We love playing games at home, and instinctively create spaces to recreate. For example, a certain chair across from a certain TV that’s regularly used to play video games is a dedicated recreation space.

As the games get bigger, like pinball or table tennis, it requires more space for proper play. If you’ve experienced the frustration of a pool cue knocking into walls while shooting, then you know the downside of bad space planning.

There is a mathematical science to space planning for fun. Here are key measurements for some of the most popular recreation room activities:

01 mosby pinball arcade

Pinball machines generally use 30 inches width by 54 inches depth.  Depending on the machine, heights can range from 48 – 96 inches. For unencumbered movement, a user needs a minimum of 36 inches in front of the machine and 20 inches on each side for elbow room.  The light show is part of the fun of pinball so general ambient or overhead lighting around the machine will work just fine.

02 mosby foosball

Foosball tables will range in size from 54-60 inches long by 30-36 inches wide. The protruding handles on each end add another 8 inches. A minimum playing area of 7 by 8 feet makes it comfortable for competitive play; a 10 by 10 feet area is ideal. As for lighting, 20 – 40 watts of diffused lighting works best.

03 mosby shuffleboard and table tennis

The table version of shuffleboard played by hand (shown above left) is most commonly 14 – 22 feet long by 3 feet wide. Because players are positioned at the ends of the table, one side of the table can be against a wall, though allow for 3 feet of room at each end for comfortable play. Bright, even and indirect light is best.

Table Tennis
All regulation tables are 9 feet long by 5 feet wide, with the net overhanging by 6 inches on each side (shown above right). This is an indoor sport that requires a lot of room to accommodate vigorous activity without damaging the surroundings. A minimum of 6 feet behind each end line and 3 feet on the sides is required, but the more space the better, so plan for about 28 x 13 feet of space, or even more if you can get it.

It is important that the floor is level for table tennis and of a material that makes it easy to move quickly, like concrete, linoleum or a low-pile berber carpet. As for lighting, an even overhead light of 100 watts is preferable; try to avoid fluorescent lighting because the flicker can be distracting. And keep it ceiling height to avoid broken shades from ricocheting balls.

04 mosby pool table

Pool Table
Billiards takes up even more space than table tennis, so plan for 300 square feet of space. Tables range from 7 – 9 feet long by 4 – 5 feet wide and are always 30 inches tall. Players need a minimum of 5 feet clearance on all sides of the table plus two times the length of a standard 58 inch pool cue. For a 7 foot table, a 13 x 16 foot space is required, while a 9 foot table needs a 14 x 18 foot area.

It is crucial that the floor is level for pool and that it can support as much as 3,000 pounds of weight. Task lighting is important here because shadows can ruin aim. Three or four 150-watt bulbs diffused with a shade hanging 30-32” from the bottom of the shade to the top of the table is the standard for optimal play.

05 mosby poker table

Poker Table
It can be as simple as flat top table or designed with poker in mind (like the one above), but as long as it’s round, octagonal or hexagonal on a pedestal everyone will be comfortable. Dining-height chairs on casters make it easy for players to move about. Place the poker table and chairs in an area of at least 8 square feet for a 42 inch table and up to 12 square feet for a 54 inch version. Lighting needs to be overhead and bright enough to clearly see cards. Oh, and no mirrors nearby!

Planning ahead for recreation ensures fun will be had when games spontaneously break out. The recreation rooms shown in this article were programmed and designed by Mosby Building Arts designers, and they can do the same for you. To get started, call Mosby at 314.909.1800 or contact them here.