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Sunday, January 27. 2019
A parlor is something like the room in which you welcome smaller groups of guests, without TV, clutter, or junk like that in it. Same idea as a "sitting room" or a "drawing room" (to go back in time). Or to go into the 1950s, what's a "den"?
There's another old-fashioned room: the Library. Pretentious rich people still build them, and let their decorators fill them with books. But any room can contain your most precious books...
What's a "living room," and what's a "family room"? The uses of home spaces has changed over time. In past, when the priest or pastor came to call for tea or a Scotch, you would meet in the parlor. Today, he or she would probably prefer to meet in the kitchen or the "family room". Life, even for the very wealthy, has become more relaxed and informal. Small "d" democratic.
What has changed? Middle class living and relative prosperity, TV (the electronic hearth), and the decline of formality with the decline of aristocracy and the rise of meritocracy.
Anyway, I suppose the question is whether you have a relatively formal (tidy, no TV etc) living space, and, if so, how often is it used?
And maybe, of more general interest, how do you use your home's public spaces?
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Every room is a library. Except the closets. We didn't have anything resembling a den until the kids started moving out.
We have a "living room" just inside the front door off the central hallway. Couch, a couple of chairs, family picture books on the tables, baby grand piano. When my wife lets me it contains a guitar or two. In December it hosts the Christmas tree and associated wrapped boxes. Used for visitors to sit and chat in, although all too often the chatting happens in the kitchen (with much less comfortable seating). It is also used for reading and, of course, piano playing.
The "family room" is in the back behind the kitchen. Couches, TV, second Christmas tree in December. Used almost constantly, although less now that all but one of my kids have grown and moved onto their own homes. The dog has his bed there.
The family room is where the children of guests are deposited for roughhousing, noise making, TV watching, and the general mayhem that comes along with kids. The dog loves it.
Ditto on the living room with comfy chairs and a big piano. At our house, add the fireplace and a large cabinet filled with stereo gear and a CD library. During the holidays the coffee-table books get replaced with a spectacular tree. With a contiguous breakfast nook, this is THE place for visiting, reading, getting musical, or just kicking back. Only a barbarian would entertain visitors in a room cluttered with that rudest of contraptions, a television.
I designed (and the wife and I built) our house for ourselves, not our friends or neighbors. We have no parlor, and no dining room. Floor space is expensive so why spend the money? Who are we trying to impress? Once per year when our kids come to visit, we bring in some extra chairs. On the rare occasions when we invite people for dinner, we push our recliners off to the side and set up a folding table in the middle of the room. I guess we must have some Shakers in our ancestry.
My mom has a parlor, full of fancy antiques and knick-knacks, that is never used. I think we have different ways of showing off our bourgeoisie notions nowadays, instead of via fancy imported items that are expensive and risky to buy and to transport. With Amazon, the exotic has become pedestrian.
So we eschewed a parlor but went with a nice dining room that gets used a good bit whenever we have guests, but not for day-to-day. Our family room is contiguous with our big working kitchen and a large outdoor porch / BBQ / dining area, and it gets the heavy traffic.
We actually have a parlor as listed on the original blue prints of the original owner. They entertained a lot. We rarely go in there except to play the baby grand. Have an 18th century sofa that needs new upholstery and a number of other nice antiques including a looking glass to reflect light. Whole room is formal including the marble surround fireplace with Greek Key molding. I like to look at the room but most would consider it useless.
When we renovated/added to our 1930s house many moons ago (to accommodate more kids), we extended the kitchen into an eat-in, turned the old dining room to a "den", turned the old parlor into a formal dining room with its fireplace (only used for occasions now) and built a large "living room" with lots of seating areas, piano, good sound system, and a big fireplace.
Few of these public spaces are used often enough, but just having somewhere to go in winter is a pleasant luxury.
We have a small house, so no dens or game rooms. There is a dining room open to the living room and a kitchen. A breakfast bar divides the kitchen and dining room. This is where people gravitate when they're over for drinks or feasts.
The living room room has the couch and recliners and the home's only tv. Kids play video games there, we watch movies, sports, and shows there, and the kids drag their toys out there. The 3 and under toys are stored under the tv in boxes.
The dining room holds the computer, also. It's never powered down, so it serves as a digital picture frame, too. Every room serves as a library because there is no room to hold all of my bookshelves.
If I had a lot of money for a big home I would definitely have a room as library and a game room for a tv and table top games, and maybe ping pong. I would like a quiet room for reading. Yeah right.
Well, I have basement room for ping pong but, dammit, the ceiling is too low for lobs.
Still, it's gonna be the ping pong room. Best indoor game ever, except for chess.
