5 Quick and Cheap Decorating
Ideas for Family Living

by Kathy Wilson

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Any space in your home where all the family tends to gather can be considered family living spaces. Generally, the family room or den and the kitchen and dining areas are areas that need to accommodate the needs and tastes of all the family members. Here are some great low cost ideas for dressing up those inviting rooms just right for the whole clan.

  1. Color your world. Don't be shy about adding color to the walls of your rooms. Family oriented rooms tend to be busy, sometimes crowded spaces, so I recommend some calming colors to create more restful retreats. Blues, greens, and neutrals rate here. However, if you have a high-energy family, go with the flow, and bring in some yellow, terra cotta, or even lime green! Paint makes a dramatic impact in as little as one afternoon, for a pretty low cost. If you are wondering what the colors will look like in your room, check out the online personal color viewer at BenjaminMoore.com.
  2. Let the sun shine in. Most family oriented spaces don't demand the privacy that a bedroom or bath would, so strip off those curtains and blinds and see the light. It makes the room look bigger (always a plus when the whole family is there!) and the extra light really brightens the mood in the room. If some nighttime privacy or light control is needed, such as in a TV viewing area, make sure the curtains or blinds are hung totally clear of the window so that when they are drawn, they don't block out any of the light. To bring focus to windows with no treatments, use a stenciled or wallpaper border around each window casing. And you thought those window treatments would be expensive. Who needs 'em!
  3. Create different use areas in the room, so that more than one activity can take place at a time. This gives you more opportunities to be together as a family, and just requires some rearranging and creativity, not bucks. Set up a small table and two chairs in an unused corner for a game table, sneak an unused easy chair into the room for someone to read, pick up a couple of bar stools at a yard sale to add to the kitchen counter. Store placemats in drawers to turn the coffee table into a quick dining area, and make sure there are a couple of floor pillows for impromptu movie night.
  4. Create some personal accessories for your family spaces that celebrate who you are as a group. No, you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars having a family portrait painted to hang over the fireplace! Print out pictures of each member of the family in black and white, then hang them in matching black frames gallery style as a group on one wall. Frame those special family moments to share with your guests, such as a wedding or graduation invitation, love letters your grandfather sent your grandmother during the war, "secret" family recipes, or one piece of treasured childhood artwork from each of your children or grandchildren. Forget those time-consuming photo albums. Set a bunch of snapshots out in a pretty basket you picked up at the dollar shop. You'll be shocked at how often you catch your own kids musing through them. Want a really interesting conversation piece? Print out family candid snapshots on regular paper, then use polyurethane to decoupage them onto a tabletop, cupboard door, or even a whole wall! Slightly overlap each photo, and then seal the whole top with a final coat of polyurethane to protect. What a collage!
  5. Finally, bring comfort into your family space to encourage loved ones to linger, and spend that precious time together. Stitch up comfy throw pillows from old childhood sweaters or dresses. Stencil or free hand comforting quotes around the ceiling line or over a door. (Need ideas? Go to quotationspage.com). Keep a few fleece blankets tossed over the back of the sofa, just right for those "cuddle up on the couch" evenings with loved ones.

These are some great ideas for adding more than decor to a room. It's about interjecting your family into the spaces you inhabit. None of these ideas cost but a few dollars, and many of them are free for the use of your creative mind. Make your family spaces rooms that you will all remember as places where life was lived, and memories made.

Kathy Wilson is an author, national columnist, and editor of The Budget Decorator. For hundreds of free ideas and to sign up for her free online newsletter, please visit her at TheBudgetDecorator.com

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