Skip to Content

16 Great Ways to Repurpose an Open Formal Living Room

If you have a Formal Living Room that never gets used, I have 16 great ways to repurpose an open Formal Living Room into a space you’ll actually use!

Should you Repurpose an Open Formal Living Room?

Do you have a Formal Living Room that sits empty 99% of the year???

If you aren’t using that room in your house, but you think you need more space, maybe it’s time to repurpose that unused Formal Living Room.

We’ve used the Formal Living Room in our house as 3 different kinds of rooms in the last 10 years. As our family has grown we’ve needed that room to serve different uses.

Before I had our first kid, we popped a Pool Table in that room to use as a hang out space. A few years later, we realized that we NEVER used the Pool Table anymore. So, we switched that room to a Play Room full of toys for toddlers.

Now, those boys are in elementary school and into gaming, so we decided to give that old Formal Living Room a remodel. You can see the Before and After Family Room Makeover On A Budget with all of the pictures in a previous post.

But, the 3 ways we repurposed a Formal Living Room aren’t the only options. In fact, I have 16 excellent uses for an unused Formal or Front Living Room.

Image of 3 rooms in a house with text about 16 ways to repurpose and close off an open formal Living Room.
Don’t forget to Save or Share this list for later.

Some links on this post are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. 

How to Close Off an Open Room?

There’s 3 ways I can think of to close off an open room. First, close it off by building a wall to separate rooms. Second, build a wall with a door or French doors.

Or partially close off an open room by framing a wall with an arched doorway or cased opening, without a door.

If you are ready to take on building a wall, check out my posts for How to Remove an Arched Doorway in a Wall and How to Cut Drywall & Hang Drywall – 15 Beginner Tips.

Both of those posts are from closing off my open Formal Living Room. I removed an arched doorway on one side of that room, then framed it in and drywalled it.

Check out Do you use Caulk or Wood Filler on Wood Trim and How to Cut An End Cap for Molding, like Chair Rail, if you need tips for finishing off baseboards or other molding.

I always have tons of pictures and usually videos on my tutorials.

OK, let’s go over those 16 ways to repurpose an Open Formal Living Room.

16 Great Ways to Repurpose an Open Formal Living Room?

Home Office or Second Home Office Space

With so many people switching to at least partially working from home, office space has never been more important in a home.

Even if you already have one office, many couples are trying to find room for a second office in their homes. Working in the same office with a spouse that you already spend ALL DAY with is way too stressful. 😉

You can turn that Formal Living Room into a beautiful new office space pretty easily. Go for a low budget office makeover by just adding a desk and a door.

Or, you can turn it into the office of your dreams, adding beautiful built-in storage, a desk, colorful budget-friendly area rugs, even a small comfy seat and side table.

Image of a Home Office with white built-ins and a wood stain desk.
An old picture of our office built-ins. I’m thinking about painting the built ins soon. I have another post about that DIY Office Chair Makeover.

Home Library

If you don’t need a room with a desk, but you do need a place to store tons of books, you can repurpose that Open Formal Living Room into a beautiful Home Library.

You can line those walls with bookshelves for tons of books. Then add a cozy reading spot, like 2 velvet armchairs or a overstuffed leather sofa with a stylish coffee table.

A home library is a great addition when you have 1 or 2 readers that enjoy some peace and quiet, surrounded by books.

Homeschool Room or Homework Room

If you’ve permanently switched to homeschooling, you can repurpose a Formal Living Room into a great homeschool room where you can keep all of the kids school stuff hidden away.

And, even if your kids don’t homeschool, you might still need a dedicated room for your kids to do their homework, computer work, reading and writing assignments, etc.

Grab the printable Woodworking Build Plans for this beautiful DIY Kids Desk With Storage Drawers. Includes full build steps and build overview video to help you build your own. DIY furniture plan for a kids executive style desk.
You can find plans for this DIY Kids Desk with Drawers in another post.

Set up sweet little kids desks, shelves for all of the books and papers. Add a big work desk for arts and crafts or science experiments.

Give them a little computer station for computer work. Then a large chalkboard or whiteboard calendar to keep track of everything the kids need to do.

Play Room for Kids

If you have babies, toddlers, or young grade school kids, you know they have tons of toys, oversized playsets, and just stuff. Lots of stuff.

We used our Formal Living Room as a huge Play Room for a few years. It was a great place to set up the play kitchen, train table, giant blocks, and toy chests.

