The Evolution of the Modern Living Room

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Our historical propensity for interior design as a species is pretty well established. We like to make our spaces attractive, and always have.

Another thing we’ve always liked to do is to entertain. And so what we’ve needed through out the centuries is a central location, a social hub, in the contexts of our homes. For many hundreds of years, this room has been referred to as the parlor, the front room, the sitting room, the lounge, or in more modern, North American terms – the living room.

How the living room has evolved through the ages

So, how has the living room evolved over centuries and eras, roughly from the Enlightenment to our modern 21st Century?

Let’s take a look at three areas here in this graphic: lighting, seating, and tables

The living room is the soul of the home

In the end, what has been the role of the living room in our lives at home? Has it really changed that much?

Technology certainly has, and our activities in the living room have along with it in some ways. There wasn’t much TV watching going on in the 1920s in the living room, obviously.

But, at heart, I think that no matter the styles of furniture, or the technology that changed the way we interact with each other (or not interacted, in some cases) when we’re spending time there, the living room is a vital component to a home. The living room sets the standards of atmosphere, style, and general identity of a home as a whole, no matter what kind of home it is.

And why is that?

Every cohesive unit of anything needs a nucleus, a center. It needs a soul. And that’s what the living room has meant to the average home; a social center where, when all food preparation and other human activity is done, one can sit and just be.

As such, the humble living room is aptly named.



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Rob Jones

Rob served as Editor-In-Chief of BuildDirect Blog: Life At Home from 2007-2016. He is a writer, Dad, content strategist, and music fan.