Reader SOS – Family Game Room

I’m back with another “DIY Playbook, Save our Space”. My plan for #DIYPlaybookSOS is to take a reader’s space and (virtually) offer design tips and tricks on how to improve it.

Here are some of my favorite design solutions from this series…

Creating a Family Game Room

I love today’s dilemma because it’s all about having your home work for you. Kara has a formal dining room that her family of five rarely uses. Instead, she wants to turn it into a space that they’ll actually spend time in each day. We’re all spending more time at home now than ever before, so why not have every single room work well for your daily lifestyle? I’m so happy she reached out. Let’s take a look at her design dilemma and some before pictures…

The Dining Room Before

Reader SOS Dining Room before

My husband, Ian, and I would love to turn our dining room area into something more functional for our family, considering we never use it as a dining room. Ideally, a game room with space for some toy storage too, in order to keep the toys out of the main living area of the first floor. We have two boys (4 and 2) with a baby girl due in September! 

Reader SOS Playroom before

The main floor is such an open space so I want to make sure it looks nice and matches the rest of the main floor without being too busy.

Reader SOS Playroom turned playroom before

Taking a Closer Look Around

I think their dining room space already has a lot going for it. The wainscoting is gorgeous, that green paint color is so pretty, and there is so much natural light flooding this room! Oh, and those family photos on the wall were taken by my talented assistant, Lindsey!

Reader SOS dining room before

Because this is the first area you see when you walk into their home, we need to make sure it’s a spot that stays tidy and keeps the toys out of sight.

Reader SOS Playroom to dining roombefore

Here’s what I propose we do…

  • Sell formal dining room table and rug. (We’ve had lots of success on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.)
  • Find a large round table that seats six
  • Build a DIY console with lots of cabinets for secret storage
  • Buy a new light fixture and rug
  • Install new curtains a bit higher and wider off the windows
  • Personalize the room with a family photo grid

Family Game Room – Inspiration

Photo via Studio McGee

I really like the idea of a round table for the dining room because it would be convenient for family game nights. Everyone can see what’s going on and be in on the action! I love this inspiration above, with the round table and the black and white family photo wall.

the house of silver lining

Photo via The House of Silver Lining

Storage is going to be a big part of the new family game room, and I like the idea of adding some sort of built-in cabinets like in the inspiration photo above.

Jenna sue curtains

Photo via Jenna Sue Design Co.

I mentioned in my gameplan that the room could benefit from some new curtains. I think going with a sleek black rod and cream-colored curtains, high and wide off the windows, will really add some drama to their new family game room.

The Furniture Plan

Okay, so now that we have a bit of inspo to guide us, here are some of my ideas for the furniture in the room. First up, let’s discuss the new table. From the peeks of the rest of the home in the before photos, I think their style leans a bit more traditional, so I don’t want to go too modern here. Plus, it needs to go with the look of the traditional wainscoting in the room.

We also need a table that will seat six comfortably, so I’m opting for a table with a 60″ diameter.

Round table from Arhaus

I really like this large round table from Arhaus. I’d opt for the “honey” color because a lot of the other wood in their house seems pretty dark and it’s always nice to have at least two wood tones throughout your home.

As for chairs, we could go with something a bit more budget-friendly. These black chairs from Target would look great against the white wainscoting and wood table.

The DIY Plan

Okay, so with the table and chairs done, let’s move onto the other components of the room. We gotta figure out some sort of storage solution for all of the toys and board games. I scoured the internet to try to find something large with loads of secret storage and found lots of expensive consoles and cabinets. Not my fave.

The floating credenza in our condo

Because of this, I think the best option is to DIY storage for the space. I’d envision a long line of cabinets along that back wall. I like the idea of creating a floating credenza – kinda like the “fauxdenza” I had in my condo’s guest bedroom. Here’s the tutorial. This is a budget-friendly solution that can be completely customized for your space.

In Kara’s room, I think they could opt for four or maybe even five cabinets across that back wall. Because the wainscoting is already white, I’d use a different color for the cabinet doors. IKEA now has lots of cool colors to choose from, and I would suggest a light gray like this one.

Fauxdenza for this family game room

For the top and the sides, they could use plywood, as I did, and stain it a color similar to the new dining table. That would look really sleek and tie the room together. Oh, and I’d probably go for these inexpensive brass knobs that would coordinate with the new chandelier. Which brings me to…

Lighting, Curtains, & Accessories

I would opt for a new chandelier in this space to spruce things up. I like this one because it has both brass and black, which would tie in the two main finishes of the room. It’s also large enough (32″ wide), which works well for a 60″ table.

Onto the curtains… As I mentioned above, I think they should opt for a black curtain rod (this is a great inexpensive option) with a cream-colored curtain (this one in “beige white”). If they hang them up higher, towards their crown molding, and 8-10 inches off the sides of the window, it would create a dramatic effect.

Cassian oriental rug

Now, let’s add some life and color to the room, because it is a family space after all! Even though the table is round, I would still opt for a rectangular rug. I’m not a huge fan of round rugs and think a large area rug in here would work better. I’d suggest adding some color that works well with the green walls. This rug would look fantastic in the space!

Family Photo Wall

Symmetrical gallery wall in the hallway

Jan’s Gallery Wall

Above the fauxdenza, let’s highlight that beautiful family. They already had family photos on that wall, but I think it would make a statement if we created a grid of frames. We could keep the photos in color, since they work well with the dark green, but opt for large brass frames with thick white mattes. I think four or six large frames in a grid would look fantastic!

Organized Games

Getting organized in your family game room

Photo via Thirty Handmade Days

Inside the cabinets, they’ll need to have a plan of attack to keep the games and toys organized. I know how quickly things can get crazy when you’ve got little ones. A system is always helpful. I really like this tutorial to streamline your games and keep all of the pieces organized. Then, I’d opt for more baskets and bins in the cabinets for other toys…just making sure everything has a place to call home.

Nine years ago, I took cheap tiles and a paint marker and created coasters that look like Scrabble pieces. This could be a fun activity for Kara’s kids and they could then keep the coasters in a cute tray on the fauxdenza for use during family game nights. (I saw this one at Target and wanted to buy it immediately!)

Family Game Room – Design Plan

Reader SOS family game room

Dining Table // Black Chairs // Gray Cabinet // Chandelier // Gold Frames // Curtains // Rug // Brass Knobs // Curtain Rod // Rattan Tray // Faux Ficus Tree // Basket  // Faux Succulent Bowl

Future Reader SOS Posts

Because I’ll be on maternity leave next month, I won’t be taking on any more Reader SOS posts this year. But please still submit them! I want to choose a few for the start of 2022. You can email your photos, design dilemma, budget, and information about your style and space to [email protected]. Can’t wait to see your submissions!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.