And, a play room is a great place to keep all of the toys out of sight when you just want to relax and pretend your house is clean. 😉

Yay! This Kids Play Kitchen DIY Woodworking Plan is an easy woodworking build with lots of fun additions that little kids will love! I have the tutorial, printable plans, and a video to help you get this built. #AbbottsAtHome #KidsKitchen #PlayKitchen #KidsKitchen #KidsFurniture #woodworking
Here’s my youngest playing with his DIY Kids Play Kitchen when we used this Open Formal Living Room as a Playroom. That’s his DIY Kids Desk with Drawers next to it. I have printable woodworking plans for both of those.

Music Room

Maybe your family really needs a Music Room. A space to play a piano or other musical instruments that can be closed off from the rest of the house.

You can decorate the walls with your instruments. That always looks fantastic! You can even find nice looking soundproofing panels and soundproofing curtains to reduce the sound outside of the room.

Family Room or Den

You can pretty easily turn an open Formal Living Room into a great Family Room or Den.

I think of a Family Room or Den as basically the casual version of a Formal Living Room. Instead of having a room that you keep perfect and never use, you create a casual, comfortable living space typically hidden out of view of guests.

This is the room where you can have magazines, books, and toys scattered around, puzzles out on the coffee table, and yesterday’s coffee mug still on the side table. This is the perfect space for gaming consoles too.

Check out this video to see a short before and after tour of our Formal Living Room turned into a Family Room.

WOW! Before and After Family Room Makeover with DIY Costs and Huge, Beautiful Built Ins

Video Game Room or Teen Lounge

If you have a house full of pre-teens or teenagers that need their own space, turn that room into a perfect lounge space for teenagers to relax and play video games.

I absolutely plan to upgrade our Family Room into the coolest teen hangout once my boys are older. I want to keep them where I can see them. 🙂

I’d give teens comfortable seating and 2 comfy gaming chairs. Maybe even a small fridge with a cabinet full of snacks.

I’d also give them French Doors that can be closed to reduce sound, but glass panes I can see through. What can I say, I’m a cool mom, but not that cool!

Traditional Game Room

Looking for something a bit more active, how about a traditional Game Room with a pool table, foosball, poker table, pinball machines, dart board, or a ping pong table?

I always wanted a Game Room with one of those old-fashioned 2 seat, sit-down arcade machines too. I’d play Pac Man all day! Throw in a snack bar and drinks area to make this room extra cool!

We turned our Open Formal Living Room into a Pool Table Room before we had kids. I wanted to add a pinball machine and a high bar table too. But, we never got around to it. 🙂

Sports Room

Turn that Formal Living Room into the over-the-top Sports Room the sports fan in your house always wanted. Hang Jersey’s and team memorabilia everywhere!

Install a huge TV with great sound to watch the games on. Add recliners or huge overstuffed couches with built-in cupholders too.

Home Bar or Home Speakeasy

Instead of a Sports Room, you can turn an Open Formal Living Room into a cool home bar or speakeasy. Just think of the coolest bar or pub you’ve ever been to, then try to recreate that.

I LOVE the idea of a secret door leading into a total hipster speakeasy. Or English pub doors on a room full of wood wainscoting, furniture, and traditional wallpaper. Add this DIY Simple Coffered Ceiling to amp up the design.

Home Theater

You can also turn that Formal Living Room into a Home Theater with huge theater chairs, a popcorn machine, and a large screen TV. I’d also add a snack bar and drink fridge too!

I like to tour Model Homes when I can. A few years ago I noticed that home builders had started adding Home Theaters to the ground floor instead of the 2nd floor. I LOVED it.

That makes more since in a home that has more rooms downstairs than upstairs.

Grey Blue Built In Entertainment Center in a Family Room.
When I designed and built this wall of storage in our Family Room, I made sure to have a huge space for a TV or movie screen between the 2 bookshelves. That makes this room more adaptable for changes later.

Exercise Room or Home Gym

More and more people want a home gym, or exercise room, in their homes. I know I do!

You can repurpose an open Formal Living Room into a home gym by adding walls and doors, a wall of mirrors, a TV to watch workout videos on, and all of your favorite gym equipment.

You’ll probably also want some clean towels handy, exercise or yoga mats, and maybe a fridge full of cold water.

Craft Room

Here’s a room that craft lovers and DIY bloggers, like me, always want. Craft Rooms are a great space that you can fill with all of your craft supplies and current projects.

Since I don’t have a craft room, I end up covering my Dining Room table with my latest upholstery project, or DIY wall art, and latest DIY furniture painting project.

