Help Buying a House with a Living Room and Family.. How to Furnish??

Updated on May 27, 2011
L.O. asks from Sterling Heights, MI
19 answers

Our current house has a living room only. We are looking at bigger homes that have the traditional colonial floor plan. living room, family room and dining room kitchen..

I am puzzled with what to do with all of those rooms.. I think buying an extra living room set and an extra dining set would be a waste of money.. No one uses the living room for entertaining.. it is awaste..Any other ideas on what to do with this space>> maybe have the traditional living room with the couch and TV.. and the family room as a playroom with toys?

WE have been looking for a bigger home with the great room but cant seem to find what we want..

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers


answers from Phoenix on

We have both and its not a waste!!! If the kids want to watch something we don't, they go in the "front" room while we are in the "back" room. Also when we have people over the adults tend to be in one room and the kids in the other. So yes, we have 2 full living areas with TV's in entertainment centers, couch, loveseats and tables. I love it...we rent now but when we buy a home, having a family and living room will be a MUST HAVE!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on


More Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

My house has both. Our family room - the one adjacent to the kitchen - has couches and a tv.

What would be our formal living room is filled with toys and is officially the playroom. What would be our formal dining room has our china hutch, a train table, and a play kitchen. : ) Eventually, we will buy a nice dining table for that room and, further down the line, will move the playroom upstairs (we have a bonus room there) and furnish the living room as a second seating/living space.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

The house I lived in before had a formal living and dining room. We did buy a lovely dining room table that got used probably 2xs a yr, but it looked pretty! I had a furniture set in the formal living room but we were never in there. It was the only cleam room in the house because we didn't use it so that was a plus!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

We have always used our living room. It is nice when we have company
to go into another room that is nicely done. The family room is where we
really live all week so it has the TV , computer etc. Really do not know
what I would do without my LR. You may think it is a waste of space now,
but as the kids get older you will realize that you like it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I wish I had this problem right now! We have outgrown our house but will not be able to move anytime soon. Most people who upgrade (and have kids) tend to use one of the living spaces as a playroom then eventually furnish it once their kids are older. If the family room is close to the kitchen, I would use that for the couches and TV. The family always congregates there. Then I would use the living room for the toys.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My formal living room is my daughter's playroom. I couldn't get over spending all this money on a furniture set, that wouldn't get used. We already had a dining room table, so that's in our dining room, but if we didn't, I would of made the dining room her playroom, and put a big golf net and some astroturf in our our living room and had a driving range in the house.



answers from Chicago on

I think its nice to have a formal living room and a formal dining room. An extra family room would be a bonus. If you're going to buy a house, then you might want to get a dining set for the formal dining room. Its always nice to eat at a table, even when you don't have guests.
As for the living room/family room, I like your idea. Since you say toys, I take it your kid(s) are toddlers or older, but not yet into teens? Hope I am guessing right.. :)
Family rooms typically tend to be closer to the kitchen, and it might be nicer for you to watch over kids and be around while they play. Once they're old enough to not need a 'toy-room', perhaps then you may furnish a second TV/couch?
(Sorry if I assumed the situations wrongly..) :)



answers from Eugene on

Game room (pool table, foos ball)
Music room
TV room - wii, exercise equipment
Toy room
Library: books, table and a couple of comfy reading chairs.

In our house we have one room just for legos. I don't get to vaccuum very often in there... I just close the door.



answers from Detroit on

we moved from small condo to a house like you are describing. we use the larger room with fireplace, tv, etc. as a place for tv watching, etc. NO toys are kept here, but for some reason, this is where my daughter alwyas wants to play! in the condo, we had a nice wood dining table with a matching china cabinet we receieved as a wedding gift, so we use that in the "formal" dining room, and have a dinette type set in the kitchen dining area. the "formal" living room (extension of dining room) is used as a play room. the previous owners left 2 full sized sofas with recliner ends, and we have those in there as well. those are great, because we would not have had furniture for that room otherwise! i love having a play room on the main floor, since when we moved in our daughter was only 2 and i could keep an eye on her better that way. when she's older, we will probably still use it as an alternative space, other than just a fancy sitting room! we have an office already, otherwise maybe it would be used for that? this house design is nice for entertaining, there are plenty of places for people to sit, or you can send the kids to one room and adults can talk in another. also, i LOVE the colonial so that my daughter can be upstairs sleeping and doesn't hear anything when we have company.


answers from Santa Fe on

You are LUCKY! I would make part of the family room an office...or an art center/craft center. Or I would make it into a playroom (half of it) with shelves for toys etc. Or I would put a piano in there. In my dream house I would have a normal livingroom and then a second family room where I would have a piano, a desk/computer/media area for the whole family to use, and a craft desk with shelves, and shelves for kid toys, games, books. And some comfortable chairs. I think I overfilled the room! Anyway, think about how your family will use it best. What will they get the most use out of. It can change over time. When the kids are teenagers you can have a pool table or a foosball table or a ping pong table in there. Lucky you!


answers from Biloxi on

My house, though an older ranch style, has a front living room that opens into the kitchen/dining area, and an enclosed carport off the kitchen.

