A recreation room, also known as a rec room, game room, or entertainment room, is a space dedicated to fun, relaxation and leisure activities. With thoughtful planning and design, a home recreation room can provide endless entertainment for family and friends. This guide covers key considerations when designing the ideal recreation room.
Functions and Activities
The main purpose of a recreation room is to serve as a hub for entertainment and leisure. Typical activities include table games like pool, ping pong, foosball, arcade games, and board games. A rec room may also incorporate spaces for arts, crafts, puzzles, movie watching, exercising, and more. When designing your recreation space, consider which activities you want to accommodate and the necessary square footage for each.
For game tables, refer to manufacturer sizing guides. For example, pool tables need a minimum of 13′ x 16′ for an 8′ table. Allow extra space around each game station for comfortable gameplay and circulation. Think through how multiple activities could overlap, like placing a treadmill near a game table when not in use.
Basements make ideal recreation rooms as they offer ample open space. Having access to the outdoors via a basement walkout or patio access expands the possibilities. On upper levels, recreation rooms work best positioned near living areas and away from bedrooms. Access to a deck or balcony helps extend the space. Avoid placing above bedrooms to minimize noise transfer.
If space only allows for a small recreation nook versus a full room, target an underutilized area like above the garage. Just be sure to mind the ceiling height requirements of any game tables or equipment.
Layout and Design
When laying out your recreation room, think through the flow and how each area will be utilized. Group-like functions together, such as game tables or movie watching. Make sure furnishings allow for ample circulation and proper clearances. Include comfortable seating arrangements for conversation pits or movie watching.
Incorporate multifunctional storage like a wall system with cabinets, shelving, and closets to stow games when not in use. A wet bar or beverage fridge is a nice feature for entertaining. For exercise equipment, allow room for activity mats or stretching. Proper lighting is critical – incorporate layers of ambient, task, and accent lighting suited for each activity zone.
As a general rule of thumb, a 12 x 12 ft space can accommodate most tabletop games and casual activities. Here are suggested minimum sizes for common recreation room features:
- Air hockey: 10 x 5 ft (6 ft table) or 14 x 8 ft (8 ft table)
- Home theater: Size dictated by screen size and seating. At minimum 16 x 8 ft.
- Gaming tables: 8 x 8 ft for casual tabletop gaming
- Pool table: 16 x 13 ft (7 ft table), 17 x 13 ft (8 ft table), 18 x 14 ft (9 ft table)
- Darts: 8 x 12 ft
- Foosball: 9 x 9.5 ft
- Pinball machines: Allow 3-4 ft clearance on all sides
- Treadmills: Allow 6 ft behind and 2 ft on sides when in use. Folding models can maximize space.
For flooring, choose materials that can withstand active use. Carpet works for casual gaming spaces while wood, laminate, tile or vinyl are better for high-activity zones. Paint walls in darker tones and matte finishes to reduce glare. Include acoustical treatments if noise will be a concern. Window coverings should fully black out sunlight. Choose durable, cleanable upholstered furniture suited to the activities.
Creating a well-designed recreation room takes planning, but the end result provides a customizable space for fun and quality time. Analyze how each family member envisions using the space. Scale the layout and features appropriately based on your home size. With thoughtful design, your home recreation room can provide endless hours of entertainment.