mecadon; Twitter: @anitramecadon

-by Anitra Mecadon