Anatomy of a Room Redesign Part 1

Less is more unless you’re trying to have a functioning family multipurpose room. A reader asked for help with redesigning her family room. This column will share the dialogue between us to understand the needs of the family in order to create a functioning, attractive space. Follow the journey and stay tuned to my next column for my suggestions. This may help you access a room in your own house.

Question: What would you do to this room? We want to keep the floor and the TV. Most others can be replaced or repurposed or painted. Can you do this with photos?


The start of space planning

My response: We need to establish the main purpose of the room before redesigning. Right now, it is the ‘everything’ room: TV, office, library, gym, and storage. It is important to decide then define the main purpose of the space. Visualizing myself in the space, I feel overwhelmed. Love the windows and cathedral ceiling!

Space planning is difficult without walking through the entire house. I like to compare it to a restaurant review without actually dining in it, as there are many layers to consider. Not knowing what the rest of the house looks like, if these functions can land elsewhere or continue as a multi purpose room.

After being in the staging/redesign business for 15 years, many clients are surprised by my suggestions. We get acclimated to the way things are that we can’t see the potential for improvements by simply moving items around or to other rooms as part of the solution.

Photo provided by reader


Questions to access the family’s needs:

  • How many people typically use this room?
  • How many people would you like to accommodate not including large family/friend gatherings?
  • What is in the corner hutch? Are those items necessary to stay in this space?
  • Is the treadmill used? If yes, is there another location for it?
  • Bookshelves: Do you want to keep all of those books? Is this the room for it?


  • Do you plan on replacing the large sectional or keeping it? As comfortable as they are, it is very limited for space planning & consumes a lot of floor space.


  • Family photo gallery: do you want to display all of them or edit the amount? Can the gallery be relocated somewhere else like a transitional/pass through area such as a hallway?


  • Who uses the desk? Does someone actually sit & use it regularly? Can it be moved somewhere else in the house.



Homeowner’s answers:

3 people use this room daily, but 5 regularly outside of large gatherings. Corner hutch has throw blankets, pillows for when watching TV and large serving platters as well as CDs. Some items are related to the space, others are not.

Yes, I use the treadmill fairly regularly. No place else really to put it. I have a bedroom upstairs that I also use as office space and it already has another bookshelf and desk.

I want to replace the large sectional, but need close replacement of number of seats available. Family photos can be relocated to upstairs hall or the stairway itself.

I guess I wanted your opinion if those pieces can stay or absolutely must go. I think the hutch must stay. No other room to repurpose it to. The desk and bookshelf would be a pain to move but I’m open to it. 


Follow the plan in my next column, October 28.