Formal Living Rooms Are Dead

Formal Living Rooms Are Dead

Formal Living Rooms Are Dead


Formal Living Rooms Are Dead

Yep, I said it. For most people, formal living rooms are dead space and a catchall for dust. Today’s families entertain in more casual ways than ever before—the kids come to the party and the adults surround the appetizer plates in the kitchen. The days of the formal living room are gone and everyone wants an “open concept” home. However, we don’t have many “open concept” homes in our stock in East Texas, as most of our homes predate the concept. So, how can you make it appealing and usable to all potential buyers (or if you’re not selling, to utilize the unused space for yourself) without an expensive remodel?

“What Will I Do With This Room?

Many homebuyers struggle with the formal living room. It sounds silly, but it’s true—especially first time buyers. Why? Because they recognize that its intended function is not functional for them. It was designed for formal entertaining and keeping guests out of your actual living space. What you end up with is one of the largest rooms in a house sitting mostly untouched. Today’s families want to entertain in their living space with a more casual approach—less formality, more real life and every square inch of the house being functional.

Put the “Fun” In Functional

It seems silly to think that an extra room would be cause for pause when it comes time to purchase. It’s not that buyers don’t want a bigger house (of course they do!), it’s that they want a more functional house.  So what do you do? Reinvent it. It’s just a room with (presumably) 4 walls, so it could be anything. Add functional living space without an addition, not just a room you use for 2 days out of the year. Square footage is always at a premium, so think outside the box—what do you need more room for? Do you need a craft room? Do you host football watching parties? Do you want a mega home theater?

Consider a multi-purpose media room—one that would double as a “hang out” space for larger gatherings but also be usable on a daily basis. For instance, create seat groupings and tables for hosting. Most formal living rooms are large, but you can break up the room by setting up vignettes of usable space—a home theater area, a crafting desk, reading nook, gaming station, a mini-library—the options are endless and customizable. You can also conceal some “stations” inside furniture, if needed. For example, consider a decorative armoire—classic on the outside but can easily hide a mini bar or game consoles/media components while not in use. Now that’s FUNctional!

Extra square footage is never a bad thing, unless it is dead space. If your formal living room is wasted, bring it back to life with a new purpose. Think beyond the formalities and imagine that you can create a special space for that little something that you may have always wanted but never considered. Just because it’s called a “formal room” doesn’t mean you have to use it as one.


Lisa E. Priest is too laid back to be formal and is an East Texas REALTOR® with Picket Fence Realty, Inc. You can reach her via phone or text at 903-948-3343 or read more at


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