I cannot count the number of times custom home clients have questioned the utility of this “standard” feature. The conversation usually references the fancy couch that no one ever sits on, visits to Grandmother’s house, and the prohibition (and associated stress) of the kids entering this hallowed space. But for years, the discussion ended with the admonition to keep the space no one uses because the client grew up with a Living Room, they already have the furniture and, most importantly, they fear they won’t be able to resell the house.
Well these concerns are losing their power as this vestigial space gets re-imagined. The social factors influencing this change start with, of all things, the television. Living rooms predated the television and even after TV’s advent, the Living Room remained TV free. As TV became more central to daily living so too did society become less formal, more casual. And the living room crossed a threshold from occasional and necessary utility to the room with no reason to go into. Meanwhile kitchens grew, became central to both daily life AND entertaining. The same client who bemoaned the Living Room’s lack of purpose routinely referenced the fact they cannot get anyone to leave the kitchen during a party. The answer right in front of the architect and the client was to listen to these two interdependent observations and eliminate the Living room, redistributing its square footage to the kitchen or casual gathering space. This is happening in plan after plan we are designing for homebuilders and custom home clients alike.