With an unusually large number of South Floridians, including adults working from home, school and college students, the family house has become more than just a place to seek refuge from the usual daily routine, to be the focal point of the daily routine. Therefore, with more people being in the house than usual it is important to make the home as comfortable, and attractive as possible.
Coming from the Caribbean most people are accustomed to a home with dining and living rooms. However, on moving into a dwelling house in South Florida, in addition to the traditional dining and living room there is usually another room, sort of an additional living room, usually referred to as the ‘Florida room.’
This room is usually located with access to sunlight, adjacent to the back patio, yard or swimming pool and is meant to be airy and bright. The room is the one most used by family members to watch TV, play board and electronic games, listen to music, entertain visitors, and have discussions. Hence, the room is also called the ‘Family room.’ In short, this room is the most popular room in the house, and because family members spend so much time there it ought to be comfortable and beautifully decorated. However, more often than not some homeowners tend to spend money, time and effort decorating the living room, which in many South Florida is rarely used, instead of focusing on the Florida room.
It’s expected that the Florida room should have large windows, vertical or horizontal, or a wall comprised of a large French window or sliding glass door. This is to let in the sunlight. Some residents may hang colorful retractable blinds before these windows or doors, but others may prefer hanging drapes. However, drapes are more suitable for the living or dining room. Some may hang colorful retractable light curtains that don’t interfere with the flow of light into the room. However, colored retractable blinds can be perfect for the family room.
The room should be colorful, but not gaudy. However, color is a personal choice. One person may like walls painted with pastel shades, accentuated with attractive paintings, sketches or wooden carvings; while others prefer brightly painted walls. The thing is to make the walls attractive either with the color of the paint, or the accessories placed on the walls.
There are other people who may want to cover the walls of the family room with attractive wallpaper, but this is becoming rarer. Wallpaper tends to not be durable, plus being able to paint and repaint the wall, once this can be afforded, offers more options in decorating the family room.
Carpeting may be less expensive than wooden or ceramic tiled floors, but it is recommended that the Florida room be not carpeted. Since it likely is the most used room in the house, if it’s carpeted the carpeting can become easily soiled and very unsightly. Polished wooden floors are preferred. If the floor is of ceramic tiling, it can be accentuated with attractive throw rugs that can be removed during playtime or house parties.
The Florida or family room should be furnished tastefully. It’s not a room to dump the old furniture you are removing from the living room, or furnish with odd pieces of furniture bought at yard/garage sales.
Since this is the room where the family mostly gathers, it needs comfortable chairs and sofas. Recommended are a comfortable recliner for the man of the house, a three-seat sofa, and a love seat. Some people may also want to place comfortable single chairs in the room.
Years ago, people tended to decorate the Florida room with furniture made of rattan or wicker, and accentuated with colorful cushions. This is still acceptable, but rather old school. The room can be decorated with furniture of leather or fabric, encased in wooden or metallic frames. The furniture should not be too bulky though to seem to suck the air from the room.
Homeowners are cautioned to be wary of purchasing faux-leather sofas, and recliners. These synthetic furnishers have become popular as people react to aggressive advertising by furniture retailers, and most are affordable, The problem after an average of two years they begin to strip, and looking very unsightly. While they are material on the market advertised to polish and preserve these faux-leather furniture, they are merely temporary fixes. Leather furniture looks wonderful in either the living or Florida room, but please ensure they are genuine leather. Of course, they’ll cost more, but they’ll last much longer.
A very economical way to decorate the Florida room is to use colorful large cushions, or throw-pillows, creatively placed in the room.
Like the living room the Florida room should have a center table, and side tables for the sofa. For lighting at night, there can be either table lamps or standing lamps placed close to the chairs.
In every home, a television set is the focal item of entertainment. Thank goodness for the flat-screen TV. It takes up much less space than the old bulky sets. It’s recommended that the set should be mounted on a wall, accessible for easy viewing by all. You may want to also have a PlayStation for the kids to play games. Or the family can play games on the TV.
Understandably, more people are working and participating in school and college classes from home, but, please for goodness sake do not place a desk in the Florida room. It just detracts from the décor of the room. Laptop computers are perfect as they can be used in the family room without taking up much space. If you have a desk try to place it in a bedroom, or a den, rather than in the Florida room.
Other recommended accessories for the Florida room include souvenirs from travels, photo albums, framed photographs, tall potted plants, craft items like wooden or ceramic sculptures, attractive table-top books, or bounded books in a bookcase, and magazines in a magazine rack. Small potted plants can also be placed on side tables and window sills within the room. Do not clutter the room with outdated magazines and newspapers. These are very unsightly.
Assuming there is sufficient space, the room can also be furnished with a small liquor table or cabinet, since this is the room where most entertainment likely takes place.
In conclusion, try to make the family room comfortable, airy, well-lit, and tastefully decorated as possible. It’s the family room so make it the room where the family wants to gather, relax and interact positively with each other especially in these stressful times.