Making Your House Work: Out with the Living Room, In with the Live-In Room


A big part of Making Your House Work for You is thinking outside the box to redefine spaces. This week, Marcie shares how her family ditched the formal living room for a room that her family actually lives in.

The Living Room

Music is an important part of our family. It is how my husband and I met and something we enjoy doing together. As newlyweds house hunting, each house we looked at I would think, “now where would I put a piano?” 

The formal living room in the 1980s house we chose delighted me. A whole room for my piano (admittedly at the time we didn’t even have a piano and once we got one…well, let’s just say it doesn’t need its own room).

I populated the room with a white sofa, glass coffee table, wall to wall bookcases, and a gallery wall. All so kid-friendly don’t you think 😉 

Let’s face it, other than singing together at the piano and sitting by the Christmas tree, we never used the room. Actually, no one was allowed to use the room (remember, white sofa and glass coffee table). It began to collect all the junk that had no other place in the house. It was a depressing, cluttered waste of space. A far fall from formal parlors of yore where hosts greeted guests with fancy cocktails and clever conversation. 

Real life – Clutter is the only thing living in this room

For most modern-day families, the formal living room is an unused space – either nicely decorated with furniture too fancy to use or cluttered with all the stuff with no place. [I really want to know the etymology of whoever named it a “living” room since no actual living takes place in it. They fail.]


The Live-In Room

This summer we pulled the plug and ditched the living room. It is now the most used room in the house – the Craft Room.

The kids sit at the round table in the middle working on their own crafts or schoolwork or playing board games while I sew. It allows me to be close by but not hovering (that struggle is real). And the piano still has a place.

In the design of the room, function is queen. A long 15′ desk made of oak plywood houses my main workspace: three sewing machines and a cutting area.

The round table in the middle is a thrift store find for $20 given new life with a coat of bright paint (Sherwin Williams Morning Glory). Two acrylic chairs from IKEA complete the sitting area.

Crafting comes with a lot of junk. I strategically placed the IKEA Kallax shelving unit on the wall that is not visible from the front door. I dream of those cubbies perfectly organized. But I would rather spend my time sewing. Priorities.

The paint scheme complements the functional design and the neutral colors serve as the backdrop for photographs of my creations. The long horizontal stripes in pure white and deep charcoal (Sherwin Williams Peppercorn) draw the eye across the long workspace.

A crafting space obviously isn’t a good use of space for every family. But think outside the box. What could that stuffy formal living room become that your family will actually live in? A playroom; an office; a kids’ office with all the things they need to get their crafts and schoolwork done; a glorious/glamorous laundry room/mudroom with a hidden Mom-only snack stash?

By the way, if you do use your formal living room daily for serving cocktails and entertaining clever conversation, invite me over! You’re my kind of friend.


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