Gone are the days when the extra room in your house was that forbidden room full of delicate family relics, heavy draperies, stark white carpet, and uncomfortable armchairs. Instead of being an untouchable space that borders on museum-like, today?s family rooms are full of life and character and can stand up to whatever your family will dish out. A family room is multi-purpose, perhaps serving as a media center, a dining room, a computer room, a quiet retreat, and/or an entertainment room.

Firstly, be realistic about the space. While you don?t want your room to look like your children?s toy chest, you do want to have a flexible space that can accommodate both the play and relaxing that you?ll be doing in it. Take stock of both what your family needs and what they want. What?s your family?s style? Do you love the ocean or a particular sports team? Consider decorating in a theme that you?ll all love?even if it?s just a springboard for the colors you choose to decorate in. Do you need an upgrade on your entertainment system? Would a flat-screen television mounted to the wall free up enough space in the room to allow dad to have his own recliner?

Next, consider the layout of your space. Go so far as to draw a diagram of the room, including any permanent fixtures, such as a fireplace and windows and doors. Then draw in any furniture that you already have and plan to keep. Then sketch in any new pieces you have in mind. Use the Internet to get ideas for layouts and furniture that will give you the most efficient use of space. Extra pieces that you may consider adding to your room, but may not necessarily need include:

?Bookshelves?both self-standing and built into the wall,
?Game tables for added entertainment,
?Desk space for computers and workstations, and functional pieces that double as storage spaces, such as an ottoman that opens to reveal a storage space, or a coffee table with a lower shelf for added storage.

Make your space kid-friendly. This doesn?t mean that you need to buy the cheapest furniture on the market for fear that you kids may destroy it before long. Let your kids have a say in the furniture and color theme of the room. This may give them a sense of ownership over the space, and give them pride in the room to help maintain its newness.

Low maintenance is a must. Even if you have a larger project planned, keep it simple. You don?t want the grandeur of the room to overshadow the purpose of the space?to give your family a place to spend time together in. Clean lines and little clutter make the space more useable and easy on the eye.

However big or little your project, there is an expert who can guide you through the process. If all of this planning seems like too much for you to tackle on your own, consider calling in the pros to help you out. The final and most important goal of putting together your room is to give your family a space to spend time together in. With some creativity and effort, you can create the perfect family room.