The majority of older homes have living rooms and family rooms.  Many of these spaces have been repurposed, but many have remained as originally intended.  So what is the difference between a living rooms and a family room?

Living rooms are more likely to be used as formal living areas, while family rooms are more comfortable, cozy, and informal.  It’s the family room that has the large ottomans, the couches that are used for sleeping and eating on many occasions, as compared to the more formal furniture, fabric and style for the living room. In the “old days”, many people would cover their “living room furniture” with plastic to preserve it, and, hopefully less common, many living rooms were used as showplaces to be looked at but not used. In years past, living rooms were called front rooms, parlours and drawing rooms depending on the time in history and geographic location.    

The layout of the furniture in a family room and living room are usually very different. In a living room  the furniture is placed towards the center of the room, creating more of a conversational area, while in a family room the furniture is more often closer to the walls leaving more space in the middle of the room.

Both these rooms have different locations in the home. Living rooms are usually found towards the front of the home making it more convenient to welcome guests.  This space is also located near the dining room so families and guests can use the living room and dining room in unison for gathering places at holidays and special occasions.

Family rooms are typically located towards the back of a home usually opening to the backyard patio. This is the room with the large TV, the gathering place on game day, the place where kids can use the floor for games, and typically, near the kitchen making it convenient for casual entertaining and family activities. 

Many of the newer homes are built with great rooms eliminating a separate living room and uniting a dining area, kitchen and comfortable seating for media.  This floor plan encourages family unity and entertaining with friends.  Having separate rooms, (living rooms and dining rooms) were a status symbol, but lifestyles have changed effecting the layout and function of spaces.

To be formal or casual is a choice homeowners should make when purchasing a new home or remodeling their existing home.