The Subtle Differences Between Living Rooms and Family Rooms

The Subtle Differences Between Living Rooms and Family Rooms

Interior Design
By Alex Mikayelyan January 11, 2022

Living rooms are a primary component of any home’s layout. It doesn’t matter whether you live in a large mansion or a small studio apartment, you’re going to have some sort of area that functions as a living room. But there is also such a thing as a family room, which you’ve probably heard of but never fully understood how it’s different from a living room.

Some people even use living rooms and family rooms interchangeably without even realizing that there are some subtle nuances that differentiate the two and how they function. Knowing how they are different could help you streamline how each one functions and looks to create a more wholesome atmosphere. 

Living Room

The Elements of Chic Living Room Designs

The Elements of Chic Living Room Designs

The living room often acts as the centerpiece of the entire house as this is an area of your house that gets a lot of attention. Living rooms are where your household and guests gather for casual hangouts, have an important conversation, or simply relax. It’s typically quite versatile in what it can have in terms of furniture and appliances, though almost all living rooms have a couch for seating.

When it comes to living room interior design, they tend to be quite neutral with a hint of personality and character. This means you won’t find very personal possessions stacked on shelves around the living room beside a few photos, memorabilia, and other pieces of decor that have a personal connection to the household. Outside of this, the focus of living rooms is mainly on relaxation and the vibe is generally quite mellow.

Location

Where In the House to Have Your Living Room

Where In the House to Have Your Living Room

Living rooms are all about accessibility. Being the central gathering area for your home, it has to be easy to access not only by your household but also by the guests. You don’t want visitors, who are perhaps seeing your home for the first time, to have to bob and weave their way through your home to get to the living room. So, living rooms tend to be closer to the entrance. This way, when your guests come in through the door, they have no trouble getting to the living room, which is by default where guests tend to go.

The location of your living room can also depend on the amount of light that area of your home gets. Living rooms are rarely secluded and dark — there needs to be plenty of natural light to brighten up the atmosphere. If you’re considering where to have your living room, try to use the area of the house that’s in a corner, so that you have windows on more than one side of the room. 

Functions and Features

How Living Rooms Function and What Features They Should Have

How Living Rooms Function and What Features They Should Have

The couch is the centerpiece of most, if not all, living room sets. It’s hard to imagine relaxing in the living room without a spacious couch. In addition to the couch, living room furniture tends to include a coffee table, though it may be absent with a few side tables or nightstands in its place used as horizontal surfaces. For additional seating, leather chairs and armchairs are commonplace.

Flooring is quite versatile in living rooms, as it can be both casual and friendly carpeting, more formal and chic hardwood flooring, or even ceramic tile. But to understand what flooring type you need for the living room you must first understand its function.

The function of the living room is a rallying point for the household and guests. If a guest doesn’t know where to go or where to sit down and get comfortable, the living room is considered by default. But the living room can also be a casual hangout space for you and your family. So, the room takes on two possible roles — a hangout room for the family and a more formal area where your guests can sit or lounge. 

Family Room

What Is a Family Room and How It Differs from Living Rooms

What Is a Family Room and How It Differs from Living Rooms

The family room design may look no different from a living room. In fact, in a lot of ways, these two rooms are interchangeable, though as far as the name is concerned, “living room” is far more popular than the other. The differences between family area design and the living room become apparent when both are present. In fact, if you have one, it is possible to create a family living room that combines the best of both worlds.

The family room should ooze with personality and put more focus on your household, as opposed to guests. When both are present, the living room takes on a more formal role, but the family room is far more casual. Hence why it is common to find carpet flooring, fun decor, and other features in contemporary family rooms that add a personal touch. Sure, you can also find family photos and other knick-knacks in living rooms, but fun souvenirs from family vacations and kids’ macaroni art are a better fit in family rooms.

Location

The Best Areas of Your Home for a Family Room

The Best Areas of Your Home for a Family Room

While living rooms are oftentimes designated to the front section of homes to be easily accessible for guests, the family room is generally found far deeper inside. You can have the location of your family room be near the backdoor, the kitchen, or even by the bedrooms. This is because the family room is not somewhere you will take guests to, (not initially, at least) so there is no point in having it closer to the entrance.

Family rooms work great near the backdoor of the house. Whether it’s you coming home from work or the kids from school, it’s so convenient to be greeted by fond memories of family trips and vacations than the more clean and official atmosphere of the main entrance and living room. It’s also convenient since you can simply leave all your work or school belongings in the family room, instead of throwing them around the entrance or living room, where they look out of place and messy. 

Functions and Features

The Essential Features of Family Rooms

The Essential Features of Family Rooms

Family rooms are a lot more versatile in terms of features than living rooms. Since every household is different in what they find relaxing or entertaining, the features of your modern family room depend entirely on what you enjoy doing. For example, if you have a hobby such as painting, you can keep your artwork and materials in the family room in case you don’t have a studio. Family rooms can be used as a place to study, work, play games, watch movies, and just about anything else your household enjoys doing. If you have a formal and chic contemporary living room, chances are you don’t want to make a mess if you’re expecting guests. The family room interior, however, gives you all the opportunities to unwind exactly as you’d like to without the fear of guests walking into a messy room. 


As for furniture and seating — again, this depends entirely on what you find comfortable. You can have the requisite family room TV, sofa set, and coffee table. But if you already have a living room that provides this kind of comfort, then how about a nice set of colorful bean bags or other types of comfy chairs that are not necessarily chic or formal? For a more Bohemian interior, hanging wicker chairs are also a fantastic option if this is not something you want in the living room. Keep in mind that these bolder features are less likely to be present if you have either a living room or a family room. But if you have both and don’t want the two rooms to be identical, then consider shaking things up.

AM

Written by
Alex Mikayelyan

Written by Alex Mikayelyan

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