What’s the Purpose of a Formal Living Room, Anyway?

Love this post? Share it! :)

Who in the heck invented formal living rooms??

Remember back in the day when people left plastic on the formal living room furniture or roped off the area, and you knew you’d get your butt whooped for even stepping foot in there?? It was a place to entertain visitors. But nowadays, formal living rooms are so 70’s.

So if you bought an older home (like my home, which was built in 1973), most likely, you’ve got a formal living room that you can turn into something cooler.

Here are some ideas for things you can do with that space.

1. Turn a formal living room into a craft room.

When I polled my readers and asked them about their biggest DIY challenge, a lot of them said they don’t have a space to craft.

Turn that wasted space into a place to get your craft on!

I’d recommend finding cabinets that you can hang on the wall to organize stuff or stow away things so that it’s not so messy.

thrifted craft room


2. Turn a formal living room into an office.

Even if you don’t want to use the entire formal living room for an office, you can dedicate a little corner like this. Isn’t this so pretty?!

via BHG

3. Turn a formal living room into a playroom.

Kids need a place to play, out of their parents’ hair. Trust me–they’ll still be following you around like rockstars, I’m sure, but if you’ve got a place designated for them, you might be able to keep the toy clutter out of the family room! Add some DIY chalkboards to the wall and let them get creative!
DIY chalkboard for a kids area or playroom

4. Turn a formal living room into a library or reading room.

I absolutely love to read. Here’s what my “formal” living room looks like. I haven’t gotten around to decorating it much with pictures, and I still need to reupholster the $100 Ethan Allen estate sale sofa I found. But it’s a perfect place to unwind with a book!
Reading Room IN PROGRESS_September 2013

5. Turn a formal living room into an informal living room!

Have it be the place where guests aren’t scared to step on the carpet. Have it be a place where they feel welcomed to come over and sit and relax. Don’t put a TV in there. Just make it as informal and cozy as possible!


So what are some ideas that you have for turning a formal living room into living space for your family?




Download the 5 freebies!

Thrift Diving inspires women to decorate, improve, and maintain their home themselves...using paint, power tools, and thrift stores! Use these 5 printables, checklists, and ebooks to get started!

Now go check your email for those freebies! Powered by ConvertKit

Love this post? Share it! :)

Similar Posts


  1. Teddy Lingardo says:

    A typical Western living room may contain furnishings such as a sofa, chairs, occasional tables, and bookshelves, electric lamps, rugs, or other furniture. Traditionally, a sitting room in the United Kingdom and New Zealand has a fireplace. In a Japanese sitting room, called a washitsu, the floor is covered with tatami, sectioned mats, on which people can sit comfortably.`,;..

    Our own homepage

  2. Rachael, thanks for stopping by! I checked out your site and I love it! I still surely follow your site. Anything thrift related–I’M THERE. And you like to show off what you’ve found–as well as me, so yes, let’s follow each other! 🙂 Thanks!!

  3. Hey, Ansley! I totally agree with you! I think we “think” we need these rooms for what they’re traditionally slated for, but this is 2012! We do it all in one room! If we have the need for the space to be something else, utilize it, for sure! I’m excited I’m making my a “reading room.” It’s still pretty bare, though. HAHAH

  4. Hi there! Just saw that you are following me on twitter and had to come take a look at your blog. Your writing style and photos are so ‘real’. I don’t have kiddos yet but when I do I will totally be doing the DIY house stuff with them on my back. Love it! Now following you on twit and goog 🙂

  5. I was just talking to Hubba about this the other day? Mainly in regard to family rooms versus rec rooms. Why do you need both! I sort of understand the desire to have a room that’s always pretty, like a formal living room – but why do you need to separate living spaces to watch T.V.?? If you want kids to have a space that’s what their bedrooms are for!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *