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What to do with unused front living room

Nicole at home
2 years ago

Help me, I don’t know what to do with this unused space... nobody ever goes in the front room and it feels like this waste of space. We don’t really need an office as we already have one. This room is just blah and the first thing you see when you walk in. We have 4 young kiddos so keep that in mind.


Comments (73)

  • felizlady
    2 years ago

    Nobody uses the front room because it is not inviting. The furniture is shoved together (blocking the step up to the dining room) and there is junk all over it. You can’t sit and have a conversation there. The colors are brown on beige on beige. There is no art except for a starched granny tablecloth on the wall. The lamp in the corner lights the ceiling and the floor.
    Suggestions:
    If the floor is hardwood, uncover it. Rearrange the sectional (away from the dining room) so it can be used for seating. Add several good-sized pieces of art, several colorful pillows, more lighting, tables, window treatments, and an area rug. Reassess the dining room and add some art and color in there if needed (I would guess it IS needed).
    Once you have done all of that, invite a few guests for lunch or dinner and usher them into a welcoming front room which is clean, neat, bright and friendly.
    Serve the meal on your best dishes in the dining room.
    Leave the family room for the family activities, TV and playing with toys.
    Don’t drop junk in the front room. Keep the kids out of there. No toys in the front room! Your children will grow up and they can be taught to play in the family room and in their bedrooms.
    This doesn’t have to cost a lot, and it doesn’t have to be done all at once. Garage sales, estate sales and used furniture shops have items which are in good condition and are not expensive. HomeGoods and Michaels have nice-enough art to begin with. Art and craft shows have things worth owning.

  • Kendrah
    2 years ago

    If I had 4 young kids, I would make it a mommy's retreat space. Nice adult space to sit and drink tea or wine and talk on the phone. No kid anything in the room - in fact it would be a kids off limit room. Just beautiful pretty things that I like and nobody else will use. A great piece of furniture to curl up on with a good book, good lighting, a great throw, candles.

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  • laura_04
    2 years ago

    Yes Kendrah! I recently did this is a small unfunctional room. Window seat between two bookcases that has my dads old schoolbooks, a lamp and furniture I’ve kept away from kids scared it would get damaged... But it serves multiple purposes. I put a dresser to house papers, crayons, glue, other craft-homework related stuff. You can make it a “moms retreat” and* use storage furniture to hold things for the kids’ homework and board games in the dining room. With some creative thinking and purposeful planning, an extra unusable space can add a lot of function.

  • katinparadise
    2 years ago

    Do you have a place where you could store some of the sectional pieces? I would remove the 3rd piece in from the left and the 2nd piece in from the right, along with the corner piece. Add the armed piece on the right to the other 2 pieces and make it a 3 seater sofa. Move it so it's centered under the art piece on the wall, which should be lowered so it's about 5-6" above the back of the sofa. Find an accent chair to add to the room angled in the right corner near the window and add a tray to the ottoman for a place to set a drink. Get a side table for the chair and make a quiet reading space or a space for adult conversation away from the kids.

  • kblairgrace
    2 years ago

    With 4 kids, make it your adult only room! Put size-appropriate furniture in there - maybe a smaller couch (less bulky), comfy upholstered chairs, a drop leaf table that could be used for more, better lighting, some great art or even a collage of family pictures you most enjoy. Go in there for your “breather,” your “timeout.” Read a book, sip coffee, review bills, watch for kids coming home in the window, whatever you enjoy doing absent kids, make it your own “private island” room. I might put hardwood in and a pretty area rug. Take out the blinds and get some simple pretty drapes made from a pretty fabric you enjoy. Place some of your nicer things you like to look at and make it off limits to kids. Since it’s a small room that is less used, make it a thoughtful space for yourself! Lots of potential for an 8x8 space! And if you’re really not sure, enlist the help of an interior decorator (does or does not have to be a designer). They are masterful and know how to lay out furniture down to the inch to maximize space, and often think of something you cannot see since you’re in it.

    My home isn’t big and it is older which means lots of little rooms. The rooms are small, but they are all set up both pretty to my liking and functional to what I enjoy. Nothing in them that scares me when little hands are in reach and upholstered so that I don’t panic about sloppy sippie cups 😀.

    As for art, some walls have paintings I’ve found all over. Someone else mentioned estate sales and such! Lots of great stuff to be found for all budgets.

    It’s a cute space that has so much potential! Let us know what you decide. Would love to see the before and after!

