What Is the Difference Between a Living Room and a Family Room?

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The living room and family room are two important parts of a house that often get confused. As home design trends shift and open plan layouts become more common, it can seem difficult to distinguish between the two rooms. However, there are several key differences.

Traditionally, a living room is the area of a house where guests are entertained, and a family room is a mutipurpose area, where family members can relax, watch television, do homework, or catch up on work. The living room of a home is generally used less than a family room, which is used daily by many families.

For many families, a television or entertainment system is the centerpiece of their family room. This room is often where families come together to watch movies, sporting events, and Saturday morning cartoons. Living rooms don’t often have an entertainment system, as they are intended for more formal purposes like entertaining guests and celebrating holidays.

Often the living room is located near the front door of a house, and the family room is located near the back. It's common for the family room to be close to the kitchen, and to have an entryway leading to the back yard or back deck.

Furnishings in a family room are often more casual and comfortable than in a living room. This is because a family room is meant to be used as a space for all members of the family to relax together. Furnishings in a living room are often more upscale, though still comfortable. The living room is also where many families choose to display family heirlooms, antiques, and pieces of art.

Changing Layouts
In contemporary homes, the functions of the living room and the family room are often combined into a room called the great room. While the living room is typically located in the front of a home, and the family room is usually located further back, the great room is centrally located. Great rooms usually have high ceilings, access to many other areas of the house, and are used both as a multipurpose family room, and as a space to entertain guests and celebrate holidays.