25 Cool Ideas for Game Rooms
Used for both electronic consoles or old-school dice and boards, game rooms are growing in popularity for homeowners and renters alike. Whether you want an engaging location for family night or a spot for your adult friends to gather, here are 25 tips to help you create a fun, inviting game room.
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Physical Elbow Room for Virtual Games
One of the most exciting gaming trends is the rise of affordable virtual reality (VR) consoles. But more than a few VR gamers have found their immersive experiences disrupted when they run into a wall or crack a shin on the couch. Either have a dedicated open space for VR gaming or stage your game room with light, easy to move furniture, so that the only limit on your fun is the signal range of your goggles.
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Full-Size Arcade Machines
The sounds, the cabinet art, the feel of the old-school controls... it's possible that there is nothing so wonderfully retro as a full size, working arcade game. With the recent spike in retro video game parlors, it's become easier than ever to find vintage arcade game cabinets. But before you break out your credit card, consider your room size. The sheer bulk of the game cabinet—taller and wider than most people—means that even one can dominate a small room. But if your space is big enough, then there's a retro arcade game out there just waiting to lend some charm to your game room.
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Beverages on Demand
Whether your taste runs to hops and barley or ginger ale and root beer, any beverage tastes better when it's served fresh from a tap. The style possibilities of a well-designed bar are limitless!
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Escape Room Puzzles
Escape Room puzzles are a trendy pastime in cities all over the world. A group of friends or strangers are locked in a room, along with a "danger" which could be anything from an actor dressed as a zombie to a model atomic bomb. The group must work together to solve a series of challenges to their brainpower and dexterity, many of which require teamwork to solve. Set up this kind of brain-teaser for a novel twist to your game room and a guarantee that visitors will be challenged and entertained.
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Make Your Room Look Larger
An ideal game room has plenty of space for occupants to jump up and move around. But even if you're working with limited square footage, you can create a room that's inviting. From light-toned flooring to creative use of reflective surfaces, a tight space can be designed to feel larger than it actually is.
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Contrast your high tech game boxes with the vintage look of throw-back lighting. Edison bulbs and retro chandeliers bring an element of funky chic to your game room, while modern design means that you get the retro looks without the old-school energy bills.
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Soft Fabrics and Throw Rugs
Game rooms aren't strictly for fast-paced video games. Sometimes they're the perfect spot for a casual and romantic night in. With a stack of soft blankets and throw pillows at hand, it's easy for any game room to become a laid-back, cozy destination for dining and low-key fun. Skip the crowds and enjoy a no-stress evening in.
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Pixel Art Decorations
Fill your game room with images of games and activities that you love. For many people, the 8 bit artwork of games from the '80s and '90s is nostalgic and heartwarming. Many artists create paintings and graphics based on that pixelated style, and their imagery is available on everything from wall hangings to throw pillows. Add some pixel art decorations of your favorite video game characters, or support an artist creating all new work. You'll liven up your game room and put a smile on the face of everyone who visits your game room.
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Brick or Stone Facade
Give your game room a unique feel with a brick facade. Far less weighty than full-depth bricks, and as easy to install as tile, brick facing gives your room the look and true texture of exposed brick at a fraction of the cost. Perfect if you're in search of the industrial look of a New York loft or the cozy feel of a traditional brick home. Another option is a DIYable faux stone wall.
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Full Floor Games
Devote a section of your game room to physical activity games such as foursquare or hop-scotch, and you'll discover several benefits. The activities are fun for kids of all ages, and help keep the game room attractive for the whole family. The wide open design can also provide space to move when using virtual reality consoles, and the floor patterns can be an accent feature that draws attention and act as a conversation piece. This last point is true even if you have to cover them with furniture to save space. After all, a foursquare grid poking out from under a couch is a fun way to highlight the playful nature of a game room. For a fun tutorial on making full-floor games, see this tutorial on creating your own hop-scotch mat.
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Add a Photo Wall Mural
One way to make your game room shine is by hanging a photo wall mural. A photo mural can make a small space seem larger, or give an atmosphere that reflects the type of games you enjoy playing. Make an entire wall of your game room look out on a fantasy vista or into the depths of space with a single afternoon's labor. Wall murals are applied like wallpaper, though they require significantly more attention to seam alignment. A wide variety of themes and subjects are available, and you can easily find one that would be a perfect fit for your home.
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Build Your Own Game Boards
Playing games is fun, but there's a special satisfaction that comes from playing games built with your own hands. Checkers, chess, go, and backgammon boards all make for great weekend projects, and pieces can be purchased or hand-carved. Creating simple shapes like checkers is a great way to introduce kids to woodworking. Hand-crafted games can be passed down through generations, and the memories of building and playing them can last lifetimes.
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Embrace your Inner High-Roller
Bring the thrill of a casino right into your home by focusing on the look and feel of a classic gaming parlor. Green speed cloth on the tables, shaded overhead lights, and a healthy stock of cards, dice, and poker chips can transform your casual card game into a scene from a Bond film!
