How Our Family Room Gained Useable Square Footage Without Knocking Down Walls

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Welcome to our family room! However, this photo was taken after moving into our little farmhouse in 2018, and we had been ‘making it home’ for only a year and a half. Standing inside our home and looking into this space made us both so, so grateful – we always knew that one day we would put our whole hearts into making this house into our home – and for us, it started with this one question:


How can we make better use this space? 


In this early 1900’s farmhouse, what started as a one bedroom house underwent multiple additions – in 1914, 1951, 1978, and in 2022. And with each addition, meant another room.

So, this blog is really going to help us with just one room of our homes – the family room – and I will show you the progression of how our family room gained usable square footage, without taking down any walls.

If you have a family room and are thinking that you may not be utilizing the square footage well enough, there are some simple and budget-friendly ways to implement better space optimization.


Tips In How a Small Family Room Can Gain Usable Square Footage … without taking down any walls:


CAMERA – Start with taking a photo of the room.  Seeing your space in 1 dimension helps so much in actually seeing the entirety of the room. You may want to take 2-3 photos so you can see the room in 3 different views. The point of this one tip is this – when you can look at a room in 1 dimension, you see with greater precision. You see the colors and textures that are either working or are fighting against each other. You see where there is ‘too much’ and you need to simplify, or you see where there is empty spaces or heights of the room void of something drawing the eye.

Like in this REALLY BEFORE photo below. This photo was taken after we had been living in the farmhouse 1 month. As I looked at the room, and then as I looked at several photos of this room, (always knowing this was going to be a room in progress),  I saw all the mix-match of furniture, the height of the room wasn’t fully being utilized –  everything looked squatty and busy. The walking space was so narrowed in places that I could see possible ‘toe stubbing’ happening around the coffee table.   Also, keep in mind that lighter colors truly do enlarge a space – if that is what you are wanting to achieve. Darker or warmer colors may not necessarily ‘shrink’ a space, (although that can be the result of dark walls), but dark or warmer colors can definitely set a very inviting atmosphere. Rip and I were wanting a bright, light, and clean family room so the first thing we did was paint.


COLOR – Paint the walls a light color and try to keep furnishings all in a cohesive color. I painted the walls Amazing Gray (Sherwin Williams). It did help lighten up the room from the taupey brown that was on the walls when we moved in. Then we added the love seat into the space so the sofa could go along the longer wall. And the furniture then matched. After rearranging, next we added the dark curtain rod (to match the coffee table and end table) and to help frame the windows before we hung the drapes. The carpet came up and we found the original hardwood floors that were put down in the 1940’s. They got a nice sanding, staining and sealing. The rug and the white console table was added for warmth and service (the TV sat on top of the console table.)

But then … as much as we enjoyed the room just like this for over a year … it was still not a room where we felt the space was really being used best and everything was still feeling “tight.”


SIZE/SCALE – Evaluate the size/scale of furniture in your room. Although the quality of this photo is not very clear, it shows how we made some final changes that helped seem as though we gained square footage without tearing down any walls.  Large pieces of furniture can take up so much space that a room can feel much smaller than it actually is.  Out of our family room, the oversize console table, the large coffee table, and end table were given to my daughter and her husband, and that really opened up the space. Then, we replaced them with a more narrow console table, smaller oval size coffee table, and a small iron and marble top table between 2 new chairs.  The love seat found its new home in the apartment of a college student, and the rug .. well, it was soiled by our dachshund, Oscar, that it needed to go. But once we took it out, we both loved how the wood floors reflected all the light that comes pouring in! Helps make the room look so much more spacious and clean – and it IS so much easier to keep clean, too.



CLEAR OUT CLUTTER – Keep the room free of clutter.  Clutter and over-decorating can also take up valuable square footage. Try to keep things off the floor and not too many “sit-a-arounds” on the tops of furniture. When there is a lot to visually take in, that often times equates to … a busy enclosed space.


COHESIVENESS – Lastly, consider the adjoining rooms.  Many times, a family room is visually connected with another room…either a dining room, a sunroom, kitchen or even a laundry space. How do the rooms “work together?” Do both spaces have the same wall color? Same flooring? Same decor’ style, etc? In other words, when rooms that touch and share a good bit of transitional space, the larger and more spacious it will look and feel.


Creating more space by using colors, size/scale, clearing out clutter, and a cohesiveness can truly make a room or rooms seem as though they have gained square footage, … when in reality, they literally maximized on what was already there.

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lisa rippy

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