Classic or Craze: Formal Living Room

Is it a classic or is it a craze?


For our September issue, we asked local home and design professionals to share their opinion on the formal living room. Is it a thing of the past? Or do homeowners still desire a formal gathering place for guests? Here is what our professionals had to say...

“Dress it down, repurpose it or rename it, the formal living room is a classic that we will continue to recognize in many forms. Yes, we know all the action is around the enormous open kitchen, but there are times you crave an intimate space that isn’t designed around the latest gas stove or the largest and loudest flat-screen TV. Away from the rush, the living room houses our cherished art, favorite books and family albums. A timeless wood-burning fireplace still emits the same great chorus of snaps, pops and sizzles it did 50 years ago. Comfortable, but not slouchy, upholstery encourages conversation and reminiscing. The “living” room named correctly and remains a classic.” Jane Ganz, Directions in Design, Inc.

Classic with a Twist
“I would have to classify formal living rooms as a “Classic,” only because so many existing two-story homes have one! But, even those that have that typical room configuration (with the dining room on one side of the foyer, and the living room on the other), have opted to use the room in unique ways, such as a music room, reading room, play room or home office.  Definitely, for new construction, most consumers are opting for larger, more multi-purpose type of spaces.” Gail Doveikis, G.M. Doveikis & Associates.

"I think the space itself, i.e. a separate room on your first floor, is classic. We’re seeing this space still available and in all varieties of new construction, but it’s simply the use of the space that has changed over time.” Jessie Chall, Payne Family Homes.

“As much as I love the way a formal living room looks and feels, I think that what we think of as the classic formal living room is more a thing of the past. It is just not practical in today’s busy family lifestyles. Living rooms are still a part of our homes, but they have evolved. While still nice, they are less formal and less fussy rooms so that they can be a more usable space for families. These less-formal living rooms have become larger, less confined rooms that are open to the dining room, breakfast room and kitchen.” Teresa Drury, Textures.

“Families today are utilizing what traditionally was a formal living room in new ways. Examples of this are studies, music rooms, bars or wine-tasting rooms. Homeowners are opening the space to expand them into the next room for larger family rooms or master bedrooms. More and more homeowners are moving away from utilizing the room in a formal way.” Ellen Kurtz, Ellen Kurtz Interiors.