If you’re thinking about creating a game room in your home now that the kids are in school — or if the video games and their consoles are constantly underfoot or under couch cushions — now’s the time to start planning your game room decor so the space works for the entire family.
Purposing Your Space
If arcade games, pinball machines, or carnival games are your thing, your game room is going to look very different from one that features a ping pong, pool, or card table. The same goes for a predominantly board game-focused room or a room designed for video gaming.
Knowing how you’ll realistically use the room is key to getting the decor right and making the space a home away from home. That could mean creating a fabulous space for neighborhood kids to gather, or a man cave/she shed where you can occasionally escape from homework supervision and chores to watch a rom-com or play a rousing round of Call of Duty or Dungeons and Dragons.
Attics, Basements, and More
Basements aren’t the only options for game rooms. Take a look at your attic space, or consider repurposing your family room, den, spare bedroom, built-in porch or sunroom. You can even use part of the garage, depending on what kind of game room you want yours to be.
When thinking about the space, consider existing lighting, wiring, and typical temperatures. Also, consider what improvements you’ll need to make the space cozy and inviting.
For instance, if vintage pinball games or billiards are your thing, make sure the floors you’ve got can take the load and your doorways are wide enough to get the equipment into the room. Standard pinball machines are about 32 inches wide and weigh 200 to 300 pounds, and pool tables (unless they have slate tops) are about the same. If you’re looking at an attic game room, you may have to reinforce the floor joists.
Choosing Your Lighting
If video gaming is your game room’s primary purpose, you want to make sure you eliminate sources that can create ambient light or exacerbate glare. Consider blackout curtains and stay away from light, glossy paints with their reflective surfaces.
In multi-purpose game rooms, you’re going to want to create layers of lighting. Avoid bulky overhead fixtures and instead install pendant lighting over the areas you want to be illuminated, like the poker or pool table. Recessed lights and a single pendant light will work for the area around a foosball or poker table, but you may want a different kind of lighting for board games and jigsaw puzzle assembly.
Soundproofing and Wiring
If the room you’ve decided to designate the family game room is already finished, adding insulation or soundproofing can be an expensive proposition. Blow-in loose-fill insulation is inexpensive and really helps with noise transmission, but sound panels and blankets will do the trick, too. Carpeting is the ultimate stealth soundproofing decor choice, and if you’re replacing the carpet, you can choose a thicker underpad when the new carpet is installed.
For higher-tech game rooms, wiring can run under the new carpeting (but check with your electrician first). Alternatively, you can use wirehouses or cable tracks to bundle wires. You’ll need grounded outlets for arcade and pinball machines. Video gamers will appreciate a hardwired data connection to avoid stalling, which can ruin the immersive experience, and an upgraded router that can handle all your home’s interconnected devices.
Furniture and Decor
Comfort is king in game rooms, and again, usage will dictate decor. Proper gaming chairs with stellar lumbar support are crucial for video gamers, while flooring materials that provide a little more cushioning are more important for billiards, ping pong, or darts.
In multi-purpose game rooms, furniture that’s both comfortable and easy to rearrange makes sense. That doesn’t mean cornering the market in bean bag chairs. You’ll need furniture you can sprawl on when watching movies and comfortable chairs for intense poker sessions or chess bouts that last longer than planned.
Keep colors and wall treatments simple. This is not the spot for flocked wallpaper or elaborate feature walls. Your game room will probably already have a lot going on. Consider echoing or amplifying the colors of your games themselves, especially if you have arcade or pinball games or a pool table with a distinctive felt shade.
Make sure you’ve got storage, whether built-in, purpose-built, or a repurposed closet. No one will want to spend time in a game room that looks chaotic (or hours hunting for the video game they want to play). This might be the perfect spot for a pallet wall where you can hang pool cues or ping pong paddles.