Here's What A British 'Sitting Room' Actually Means

Who knew there was a difference between a living room and a sitting room? If you are one of many who didn't, it might come as a surprise to know these are not the same thing; or, at least, they aren't, according to the British. In Britain, a sitting room is actually considered a combination of a lounge or family room and a living room. Each space serves a different purpose, and if you're looking at implementing a sitting room or are just curious about what one looks like, there are some telltale differences between all of these.

Sitting rooms are meant to offer a place where guests can be entertained but also creates a cozy respite for the immediate household to hang out in. This spot should accommodate activities like board games and movie nights, but be comfortable and stylish enough that people can spend time in it throughout the day and night. The furniture in a sitting room should be easy to lounge in, but chic and aesthetically engaging.

How to design a sitting room

Living rooms, lounges, family rooms: There are numerous names and types of areas for people to while away their free time in the home. Some houses might be large enough to have several variations of these rooms, while smaller abodes will only have one. British sitting rooms were originally intended for hosts to provide guests with a pleasant atmosphere they could decompress in after long journeys. Sitting rooms were styled to be welcoming and provide a soft place to converse and hang out.

Today, sitting rooms are designed to be intimate and cozy, while also being a place for everyone to gather socially. You can decorate yours however you like, but keep plush furniture and inviting aesthetics in mind when choosing seating and a color scheme. As American Heritage notes, this switch to more comfortable furniture was also something that marked the transition from the traditional sitting room (or parlor or drawing room) to the one we're more familiar with today.

Décor tips for a successful sitting room

To channel the British sitting room ideals, play to its strengths and then add in extra touches of comfort. Darker paint colors can help soothe and ease people's moods, so using these for your walls will instantly create a calming environment in the vein of a true sitting room. You can liven up the rest of the space with splashes of jewel-toned accessories and metallic fixtures so it doesn't verge into oppressive. Focus the space around large windows and natural light, which makes people feel happy and opens up the area.

In order to integrate a more intimate mood, play with textures like faux fur rugs, plush pillows, and overstuffed seats. If you prefer minimalistic décor, monochrome palettes can produce a chic backdrop that feels formal but approachable. Find furniture that invites people to sit and stay a while, like lounging sofas or chairs that are placed in a conversation pit layout. Being able to see one another is a big part of the sitting-room design since interaction differentiates it from a family room or lounge, which can also be mainly used for personal use (like reading or watching television). Sitting rooms are where socialization and comfort unite.