A living room is a formal room for entertaining guests, while a family room is a casual, everyday space for relaxing with family or watching TV. There are many differences between the two, including location, design, and purpose.
Design Difference Between the Family Room vs. Living Room
Depending on where you live, it’s not uncommon to use the terms family room and living room interchangeably, although the definitions of each differ. Here are some distinctions between a family room vs. a living room.
The living room provides a place to entertain guests on special occasions. The furniture layout encourages conversation and may feature two sofas facing each other or a set of chairs facing the sofa. Modern living rooms often feature a bar cart and cocktail supplies.
The family room, also called a media room, is an everyday space where family members can watch TV, play gaming consoles, or play board games. These kid-friendly rooms house more common items like toys, pet beds, and computers.
Since the living room is used less than the family room, furnishings are often higher-end. Traditionally, living rooms housed formal or white furniture. Today, a living room can have any style of furniture, although it’s usually more expensive than what’s in a family room.
Family rooms provide comfort, and the furnishings reflect that. It’s common to see oversized sofas, recliners, and tables that can handle everyday use. Most family rooms also have a TV.
Most formal living rooms are in the front of the home, while family rooms are in the back of the house, basement, or a second-story loft or spare room. Open-concept homes are better suited for family rooms since the design encourages everyday utilization of shared living/kitchen spaces.
The average living room size in America is 12’ x 18’, or 216 square feet. The average family room size varies by location (i.e., whether it’s in a basement, loft, or spare bedroom) but is often smaller than the living room.
Other Family Room and Living Room Terms and What They Mean
We know it’s confusing, but aside from the living room and family room, a few more terms might describe one of the spaces in your home.
A den is a small, private, informal living space that’s closed off from the rest of the house. A den can serve the same purpose as a family room – a place to relax and consume media – or you can use it as an office, gaming space, home library, or playroom.
Parlor is an old-fashioned word for a living room or formal sitting room. Parlors originated in upper-class Victorian-style homes in the 1800s, also known as “receiving rooms.” When guests would visit, homeowners would greet them in their parlor.
The front room is another term for the living room or parlor and refers to the room in the front of the house, where these formal spaces reside.
A great room is a large open space that combines several rooms, such as the living room, dining room, kitchen, or study. Great rooms boast high ceilings and are a feature of open-concept homes.