For as long as I can remember, I always had a need for a dedicated tabletop gaming space. In the early days, a good table to seat several people for a Dungeons and Dragons game was sufficient. As I moved into miniature and board games the space, storage, and table requirements changed.
Over that time, I have worked to the most out of my tabletop gaming room.
Discover What You Need
Before you can start putting this project together you first need to plan out what you need. Here are a few questions you should start to ask:
- Does the gaming space need to function for other activities?
- How much table space do I need to play the games I want to play?
- How much space do your players require?
- What kind of seating do you want for your players?
- How do you want to handle snacks and beverages?
- How much storage is needed in the tabletop gaming room?
- What kind of lighting will you need?
- What theme do you want to be reflected in your gaming space?
That’s a long list of questions and the answers might not all be apparent at first. Let’s take a look at some of these.
The first thing you need to identify is whether you are going to have a dedicated tabletop gaming room or if the space is going to be dual-purpose. I am fortunate to have my own dedicated tabletop gaming room, but it hasn’t always been that way.
Dedicated Gaming Space
For most tabletop gamers the idea of having a room or dedicated gaming area is a dream come true. Whether that space is an unfinished basement or a specially designed gaming area, a dedicated gaming space is a luxury.
Generally, gaming rooms have similar setups. A central table with chairs and games lining the walls. It’s worth thinking about places for storing beverages and snacks, such as including a small dry or wet bar in the room. Proximity to a bathroom can be a great advantage as well.
Gaming in Your Living Space
More likely your gaming space must do double duty in your home. This was very true for me when I lived in apartments. With some houses and family needs, you may need to share your gaming space with family space. Whatever your situation, the key is to try not to let your gaming take over the space.
In this circumstance, most of your effort should be put into storage. While you might think it’s completely okay to have a stack of games in the corner of the room, your significant other or company might not agree. My suggestion would be to store the current games you’re playing and the accessories you use the most in your gaming space. Keep the stack of additional board games stashed away in a closet, in another room, or in other storage areas. After all, your dining room should feel like a place to eat and not the back room of the local game store!
A tip here is to make use of existing storage in the room. If you are gaming in your dining room consider using a china cabinet. It has doors that can close and hide the items you don’t want on display and can do double duty displaying other items used for other activities that occur in the room. You can store a few games or other commonly used gaming accessories in the drawers and cabinets. This keeps things tidy, but also keeps the room on purpose!
Picking the right table and seating to go with it to fit the space is an important decision. You want to ensure that people have room to walk around each other if they are seated at the table. Inconveniencing others at the table when someone has to get up can really disrupt a game.
If your gaming space is dual purpose such as a living room then additional gaming surface considerations should be taken explored. A space such as a living room can provide excellent, comfortable seating. Re-using the coffee table and end tables is an option for gaming space and setting out accessories during play.
You could consider a table topper designed for coffee tables. This would provide a slightly increased gaming area and raised sides to contain runaway components. If you are in the market for a new coffee table, there are some excellent options that convert to gaming tables.
I have already mentioned the storage of the games. Besides game storage, where will people put their coats, shoes, additional games, game resources, beverages, munchies, and anything else they bring with them? Some of this is answered as I have a dedicated game room. Shoes and coats will go by the door. During game day beverages will go in the dedicated game room fridge and snacks can go on the dry bar.
When I lived in an apartment though I didn’t have the luxury of a coat closet or honestly much space by the front door before everyone was in the dining room and at the game table. Giving people a clear place to put their stuff before they reach your game table is a good thing.
Keep it handy for them if you can. In an apartment or similar setup, look at getting a set of TV tables or a small folding table that you can set up and tear down just for this purpose on game day!
Lighting plays such a key role in the tone of the room that you want to pay attention to it. Even simple things such as the right bulbs will go a long way.
No matter the type of room, make sure there is good lighting for your table. There is nothing like the glare on the game board or so little light that it’s hard to see what’s going on in the game.
Lighting is a current problem in my current game room. The overhead fixture provides great general lighting, but it’s not designed for a game room. The glare on the game not only shows up in pictures but also during gameplay. Finding that right balance in lighting goes a long way!
On top of the lighting for the table itself, if your room is like mine, there are going to be various collectibles and models on display as well. A little well-placed LED lighting can work wonders here. It’s my plan for my Star Wars display to put a space backdrop and use addressable color change LED lights to create a cool lighting display.
Theming Your Gaming Space
A great theme to the room will add to the overall gaming experience. If your space is multi-purpose, the theming may be more subtle and need to blend in with the other uses. As I love superheroes and comics I have plenty of superhero art on the walls (where there is room). I am even decorating the bathroom that adjoins the gaming area with a Batman theme!
If you are using shelving in the gaming space, keep a mind to the display of your games.
We have our games sorted by player counts so that it’s easier to find the right game. However, we also have re-sorted our games recently to try to put similar colored game boxes together. Since we did that, the game room feels even more welcoming.
As I paint and play miniature games it’s cool to have some of those models displayed. However, you want to be cautious with how many you display. As you can see with my Joker Models for Batman there really is too much crowd on one shelf. I really need to pair down what’s on display.
People will be prone to want to pick up and examine models. Spacing them out will not only make it easier for people to view your pieces of art, but also keep them from wanting to pick them up.
I also took the time to display some of my collectibles. Whether those are toys, Pops, or other memorabilia the fact that it’s out and on display not only means that you can enjoy it, but that your guests can too.
Gaming in our game space feels more like a nerdy hangout, rather than just playing in a basement. I don’t know that any of my collectibles have any real value, but keeping them on the top shelf out of reach will keep someone from grabbing these precious treasures.
Where Do I Go Next?
There are many options for game tables, storage, and other accessories to make your game space your own. The world is wide open for you, this should be a fun welcoming space that should show off who you are as a gamer. We’d love to hear what tips you have for getting the most out of your tabletop gaming room!