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Simple Supplies for Large Groups
Your game room might have a stack of consoles and activities, but chances are that they're limited to a set number of players. If you have a larger group of friends over, as a result, that means that someone will be left out of the fun. By keeping a few items such as Post-It Notes and a marker, or a spare deck of cards on hand, you'll be able to play games like The Name Game or Werewolf, that are ideal for large numbers of people.
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If your dedicated game room is in the basement, you may be struggling with the look of exposed pipes and ducts or vertical support posts. One option is to wrap these unattractive items in wood, and make them appear as if they were an intentional design choice. You can even go so far as to create additional faux beams to give a stronger sense of symmetry, or use rough-sawn wood to make them seem like exposed structural members. If you embrace this more industrial look, the entire room may suddenly have a more unified, cozier feel to it.
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The contrast between modern game consoles and throw-back items can make a game room chic in short order. But what if you want to go full retro? Many online and brick-and-mortar retailers sell retro wallpaper and furniture, and second-hand consignment shops are filled with true vintage items. With a few careful selections, visitors to your game room can feel like they've stepped into a time warp, where a family room of the past is filled with all of today's gaming options.
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For a slick, modern look, select furniture with clean, sleek lines and accent the room with bold lighting. With the right choices, you can make your game room feel like it's right off the deck of a spaceship! In this photo, notice how much of the lighting is from indirect LED strips. This choice gives the space an distinctly modern feel, and has the added benefit of being less likely to cause glare issues on television screens—a major bonus for video game play. For more on installing indirect LED lights, see this article: How to Install Elegant Cove Lighting.
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Stackable Pallet Tables
Create a game table that can be raised or lowered to fit the type of game being played and the size and age of the players. Salvaged shipping pallets make great source material. They can be used raw, but at least the top level will need to be covered or sanded and finished to avoid splinters and provide a smooth surface for game layout. A lower table works well with pillows or beanbag chairs, and if you have enough pallets, you can set them up side by side, to provide a rectangular layout for a bigger group or more complex games.
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Diane C Macdonald/Shutterstock
Raid the Gaming Junk Drawer
Over time (and especially if you have kids) your game pieces go missing, and entire games may get damaged or destroyed. Don't be so quick to throw away all those left-over dice and player pieces! Store them away in something as simple as an out-of-the-way drawer, then raid that stockpile when you need a spare game piece or want to inject a little creativity into another game. Bring that battleship onto the Monopoly board, or use chess pieces in your next craft.
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Writable Wall Paint
Transform a wall of your game room into a writable surface by using chalk-board or white-board paint. These paints apply easily to any smooth surface, and allow you and your family to write and erase messages, notes and drawings. Use this paint in a game room to keep score, or to play a floor to ceiling game of Pictionary. A writable wall is an inexpensive and easy way to add a bit of creative functionality to your game room.
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Many game rooms double as TV rooms, especially when your favorite team is playing. Keep the fun and thrill of sports in season all year round by decorating your game room with any sports memorabilia you've collected, or with logoed merchandise from the teams you follow. Wear your fandom proud and loud, and let the world know who you're rooting for!
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Invite Distant Friends for a Game
Of the many achievements the digital revolution has brought us, perhaps the most enduring will be tighter connections with our distant friends and family. We can stay in contact with more people than ever before, through means as simple as text messaging or as complex as Face Time, all with widely available technology on smartphones. The family game room can share in this revolution as well, with apps and services specifically designed to allow distant friends to spend time together playing a game. Make these long-distance sessions more enjoyable by having headphones on hand to make it easier to hear, and dimmable lighting to make it easier for your friends to see you over a video connection. If you'll be talking to long-distance friends by using an open speaker and microphone, experiment with different layouts and materials to minimize echo and feedback.
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Bring the Games to Another Room
Don't constrain your games to a single location in the house because this could get too routine. Maybe you like to play a board game with the kids at the kitchen counter while getting dinner ready, or maybe you ease into the deep thought process of chess surrounded by your favorite books. Therefore, bringing hints of the game room throughout the home lets decorative elements unite into a whole-house theme, while also providing important opportunities for play no matter where you and family happen to be. Your game room design can vary so you have cool things for rooms.
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Create a Cheerful Cave
Some game room ideas are designed for the whole family, and some are made for solo escape. Whether your game room will function as a "man cave" or a "she retreat," if it's going to be an oasis, load it up with the things you love. Items with favorite team logos or game characters help mark your territory as your own, and posters and wall art add your own personal touch to the space.
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Know When to Fold 'Em
Games are glorious fun. But all good things must come to an end sooner or later. We've all heard stories about gamers who suffered health problems after they kept playing for "just one more level." Make sure you have a clock on display somewhere in your game room, and preferably with an alarm feature or chime. The goal is to have some kind of interruption that occasionally reminds you to get up and stretch or walk around, or maybe even call it a night. After all, there's always time for more games the next day!
Originally Published: November 27, 2018