Living room

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A Tudorbethan sitting room in the UK
A California tract home living room, with a kitchen behind a permanent space divider, 1960
Louise Rayner Tudor Style Interior at Haddon Hall located in the UK, 19th century
Miller House, Mid-century Modern, Columbus, Indiana, 1953-57. Living area with a conversation pit encouraging relaxation and conversing.
Japanese minimalist interior living room that is hardly furnished, but having the natural materials speak for themselves, 19th century

In Western architecture, a living room, also called a lounge room (Australian English[1]), lounge (British English[2]), sitting room (British English[3]), or drawing room, is a room in a residential house or apartment 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. In large, formal 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.[4] The term living room was coined in the late 19th or early 20th century.


In homes that lack a parlour or drawing room, the living room may also function as a reception room for guests.[5] Objects in living rooms may be used "to instigate and mediate contemplation about significant others, as well as to regulate the amount of intimacy desired with guests."[6]

A typical Western living room may contain furnishings such as a sofa, chairs, occasional tables, coffee tables, bookshelves, televisions, 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. They also typically consist of shoji, fusuma,and ramas which allow for the space to be very minimalistic and cohesive as the space allows users to clear their mind into complete Zen.[7]

From Parlour to Living Room[edit]

18th-century drawing room at the Harewood House

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.[8] Football on large color televisions caused larger family rooms to become more popular during the 1970s.[9] The change in terminology is credited to Edward Bok. Only the wealthy were able to afford several rooms within a space such as parlors, libraries, drawing rooms, smoking rooms, and servants’ quarters.[10]

From Death Room to Living Room[edit]

The living room was not always formerly known as the living room. After World War I the living room was the least used space in the house.[11]

The Evolution of the Modern Living Room[edit]

Interior designers and architects throughout time have continuously studied users within a space to design to best fit their needs and wants. King of France, Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles can be considered having one of the most lavishly decorated living rooms in the late 1600s. Louis XIV worked alongside Louis Le Vau and Augustin-Charles d’Aviler to design appartments de parade, otherwise known as formal rooms that usually consisted of discussing and conducting business matters. They also designed, appartements de commodité, which were rooms that the homeowners could leisure and lounge in. [12]

The Industrial Revolution emerged in the late 1700s which completely shifted America from an artisan and handmade process to a society that was dominated by a machine manufacturing industry. This allowed the production of chairs, tables, light bulbs, telegraphs, and radios that allowed society to purchase at a reasonable price to add into their home.

For example, the Miller House designed by Eero Saarinen, Saarinen knew that he wanted to design a living room not only with an appropriate architectural style but to feature "conversation pit" that sunk users to the ground making them feel a bit more "grounded." [12] It encouraged relaxation and conversing which the Miller House was one of the very first spaces to celebrate and introduce the conversation pit.[13]


  1. ^ "lounge room". Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  2. ^ "lounge". Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  3. ^ "sitting room". Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  4. ^ "Living Room Furniture". The Refuge Lifestyle. Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Rechavi, Talya B. (March 2009). "A Room for Living: Private and Public Aspects in the Experience of the Living Room". Journal of Environmental Psychology. 29 (1): 133–143. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2008.05.001.
  7. ^ "What do living rooms look like in other countries?". His and Hers Magazine. 2018-08-30. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  8. ^ Halttunen, Karen (1989). "From Parlor to Living Room: Domestic Space, Interior Decoration, and the Culture of Personality". In Bronner, Simon (ed.). Consuming Visions: Accumulation and Display of Goods In America 1880–1920 (1st ed.). New York: Norton. ISBN 0-393-02709-0. OCLC 756964793.
  9. ^ "TV, football affects home living, layout". Tucson Daily Citizen. UPI. August 6, 1973. p. 20. Retrieved September 7, 2015 – via open access
  10. ^ "Forget the Open Concept: It's Time to Bring Back Rooms". 2018-08-06. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  11. ^ "The Fascinating History of the Living Room". BuildDirect Blog: Life at Home. 2015-11-04. Retrieved 2021-02-13.
  12. ^ a b Glancey, Jonathan. "The evolution of the modern living room". Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  13. ^ "A History Of The Conversation Pit". Something Curated. 2020-04-17. Retrieved 2021-02-15.

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