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The Mitchell family hangs out in their basement game room

Matthew Thorsen

The Mitchell family hangs out in their basement game room

When the weather turns cold and the mountains aren't yet snowy enough for skiing, the Mitchell family of Williston heads indoors for fun. Parents Jennifer and Carl have turned their basement into a combination game room and cinema for their tweenage sons, Grant and Chase.

The family's favorite part of the downstairs hangout is the pool table, which has a removable ping-pong tabletop. Each game can be played one-on-one but also accommodates extra friends. A Nerf basketball hoop, mounted on a door, gets so much use that Jennifer has had to replace it multiple times. The kids use her BOSU ball — an inflated rubber dome designed for exercising — to launch themselves at the net for dramatic slam dunks.

For less physical fun, they turn to the gaming station: a big, flat-screen TV hooked up to a Wii and an Xbox. On movie nights, the family pulls down room-darkening shades and settles into comfy couches and special gaming chairs with tiny speakers inside the headrests.

It's more than enough to get this family through November's gray days.

click to enlarge MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen

Parents: Jennifer and Carl Mitchell

Kids: Grant, 10, and Chase, 12

Tips for making your own basement game room:

  • Plan the games and features before you build out the walls or install flooring. There are specific dimensions required for the area around a pool table, for example.
  • Basements can be damp or prone to flooding. Patch any potential leaks before the carpet goes in.
  • Create a space that can grow with your kids — they might like playing with dollhouses now, but remember that their interests will change.
  • To save money, look for games and entertainment systems at Goodwill or neighborhood garage sales.

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