  • skunst2017
    2 years ago

    I would not make it into a playroom for children ..since its your entrance room ...and you don't want your guests falling over toys ..but , I would sell the sofa and get a large tv ..seating all around with a few ottoman you can move where needed ...and a bar area ..for entertainment ..hang art and take the rug out . I had a billiard table ...in a room where I didn't know what to put ...it was never ally used ...so I would opt for a large TV screen ..a bar ..and just a great place to greet guests ..or watch tv ..with or without the entire family ....a fireplace ??

  • skunst2017
    2 years ago

    Sorry , on second look , I see your rugs seem to go wall to wall and into the dining room ....what is underneath the rug here ..if the tiles extend ..I would remove it and leave it a tile entrance area ...or perhaps cut up a piece for unsere the table in between your seating facing the new TV ..or fireplace ...you have a great space here ...

  • altadavey
    2 years ago

    I’d make it into a pretty sitting room that is nice to look at when you enter the home and, with small kids who have other places for their toys, the one space that is always tidy (as my son once told his preschool teacher, “we don’t play in the ribbing room”)! Maybe start with two chairs flanking the window with a table/lamp between, an etagere for books and some decorative items....get the sofa out of there. When the kids are napping or in bed for the night, you can sit there with your tea or wine and say ahhhhh. Good luck!

  • PRO
    Norwood Architects
    2 years ago

    I vote for library/sitting room. Would make for a nice experience for people entering your home. It could also be a nice haven for kids and adults to snag a book and nestle down into a cozy chair for some reading and some down time.

  • Sharon Franklin
    2 years ago

    Part of the problem is that your sectional doesn't fit the room. To me, you have it too close to the arched doorway...almost blocking off the other room. I would move it down a foot or two, then use the space at the front door for a desk and bookshelf.

  • Gayle Wooten
    2 years ago

    A lot of good suggestions and the main thing is to know your purpose before you start making changes. Whatever you do, that arch is begging for a barn door! I'm not sure the style of your home, but there are options to meet most styles. Keep in mind this is the first impression of your home, past the front landscaping. If you often enter through the front door, think of what you want greeting you each day when you return home!

  • Albert Johnston
    2 years ago

    We turned our unused living room into a movie room. At least as a destination entertainment room your family will have a use for the space.

  • Nicole at home
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Thank you everyone for the ideas! Sadly the only flooring underneath is cement. I am with everyone on the sofa does not fit the room, this sofa came with us from a different house. I love love the barn door idea, would I need to make the arch a square opening? I don’t think there is enough space to have a door that completely opens.. I have really considered closing off the opening to the dining room so I could have full wall to work with, I was considering a barn door entertainment center/shelving on that wall instead. The room is only 12 ft wide so it doesn’t give a lot of space if we put tv on the large main wall (one with white art piece) and I hate the idea of the back of a couch facing the entry hall and like I said it’s not all that wide so the tv and couch would be kind of close. I do agree about the window seat and have considered that as an option with some waynes coating (sp?) along the main wall with a picture shelf? In a few years I want to tear out the terracotta tiles and carpet and do wood throughout so I have to try to keep that in mind too

  • ArtGrrrl
    2 years ago

    Nicole. The built-in shelves are a wonderful idea. BEST thing I ever did in our home. A window seat is something I really want, as well. Both are great ideas. As much as I would love to see a pool table in there, there's not enough room (you might be able to fit the table, but could not play without hitting the walls). Add some "reading chairs" and a small table of some sort and you'll have your own little "Starbucks" area. Granted, with 4 kids, you likely don't get the time to sit and enjoy coffee at any time of the day--it would still make a simple, yet functional space for people to "ooh and aah" at when they enter your home.


  • auntthelma
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Instead of a wall between the dining room and this room, how about the sectional? One side on the window wall and the other side up against the dining room floor. Now you can put th tv on the big wall. And put a dining serving table behind the sofa. You have spent zero money and have your dining room separation along with a new tv room!

  • Terrie B.
    2 years ago

    The cats and I use our formal living room. It has pretty sofas, tables and lamps oh and a crystal chandelier too. I sit and read or talk on the phone and look at all my lovely little things in the curio cabinets. It makes me happy even when I walk through the chaos of the rest of the house and at least that room tidy. It is my version of a mom cave.

  • gigigreek
    2 years ago

    Omitting the opening into the dining room will make the living space feel and look even smaller. I'd leave it open. Flow and movement from one room to another is important. Our living room was off the entry but closed off to the rest of the house. The only way to access the living room was to go into the entry. We eventually opened up a wall that led from the living room into the great room/kitchen area. It made a huge difference to using our living room, especially with the right furniture and deciding what the purpose of that front room was.

