The Australian Dream Series


Room sizes & layouts - Family Rooms

The family room being the hub of the home caters for a variety of activities and individual requirements ranging from watching television, reading, casual entertainment, eating, conversing and catching up on the days events through to just plain relaxing and contemplating.
Being one of the most used areas of the home it needs to be large enough to cater for all the family and their needs and also be 'warm and inviting'.

As with the Lounge area, there are many questions to be asked.

Is the Kitchen area to be open to the room so that the person cooking can be a part of the activities during meal preparations?
Is the meals area to be included or situated within a separate Kitchen layout?
What activities are to be catered for? - Will computers be set up in a separate room?
Does space need to be allowed for a bookshelf?
Does the area need to be large enough to enable zoning for different activities?
With older children staying up later of an evening playing music or entertaining their friends, is a separate Games room warranted so that you can read, watch television or converse with your other half in peace?
The size of your family, age of any children and ultimately your budget will determine many of these factors.
Depending upon your lifestyle the Lounge area may double as the principal family area with the Family room taking on more of a role as a games area.

This figure shows a Family room layout together with its relationship to the other areas of the home.
The Entry (not shown) is to the left, above the Lounge area.
The kitchen area has been placed to look out over the family area, to include the chef in the activities of the household, and is also centrally located between both formal and informal eating areas for ease of serving meals.
Traffic paths are reasonably uncluttered and work well with the furniture placement and zoning within the room.
The sliding doors placed on opposite sides of the room provide excellent cross ventilation and light as well as access, as the weather dictates, to outdoor leisure areas on either sides of the home.
With the entry hallway centred on the room, the eyes are drawn to both left and right when entering giving a feeling of spaciousness. By positioning the Bedroom zone doorway at the end of the wall it not only leaves more useable space for wall units, television etc. but it also places the walk space to join in with the traffic path from the external sliding door across to the Kitchen area, enabling better use of the seating area.

Within the context of the homes orientation on the site, the general positioning of the family room will vary depending upon the climate, remembering that the room needs to receive plenty of light.
In hot humid climates excluding the sun and capturing cool breezes will be a priority.
In cool temperate climates orientation to the north to maximise winter sun penetration will be a priority.
Climate zones in between will have varying degrees of influences.
Added to this, aspects such as views, outlooks and access to outdoor entertaining areas, swimming pool areas or even through to excluding views of your neighbours kitchen window, will set parameters for the physical location of the family room.

The shape, size and location of the Family room is not a simple case of doing A,B or C for circumstances 1,2 and 3.
Whereas we know that the Lounge room will need to be placed relatively close to the front access point of the home to greet visitors, the placement of the family room is more flexible and will be tied into other design requirements for the home.
It may be that the best arrangement for your site due to traffic noise is to locate the bedrooms to the very back of the home thus placing the family area towards the centre. On a long narrow site, to have access and viewing to the back yard the family room will be placed at the back and the bedrooms placed accordingly.
A site having a wide street frontage with the home axis across it will present a different set of circumstances.

The family room layout above is also very workable, has ample glass for winter sun penetration and provides easy access to outdoor entertainment and leisure areas.
In cooler climates the pergola area could be constructed with removable shading or a deciduous vine and for climates where sun exclusion may be a priority year round, construction could be in the form of a fixed roof or verandah.

The Kitchen area is again merged with the family area, giving an expansive outlook to the garden setting or possibly young children playing outside while meals are being prepared.

A drawback to the layout is the open triangular space, running from the doorways either side of the Kitchen to the external glass sliding door, created by traffic flow paths.
The open area is not detrimental in itself but does restrict the placement or rearrangement of furniture. Relocating the sliding glass door more towards the meals area would create greater useable seating area space whilst still maintaining adequate room and circulation space for the table and chairs. The traffic path through the Kitchen is to one side, allowing free movement around the sink area.

A feature which is discussed further in 'Kitchen design'is the incorporation of a raised section of bench top to screen the working surfaces within the Kitchen from the Family area and to also provide a good eating height from stools for casual snacks etc.

The positioning and type of heating needs to be considered in conjunction with the requirements you have determined for your Family area. You may decide that  an open fireplace in the Lounge area and a free standing combustion fire in the Family room is a combination that will suit your uses of the areas. It may be that instead of the combustion fire, a wall furnace on the meals wall with a rear register to the Lounge will be sufficient for your heating requirements. If using ducted heating, locating floor registers away from windows may need to be considered for efficiency. (if building on a concrete slab registers will need to be placed in the ceiling)
Which ever system is to be used, its location and how it will tie in with the layout needs to be determined.



Room sizes & layouts - Master Bedrooms >>