And, from time to time, my sewing machine will sit on that Dining Room table for 2 or 3 weeks straight. If you are a crafter, or live with one, you know how it is!

So, turn that Formal Living Room into a Craft Room so that your crafter has a dedicated workspace and you get your Dining Room back. 🙂

Here's how I get the perfect layered paint and distressed paint finish with chalk paint on furniture. East how to distress paint steps and video to help you do it too! DIY White and Grey Distressed Furniture Look #PaintTips #Painting #Crafts #DIYCrafts #ChalkPaint
Look closely, that’s my Dining Room table under that DIY Wood Pedestal Table Base. You can find the steps for that chalk paint look in this DIY White and Grey Distressed Chalk Paint Furniture tutorial.

Guest Room or In-Law Suite

And, of course, you can convert a Formal Living Room into a cozy Guest Room. Usually, in the USA, you just need a closet and a window in a room to count it as an additional bedroom.

So, frame in a closet, add a pretty bed frame and some soft bedding, maybe a side table or 2 and you’ve got yourself a new guest bedroom!

Now, my Formal Living Room isn’t big enough to also add a bathroom. BUT, the Formal Living Room that my parents had in the 90’s was absolutely big enough to turn into a guest room AND full bathroom.

So, some of you can turn that unused Formal Living Room into an In-Law Suite, or second Master Suite.

Which has become a popular selling point in homes, so that people can give their elderly parents a comfortable, private, ground floor bedroom and bathroom to live in.

Split the Room in 2

And, don’t forget, when you close off an open Formal Living Room, you can turn it into 2 rooms! In the last idea, I mentioned using part of the room as a bathroom in a guest room.

BUT, you could use part of the room as a bathroom that has hallway access for the whole house to use. Or, it could be a hallway closet, or even as a nice mudroom and shoe storage area off of a foyer.

Then the rest of the room can become a small office, library, home gym, etc.

White trim molding finish carpentry in a large foyer with stairs with a black railing.
Here’s the Foyer side of the wall I framed in to separate it from our old Formal Living Room. Luckily, I already have a hallway closet and we have a mudroom in our Laundry Room. But, if we didn’t, I could have added a closet and/or coat and shoe storage here. Woodworkers can find the build plan for that DIY Console Table with Drawers in another post.

Multi-Purpose Room

And, last but not least, you don’t have to split off a Formal Living Room into 2 spaces to use it for multiple purposes. You can just get clever with the design and layout of the room.

Add a music practice corner into a teen lounge or family room. Or, combine the Library, English Pub, and traditional Game Room ideas together to make the coolest home lounge EVER.

Think about what your family really needs that room to be, then go for it. There are so many great ways to repurpose an open Formal Living Room!

Image of 6 different rooms in a house. Text says "16 Useful Ways to Repurpose a Formal Living Room".
Don’t forget to Save or Share this list for later.

More DIY Home Ideas For You

You might also like 7 Helpful Tips for Decorating a Large Wall in a Living Room.

Image shows an example of decorating a large wall in a living room. Text says "7 Helpful Tips".

Check out 14 Best Ways to Renovate A Living Room on a Budget!

Image of a Living Room with text over it. Text says: 14 ways to update a Living Room on a budget.

You might also like How to Repaint a Door without Removing It or this post on Why Is My Front Door Paint Bubbling & Blistering.

Can you repaint a door without removing it? Yes! But you need the right weather & paint. Here's the steps to get huge curb appeal in 1 day.

You might also What Happens If Your AC Filter Is Dirty or this post with the Best AC Filter Replacement for Cleaner Air in a Home.

What happens if your AC filter is dirty? A dirty filter can cost a lot of money if left too long. Be sure keep that filter clean! HERE'S WHY.

Looking for more DIY Furniture Ideas? Check out this DIY Over Washer and Dryer Laundry Table.

Free Plans for this DIY Laundry Table Over Washer and Dryer. This simple build hides those ugly machines, adds extra style and organization. And works as a Laundry Folding table too! #LaundryTable #LaundryFoldingTable #DIYFurniture #LaundryRoomIdeas #AbbottsAtHome

If you have a wing chair that needs a fresh look, check out Best Tips & Tutorials to Reupholster a Wingback Chair.

The best tips and tutorials to reupholster a wingback chair, with tons of pictures. I'm LOVING this blue velvet fabric on this chair, guys!

Feeling inspired? That’s it for what to do with a Formal Living Room that you don’t use! Let me know if you have questions.

Don’t forget to sign up for the Abbotts At Home email newsletter to get DIY, Remodeling, and Crafty ideas in your inbox.