Shared family spaces are what the home is all about — the opportunity for everyone to come together. While traditional game rooms and family dens are timeless, the design world is full of exciting new ideas for getting everyone to gather and have fun. Check out the following designer-approved home trends that can bring the whole family together.
1. COACH HOUSES
Also known as converted garages or carriage houses, these multi-functional spaces are not only on-trend but also ideal for kids of all ages. "Coach houses are becoming popular — homeowners are using them for children’s playrooms and artist lofts," says Allyson Case Anderson, head of Integro Rehab, a Chicago-based general contractor specializing in major renovation, remodeling and historical restoration. These spaces grow with kids as they grow, too: As younger children become tweens and teens, they can feel a sense of independence they crave by having a place that's detached from the home, but still maintain their connection to the rest of the family.
Permaforts, or spaces in the home can that serve as special nooks for kids of all ages, are super popular right now. According to interior designer Erica Leigh Reiner, a permafort can live in a bedroom (even as a bed fort) or in a converted closet or cubby under the stairs. "As kids grow, being social and self-expressive become more important," she explains. "These spaces provide a place to incorporate both of these things. Consider incorporating their favorite colors, animals or activities into these spaces, as well as twinkle lights and floor pillows." Make sure that there's enough space for family and friends to join, too.
3. OVERSIZED WALL-MOUNTED GAME BOARDS
How's this for a piece of art that's also functional? Giant game boards are a fun family-focused trend. "The scale of the game board is large enough to be viewed across the whole room, plus the whole unit is framed then mounted to the wall, which makes it easy to remove and saves precious floor space," says interior designer and consultant Dayna Hairston. "With magnetic game pieces, it's easy to get the whole family involved." When you're not actively playing on, say, your giant Scrabble board, the wall piece can provide a great opportunity for a "word of the day."
4. EDIBLE GARDENS
There's no better way to enjoy fresh, healthy meals than when you've grown the ingredients as a team. To create an edible garden in your yard or patio, Reiner suggests making maintenance easy with a clear pathway to the garden, as well as keeping a table or cart nearby to hold watering cans, tools, mulch and the like. "If you have a small space, consider using vertical space, like a fence or wall in addition to, or instead of, planting in the ground," she adds — just remember to use hanging pots with drainage. Decide what crops to plant as a family and then brainstorm fun recipes.
Watching movies al fresco can bring family members of all ages together.
5. MID-YARD DINING
While creating an outdoor eating space right off the house, specifically the kitchen, has been the norm, this year the trend is to relocate your meals to a bit farther out in the yard. Setting up a space that's detached from your home makes the eating area feel more like an escape. Set up under a pergola, gazebo or strategically strung twinkle lights to give the area permanent residence in your yard. You'll be ready for backyard parties and spontaneous dinners under the stars.
6. BACKYARD MOVIE NIGHT
Watching movies al fresco can bring family members of all ages together. Hairston suggests creating the space on a flat surface near the house, like a deck, so you can go into the house as needed (for more snacks!). "You can project on a dark wall or purchase a portable projector screen — or even build your own," Hairston says. "Just make sure your screen is tall enough to be at a comfortable viewing height for everyone while sitting." Use your existing outdoor furniture for adults and teens; little ones can lie on sleeping bags or a bed of pillows. And don't forget a basket of extra blankets if the nights turn chilly.