After a gloriously extended summer, we are beginning to feel the Fall chill hit the East Coast. It seems like a long time since we have had to hunker down and find our entertainment in the house. I actually look forward to this change of seasons. It let’s us come together as a family and discover how to spend time indoors. There is a long winter ahead and I need to find ways to keep our family entertained. Many parenting magazines credit this time you spend as a family and playing games with your children as essential to their development. “Playing games with your kids is a perfect way to spend time together – and build learning skills.” – Scholastic, “The Benefits of Board Games”.
Board games are a great way to spend family time. We often convert our kitchen table or the family room ottoman into a game area. I love finding new board games to try, but I am still a fan of the tried and true games like Scrabble, Monopoly and Clue. Here’s a great list of new and old games from GeekDad and his top 10 reasons to play board games with your family. Restoration Hardware has high quality versions of these classic games. You may want to keep some in mind for holiday gifts!!
The idea of playing family games has taken on a new life, which can include more than just the traditional board game. Now, there is a trend toward dedicated spaces for all kinds of games. In-home “game rooms” have evolved since I was a kid playing in a friend’s wood paneled basement with a closet stuffed with board games, a ping pong table and maybe a dartboard. Now, Game Rooms (with a capital G and R) are specifically designed spaces incorporating video game stations, pool tables, ping pong, foosball, arcade games, screening rooms and more.
Finding space in a home to incorporate some or all of these activities can be daunting. Basements and attics are the first places to look. Forbes Magazine’s article “How to Create the Ultimate Game Room” gives an 8 point list as criteria necessary for this space. My favorite on this list is #8 – Soundproof your space!
I like to keep the criteria for designing a great Game Room short:
- Create a space that is comfortable for the entire family.
- Choose activities that will grow with your children.
- Find a space that is central within the home.
Comfortable for the Entire Family
I have seen many wonderful “playrooms” that are perfect for young children, but may have low ceilings or kid-sized furniture. These are fun places for kids to gather with their peers, however, if you want your 6+ foot tall husband to spend extended periods of time in a space, it needs to fit all family members’ needs. So, having adequate space for an entire family to gather allows everyone to feel comfortable.
Choose Lasting Activities
Creating a dedicated Game Room can be a big investment. Therefore, it should be done with a look into the future and by selecting activities that you and your children will enjoy over many years. Finding ways to adjust games for younger and smaller children may involve benches to stand on or modifying the rules.
It is tempting to stash the Game Room in a remote part of your home. I advise against this – if the space is inconveniently located or feels isolating, it will not get used very often. Basements and attics are the obvious choices. Creating easy access to these spaces is essential to ensuring the Game Room is a destination area. One option is to open up stairways that lead to the Game Room area by removing doors to create a better flow within your home.
In many of the homes I have designed, I look for ways to create spaces where the family can gather to spend time together. Choosing where to locate these Game Rooms and what to incorporate in the space is a personal choice for my clients’ families and can vary widely. After meeting with a client, I tailor the space to make sure their Game Room is designed for how they will use the area.
One of my clients choose a combination game room by purchasing a table that converts from a pool table to a ping pong table to an actual dining room table from Blatt Billiards. This allows them to maximize the uses of the dedicated Game Room in their home.
For some clients, there is a “time and place for everything” – which in design means…keeping the quiet activities like backgammon, chess and board games upstairs and the more active games like air hockey in the basement. In this home, the more subdued activities take place in the family room on the main floor of the home while the more rambunctious games are on the lower level.
Family dynamics play a big role in how much gaming takes place in a home. For this client with three very active pre-teen and teenage boys, they needed multiple areas for them to congregate. Their home has become “the” place to go as there are so many options for fun things to do. We were taking these photos on the day after Halloween and my client was telling us how disappointed she was that her boys and their friends did not venture out to trick-or-treat, since they were having way too much fun indoors!! From the photographs below, you can see why. This home has many levels of gaming to keep kids (and adults) occupied.
In my own home, we have a great basement space with a pool table and seating area for watching movies and TV. Now that my children are approaching their teen years and with one boy and one girl, sometimes, there needs to be a little separation. We had an unused space on our second floor which we transformed into a teen game room/hang out area. It’s a space that is near both of their bedrooms so it’s really accessible and let’s them play video games or table games, kick a soccer ball around or just hang out.
Let the indoor games begin and enjoy your family time!!