Do You Need a Formal Living Room or a More Casual Space?
The terms “living room” and “drawing room” were often used interchangeably in the world of interior design, but now there are even more terms for the social spaces of a home: “family room,” “den,” “study” and “great room” have sprung up in recent years.
So what are the differences between these spaces? Although they all designate a type of seating area, they don’t all mean the same thing.
The Drawing Room
The drawing room is a designated space for social activities, but the dated term is not commonly used today. According to Quora, the origins of the drawing room are in the 16th & 17th century “withdrawing room.” “It was a room where the owner or distinguished guests could withdraw to enjoy some privacy. During the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods it was where the ladies went to relax after dinner. The men generally stayed in the dining room and did things like smoke cigars and drink port.”
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A drawing room is typically situated near the entrance and close to the front door so guests can go directly inside without having to pass through other rooms. By contrast, the living room, is often found at the center of the house.
What is a living room?
This term first appeared in the 18th century and was used to designate a space that is mainly used for entertaining the guests. It’s not a room where homeowners spend their free time but more of a space to receive guests before and after dinner. Particularly in the United States and Canada, as homes got larger and lifestyles less formal, the formal living room has been disappearing.
According to a study from the National Association of Home Builders, more than half of the participants expect the formal living room to merge with other spaces and another 30% expect it to vanish all together. Instead, great rooms (more of an 80’s term) and “open concept living” are taking the place of a separate formal living room.
Given today’s lifestyles, and the popularity of open concept homes, the family room has become the main living space that serves both family and guests. It’s generally connected to the kitchen and one space flows into another without walls and doors to divide the areas.
In today’s larger homes that still have a formal living room, it has become a bit less stuffy than it used to be, with slightly relaxed – but still special – furnishings. It’s the room that’s always clean and ready for guests, as opposed to the “family room,” which sees higher wear and tear from pets, children, and constant family traffic.
Furniture and design
Whether you call it a drawing room or a living room, the more formal entertaining space in the home is typically furnished with higher-end sofas and chairs, and usually a coffee table and other occasional pieces. The décor can be more understated than other areas and tend toward traditional tastes.
The room where a family spends all its time – the living room or family room – generally has comfortable chairs, sofas, recliners and often includes a fireplace and a media center for the television and video games. Décor intros area may include elements such as artwork, bookshelves or storage units, and family mementos. Overall, it’s the more casual living space in the home.
Living room, drawing room, family room, or something else entirely — choose the one that fits your family’s lifestyle. Don’t opt for a formal living room if you tend to host guests in the kitchen or fame;y area — or if you don’t really entertain much at all. Today’s designs offer so many options that you can easily make the most of the space you have, whether it;s big or small.