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In Western architecture, a living room or lounge room (informal: lounge) is a room in a residential house for relaxing and socializing. Such a room is sometimes called a front room when it is near the main entrance at the front of the house. The term sitting room is sometimes used synonymously with living room, although a sitting room may also occur in a hotel or other public building. In large homes, a sitting room is often a small private living area adjacent to a bedroom, such as the Queen's Sitting Room and the Lincoln Sitting Room of the White House. The term living room was coined in the late 19th or early 20th century.
A typical Western living room may contain furnishings such as a sofa, chairs, occasional tables, and bookshelves, electric lamps, rugs, or other furniture. Traditionally, a sitting room in the United Kingdom and New Zealand has a fireplace, dating from when this was necessary for heating. In a Japanese sitting room, called a washitsu, the floor is covered with tatami, sectioned mats, on which people can sit comfortably.
In larger homes in the United States and Canada, the living room may be reserved for more formal and quiet entertaining, while a separate room—such as a den, family room, or recreation room is used for leisure and informal entertainment. A great room combines the functions of one or more of these rooms.
From parlour to living room
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Until the late 19th century, the front parlour was the room in the house used for formal social events, including where the recently deceased were laid out before their funeral. The term "living room" is found initially in the decorating literature of the 1890s, where a living room is understood to be a reflection of the personality of the designer, rather than the Victorian conventions of the day. The rise of the living room and the funeral parlour outside the home meant the end of the dedicated room for receiving guests that had been common in the Victorian period.
- Martin, Judith (2003). Star-spangled manners: in which Miss Manners defends American etiquette (for a change). New York: W.W. Norton & Co. p. 264. ISBN 0-393-04861-6.
- Halttunen, Karen (1989). Bronner, Simon, ed. Consumingvisions: Accumulation and Display of Goods In America 1880-1920 (1st ed.). New York: Norton. ISBN 0-393-02709-0.
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