It is ironic that one of the least lively spaces in the modern home is called the living room. It hasn’t always been this way. Before U.S. homes grew to palatial size, there was only one room in the floor plan for family gatherings, TV, games, and general lounging. The living room was where the business of living was done. The kitchen was a close second.
But as houses grew larger, the business of living was spread out throughout the house. Living is a messy business. Some matriarchs wanted to move that mess some place else. They decided that the living room should be neat, quiet, lavishly appointed, and almost never entered by anyone accept the most well-heeled guests. The games, TV, and dirty socks had to go some place else. In the new, bigger homes, that place became the family room.
By all appearances, houses had two living rooms. There was the one that no one used, and the one that everyone used. In some quarters, what once was called the living room became the den. Now that the family room is the new living room, there is a great deal of ambivalence about what that room is supposed to be. Is it the room where the noisy, smelly business of living gets done? Or is it something more respectable? If you (like me) consider a living room a room for living, then here are some essentials to make it really come alive:
A Giant TV
There was a time when people purchased smaller TVs because that is all they could afford. But as TVs have gotten bigger, the price has gotten smaller. We all watch TV and it has played an integral part of the lives of most Americans. We all have our favorite shows, sports, and other programming, which can now be packaged and bundled by America’s #1 Satellite TV service. When it comes to the information and entertainment available through TV, there is something for everyone. It makes sense for the television to be a family gathering point. Anything (other than tragedy) that brings families together, is a good thing.
Victorian furniture does not go with a Visio TV. Kids do not sit up straight when watching their favorite comedy, or playing their favorite game, nor should they. Your furniture has to reflect the activity of the room. That means coffee and side tables that are conducive for holding drinks and snacks. Nothing is more fundamental to living than eating. It is going to happen in your living room. That reality should be reflected in your furniture choices. You can furnish your living room like a giant dollhouse, or a comfortable living space. Choose comfort.
All of this casual living doesn’t preclude the possibility of a touch of class and culture here and there. Art on the walls is a great way to class up the joint. You can use your art selections as a way to learn about and honor certain cultures. Or, you can just surround yourself with selections every body likes. Getting everyone involved with the selection of the art is a great way to instill a sense of pride and art appreciation.
Automation for All
Apple’s HomeKit is joining a growing list of systems that are vying to be the control center of your automated home. If everyone has an iPhone, HomeKit makes sense in that environment. Use it to add automated and app-controlled lights, climate control, and music for your living space. This can be done quite inexpensively. There are already enough good products on the market to start living the automated dream of the future, today.
You should seriously consider these changes if your living room neither looks nor feels lived in.