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18 Great Ways to Repurpose an Unused Formal Living Room (Second Living Room)

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.

We turned our unused Front Room into a Pool Table room when we first moved in. But, once we had kids the toys started to take over and we really needed a Play Room that wasn’t visible from the Front Door.

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.

What can I do with an unused front living room? Here's the best unused formal living room alternatives.
Now that our boys are older, we converted that extra Living Room into a fun Family Room where they can play games and watch kids shows.

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.

Here's how to remove an arched doorway in a wall with tips for demo, framing, and how to square off rounded arches.
I removed the arched opening here so that I could close off this opening.

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 Best Formal Living Room Alternatives. Ways to repurpose a 2nd Living Room.
Here’s what to do with two living rooms.

18 Alternative Second Living Room Ideas

1. 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 office chair and side table.

2. 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.

I am LOVING this Before and After Family Room Makeover Transformation! Check out the amazing pictures and budget friendly DIY projects.
If I wanted a home library instead, could have easily made this whole wall of built in storage just bookshelves with cozy chairs for reading.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

WOW! DIY Before and After Family Room Makeover with Huge Built-In Entertainment Center

7. 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!

If you’re wondering, What Equipment Do I Need To Get Rid Of Cable TV? Here’s 7 EASY Options. Including gaming consoles!

8. 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.

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. 🙂

9. 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.

10. 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.

Drink bar area in a white kitchen with trim and crown molding.
We have a mini drinks station in our kitchen cabinets. But, a fun home speakeasy could be a cool option, if you enjoy mixed drinks and having guests over.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

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 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 open Front 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.

16. 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.

I love this option as someone that lives in a hurricane area. I always need more emergency supply storage.

Image of 6 Gallon Water Storage containers with text that says 'Water Storage 101' for a post about how to store water for emergency.
Check out my tips for safe emergency water storage in a previous post.

17. Garden Room

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.

18. Multi-Purpose Room

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!

18 alternative second living room ideas for anyone with an unused front living room or formal living room to repurpose.
Don’t forget to Save or Share this list of alternative 2nd Living Room ideas!

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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