Wondering what to do with a Formal Living Room?? Here’s 18 great ways to repurpose an unused Formal Living Room into a useful space!
What To Do With An Unused Formal Living Room
Do you have a second Living Room that sits empty 99% of the year???
If you aren’t using that room, but you’re always thinking you need more space, maybe it’s time to repurpose that unused Front 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. So we kept switching it up.
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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 turn that unused front room into a fun Family Room.
But, the 3 Formal Living Room alternatives we’ve tried aren’t the only options. In fact, I have 18 excellent alternative uses for Formal Living Rooms.
Quick side note before we get started on the 18 Formal Living Room alternatives. Let’s go over tips for closing off an open room that needs more privacy.
How to Close Off an Open Room?
There’s 3 ways I can think of to close off an open spare living room. First, close it off by building a wall. 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 show remodeling pictures from closing off my open Formal Living Room. During that remodel, I removed an arched doorway on one side of that room, then framed it in and drywalled it.
OK, let’s get started with what to do with a second living room.
18 Alternative Second Living Room Ideas
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.
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.
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.
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. 😉
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.
Family Room or Den
You can pretty easily repurpose Formal Living Room space 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.
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 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!
Check out 50 Best Traditional Game Room Ideas for more Game Room inspiration.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
Guest Room or In-Law Suite
And, of course, you can convert an unused 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 always turn it into 2 rooms! In the last idea, I mentioned using part of the room as a bathroom in a guest room.
Then the rest of the room can become a small office, library, home gym, etc.
Hidden Room or Panic Room
Hidden rooms and panic rooms are also great options when you don’t really need that front living room for daily use. You could close off that 2nd living room with a wall and hidden or secret door.
Then fill that hidden room with your security system, emergency water and food storage, safe weapon storage, and anything else you might need, but don’t want to see every day.
Anyone with a green thumb would love a whole room dedicated to their house plants. You could convert that second living room into a traditional garden room.
Just line a wall or 2 with beautiful plants, then add a sitting area and colorful area rug to create a peaceful, plant-filled retreat.
Garden rooms are also a fun place to fill with pretty vases and knick-knacks that might look cluttered in other spaces.
And, last but not least, you don’t have to split off an unused Front 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!
That’s for what to do with an unused front living room. I hope this list helped!
RECOMMENDED: 24 Great Ways To Repurpose an Unused Dining Room
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Feeling inspired? That’s it for extra living room ideas! Let me know if you have questions.
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