We have a living room which I call a front room. It is on the front (street side) of the house, next to the entrance foyer of the formal entrance door. It is simple with a fireplace, several chairs, and a small, drop-front desk. We hardly ever use it, perhaps just 3 or 4 times in 20 years.
If we do downsize that is a room that will be eliminated.
I have a large, older (civil war era) home. After my last GF/fiancee' moved out I realized I never user the 'parlor', which had 13 foot ceilings. I bought a golf simulator and nets and mats, and now I use it several times every week. Had ~8 friends over tonight and we drank whiskey, had a nice dinner, and hit a lot of golf balls, playing a couple courses and then a long drive contest.
My "parlor" get more 100x use than it ever did!
- John L., Baltimore
Every room in our house, bathrooms included, has books covering much or most of the walls. There ain't a book-free room in the house.
And that's where we entertain.
Just the one great room, which has a sitting area with a fireplace, TV, and piano on one end and a dining table on the other. Books in every room and in shelves lining the hall that parallels the stairs, as well as the stair landing upstairs, so no one room is exclusively a library.
After 35 yrs of living in small, cramped houses, my wife and I had a new house (over)built. Our kids are gone but we included bedrooms (3) for each. They get used a couple times a year. Spacious kitchen, living room and dining room. Last week we had 10-12 of our neighbors over. The men mostly collected in living room, women in the dining room. When family or friends come most of the visiting is in the kitchen, around the center island counter. Meals in the dining room. Our kids are gone but we built bedrooms (3) for each. I spend a lot of my spare time in the library/gun room. Just now it's pretty cold w/ about a foot of new snow. Can't spend a lot of time outdoors so the space is really nice. Life is good.
My wife and I have a smallish 1980s 3 bedroom ranch. We set up the living room with no TV and put the big flat screen in the finished basement. We wind up using the living room daily as we really don't watch much TV. The house has a small dining room that we seldom use unless company comes for a meal. Most of our meals are at a table in the kitchen bay window.
Living in the mountains I have a prow front chalet. No dining room or family room, it is an open concept great room, living room and island kitchen. So this is the hub of socializing. 25ft. High ceilings and fireplace makes it great during snowstorms. No television. The prow is all windows and nature walks right up. With no dining room dinners are real informal. But here in the mountains that is how we like it. I used to have a big dutch colonial when raising my kids, sold it to my daughter and son-in-law where they are raising our grandkids. It is nice to go back and visit but now I am relegated to the guest room which is fine.
My new home (under construction) is also a prow front chalet, about 1200 sq ft sitting on a garage under/basement. I'll have a great view to the west which includes one of the local ski areas and a number of mountains that will lend themselves to great sunsets.
No, no 'den', 'parlor', or library in either my previous residence, present residence, or future residence (under construction). All three are rather open concept, with kitchen, dining room, and living room flowing from one to another. I have had/do have/will have an office, a small room without a closet or much space for a bed, which will serve as my 'quiet' place for writing or looking for that rare DX (amateur radio). Of course the office will be in the basement of the new house as it's one of the few places that has the room. No need to eat up space on the ground floor!
was raised in the big brick farmhouse that my Grandfather built in the 1860's for his growing family, originally had 3 big bedrooms upstairs and one down, also a parlor, dining room, big eat in kitchen and separate "sitting room". Was remodeled in the 50's, dining room divided into a bathroom and the other half into a "sewing room" for grandma. Also enclosed a back porch into an utility room for washer and dryer and a back entrance with storage for out door farm work cloths. No one ever used the dining room anyway. still that way today. rarely used the formal living room except for company and christmas, separated by a set of double glass "french" doors from the sitting room, too cold in winter and in the summer us 6 kids were banned from the house as there was work to do on the farm or canning to do in the kitchen, (always a big garden) My mom still lives there.
I currently live in a farm house next door to the home farm, ( I am a dairy farmer) Two huge bedrooms upstairs, one down, living room and "family" room, we used both as there is no good basement for the Kids. Summer kitchen was incorporated into main house in the 50's so medium kitchen and connected dinning room, lots of useless hallways. How previous farmer raised 13 kids and housed them and his parents and a spinster aunt in this house is beyond me, we added a bath and a half when we moved in so I am typing this from my office, the old bathroom. more of a cockpit than anything but it works
Summer Kitchen, look it up
I guess we do--the TV is tucked away in a separate room (okay, it's a cave, and I mean that literally) and the rest of the living space is nice and TV-free. We use it every day to sit with coffee in the morning and for me, to read in the evening. We are not grandparent-age, either.
The front parlor in a new home is probably there to use as an office for receiving work-related guests. Office-less telecommuters still sometimes need to meet coworkers or clients in person. Confining those meetings to the very front of the house makes sense. Maybe a half bath nearby for the same reason.