Photo by Chad Jones

by Dan Fritschen

Many of us might not be entirely aware of the differences that exist between a family room and a living room, hence the use of the two terms interchangeably. At a basic level, a family room is a casual space where the whole family can relax – so there may be a TV and home entertainment system, as well as kids’ toys if you have young children. Furniture in this room is usually not too expensive or pristine but a bit more cozy; the space may also be child-proofed and furnished in such a way that spillages or dirty hands won’t be too much trouble to clean! On the other hand, the living room is a more formal entertaining space which is kept in top condition for when you have visitors; a more ‘grown-up’ room with nice furniture, pieces of art and maybe even a well-stocked bar!

If you’re lucky enough to have both rooms in your home and you’re looking to carry out a remodeling project, you must be able to make a decision on which room to remodel first. Of course, where finances are not a limiting factor you can have the two rooms remodeled simultaneously.


So, which is it? On the one hand, the living room, being the primary entertainment area in the house where guests and visitors are ushered in, needs to be at its best always. The living room (also known as the lounge or sitting room internationally) is always more visible and the furniture here is meant to showcase your sense of style and taste. Where you do not have both rooms in the house you will definitely have a living room.

Making a decision on whether to remodel the room or not in such a case would be easy! But where both rooms are featured you must spend time thinking about your decision, and the cost implications notwithstanding make a decision that is in the best interest for the family.

Family portraits feature in the family room; so rather than have the room completely remodeled you can change the positioning of family photographs and knick-knacks and the furniture to give it a new look. The cozy, comfortable seating arrangement can be adjusted as time goes by without having to incur additional remodeling costs for the room.

If you have to pick between remodeling the family room first and the living room consider the current state of the respective rooms; the room that’s in the worst condition may need to be remodeled first. This is more likely to be the family room, which sees more use on a day to day basis as well as a lot of wear and tear from the family coming in and out all the time!

Where both rooms are in more or less similar states the living room would probably have to be remodeled first- use the living room to create lasting first impressions in your visitors!

To find more great inspiration for your living room, check out our design gallery, where you can search and share over 50 million home design photos. And for help calculating remodeling costs, try our free, online remodel cost calculator.