Article by Paul Brewster, The Flooring Hut Team.
Households usually have one or two main rooms that serve as a focal point for family activity. The most common of these is the living room but another favourite that is often confused with living rooms is the sitting room.
In this guide, I take a look at the history of the sitting room vs living room debate, find out how these rooms differ, and offer some practical advice on how to furnish and decorate them!
The Traditional “Sitting Room”
The terms sitting room and living room are often used interchangeably and indeed they can mean the same thing. However, the traditional sitting room is quite different. It is typically a smaller, cosier room that usually doesn’t have a TV or any type of entertainment system.
Instead, you can expect a series of comfortable armchairs and perhaps a small coffee table. The purpose of the sitting room is to provide a quiet place – somewhere you can go to relax, think, read, or unwind.
It is usually a secondary room in terms of importance and in most instances, modern families would opt for a living room before they considered having a sitting room.
The Modern “Living Room”
The living room is the essential family room. It’s usually the main place of activity in a household aside from the kitchen and is usually much larger than a sitting room.
Living rooms are often furnished with one or two sofas and an armchair if the space is available. Many living rooms are multi-functional too and may contain a small dining table and an entertainment system complete with a TV and perhaps a games console.
These rooms are where families spend most of their time in the evenings playing games, watching TV, and coming together after working and eating their evening meal.
Whether you have a sitting room, a living room, or both depends largely on your lifestyle, available rooms, and the configuration of the rooms in your home. Below I have listed some of the main practical considerations when considering which family rooms to have:
- Overall floor space.
- Proximity to other rooms.
- Open plan or closed plan design.
- Availability of light and windows.
- Typical family habits.
- Frequency of entertaining guests.
Typically, living rooms are larger and have more furniture. Therefore, if you have a large room and a smaller box room on your ground floor together with the kitchen, the smaller box room is the ideal candidate for a sitting room.
It’s also advisable to measure the floor space so you can gain an idea of the furniture you can fit in. Sitting rooms usually have less furniture – perhaps a couple of armchairs and a coffee table. In contrast, a living room often has to accommodate two sofas, a coffee table, and an entertainment system complete with a TV stand.
Sitting rooms aren’t really suitable in open-plan environments either as the idea is to have a private and enclosed space where you can relax and enjoy quiet time. You can’t really do this if people are continually walking through the open-plan space into the kitchen for example!
Decor and Design Tips
So, you’ve settled on the type of room and ended your sitting room vs living room debate. But how do you decorate it? This is the next conundrum and to help I have listed the main considerations below:
- Wall decor
- Furniture style and colours
- Ornaments and wall accessories
The flooring is obviously incredibly important and the main choice is whether you want a carpet for your living room or sitting room, or hard flooring like LVT flooring. Carpets are generally used in sitting rooms as they enhance the cosines of these rooms and they can also make a great choice in living rooms too, especially if you have children who are prone to falls!
You then have to marry together the flooring, wall decor, and furniture in terms of style and colours. In sitting rooms, you want comfortable armchairs that you can sink into to read a book or relax and talk whereas in living rooms you might opt for sofas that you can lie on to watch TV after a tough day’s work.
Create the Ideal Family Room in Your Home Today
I hope you now have a clear idea of the difference between sitting rooms and living rooms and should be able to see which is better suited for your home and family.
Living rooms are certainly more common and are often the focal point of your house where your family will sit at night after work to relax and watch TV.
In contrast, sitting rooms offer a quieter and cosier atmosphere and are perfect for entertaining guests or a place where family members can retreat, talk, or read a book.
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