    You can install a barn door if you wanted quiet time in that front room and do not need to square off the opening but I would for an aesthetics. Or you could also have a barn door rounded so that it matches the arched opening which is charming. Is that arch repeated throughout the house? (A brain door slides on a rail above the opening. But if your plan is to install hardwood in the future, another option is to bring the floor up and make it level with the entry and dining space prior to hardwood installation, if your budget allows. You'd be surprised what adding a few inches does to give a room more usable space. Then I'd hold off on the barn door.)

  • sarah_cavazos74
    2 years ago

    Could you make that space into the dining room? Then use the existing dining room as a play, study, art area?

  • lopezmaryk
    2 years ago

    make it a cozy, quiet space to sit and read and drink tea. use a nice hotel lobby or coffee shop for inspiration, as they often have small, cozy groupings. i agree with repurposing the sectional to a different room and going with some cozy chairs or a bistro type setup. msybe walk through an ikea showroom for ideas.

  • suzyq53
    2 years ago

    Most people don't use their living rooms. They just furnish them and walk by them and clean them. Buy some inexpensive, attractive furniture to stage it like a model home.

  • Angel Ashley
    2 years ago

    I seen another place where they put in a small area in the living room for tea. A small table and a few chair maybe a little bookshelf. Your own little reading nook.

  • Cheryl Smith
    2 years ago

    I do think it would work best to close off the opening into the dining area. I think I would just look for a very large tv entertainment center that would just cover it up from the living room side. Adding a TV is nice so you have options to watch things the rest of the family doesn't want to watch. Large shelving gives you lots of area to display family treasures from travel, books and accessories. I would look for something with both open and closed cabinetry. I would make it a nice more adult feeling room than a kids area since it is the first thing you see when you come in the front door. A place you can entertain away from the kid stuff. If you make it more appealing visually and functionally you will want to use it more. You could leave the arched wall and just add a serving buffet or China cabinet on the dining room side. Doing this requires no structural changes but will totally separate the 2 rooms.

    Nicole at home thanked Cheryl Smith
  • Kristina
    2 years ago

    I'm with those who suggest making it your room, where the kids don't go, not necessarily because they're banned but because it's a designated no toy room. I spent a lot of years apologizing for my kids' messes before we built our current home. Even when we had play rooms designated for their toys, they always migrated out into the main living area so that room of my own was something I wished for for a lot of years before we were able to build just what we wanted. I designed our current home with a small living room at the front of the house because I wanted one place I could keep clean without too much trouble that would be what people would see as they entered our home. I designated it my music room and it's where my piano is. I also have seating in the room so I can also greet friends who come over for a short visit. My 5 children, now grown, weren't banned from going in there but they usually only went in to practice the piano or their other instruments. And I could be in there visiting with friends while the kids were in the adjoining great room, with the door between closed, watching TV or getting a snack. So decide what you want a special room for, even if it's just to make a good first impression when guests come in your front door. I'd hesitate turning it into a game room unless it's just for specific games that are always cleaned up when the fun is done. One rule we had with our children was that the winner cleaned up and put the game away. Kind of eased the loss for the others, and they'd usually help out with the cleanup. That rule was abandoned once when the loser earned that privilege when he swiped all the game pieces off the board. Having to clean that mess up made all future game endings a bit more peaceful.

  • suezbell
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Nice room. Like the windows. Not a fan of the drapes-sloppy-dragging-the-floor fad. Would remove them altogether and all current furnishings. Replace the blinds with the no string kind. Remove the carpet and replace it with durable plank flooring. Measure the opening to the room and build in a pair of knee wall bookshelves/cabinets on each side, leaving a 4' opening between them for ingress and egress. Furnish the room with kiddo friendly furniture.


    You could include a storage ottoman by the window for your seating when you visit your children in their "office" (play/study room).


    The room you use as a living room is now off limits to toys.

  • Hansen
    2 years ago

    it's the first impression of you and your home. make it inviting. 4 comfortable chairs around a coffee table and art on the walls. A place to visit, read, chill.

  • Lynne
    2 years ago

    You must keep in mind what activities you partake in as a family. With four small children my immediate thought was a kids area, with storage for toys. I would also have a comfy chair for the supervisor! The needs would change as they got older, but a table and benches for board games would be nice. Pool table? nope!

  • Susy Da Silva
    2 years ago

    I turned mine into a library. My China cabinet was moved into the area books and prized possessions on display in the cabinet. Crafts, scrapbooks and games stored in some of drawers. Extra cutlery and dish storage is still kept in a couple drawers. Statement reading lamp that can be moved where extra lighting is required. You could do 4 chairs or 2 loveseats around a cocktail table. I have two arm chairs and 1 loveseat due to proximity to dining room.

