When we see our children growing up so fast, we tend to worry too much about them. So when my husband and I realized that our two boys are getting to that age where they could get into trouble if they choose the wrong friends, we decided to take things into our own hands. But rather than have them call home every hour to check in with me, my husband and I decided to transform my underused exercise room into a haven for entertaining friends.
Even when I can hear my boys and their cousins arguing over the next Xbox game to try, I can’t help but smile knowing that they’re safe and sound, with plenty of nutritious snacks from which to choose. If you’ve ever witnessed my children on a caffeine high, you’ll understand why this is important to me. Other moms in the neighborhood appreciate it, too.
Room to Grow
I admit, we designed the room around the sort of area we would want to spend time in as well. After all, my boys will be in college soon and we wanted an area that speaks to the teenager in us all. Needless to say we decked out the room with all the trimmings, this includes a juice bar, mini fridge and plenty of comfortable seating.
Pulling It All Together
- Look around for Ideas – Catalogs, magazines, and home improvement shows like Design on a Dime, and the previously mentioned Man Caves, provided a wealth of fantastic ideas for how we wanted the room to function and look. After we decided on the sorts of items we wanted to feature within the room we started thinking of ways to recreate the look for less.
- Decide on a Theme – We wanted something versatile and timeless, but everyone in the family had a different idea of what that meant. Everyone unanimously agreed when I tossed out the idea of an NFL theme featuring our favorite teams and players. Little did they know this was my clever way of displaying posters of sexy quarterbacks like Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Mark Sanchez and Matt Leinart.
- Swap out furniture from another room – Before we spent money on excess seating and décor we did a top-to-bottom inventory of our house, gathering up football memorabilia from all of the other rooms for use in our gaming room. This saved us quite a bit of money as we discovered we were able to clear up clutter in other areas of the house for the sake of decorating elsewhere.
- Enlist the help of friends – Once we were able to get a clearer idea of what sort of seating, storage and color schemes we would need we set the boys and some of their friends to work. Some of the kids put together inexpensive bookshelves, others painted the walls, and all were content to accept pizza and cheese sticks as payment. Having many hands helping made for light work and lots of fun for everyone involved.
- Consider storage options – Keeping video games organized can be a real headache, that’s why we included some simple baskets and boxes as storage items. Some of our ottomans even open up to provide a flat surface for food service, as well as plenty of space inside for storage. The baskets and boxes we keep stowed on the inexpensive bookshelves and their coordinating colors really pull the room together.
- Shop at flea markets – While a few of our decorative items came from the official NFL store, some of our most noteworthy keepsakes came from flea markets, thrift stores, estate sales,and Craigslist. If you’re willing to spend the time hunting, you’ll not only find a bargain but it will probably get lots of appreciative comments.
- Make it yourself – Being an artist, I can’t help but get my hands dirty with some paint, glue, or glitter. Besides, this extra DIY touch adds something special to the finished product. In my case the something special took the form of my son’s pee-wee league jerseys proudly displayed in decorative frames – right next to the pros.
- Use unconventional materials – When the local junior high announced renovations were taking place, I couldn’t help but grab a small row of lockers for use in our recreation room. Of course we painted them in coordinating colors to match our theme. Speaking of coordinating colors, do you have any idea how hard it is to find a valance that ties together one’s love for the Dallas Cowboys with a diehard affection for the Steelers? If you’re having similar difficulties, consider what the rainbow array of duct tape colors can do to liven up your décor. Duct tape, I’m serious.
Family Fun Begins at Home
Our boys love their hideaway so much that they often invite us in to enjoy family game nights. Granted, me and the fireman are in charge of bringing the pizza, but it’s a fantastic excuse to enjoy some family time that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Lately I’ve been comparing prices of retro Coca Cola machines, I’m convinced it will make the room feel totally complete.
About the Author
When Becky James-Muth first started her freelance writing career she wrote exclusively for an online gaming company, something which earned her a great deal of favor from her two teenaged sons. She enjoys being a stay at home mom because it affords her plenty of time to educate her children and watch them grow into what she considers fine, upstanding citizens. This year she will be shopping at http://www.menshideaway.com for great retro games. When she’s not occupied with homeschooling her boys, Becky can be found enjoying long walks with her beloved dog, Gingerbelle.