Originally Posted by kronik
I mean, what IS a living room, really?
A living room is the combination of a drawing room and a parlor. Drawing rooms were once used exclusively for the reception of guests. They were formal spaces--almost public ones if your home had many servants bustling around with the business of dinner. Drawing rooms were typically on the first floor near the front door. Parlors were used for the family to relax, away from the eyes of guests and servants. Parlors are where you lounged around in your sleeping clothes. They were typically on the upper floors, and they most often adjoined bedrooms. Today when people visit older homes and see a parlor, typically a small room with a door on the hallway and a door or doorway communicating to a bedroom, they call these things "nurseries" and/or they are listed by realtors as small bedrooms though they may not be large enough to hold a queen bed. In the twentieth century, a bunch of things kill off the parlor and the drawing room. Americans blurred the distinction between more formal and more informal space within the home. As fewer families kept servants in their home, there was less to no need for keeping up appearances within certain areas of the home. With no servants coming every day at 8 am to do the cooking, there is no reason not to wear your sleeping clothes in any room of the house. Americans also got much better at building larger interior rooms. The old arrangement of small sleeping room with adjoining parlor became one large room known as the "master bedroom." We've also seen the kitchen and the drawing room growing together as a "great room" with the kitchen area totally open to the lounging area. This is another sign that the modern home is not built for the use of servants--in the old days the kitchen, though it necessarily adjoined the dining room that could often be seen from the drawing room, was hidden by an interior wall with, perhaps, a solid swinging door. So to answer your question, a living room is one in which the inhabitants of the home relax, with or without company, when they are not sleeping and when they are not eating. [/pedant]