When it comes to a game room, size does matter. You need to take a lot of things into consideration, starting with size.
Just try squeezing a pool table into a closet and you’ll see how planning for a game room isn’t all fun & games. Let’s take a look at some of the major points to consider as you plan a space that will give you and your family an opportunity to enjoy your leisure time at home to the fullest.
Our homeowner says he has people coming to him all the time complaining that the pool table they just bought won’t fit in the room they want to convert into a game room. Size is the number one consideration when designing a game room. Not only must a pool table fit in the room, but you must have sufficient room for people to play pool around the table. If you’re worried about knocking holes in the walls with cue sticks, then your game room is too small. A standard pool table is 4’x8’. Here’s a good rule of thumb: you should add ten feet to each dimension to make sure you have sufficient space. In this case, that means a 14’x18’ room that will give you at least five feet of free space on each side of a 4’x8’ table.
Building a large game room means the load-bearing walls of the room will be spaced far apart, so you’ll have to compensate when it comes to roof support. Our location had a roof with beefed-up trusses (from 2x6s to 2x10s) to support the weight of the shingles and decking on a roof with a 14’ span from peak to eave. The game room has a vaulted 12’ceiling of 1x12 knotty pine with false cedar beams. The vaulted ceiling means the room has lost the insulation an attic would provide, so the 12 inches of space between the ceiling and the shingles are beefed up with R-30 insulation.
You must have sufficient physical access to a game room if you want to install large games and tables in the room. Don’t waste your time and money on a plan for a mammoth game room on the second floor at the top of a narrow staircase, or at the end of a narrow hallway with a lot of tight turns. The room is worthless if you can’t get the pool table and the video games up the stairs or around the corners of the hallway.
We featured a game room located on the ground floor of a ranch house. The owner loaded the poker table, the pool table and the jukebox into the room through the nearby garage. His design plans made sure that every door into the game room is 36” wide. The common 30” interior door is simply not wide enough to accommodate a lot of the furnishings that go in a game room.
Power & Wiring
Modern game rooms have jukeboxes, video games, home theaters, computers and other electronics that drain power. Good planning demands circuits with enough power to supply all the electronics in the room, with outlets placed sensibly. All coin-operated machinery requires 20-amp circuits, with wiring sufficient to carry that load. 15 amps may suffice for lighting and neon signs, but the game room we featured is juiced with a 20-amp circuit dedicated to each wall.
The room is decorated with a number of neon signs placed high up on the walls, so the owner wisely placed outlets high on the walls to eliminate the need for cords dangling all over the place. He decided on the placement of those outlets during the design phase. All of the outlets are switched, so he doesn’t have to climb to turn lights on and off. He also built surge protection into every circuit. We suggest that you individually surge-protect every machine, especially if you plan to stock your game room with vintage pieces or collectibles.
If you have the opportunity, run all wiring for electric and sound before you build, because you could spend a lot of money trying to retro-fit a room for the electrical demands of a modern game room.
Fun time often involves food. Whether you’re watching TV or entertaining guests, you often socialize around meals, so it makes sense for an ideal game room to have a kitchen nearby. The kitchen is clearly visible from the game room in our segment- they’re separated only by an island bar. Bringing food to a gathering in the game room is easy and quick, since it does not require a laborious hike through the rest of the house.
Make sure you design the lighting in a game room so you have a fixture over a pool table, so you don’t have reflected glare on a large-screen TV or on a computer monitor, so you can dim lights for a true home theater experience.
Speakers & Wiring
If your game room includes a home theater setup, plan the wiring so you can place speakers strategically for an authentic theater experience. Do the same for video games, computer games or jukeboxes. The game room in our segment featured a vintage jukebox with “teardrop” speakers mounted high on the walls. The homeowner buried the wiring for the speakers inside the walls as he built the room, just as he did with electrical wiring.
A game room located anywhere above, below or adjacent to a bedroom or living room could be a major distraction without some measure of soundproofing. Game rooms on a second floor may leak a lot of noise onto the floor below, so it might be wise to place insulation on the decking between floors. Companies that install home theaters sometimes use sound-deadening drywall or foam panels to insulate walls.
Even if your game room is spacious enough so that cue sticks won’t normally get too close to walls, you may want to consider some kind of reinforcement in a room where kids might be running, and pool sticks or billiard balls could fly around. Impact-resistant drywall will cost substantially more than normal drywall if you choose it for a game room, but it will most likely stand up to any kind of impact you’re likely to see in a room designed for fun and recreation.
The intangible benefits of a well-designed game room
We build homes to provide our families with a safe haven, and a secure shelter. These days the outside world can sometimes present daily threats to the safety and well-being of your children. If you build a game room that appeals to the entire family, where the fun a child seeks is centered in the home, then your children may not always feel the need to head outside to occupy their idle time. You’ll find plenty of good times to share as a family. The kids may stay home more, you’ll know what they’re doing, and you’ll know that they’re safe and okay. This kind of addition to your house can add value to your home life in a way that you cannot measure with a price tag.