Profile picture for BtrL8ThnNvr

What is the difference between a family room and a living room and a den?

That is my question.  My MIL has a 3 bedroom house and she calls one of the bedrooms her "den" even though it is quite obviously a tiny bedroom with a closet and a bunch of junk in it.  Something about a family room doesn't have a TV in it?  I don't get it.  :) TIA folks.

  • January 04 2008 - US
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Answers (16)

Profile picture for robin398

Living rooms are used more for formal occasions and for guests to visit.  Family room or den is where the family goes to watch TV, where you put your computer or just relax with your family or friends. 

  • January 04 2008
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Profile picture for Mike_oxafloppin

isnt a den in same arena as slacks ? people started calling rooms dens in the 70's and only my grandma still calls it that.  people tend to usually go the  office route today.

  • January 05 2008
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May also depend on what part of the country you're in, and what the demographics are like..LOL

  • January 05 2008
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I read this some years ago. Back in the early 1900's a plague hit most of the world and thousands of people died. Here in the USA the dead were laid out in the Parlor where typically the parlor was a room set off from the main traffice flow and the room was usually cooler so you could lay a body in that room for a while until burial was scheduled. The article went on to say that after the plague was over and life went on that people would continue to reflect on when "Uncle Harry" or "Mother" or "Father" was laying in the parlor and how sad that was and the room was no longer a joyful room. Then in I believe the article said, Homes and Gardens magazine, someone wrote an article saying that we need to put this behind us and lets not mope around in the parlor but lets change the name of the room to "THE LIVING ROOM" and thus the name took hold and people moved on.

As a home inspector here in SW Utah, if I find a room with a door a window that opens and a closet I will call it out as a bedroom, if no closet then call it as a den or office, a family room or great room if the room is large and the only large room in the home, if there is a large family room and then a room off of the traffic flow then that is the living room. Now, in some huge homes that have so many rooms in them and the home is vacant or brand new so there is no furniture in the home, at times I have no idea what a certain room is so I either call it out as, "The room with 7 windows" or "the room with 4 ceiling fans" or "the basement room NE wing" but I try to call it out so someone reading my report and knows the home can tell which room I am refering to.

  • January 12 2008
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NOW FYI > > > in a home, usually an older home, where there is a room such as in the basement, with a door, a closet and a window but the window is to tiny a person could never get through the window, I call it out "This room is currently being used as a bedroom but the inspector advises that this room not to be used for sleeping purposes as the window appears too small for quick egress, recommend further evaluation by the local fire marshall or other qualified person"

  • January 12 2008
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Profile picture for lucydjacobs

In the Carolinas, a family room describes a den that is open to a kitchen area - sofas and TV on one end of a large room, and kitchen on the ohter.

 

A den is as you described it - a tiny room where someone stuck a TV and a La-Z-Boy.

 

A family room is larger and more updated.  

  • January 26 2008
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Ms. S.  The answer to your question depends on where the property is located.

You could contact a local real estate agent and ask how that room should be marketed.

  • January 27 2008
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Profile picture for Alan May

Definitions of rooms will vary according to your local MLS and their rules.

  • January 27 2008
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Profile picture for . . .

My thought?

Living Room is formal Room with front door to the front porch, or if there is a "vestibule", the first room from the Vestibule or hallway.

Family Room is a slightly less formal room, and offers more space for games and recreation.  Many family rooms are in the back rather than the front, or sometimes even outside in a separate structure; or upstairs.  (My parent's had a room upstairs that probably should have been called a "family room"; but we called it a "study" as we were supposed to study our homework there, and there was a set of bookcases that had the encyclopedias...  Still, we used the room for blocks, tinker-toys, legos, board-games, TV... thus probably a family room.

Sometimes a "dining room" converts to a "family room".  A dining room has a table for eating with chairs.  Formal dining rooms often have a chandolier with diming.  But if the table is moved off to the side; and there is a piano or other "entertainment" in the room for "family (& friends) gatherings" (not eating), it is being used as a "family room".  My parent's dining room was often used as a family room.

  • January 27 2008
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Profile picture for . . .

A "den"?  Typically a smaller room than a "family room"; less room for gathering; often not used as much for play, but still used for "relaxing".  Typically no closet, and other reasons why it wouldn't be considered a "bed room", though many den's could be used as a bedroom.  They could also be used as an "office"; But an office is often set up for paperwork with appropriate files and reference material, and often for one or two people, sometimes business or professionally related.  Offices are typically not though of as a "relaxing" location.  Dens will have comfortable chairs, similar to a living room, but smaller and not as formal, not typcially used for "entertaining".

The only real reason to make a distinction is if one has extra rooms to identify.  But then let's not forget the sewing room, the craft room, the game room, the play room, the nursery, the workshop, the library, the theater, the concert hall, the practice room, the reading room, the dressing room, the costume room, the storage room, the electronics testing/assembly room, the repair room,...

Since most of us don't have money for all these extra rooms, we have to combine functions, or just choose the ones of most importance to us.

  • January 27 2008
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Profile picture for BtrL8ThnNvr

I am not trying to sell my house.  The house we just bought had a garage that was converted into living space and we're not sure what we want to do with it yet.  We've got the dart board in there and probably that is where the pool table will go.  Just wasn't sure what to call it.

  • January 28 2008
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Profile picture for Mike_oxafloppin

is it a 10 by 20 garage or  20by 20 ?

  • January 28 2008
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Hi, Sherlock,

 

If it has a pool table and dart board, along with a TV, etc., I'd call it a rec room.  If you have small children, call it a wreck room..

  • January 29 2008
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Profile picture for gary.katzenmaier

A previous post that said parlors were changed to living rooms when funeral services started to be held in funeral parlors outside of the home is correct.  Changing the name to living room eliminated the association with death.  The den originally was a catch all room with a TV or extra bed and has evolved into the home office.  The family room was traditionally a room off of the kitchen or a remodeled basement which is now called the great room..

  • February 03 2008
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Profile picture for Staresce

A den is just like a bedroom without out a closet. Many use it as a computer room or office.

 

Lisa

  • February 04 2008
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Profile picture for BtrL8ThnNvr

It's 11 by 20 I think.  And yes I have a 5 year old.  My office is the "wreck room" where he paints and plays w/ play-doh and all that.  Talk about a mess!  Where did the name "great room" come from I wonder.

  • February 04 2008
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