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Expand and Optimize Your Living Room Space

Here's how to create a more comfortable lounge area

En español | The couch is the new command center. We’re watching more TV, doing more puzzles, reading more news. Getting creative with furniture and layout helps you maintain harmony, even with competing interests.

photo of a living and dining room area with a lot of clutter

Amber Day

Problem: Table buried in laptops

Your college kids claimed the formal dining room as their online lecture hall and video game parlor. Great-Grandma's noisy old Singer competes irritatingly with Netflix binges. All you want to do is finish that blasted jigsaw puzzle. With multiple generations under one roof, turf wars often break out in common spaces.

design sketch of a living room dining room area

Amber Day

$ Budget

Sound off. “At a time when we're hyperaware of spatial boundaries and being on top of each other, sound dampening reduces tension,” Jonathan says. Oversized area rugs on tile or bare hardwood or a tapestry on a wall “minimize the little clanks and jangles or louder voices that, in quarantine, can become major annoyances.” Your puzzle solution: “A large Coroplast whiteboard as a base lets you move it from room to room, so you can puzzle in peace,” Drew says.

$$ Midrange

With more people in the house, the secret to harmony is “flex space,” Drew says. A dining room can do double duty with a desk surface that flips down from a hutch or console, he notes. Likewise, multifunction furniture pieces — a dining table (or even an ottoman) with hidden laptop storage or nesting surfaces that stack and hide away — let you “adjust a room depending on how it's being used."

$$$ Splurge

Double your hangout space by upgrading an unfinished garage or basement. On a recent episode of Celebrity IOU, the brothers helped Brad Pitt give the actor's makeup artist of 30 years the surprise renovation of her life by turning a 400-square-foot garage into a guest suite with marble-look island kitchenette, pop-up makeup station and bookshelves that swing open to hidden storage cabinets.

Renovation Ideas for Every Budget