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In every house in modern society, we will find a place or a room where people will gather throughout the day. This room is also the place where guests are entertained, and family members come together, especially in the evening. We are talking about, of course, living rooms. But these living rooms tend to be more formal, so there is usually also a more casual family room for family members to gather.

In this article, we will take a look at the living room vs family room comparison and the differences between the two. There are differences in the purpose of the room, but also its placement, styling, and the overall layout and design of the room. Often, people mix these two and think that there is no difference between the two.

But the truth is that there are many both subtle and big differences between the two that separates them. Let’s take a look at the living room vs family room comparison and see what is what in more detail.

Living Rooms

Liseter-Weatherstone-by-Mary-Cook Living room vs family room, what is the difference?
Image source: Mary Cook

First, let’s start by taking a look at each type of rooms and see their specifications. A living room is usually the most important room in the house, and also possibly the largest. It is a place where people get together and where we take our guests first when they visit our house. It is a sort of a reception room.

It is also the room where family members get together, and where we can do our everyday stuff like watching the TV, having a chat with the family members, or greeting the guests.

Family Rooms

New-Home-Wayzata-MN-14-by-Lecy-Bros-Homes-and-Remodeling Living room vs family room, what is the difference?Image source: Lecy Bros Homes & Remodeling

Family rooms have a more informal nature. They are also a multipurpose space where people get together, and family members interact with each other. But it is also more of a multi-purpose room where family members can also perform their office duties and take care of work-related issues, so it can turn into an office if needed.

Family rooms have couches, recliners, and sofas to make it more comfortable. Family members can do their activities in these rooms, or they can enjoy their time. You can see that family rooms are more informal and geared more towards the family itself.

Living Room vs Family Room

Let’s take a closer look at the living room vs family room and examine them in every aspect in more detail.

Location within the household

Oak-Hill-Craftsman-by-Marilyn-Hill-Interiors Living room vs family room, what is the difference?Image source: Marilyn Hill Interiors

The main difference is in the location of each room. Living rooms are often used as a sort of reception for guests or relatives, so it should be near the entrance to the front of the house. Family rooms, on the other hand, are more important for the family itself and should offer more personal space. So they are most likely located towards the back of the house.

Marietta-Traditional-by-Susie-Mae-Design Living room vs family room, what is the difference?Image source: Susie Mae Design

Family rooms are much more reserved and are mainly used by the family itself while living rooms tend to be this big, open space for everyone to gather, so it is most probably the central room of the house.

Purpose

Great-Room-by-Joseph-Farrell-Architecture Living room vs family room, what is the difference?Image source: Joseph Farrell Architecture

A living room is usually a much more formal room than a family room. A good example of this came from the 19th and early 20th centuries when funeral wakes were held in living rooms. The purpose of living rooms is thus far more formal than family rooms. But, especially in smaller households, a living room can play a role in both the family and living room. On the one hand, they are used as the reception for guests, and on the other, it is a room where the family members get together.

Rittenhouse-Square-Study-by-Wyant-Architecture Living room vs family room, what is the difference?Image source: Wyant Architecture

Family rooms, on the other hand, are far more informal. They are to be used by the family members themselves to spend their leisure time in them. Rarely will we see a family room hold guests or relatives, as the primary purpose of family rooms is for the family members to have privacy. Usually, we will see family rooms in combination with living rooms.

Both terms are somewhat confused nowadays and are used interchangeably. The real difference, however, is in their purpose, and their location, which serves the purpose. Family rooms are located towards the back of the house, hidden from all the noise and guests. Living rooms are usually the center-piece of the house and a place where guests are greeted.

Entertainment Facilities

Sherbourne-Circle-by-Morrone-Interiors Living room vs family room, what is the difference?Image source: Morrone Interiors

One of the main differences between the living room vs family room is in the entertainment facilities they offer. As the purpose of family rooms is to relax and for the family members to find some space for themselves, they are more likely to have entertainment facilities. These include pieces of technology such as TVs, computers, tablets, gaming consoles, and other similar stuff.

Lamar-Avenue-Project-by-New-South-Home Living room vs family room, what is the difference?Image source: New South Home

Living rooms are primarily designed to entertain guests, so they are not as likely to have all these gadgets. Instead, they will display elegant pieces of art or something else that will make the guests feel right at home.

Design

Brookside-by-Brookfield-Residential-Northern-California Living room vs family room, what is the difference?Image source: Brookfield Residential Northern California

Family rooms tend to be more informal and also comfortable. Sure, living rooms should be comfortable as well, but the main goal of a family room is to relax. Thus, it is bound to include various comfortable pieces of furniture, such as couches and recliners. They also need to be more flexible if they are to be used for various purposes by the family members.

Marvin-by-Marvin Living room vs family room, what is the difference?Image source: Marvin

Living rooms tend to be more sophisticated and more rigid, but still comfortable enough to make the guests feel cozy. Some living rooms have TVs, while others don’t. It also has a lot of storage for various things and a relatively classical layout.

Furnishing

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The whole idea of family rooms also dictates their furnishing. As they are meant to be used daily, they should, ideally, have furniture that is low-maintenance and more sturdy. The furniture should be easy to clean and are fairly resistant to scratches and overall wear and tear, which is inevitable if you have kids.

Living room furnishing, on the other hand, can be slightly more stylish and sophisticated. That is especially for living rooms that are used primarily to host guests. If the living room is more of a versatile room, then a good combination of the two styles would do. It is often packed with pieces of art and display pieces, and the furniture should fit the style of the whole house.

Décor

Curated-Comfort-Residence-by-Carolina-V-Gentry-RID Living room vs family room, what is the difference?Image source: Carolina V. Gentry, RID

There is also a difference in the décor of both of these rooms. Living rooms should most certainly have a more classical look to them and slightly more sophisticated décor. Family rooms should be made with comfort in mind. They should make us feel at home, so warmer colors will do.

Fincastle-by-PRP-Architects Living room vs family room, what is the difference?Image source: PRP Architects

Family rooms are often more functional and thus, slightly neglect the need for over the top décor. Living rooms should have at least one display piece, and a slightly more elegant feel to it than the family room.

Formality

Southampton-Beach-House-by-Suk-Design-Group-LLP Living room vs family room, what is the difference?Image source: Suk Design Group LLP

As family rooms are used exclusively by the family, they tend to be much less formal than living rooms.

Are they appropriate for kids?

Family-Friendly-Design-by-Fine-Art-Interiors Living room vs family room, what is the difference?Image source: Fine Art Interiors

Family rooms are better designed for kids, as they often have sturdier furniture that is designed to sustain the inevitable damage. That is not to say that living rooms are not friendly to kids; they are often connected to the kitchen so that the kids are supervised easier and better from the kitchen.

What are the Synonyms?

Synonyms for living rooms: front room, lounge room, sitting room

Synonyms for family rooms: rumpus room, game room, playroom, den, etc.

Ending thoughts on living room vs family room

So there we have it, these are the main differences between the living room vs family room. The lines are blurred nowadays, but there are still some important differences that separate the two.

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