  • naebug921
    2 years ago

    This space has great potential. If you want to use it for kid space just add some elements that help them stay organized and neat. Like others have said, I would lose the sectional and add kid scale furniture-maybe a kid size table and chairs. And the blank wall is a wonderful space to display their art work. Kids spaces don't have to be a cluttered mess.


    https://www.houzz.com/photos/kids-play-room-bay-area-los-altos-ca-transitional-kids-san-francisco-phvw-vp~17652020]



    Kids' Play Room | Bay Area, Los Altos, CA · More Info


  • Sun Peaks Decorating
    2 years ago

    I envision you trying to corral 3 tots and a baby into your entry. Little ones need a place to run in, then hang their coats and set down their shoes. You need room to set the baby down, a place for your coat and shoes, all the while dropping the groceries somewhere, and not losing your keys!

    What I suggest is a Pony(half) wall built at the entry, with hooks and a shoe rack, which provides a perfect height for little arms. I suggest a counter built on top of the Pony wall to lay everything that you are carrying.

    Next is what to do with little guys wanting to run into a space that keeps them happy while you fight your way into the kitchen to prepare a meal.....a playroom for now suits what is needed. In a few years, the room can evolve into a study area, games and toys for older kids, and a few toys for the youngest children. In a few years, or decade to be honest, the room can evolve into what others have suggested, a library and sitting room, games room to suit the space etc.

    Decorating and charm is what I feel that you want now. Paint the room white, add blinds, and Wainscotting which will improve the room with little effort. The Pony wall can be clad with Wainscoting on both sides for charm.

    As far as company, they take up little of the time you use the space, let them play with your little guys, mess be damned!


    Nicole at home thanked Sun Peaks Decorating
  • Nicole at home
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Sun Peaks I love the pony wall idea! I really love old homes and all their built ins and trim work and want to find a way to include that in this home (It’s a 1979 track home, for the time it had lots of ”upgrades” but lacks character imo) thank you! I love kid friendly but clever spaces, most of all I just want this space to be useful, right now it feels like a storage room for the sectional that no one goes in.

  • Linda Pecho
    2 years ago

    It’s nice size room. I would perhaps put the furniture on wall you face when looking at the room. Also, you can get four club chairs with nice table in the middle
    Use a curio, or console table with a mirror.

  • Sun Peaks Decorating
    2 years ago

    I liked how you described the room, Nicole, it seems just that......I wish you well, and the room will be beautiful when you are finished with it. Cheers

  • Christina
    2 years ago

    I would replace the flooring with hardwood. Place or build a long cushioned bench under the window. Find a rug you love that fits the space and build the rest of the room around it. Pick your favorite color (but not the main color) from the rug and put it on your walls. Use the large wall as a statement wall and do something very visual with it. Think wall paper, different color of paint from your other walls, interestingly designed board and batten, shiplap, brick, etc. whatever makes you happy. For furniture go with either 4 chairs and a round coffee table or 2 small loveseatss and a bench/ottoman all in neutrals with kid friendly upholstery. Go back to your rug for your accent colors and layer in pillows and throws and artwork. The accent wall needs a large console table or buffet with a good sized mirror above it. The corner to the right of the arched wall can support a cabinet or other storage piece.

  • Laversa Carlin
    2 years ago

    I would divide the spaces by moving the sectional so it is closing off the room, making it feel cozier. I would put a modern electric fireplace on the opposite wall, and a bench under the window. Put a area rug in front of the sectional and a square appropriately size coffee table on the rug. Then bookshelves or console tables on either side of the fireplace, no more than a foot deep. A large clock or picture above the fireplace. It would be a cozy place to read in peace once the kiddos are asleep.

  • Mary S
    2 years ago

    I have 4 children and use the “front room” as a sitting/reading/conversation area for all of us. But—no toys! It was nice to have one room in the house where toys were not allowed. We use the room daily! It has a nice big window to see out to the front yard and street. It’s probably my favorite room in the house. Very relaxing and comfortable

  • HWALMAY
    2 years ago

    Keep in mind you dont have to have your furniture pushed up against the walls. A few of the photos above demonstrate how to float furniture in the room. That would require new furniture peices but it could allow for a more useful space.

  • momof5x
    2 years ago

    You could covert it into a guest room and use it as your den when there are no visitors.

