Help us find a purpose for our new den
August 5, 2014 3:03 PM   Subscribe

We're moving into a new house soon, and it has a somewhat unique "open" floor plan. The front door opens into the living room, facing a fireplace. To the right, there is a sunken (one step) carpeted den that's smaller than the living room. In the den, there are stairs that go up to a small loft. We're looking for some ideas on how to lay out the rooms, and maybe some unique uses for the den. (The upstairs loft will be an office.)

We don't have kids or anyone that would need a separate play room--our son is a dog (pictured). We're at a bit of a loss as to what to do with the den area. We are probably going to put the TV and couch in the living room, maybe facing the fireplace.

Here's a partial inventory of furniture that might be applicable:

- Big leather couch
- Big wooden entertainment console
- Smaller, but matching credenza; with nice glass doors to display the fancy stemware we don't own.
- Two bookcases
- A 46-gal fish tank, with fishes.

What we're looking for are some unique layout ideas or purposes for the sunken den. It's a bit too small to be the main sitting area with TV, and we don't have enough sitting furniture (or even the desire to) have separate sitting areas. We ain't (too) pretentious.

We could buy another piece or two of furniture if necessary.

Here is a picture of the den area:
Here is a rough sketch of the floor plan, with dimensions:
And here is the living room, from the den:

Thanks, hive mind!
posted by tybstar to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
Do you have a separate dining room? If not, then it seems like one of those rooms should have the dining table. The Den seems much cosier for a living space than the living room, since you aren't right next to the front door. I would be tempted to try and make it work for the TV and couch.

Otherwise - crafts room? Games room? Add lots of bookshelves and make it a library?
posted by Joh at 3:13 PM on August 5, 2014

I think this depends on your lifestyle and hobbies. Your layout is nice and if I lived there that den could be lots of things:

- Yoga space with nice lighting, clean clear floor, assistive equipment stored on a shelf under the small window.
- Craft space with folding table, storage boxes for supplies by the stairs, stacking stools.
- Secondary library with books crammed into every possible place, comfortable chair and reading light.
- An intermediary space for doing chores and dealing with messes so when they inevitably happen I don't have to first clear a spot to get things done. (Big batches of seasonal laundry, dog-related disasters, sorting lego, polishing shoes, etc)
- Gaming room with board game storage and lots of extra stackable chairs.
posted by Mizu at 3:15 PM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Is ball pit right out?

It would be helpful to know what sorts of things you do at home that the room might facilitate.

Do you entertain much? You could set up a bar in there to help pull party traffic away from the kitchen.

Or use it as a dining room if there isn't one elsewhere.

Card table / games room?

Crafts / hobby space?
posted by jacquilynne at 3:17 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh! There's a dining space off of the kitchen where we'll put a little bistro table, so the dining area is taken care of. Thanks. :)
posted by tybstar at 3:21 PM on August 5, 2014

posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:25 PM on August 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

I would probably turn it into a cozy reading nook, maybe with folding screens or something to partly separate it from the living room. It's good to have semi-private areas in the public-space parts of your house so you don't always feel like you're living on top of each other. But since it's just you guys and you already have the loft office, maybe not so necessary.

I have a friend with a slightly similar set-up to yours, and she just left the den-area empty. The first few times I went to her house I was like ... this is weird, the room with no furniture. Then I went to her PARTIES. She sets it up with a full bar for a cocktail party, or with card tables for sit-down brunch, or with a bunch of toy and crayons on the floor for a family barbecue where kids will be present ... because there is NOTHING IN IT, it is endlessly versatile for entertaining. She also uses it to lay out large projects and they don't get in the way because the empty room is basically just for projects and parties.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:33 PM on August 5, 2014 [7 favorites]

Library library library..... throw the TV in there too if you want, and make it an informal family-type entertainment area, maybe with a sofabed? Meanwhile the living room is a more formal area, for parties and other grownup stuff.
posted by easily confused at 3:39 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Game room. Either a pool table and a dart board or get a pinball machine and an old video game machine (Gallaga). Can also put a bar under the window.

Or go the other way and use it as a comfortable reading room.
posted by 724A at 3:44 PM on August 5, 2014

What a lovely home!

I'd fashion a library out of it! Put the fish tank next to the stairway, facing the window. If there's electric there.)

Put the bookcases under the transom window. A big chair in the middle of the room, or a loveseat, or a chaise to lounge upon while reading.

If you're inclined, it could be a wine room. Put a big wine fridge against the wall with the little window, and use the under-stairs storage for your 'cellar'. Get a bar-height table for the middle of the room. And you might re-purpose the entertainment center into a bar/glass storage unit.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:10 PM on August 5, 2014

It's lovely!

I get not wanting to buy more furniture but I think you might want to have it as a separate, quiet sitting area where one could hang and read a book while the other person watches TV, or, it's the cozy/informal TV room and the room with the fireplace is more of your elegant space where you drink whiskey in the winter (sorry, projecting).

I'll pass on this really useful bit of design advice I read somewhere that I've carried around like a mantra: "watch your transitions" - meaning rooms have to flow into each other, so you don't want a stark switcheroo from the living room to this room -- you'll want to feel like the two rooms are part of the same journey. Not the same room, definitely different, but the same journey.

For what it's worth here's what we're doing: we have a TV room where Mr. Llama and Little Llama are currently watching TV. There's a big open space between that and the room I am in, which is 'the living room' where my favorite chair is and my bookshelf with my gardening books and computer and stuff. It's where I like to hang out. They aren't far away from me, and I don't have to raise my voice to talk to them, but I'm also not currently watching cartoons. I know you don't have kids but the thing applies -- sometimes 'both together and separate, comfortably parallel' can be really nice.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:37 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Looks perfect for a baby grand piano. If you're not interested in taking that up, it would make a nice spot for a lightweight home office - writing table, wooden credenza for files, cabinet with the random office supplies a household needs.
posted by lakeroon at 6:57 PM on August 5, 2014

I think it really depends on what you like to do. But, do you have a guest room? If not, it might be an idea to put a pull-out couch in there (and use it as a library / craft space / other otherwise).
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:59 PM on August 5, 2014

I would get a small couch or chaise (or a futon to go simple/usable as a guest bed/cheap) and out it in front of the large window or against the far wall, a low bookcase (or use the credenza) and put your books/craft supplies/board games/etc. in it, and maybe a bar cart with an ice bucket and bar tools and stuff (and alcohol obv.) and make it your library/non-TV hangout space.
posted by MadamM at 9:07 PM on August 5, 2014

At least the far corner with the big window needs to be full of floor cushions and beanbags, with good reading light and a nearby bookcase. If I were you, I would then spend all my time lying in a puddle of books by the window. The dog would probably like hanging out with you there, too.
posted by lollusc at 9:24 PM on August 5, 2014

Pick out your favorite of all the great suggestions above and make it your Keeping Room. That name has long held ties to American architecture and I just think it sounds cool. That will be you everything room, or the "keeping room" where you keep and do your favorite stuff. Lovely home.... Congrats!!
posted by pearlybob at 4:58 AM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

That looks like a fishlibrary to me. Fish tank, bookshelves, nice lamp for reading, comfy chair. Done. And because fish and bookshelves are wall-dwelling furniture, you can always still move the comfy chair away and re-purpose it easily for parties or projects, as described by Eyebrows McGee. You'd get the flexibility of a mostly empty room, without the weird empty-room-ness in off hours.
posted by snorkmaiden at 8:17 AM on August 6, 2014

« Older Does anyone remember this story?   |   Explain "botched executions" Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.