A Living Room for the Whole Family

Sarah Richardson, host of Sarah 101, shares five ingredients for a living room that satisfies kids and parents.

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  • Sarah's House

    Designer and mom of two Sarah Richardson has come up with just the right mix for success. \"I wanted a spot that the kids felt was their own,\" says Sarah. \"At the same time, it couldn't be just a zone of toys and mess.\" See how she whips up a room that appeals to the whole family.

  • Family Room 101

    As the ultimate common area, a family room has to offer something for everyone: space for playing, working and, of course, TV watching. Sarah's family room, a light-filled rectangular space on the bottom floor of her Toronto home, is where daughters Robin, 6, and Fiona, 4, have playdates and do art projects. It's also where the family gathers for movies and reading time. The comfy sectional has room for everyone. She says to steer clear of too-large sectionals that take over the room. Hers measures 9 feet across and 6 feet long (at the chaise). The cushions are covered in white denim cases, which zip off and go in the wash.

  • Home Theater

    \"Despite the fact that I work in television, I don't think a TV belongs in every room,\" says Sarah. Instead, she suggests picking one place for TV watching and going all-in with a great big setup. The Richardsons have a ceiling-mounted projector (which you can find at a home electronics store starting at $50), surround-sound speakers and a 6-foot-by-9-foot screen that retracts into a custom box at the push of a button.

  • Fireplace Art

    When not watching TV, the screen retracts, revealing a pretty painting.

  • Kid-Friendly Furniture

    Instead of buying \"kid\" furniture, Sarah looks for grown-up pieces with dual functions. Her vintage coffee table's laminate top wipes clean easily. \"The girls have tea parties there — but it'll survive as a coffee table once they outgrow the height,\" she says.

  • Movie-Watching Window Treatments

    In rooms where window treatments are for adding softness rather than blocking light, Sarah uses solid fabrics or basic patterns. But here, where she often closes the curtains — for a theater effect or to add warmth — she had lined, zigzag panels custom-made, then hung them from the ceiling on a simple track. \"This bold fabric has great energy,\" she says.

  • Practical, Stylish Rug

    This Persian wool rug is soft to sit on and extremely durable, plus it has a pattern that makes sense for families (meaning, it's stain-concealing but also sophisticated).

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