Here’s to Family Rooms


Okay, I’ll admit it. I loved being a couch potato as a kid. Sure, I was as active as the next kid but I looked forward to summer days, Saturday mornings or that time after school to get comfy on the couch and watch TV.


By Sean Carpenter

Okay, I’ll admit it. I loved being a couch potato as a kid. Sure, I was as active as the next kid but I looked forward to summer days, Saturday mornings or that time after school to get comfy on the couch and watch TV. I remember watching The Brady Bunch, Sigmund & the Sea Monster, Zoom and The Electric Company. It was The Super Friends and Hong Kong Phooey on Saturdays that made us get up early. Watching the ABC College Football Game of the Week with my Dad was a fond memory. So was getting to stay up and watch the opening kickoff on Monday Night Football or see the first inning on Monday Night Baseball. (Hey Gen Y – there was a time when every single game wasn’t on television. 4 channels greatly limited your choices)

Fat Albert & Scooby Doo, Where Are You?

Maybe its maturity or just finding new interests to focus on but I just can’t watch all of these new “tween-ager” shows with my kids and pretend to enjoy them like I did back in the day. I’m not talking about the classics like Looney Tunes or Leave It to Beaver because I could still watch those all day long. I’m talking about the shows on The Disney Channel or Nickelodeon with the annoying characters and unrealistic storylines that don’t capture my imagination or my attention.

Wizards of Waverly Place? Seriously? Good Luck Charlie means bad luck for parents. The Suite Life of Zack and Cody? No thanks, I’ll take it unsweetened.

And how about the show called A.N.T. Farm? Please. More like CAN’T Farm, as in I just can’t watch this any longer!

Television sure has changed a lot from one generation to the next. In most people’s homes, the “family room” and more specifically, the couch, is the headquarters for everything because that’s where the family television was located.

Sure the sofa was where many of us dreamed of becoming an actor or actress, perhaps being the next star on CHiPs or Facts of Life. It was also the place where we got to learn what a great armchair quarterback our father was as he screamed and yelled at Howard Cosell and Don Meredith. But that family room sofa wasn’t just a great place to watch television. It was the hub of some of the greatest pillow forts ever created and may be responsible for some of the world’s greatest architects.

Pillows, Couch Cushions & Blankets

How did you build yours? I liked to use the cushions from the sofa to build the exterior walls then drape blankets or sheets ripped from my brothers’ beds for the roof.

If you could connect the roof to the coffee table that allowed for additional  entrance ways or even separate parts of the fort, ideal for little brothers or neighborhood friends to crawl to. If you had enough blankets, you could even have multiple levels, using the now bare sofa springs for your “loft.” We even used to have a special doorway for the family dog to come in. Seriously, once you brought your after school snack of potato chips or cookies in there, the family dog was going to find a way in anyway, right?

If you got really creative you could design the fort so it included the television and then watch your favorite shows from under the cover of your architectural masterpiece.

We built forts in our bedroom, our living room, our dining room, our family room and our basement. I think the only room that was truly off limits was our kitchen (but that old linoleum floor wouldn’t have been too comfortable on the knees anyway, right?)

So while we may not watch the same television shows or listen to the same music, there is no age neutralizer like building a pillow fort with your kids. Although we may not be as small as we used to be and cannot fit under the end tables, we have some “local knowledge” that helps make better decisions such as securing the blankets to the bookshelves or coffee tables using large books instead of expensive lamps or one of Mom’s glass decorative bowls.

So grab your flashlights and walkie-talkies, pop some popcorn and challenge your kids to help you build the biggest, baddest pillow fort you can this weekend. It’ll not only bring back some great memories for you, it’s sure to create some new ones for them.

After all, isn’t that what home is all about?


Sean Carpenter is the Director of Agent Development for Coldwell Banker West Shell. He and his wife have two children and live in Columbus, OH. You can find him on twitter at @SeanCarp.

Lindsay is the the Director of Media Engagement for Coldwell Banker Real Estate and manages the brand’s media and social media department. She is also a licensed real estate professional. In 2017 & 2018, she was named a top 20 social influencer in the real estate industry in the annual Swanepoel 200 power rankings.

Lindsay lives in Livingston, NJ with her college sweetheart and now husband Joe and rwelcomed another Joe into her life as she became a mom in June 2016.

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  1. Lindsay Listanski
    August 24, 2012

    Thanks for the great blog post Sean! Hoping Saturday cartoons get better by the time I have kids or they will be forced to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on YouTube!

  2. David Marine
    August 24, 2012

    I can relate to this Sean. Family room for me was where we watched 162 Mets baseball games as a kid, where on special occasions dinner was served with a movie, tournaments of California Games were played on Sega with friends and jumping over the couch pretending to be OJ Anderson scoring at TD were regular occurrences.

    Today my family room is full of Lego structures, brothers wrestling, and family gatherings. It hosts the family TV, Xbox and the best seat in the house on the leather couch. It’s my favorite room of the house.

  3. Debra Trappen
    August 24, 2012

    Sean… I absolutely LOVE this nostalgia-filled post with all my heart… My memories are similar… my brothers, sister, and I would build forts all year long – basement, living room, and on our deck in the summer (we used the picnic table and all the sun loungers for the lofts!!). As girls do, we always set up our own kitchen in the fort – Mom supplied the old spice cans and empty containers she saved during the week…. oh, and a PHONE was required in ours too. How else would I call Ricky Schroeder, Michael Jackson, or any of my other ‘boyfriends’?? My Pops, however, was a “LOUD, HEAVY SIGH and shake his head” kinda guy when the fumbles happened… and “our shows” consisted of Dr. Who, Star Trek, and Kung Fu.
    Thank you for the sweet walk down memory lane this morning… and as always, you inspire me! Even though we don’t have little ones yet – there might just be a fort-building extravaganza in our basement this weekend for MOVIE NIGHT! lol… no, seriously. 🙂

  4. Anna Visioli
    August 24, 2012

    Great Post! My older brother, younger sister were quite the fort-builders in the 1980s as we watched the Cosby Show, Family Ties and got up particularly early to catch the Smurfs (and yes the Snorks) on Saturday mornings. Now, I watch my own kids create architectural marvels out of the random blankets, pillows and comforters they have found throughout the house. Interesting to note that even with all of the lures of modern technology–from Xbox to DS to the iPad–the art of fort building (which when you think about it–is a kid’s first attempt at creating a home of their own) still captures their imagination.

  5. Colby Culbertson
    August 24, 2012

    Awesome post Sean! I couldn’t agree more in terms of the shows kids have to watch today… gag me!


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