In the Land Before Time, or a really really long time ago, formal living rooms were for important visitors. You drove u to your host’s entry in a horse-drawn carriage, a lackey opened the carriage door and handed you to the ground. At the front door, your coat or cape was taken; you left your calling card on the hall table and was led into the front parlor. Wake up! We mere mortals don’t live that way anymore.
The family room was invented for the double, wage-earner household with children so, on the off chance they had unannounced visitors, they did not have to run around like a chicken with the head cut off putting away the toys and laundry. They could retire to the formal living room. But with the invention of the telephone–maybe not that long ago–people call and make appointments, rather than just show up. I know, there are the few that hang onto the “I was in the neighborhood” ploy, but they get what they deserve.
So, why do developers continue to give us formal living rooms? Somebody is asleep at the switch. Someone should tell them men no longer retire to the study and have brandy and a cigar; and women have long since stopped having their tea in the parlor away from the men.
If you have one of those undersized, useless living rooms that you barely look at anymore, repurpose it. A function that would work extremely well in a space that is clearly too small for formal gatherings beyond the immediate family, is an elegant home office. Even if you run a business from this space, it can be outfitted so things like built-in storage, books, maps, world globes, etc., are front and center. Technology can be housed in cabinets to cloak it’s real use as a home-based business or a place to handle the family affairs. Today’s great storage keeps important and confidential paperwork safely out of sight under lock and key. With comfortable seating, this repurposed room can double as a great meeting place for a small group.
What about a library that is a special dining room when a formal dining room is missing? A game room where cards and board games are played would be perfect. A music room or a reading room are more useful ideas for the ignored room. When it comes down to it, just because an architect labeled a space “living room” doesn’t mean you have to be limited to what is on a blueprint. It’s your house. Make it useful!