I use the front, original, living room as a "formal" room, meaning TV free, clutter free. It is a good space when I entertain as it flows into the kitchen/dining area, which open onto the back patio. I can "contain" my guests in the one open space.

The enclosed carport I use as the family room. TV, electronics, toys, clutter all stays in there. When company comes over, I can close the door to it and Viola! instant clean, entertaining space. Plus, when my son has his friends over, I can contain the teen boys in there and still have a nice living area for myself.

I really like having the front living room TV free - it gives me a space to curl up with a book or visit with friends without distraction.

Play with it once you move in. See what spaces flow better for your family, and which room(s) they gravitate to more. That will help you decide which room to use for what. You can always re-arrange and re-direct the use of rooms.

Have fun house shopping!

God Bless



answers from Detroit on

We had the same issue, our home had a formal living one really uses those anymore. We put a pool table in ours. It's been 20 years and we have never regretted it.


answers from Jacksonville on

Depending on the size (lots of "formal" living room space is smaller than "family room"s) you could make it into a home office/study, with bookshelves and space for your kids to do homework/study. Ours is sort of multi-use-- it has the keyboard for our daughter to practice piano, entertainment center housing a stereo system we almost never use anymore, an older TV with older DVD/VCRs attached for the old VCR tapes, and plug in TV games, and matching bookcases on either end of it that are overflowing with books. We'd like to do something different with it one day, but that would require getting rid of some perfectly good furniture and buying some new, and that isn't in the budget right at the moment.

We do have a "formal" dining room in addition to the space we eat most meals in. That table only holds 5 people comfortably, so when we have guests, especially if they also have kids, we do the old-fashioned "adults table" and "kids' table"s, lol. 6 in the dining room and 5 kids (plus 2 at the bar if need be) in the "breakfast" room.

I've found that it is nice to have the china cabinet to store some of my seasonal things in. The bottom cabinet portion holds lots of Xmas items that I really don't want in the attic (think Xmas candles and delicate detailed potpourri burners) due to the heat. And I display lots of my kids' awards and things from school in the top section.

Using the living room as a play room can work well also. But I also have the option to stick an air mattress in there for additional guests that won't fit into the guest room.



answers from Los Angeles on

Tv in one room, and a space for all other activities in the other, - such as somewhere to sit and read, a play area for the kids, somewhere to do your own crafts (if you're into that sort of thing). I like the idea of a completely screen-free area to reconnect to other things in life besides tv and computers and phones. My tip - get a leather lounge that you can wipe off!



answers from Washington DC on

My mom uses her dinning room as her home office/ display of her doll collections.

My sitter uses her rooms as a kids play room/ kids' table and chairs room for drawing.



answers from Harrisburg on

Growing up, we had a formal living room-just furniture *the good stuff* and a piano (I took lessons) and the living room had a tv and furniture *the well loved stuff* We had a formal dining room with a HUGE table and in the kitchen there were six stools around the counters that were used for homework, snacks and the like.

At this point it depends on your kids ages. For me I would use one as a sitting room no toys or anything just a place to enjoy and then the other would have a tv and toys and such.



answers from Phoenix on

Well, what does your family love to do??? Turn it into what you desire.

Our 'formal living room' has a grand piano and a sitting area for listening plus lots of interesting musical instruments and drums.

The 'formal' dining room also has a piano, the chinchilla's cage, the china hutch and the floor is open for dancing.


answers from Dallas on

I have a formal living and dining area and it is furnished in custom formal and custom dining furniture.

We use it. I got customs made leather furniture for the family area and our dining set was custom made by the Amish. LOVE the 2 rooms and use them often.

My china cabinet is in a focal area and it houses my fine china, waterford and sentimental things I have collected over the years such as a tea pitcher from my grandmother and special items given to me.

Enjoy your larger home!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions