The term great room denotes a roomspace within an abode which combines the specific functions of several of the more traditional roomspaces (e.g. the family room, the living room, the study, etc.) into a singular unified space. Different great rooms will combine different functions, e.g. some may incorporate a reading area, thus bringing the traditional study function into the scheme of the room, while others may forego this particular function. Some great room designs incorporate the functions of the traditional dining room as well.
The advantage of the great room over the traditional compartmentalized rooms is flexibility. Many homeowners get very little use from their living rooms and dining rooms. Great rooms in combinations with large kitchens offer unparalleled spaces for entertaining and daily family life.
Great rooms tend to be rather large rooms, typically comprising 10% to 15% of the total square footage of the home. For example, a typical great room in a 3,000 sq ft (280 sq m) home might be 400 to 450 sq ft (37 to 42 sq m). Great rooms also tend to be voluminous, often having two-storey ceiling with open upstairs halls (skywalks) overlooking the great room. They can only occur in large houses such as McMansions, and the term has somewhat pretentious connotations.
Often the presence of a great room indicates the absence of the correlative traditional rooms whose functions the great room assumes. However, this need not always be the case; e.g., the aforementioned great room with a reading area may be in an abode which also contains a separate dedicated study. The greater the number of rooms which exist despite their functions having been assumed by the great room, the more the great room becomes like a true reception room in a country house. The architectural lineage and functional similarity of great rooms can be traced back through the great chamber and the great hall of the Middle Ages.
In the most general sense, great rooms are typically found on the lower level of American multi-story homes built in the second half of the 20th century.