Living rooms and family rooms – is there a difference? or is it just a potato- potahto kind of situation? In my expert opinion, there are a few key differences.


When staging a home that features these two room types, I base my staging on how I want each room to feel and function. You can see the difference in my last listing and stage. Each one has a distinct feeling. I just love how the rooms turned out. Both rooms technically serve the same purpose as a gathering place, the functionality is very different. Function is one of the key differences between the two rooms.  Back in the 17th century, living rooms were originally meant to be more formal spaces to welcome guests. While it has become a more casual space today, it’s not unusual to see the formal version in larger homes. The family room is meant for the family and tend to be more kid friendly areas.


I stage living rooms more formally with higher end furniture and artwork in the design instead of more personalized touches. Living room decor is more about the style and less about function.

On the other hand, I design family rooms to be more relaxed and casual with fun pops of color and whimsy.  Family rooms are often peppered with things that reflect the family and their lifestyle. Think family photos, vacation finds, heirlooms, games, and music. If there is no dedicated playroom on the first floor, family rooms often act as the gathering place for toys too!

In both spaces, it’s important to consider the flow of the room. Instead of just pushing a sofa against a wall and calling it a day give a little thought to the conversation area, and traffic flow of the room.

Choosing the right sofa is one of the most important elements of either room. 



Location is another factor in determining if it’s a living room or a family room. Obviously you can utilize a space in whatever way makes sense for your family but here is the general rule of thumb.

Family rooms are most often next to the kitchen. With so many homes using an open floor plan, the room is sometimes part of the kitchen itself. Family rooms may also have a door that leads outside to a patio or deck.

The living room typically is situated near the front of the house. You may hear some people call it the ‘front room.’ Living rooms are often the first room you see when you enter a house. Many times it is connected to a formal dining room.

Smaller homes will only have one main gathering area. So while I think there are definite differences, at the end of the day, both rooms are intended to offer people a place to talk, hang out and gather together. You know,  the good stuff. The stuff that makes life worth living. In that way, it doesn’t matter what you call it.