  • gkacij
    2 years ago

    I read a few comments! I agree on putting the back of sofa to the entryway. Use a sofa table and lamp or vase behind the sofa, and it gives you more of an entry feel. Then, the sofa faces the long wall. If you can, get rid of the chaise, and just use the sofa part. On the long wall, maybe a tv or not, maybe a shelf system to hide toys, games, etc. on the wall. Forget about art work on that wall for now. Get your room arranged first. Then you could have a tiny dinette in front of the window for everything—homework, puzzles, crafts, games. Throw a rug down at the arch to indicate an opening, an invitation to pass through there. That brings the rooms together a little. Don’t block the arch at all. The idea is: this room is no longer a pass through and has purpose. It also defines the path to the main part of the house by formalizing the entry a bit. Good luck!!

  • gkacij
    2 years ago

    Ok just saw you don’t like the sofa back to entry! Sorry! The idea is still the same. Don’t spill into that room as your entry. Divide it visually—table, shelving, a half wall. And then you’re lead to the dining area. The main entry to this front area would be through the arch. Get a smaller sofa. And a 12 ft walk is not small for a tv

  • Kristi Marx
    2 years ago

    My friends made theirs a tasteful music room. The kids loved it and it was fun for guests visiting!

  • dianatag
    2 years ago

    My daughter put a pool table in her unused living room with a beautiful billiards table that was given to her and her husband.

  • shirlpp
    2 years ago

    As per my picture of a pool table - days ago!

  • mdenton2014
    2 years ago

    I agree with Mary S. We are lucky to have two living spaces. The kids have the downstairs and their rooms for video games and toys. The formal is for reading and visiting with family, friends, or even each other. No toys. They were 6 & 3 when we bought the house and I told them, “this room has a force field around it. It doesn’t let toys in.” They loved it and have done well with it. (Now, they are 12 & 9.) We all spend a lot of time in here because it’s always clean and relaxing.

  • Dixie
    2 years ago

    I think your rooms decor depends on how you spend your time. Do you have adults over often and long for an adult space to entertain? Do you wish you had a game room for a pool table for the kids to hang out? Or, do you wish for a space of your own to get away to read, rest, etc. Furnish the room to meet your needs now, it can always change later as your family needs change. Here’s my current dream room found on Pinterest... if I could just find that velvety gray sofa in my budget!

  • dsennott2
    2 years ago

    I love the above photo. The first thing that needs addressing is the flooring. Put a tile but wood grain finish through the entire space. That would eliminate the arbitrary line that bridges the hall floor. Then a nice area rug to anchor the space more in front of the window. Let the rug be your inspiration piece for coloring the accessories. This room needs light. For now start with end tables and lamps. Hope this helps.

  • et phonehome
    2 years ago

    I think other people have said this already but I want to say it again. We have five little kids and we have two living rooms in our house. One we call the toy room and that is at the back of the house. The one by our front door was pretty much empty for the first few years we lived in our house. Eventually we got furniture for that room and I can't tell you how nice it is to have a room that my husband and I can go in after they are sleeping where there are no toys and is pretty much always clean. Also, when people come to visit I don't need to be crazy about whether every single toy in the toy room is put away because they don't need to go in the toy room. I don't ban my kids from that room but they aren't allowed to jump on the furniture, there are no toys in there, etc etc so they don't really have much desire to go in there. I imagine as my kids get older they might go in there to read and such but we are only just getting to the reading stage

  • enaaimeeapostol
    2 years ago

    Hi Nicole, maybe once your tree is out you can use that space as your living room by placing your sectional there. The corner of your sectional could be positioned by the right side corner of your window (when facing the window) so when you sit on it you would see your guests coming in your door. You can then put a small, round antique table in the space in front of the steps towards the dining room, make sure to place the round table in the center of the empty space so that it does not block the steps going to the dining room. Place a potted plant in the middle of the round table and a round rug underneath it if you like. You can then surround the potted plant with a pile of books or bowls for you to drop your keys and mail. You can then add floor to ceiling shelves on the walls and maybe put framed art works, more plants and books or maybe 4 square baskets for the books or toys of your four kids, or make the lowermost shelf wider so that it can be used as a study table with a bench for your kids. The round table could also be a glass table, just like the picture below. Hope this helps. Cheers!

    Living room · More Info

  • enaaimeeapostol
    2 years ago

    Hi again. I agree with the picture Dixie posted last Jan. 27 i think? That s the arrangement I was describing earlier where in you place your sectional by the right side of your window so you can see guests coming in your door. Then the empty space in front of that is where you can put your round table. Also if the wall by the left side of your window (or by the right side of the door) is wide enough for a mounted tv maybe you could try that. Cheers!

  • Andy Albrecht
    9 days ago

    What did you end up doing?