My Gaming Space: Start Where You’re At

Back in 2011 I wrote a post for my blog entitled, “The Games Room: Making it Right!” in which I proposed to write a series of posts about the renovation of the spare room in our house into a games room. All well and good…except I promptly did nothing about renovating the room. There were good reasons for that: I was unemployed at the time so the funds for renovation just weren’t there, and most of my gaming was happening outside the house so the drive to make the space into something was also missing.

Recently, though, I’ve started running more games at home, and it has got me thinking again about turning the game room into a more inviting space for my gamer friends. It’s okay as it stands. It has a table, chairs, shelves…the basics, as it were. But the room itself doesn’t do anything to make folks feel comfortable, or add to the enjoyment of playing games. In an ideal world I’d want a game room with a decor that help my players immerse in the TTRPG experience, while being a comfortable and easy space for playing board games.

Much as before, I have three main conditions I have to work under:

  1. We rent, so any changes I make to the room have to either be approved by the landlord, or be easily removed so we can restore the room to its original state.
  2. All changes must be subject to roommate approval; it’s Kyle’s game room too.
  3. I don’t want to spend a whole bunch of money, so inexpensive and do-it-myself options are going to be key.

The room itself is 11’x10’6″, with a large closet and a 1/2 bath (toilet/sink) ensuite.  It has a slightly tall ceiling (8’6″), and original wood flooring. In an ideal world, I would like the room to allow for the following:

  • gaming, of course, both board and role-playing, and possibly tabletop miniatures;
  • space for painting miniatures, creating scenery, and other game-related crafts;
  • storage for board games and RPG products alike;
  • storage of gaming snacks inc. cold beverages and a place to make coffee.

While the room is nominally the “games” room, in that we have a flat surface in the room that we play games on, there is nothing to differentiate it from any other mostly empty room with a table and chairs. It’s hard to define exactly the style I’d like to use in the space. The best way I can describe it is, I’d like the room to have the feel of the study of a retired adventurer; little keepsakes and trophies from a life spent adventuring. Since I’m not trying for a realistic set decoration, this would be a mix of my gaming art and items, along with props I think fit the style I’m looking for.

Also, the room is quite echo-y due to the unadorned walls and hardwood floor. This makes it difficult to be heard in the space, which is a problem. I’d also like to improve the lighting situation, as the current lights are quite old and should be updated.

As it stands now, the room has several shelves, a 2’6”x 6’ collapsible table, some inexpensive folding chairs, and a mini-fridge perched on an Ikea table in the corner. The room is also currently home to a variety of…stuff, that isn’t stored anywhere else right now. This makes the room seem smaller and more cramped than I think it is, so obviously all that non-gaming stuff has got to go.

As my first tip for setting up your gaming space, I would recommend identifying what you have, and what isn’t currently working for you. I listed the haves above, and out of that I can identify several things that don’t currently work in the space:

  • It’s cluttered with non-gaming stuff, making it cramped
  • The chairs are uncomfortable
  • It can be hard for folks to hear each other
  • Lighting isn’t the best

Having identified the most pressing items to fix, I can start taking steps to address them. Clearing the room out is a great first step; not only will it completely solve one of the issues, but it will let me get a better sense of the actual space I’m working with as I move to address the rest. The next steps after that would seem to be to increase the playing space by either buying another table, or building a play surface I can put over the existing table. And it is definitely time to improve the chair situation, which will mean a trip to some thrift stores and discount furniture outlets to see what I can find.

So I hope you join me as I work through remodeling my game room. It won’t be a short process, but in the end I think it will be worth it. And hopefully it will provide you with some inspiration for transforming your own gaming space into a place you love.