Mid-century modern living room set

Living Room or Great Room – What’s the Difference?

7 December, 2017

Whether you’re building or buying, the type of “primary living space” you choose for the interior of your new home is a major decision. The basic structure of western homes hasn’t changed much over the years – walls attached to a roof and floors make an effective shelter – but the layout of the rooms inside is constantly changing styles.

In the past, one of the main reasons for partitioning houses into separate rooms was to help with temperature regulation. Smaller rooms heat up more quickly because the walls contain the heat, and when a room was no longer being used, the source of heat would be removed or shut off to focus on occupied areas of the house. But with today’s more efficient and effective heating and cooling systems, dividing a house up is no longer necessary, which frees up our options when it comes to home floor plans.

With all of these options, how do you decide what you want your living space to look like? Many prefer the open floor plan that allows for a great room, but others enjoy having a more formal room to use when company is visiting – a living room.

First of all, what’s the difference between the two? And what kind of furniture is best for either option? Whether you’re thinking about adding a great room to your house, or just needing design ideas for a living room, here’s a quick guide to get you started.

Living Room Vs. Great Room

As mentioned before, the primary difference between the two is the level of casualness. Living rooms tend to be more formal and separate, with nicer, more stylish furniture and decor. They are generally for hosting important or less familiar guests. They’re considered a luxury because they’re meant to be a space that is always clean and ready for company – many times homeowners don’t allow kids or pets in them.

In contrast, great rooms are part of an open floor plan by design. They are generally more casual and meant to be used every day. The furniture is comfortable and inviting, the TV is often located here. A lot of times a great room flows off of the kitchen or dining room, allowing people to be in either “room” and still be part of the same space.

Choosing the Right Furniture

It’s important to choose the right type of seating for your space. In a living room, you may want to steer clear of large items such as sectionals, as you are generally working with less square footage and a large sectional would shrink the room instantly. Instead, focus on small sofas and arm chairs. Furniture sets with high legs are great for helping the room feel more open and less stuffy. Use Google or Pinterest to get other design ideas for a living room.

When you’re choosing furniture for a great room, on the other hand, sectionals can actually come in handy for defining spatial boundaries. The back of a couch is a clear border between the kitchen and the family room, for example. A deep seated sectional tends to add to the coziness of a room, which is exactly what you want in a great room. Or if you have an open floor plan, but still a relatively small amount of square footage that you’re working with, look for a high-legged sectional to keep the room feeling open.

With complementary furniture, you can transform your great room or living room into an inviting space.