Our family room or “rec room” as it is usually called in our house was really looking like a “wreck” room. The toys were out of control, there was clutter everywhere, and no one really wanted to spend any time downstairs.
The less we used it, the more junk the family room seemed to collect. So in January, I made the resolution that we would do a family room makeover on a budget.
I spent hours surfing the internet looking at furniture websites and scouring Pinterest for inspiration. The more I looked, the more depressed I became. It seemed every idea cost more money than I had to spend.
So I stopped looking online and started looking through my house. And I found some solutions that allowed me to create a space that my family can now enjoy.
Clearing out the clutter
The first thing we did was clear out the clutter. Whenever I’ve watched those home decorator shows on TV, it seems like they always empty out the room completely before they start. With the kids help, we sold and donated a ton of toys that the boys no longer played with. We took a huge pile of books to our local Friends of the Library book sale.
While we didn’t totally empty out our space, we did empty out quite a bit of it. It really does help you to get a better feel for the space available and it forces you to really think about what items you want in the space. We were able to get rid of so much more stuff simply by working with a clean slate.
A thorough cleaning
The next thing we did was give everything a good cleaning. I’ll be the first to admit, that I’m not always all that good about dusting and vacuuming our lower level. It’s one of those “out of sight, out of mind” things. So we gave it a good cleaning and made it look and smell nice.
Assessing the space
The next thing we did was take a look at all of the things we planned to keep in the room. We also paid attention to how we wanted to use the space. We wanted to have a television-watching space, a place to work on projects like Legos or crafts, and a place to play games. This allowed us to come up with a plan for the layout of the room.
Using What We Have
Most of our furniture in the family room is in the style of “Early American Marriage.” We’ve got hand-me-downs, thrift store deals and estate sale finds. While I would love to replace some of the larger pieces, that is just not in the budget.
I originally wanted to have an entertainment wall unit with ample shelves to house our television, games, and books. I spent a long time hunting thrift store and garage sale hunting and scouring discount retailers’ websites and decided that there wasn’t anything in my limited price range that I liked. So I started looking around the house. I found a bookshelf in our guest bedroom that was similar in style, size and finish to one that was already in the family room. I put those bookshelves to flank a taller bookcase we already had to create our own entertainment wall unit.
We also had an ugly pink wing chair in our guest room that we had gotten years ago for free from our neighbors when we lived in town. I put a slipcover on it and put it in the corner of the family room for extra seating.
Organizing the space
We did our best to create separate zones for TV-watching and play space. Grown-up party games stay in one area, and kids games and puzzles got moved to their own cabinet. We already had 2 set of cubbies for organizing the kids toys, and instead of having each one on opposite sides of the room, we put them near each other with game and puzzle cabinet in between them. This gave the kids a nice flat space to put all their Lego creations on, and keeps the majority of their toys on one side of the room. I still want to organize the Legos like Michelle did, but first I have to convince the boys to merge their Legos.
We had an old dining room table with 6 chairs that was jutting out into the room. We took away 2 of the chairs and moved the table against the wall into a new location and now there is much more space in the room. The kids seem to like the new location better, too.
I really wanted an end table for next to our couch, but couldn’t find one I liked at a reasonable price. So I asked my parents if they had anything and they had a nice table they weren’t using stored in their garage. They let us have it, and it’s perfect for the space.
Filling in the gaps
By the time we got everything organized and rearranged, we realized that we had a big bin of Thomas the Tank Engine train tracks that didn’t seem to have a home, as well as a long empty space underneath the window. Our younger boys have almost outgrown the trains, but still do like to build track occasionally, so packing the them away wasn’t an option. Instead, I used a gift card to purchase an inexpensive storage bench for under the window. It holds all of our train track, looks nice, and only cost us $50 out of pocket.
Final Thoughts: Family Room Makeover on a Budget
Because we spent so little on this project (only the $50 for the bench) – and because our old TV didn’t fit on the cabinet we wanted to set it on – we decided to splurge on a new TV for the room. It wasn’t necessary to this makeover project, but now that we have it, it’s a wonderful addition to the space, and I’m glad we got a good deal on it.
Our family room may not be something out of House Beautiful, but the fact that we love the space and are using it is a beautiful thing to me. With a little creativity, using what we already had, and organizing it all in a way that works for us, we were able to create a space that the kids keep neat and tidy and that we all enjoy.
Have you given a room in your house a makeover? What types of things did you do to save money?