Today’s homes have something for everyone: a classic great room with rustic accents for the traditionalist, a modern kitchen for the consummate chef, a private master suite for relaxing at the end of the day. Still, something’s missing—a room that is appealing to everyone, loved by all ages, manageable on all budgets, and conformable to spaces large or small. The answer? A game room. What could be better than a space designated solely for fun? Compromising your home’s Western charm is no longer a concern, thanks to custom designs. Nature-inspired billiards, card tables, and even dartboards are so rustic you might feel as if you’ve been dealt a winning hand at an old-time saloon. Read on for tips and ideas to create a Western-style game room the whole family will enjoy.

Take a Cue

Selecting the right furniture for a game room can be difficult, especially when working within a small space. The best advice, according to the experts: let your pool table be your guide. A beautiful billiards table can truly shine as a game room’s centerpiece, whether organically styled or baby-grand glossy, but it’s a very tricky piece to place. Most furniture large enough to require tractor-trailer delivery demands to be seen. However, if surrounding walls are left too bare, the table will seem imposing—if overwhelmed by furniture, artwork and lighting, the look will be more funky than fun.

“A pool table, no matter what style or size, will always be the center of attention during a party,” says Mike Baron of Baron’s Billiards. “A rustic pine version brings players back to the Old West.” Companies such as Drawknife Billiards redefine rustic with foosball, poker, and shuffleboard tables featuring burl logs and milled legs with quarter-round log trim.

Because game rooms are charged with positive energy and excitement, give your family and guests plenty of room to groove by selecting a table based on the room’s dimensions. “The table games that require the most space, and therefore the most planning, are billiards and shuffleboard,” says Jan Koch, Sales Manager of Drawknife Billiards. “Billiards may require 6 feet or more space around the table to execute a difficult rail shot.”

Sitting the Bench

Leather, swivel, backless, folding—endless style and structure options make finding the right barstools as difficult as ordering a cocktail in a crowded bar. Still, the right seating makes all the difference, says Baron. “Seating, whether barstools, tall spectator chairs, or kitchen-height chairs, encourages relaxation and conversation.”

Reserve a decent amount of space for discussion and drinks, safe from whizzing darts and spirited foosball opponents. “A game room can include a bar with barstools and spectator chairs for watching the play or while sitting out a turn. These pieces can be coordinated in colors and design elements to fit a theme such as a particular sport, a Western saloon, or a trophy room for big game hunters,” says Koch. Comfy club chairs studded with brass tacks are classy in tobacco-hued leather, while wool and cotton twill cushions endure the toughest of game nights. Entirely spill-proof is microfiber, the MVP of fortified fabrics.

Bar None

Built-in bars are beautiful, but may not be feasible in a small or uniquely shaped room. Portable bars in weathered pine, sturdy oak, and stylish cherry with hand-forged iron hardware are just as stunning, especially topped with a slab of sleek granite for sliding cold ones like a pro. Overhead wine and glass racks provide easy access to bottles and stemware, while low-maintenance stainless steel interiors can typically be customized with liquor and soda dispensers, ice bins, and cabinets.

The Neutral Zone

A game room may be built for play, but a sophisticated setting will delight high rollers and tailgaters alike. Support your sports heroes with pillows, throws, and rugs in team colors and custom prints, but keep walls and large furniture solid. Roll warm, inviting colors like creamy taupes, tonal grays, and deep greens or burgundies on walls, applying a lighter shade to the top half and a deeper hue to the lower perimeter. Hang old-fashioned pub signs, diner-style clocks, and vintage posters from your favorite Western movies for a touch of retro.

Allow no excuses for botched shots by installing lighting above your billiards table. Specialty three-bulb fixtures in classic or contemporary styles provide plenty of light for an 8-foot table; subtle recessed lighting throughout will brighten dark corners where game tables fit best.

Monster-sized entertainment centers are so ten years ago. Save your wall space for the 50-inch plasma and keep stereo systems and other electronics housed in unfussy cabinets and on simple, sturdy shelves.

How to up your game

A great-looking game room deserves top-of-the-line toys—handcrafted pool tables, dartboards, even pinball machines to suit your spruced-up space. Here are a few ideas:

  • Triple ThreatMultitasking furniture gives homeowners more bang for their buck; similarly, three-in-one poker, bumper-pool, and dining tables do triple duty as board-game space or extra serving and seating areas for guests.
  • Target PracticeAim for quality construction and classic style. A handsome Basswood cabinet and traditional bristle board provide the best of both—stick with slim, steel-tipped darts for the smoothest flight.
  • Go LongLodgepole pine shuffleboard and foosball tables are huge crowd pleasers, but because they range from 10 to 22 feet (not including player space), these games will occupy a substantial portion of the room. Arrange tables flush with a long wall to save space.
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