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Living Space: Give your abandoned living room new lease on life

By By Kathryn Weber
Dec. 6, 2012 at 6:06 a.m.

Your empty living room might be a perfect practice room for  budding musicians in your family.

Once upon a time, living rooms were filled with white sofas and dainty crystal objects. They were neat, pretty and always ready for company. Back then, unexpected visitors were expected, and this room was prepared just for them. Today, the formal living room has gone the way of record players and TV trays.

All the action has moved to the family room or great room. Many living rooms sit unused, collecting dust. But with a little creativity, you can transform your living room into an up-to-date, inviting space.

For one family who entertained frequently, it was tough fitting everyone around the dining room table, so they moved their feasts into the living room, which had much more space - and a fireplace. They converted the old dining room into a wine bar and lounge, where guests could mingle before dinner in the new, larger formal dining room. The fireplace was the biggest draw, adding an extra touch of elegance to meals.

A fireplace also makes an excellent backdrop for a library or man's study. Wrap the walls of an unused living room with masculine wallpaper, add some leather chairs and, voila, you have the perfect spot to read the paper in the morning or enjoy a brandy and a good book in the evening. A smoking room with a billiard table is another terrific way to put an empty living room to use. Hang heavy velvet drapes to lend a classic, intimate feel.

If you have children, the possibilities are even greater. Growing families always need extra space. Plus, it's easy for toys, sports equipment and kid paraphernalia to take over the house. Why not turn your abandoned living room into a designated kid zone? Consigning play items to this room means other rooms stay neater.

Many children are homeschooled today, and an old living room can become a fine "homeroom." If your kids are older and play musical instruments, keep their guitars, violins, flutes and saxophones here, and as they age, the space can be converted into a music room.

As more and more workers telecommute, an unused living room also makes a perfect spot for a work center.

Regardless of how you decide to convert your formal living room, it's easy to delineate the space with room dividers or close it off from the rest of the house with heavy drapes across doorways. If the room is far from the front door and can be closed off completely, this could be the perfect set up for a media room.

And don't forget that many families now use the living room to sit and talk and the family room to watch TV, so consider converting your unused living room into a second family room for games and conversation.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, redlotusletter.com.

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