Is There A Difference Between A Family Room And A Living Room?

If your home has two living spaces, you probably refer to one as the family room and the other as the living room. You might even use those terms interchangeably; however, some say there is a distinct difference between the living room and the family room, but why? What differentiates one room from the other? Years ago, in the 1940s, the living room (otherwise known as the parlor room) was used as a more formal space to entertain guests, according to Insider. It was geared more toward adults, giving them a place to mingle with friends without constant interruptions from their children.

As the decades went by, however, more and more homes began to part ways with the living room. As a matter of fact, most newer homes have actually ditched the second living space altogether. As The Baltimore Sun explains, the kitchen is the new living room. As kitchens have increased in size, many homeowners prefer to entertain their guests in this part of the house. Doing so makes them feel included in the conversation, as opposed to feeling cut off from the rest of the home. For those homes that still have both entertainment spaces, let's dive into the main differences between the living room and the family room.

Family room vs. living room purpose

Think of the living room as the place your parents said you couldn't go in as a kid. It was so clean, you could eat off of the floor (which is most likely why your parents pushed you to play in the family room). Like we mentioned earlier, the living room was traditionally used for formal entertainment during dinner parties or holidays. On the other hand, the family room is a more casual and comfy space, where families gather to spend quality time together. More often than not, you'll find the television in this room.

If you're building or renovating a home, and find yourself with extra space, advises moving away from the idea of a living room, and instead, using the spare room for something more practical, such as an office or playroom, as Project Perfect Home suggests. As time goes on, many homes have, in fact, combined the living room and family room to make a "great room," which serves the purpose of both spaces.

Family room vs. living room aesthetic

If you take a look at a living room and compare it to a family room, you'll notice the aesthetics are very different. The living room is typically used as a showroom, where decor and style trump functionality. Here, you'll typically find more "upscale" pieces, such as expensive works of art, luxurious sofas and chairs, as well as antique furniture, says home furnishing store Star Furniture. You'll also notice the lack of a television in most living rooms. This goes back to the difference in purposes for each room.

The family room, on the other hand, is where you'll find the TV. This space is also filled with more comfortable sofas or sectionals to accommodate more people for watching movies, chatting, and generally hanging out in a casual setting. You may even find a fireplace in this room, which adds to the coziness that is a family room. In the wintertime, use your family room to cuddle up with your loved ones on your big comfy couch and enjoy your time together.