Family Room vs. Living Room: What’s the Difference?

family room vs. living room

Pictured above: Jonathan Louis Bennett Sofa

It’s an age-old question: what is the difference between a family room and a living room? Okay, maybe not an age-old question. It’s probably only been a question since homes were built with two separate rooms for social gathering. But the question remains! Family room vs. living room: what’s the difference?

We did a little digging and discovered the key differences that designate each room. And found some design inspiration for you of course!

What is a living room?

family room vs. living room

Historically speaking, the living room has always been a more formal space than the family room. Dating back to the 17th century, the living room (or front room, parlor, sitting room or grand room, as they were called) was the receiving place for visitors and guests. It was one of the best decorated spaces in the home because the homeowners were trying to show off their design taste and wealth. Living rooms first started to be called “living rooms” around the 1890s when they came to reflect more personal taste, rather than the design trends of the time.

The living room is typically in the front of the house and either the biggest room or the first room guests enter when they come in the front door (if there is no entryway or foyer). Often, the living room is connected to the dining room for easy flow of traffic when entertaining large groups.

Living rooms are designed to show off a little bit more. Which means you may or may not find an entertainment center and TV. You may be more likely to find the best art, higher-quality upholstered furniture and other impressive pieces.

What is a family room?

family room vs. living room

The family room is the living room’s more casual younger sibling. It’s very similar in that it serves as a gathering space. However, the family room tends to be much more relaxed, both in design and function.

The term “family room” first started to pop up in the modern post-WWII era as families began to spend quality time gathered around a television or radio. As modern life granted families larger homes and easier access to entertainment and free time, the family room became a necessary space where children and relatives could sprawl out without fear of ruining the best furniture. You tend to find more family heirlooms, family photos and well-used (and well-loved) furniture in the family room. Think embarrassing school pictures and dad’s favorite beat-up recliner.

Family rooms tend to be adjacent to the kitchen (easy access to snacks!) and located toward the back of the house, closer to back bedrooms or the door to the backyard or patio. In this day and age, you will most definitely find a TV in the family room, as well as books, games and other at-home entertainment.

Family room vs. living room- what’s the difference?

Does it matter if your house only has one of these spaces or if one room serves both needs? Absolutely not! If you are fortunate enough to live in a home with enough rooms to demarcate the space, now you know what each room is for! If not, simply decorate and use the space however you see fit!

We have plenty of design inspiration, decorating advice and updates on the latest trends, right here!

Wondering how to style your living room or family room? Homemakers had a brand-new design styles quiz! Click the button below to find out what style suits you best and shop the best furniture for you.

family room vs. living room

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