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Family Room Realities

By Vickie Williamson, Custom Framer and Interior Designer

Family room, great room, living room—whatever you call it, it’s the space where family gathers. The family room is the warm embrace of comforting arms, where you can come as you are, shoes are not required and formality is shunned.

A current design trend in housing is a small, more formal living room and a much larger room near the kitchen for the family-gathering room. Many homeowners have eliminated the living room space and opted for a home office for the family computer.

It’s a sign of the times that we no longer need a formal space to entertain guests. In our fast-paced and less formal society, most gatherings end up in the kitchen anyway. Let’s compare a family room of 40 years ago to one today.


  • The family room or den is often smaller than the living room and located near the kitchen or at the back of the house.
  • Wood paneling prevailed and shag carpet in strong colors was coveted. The small television had rabbit ears and three channels.
  • Plaid upholstered furniture was all the rage, with better “for-company” furniture carefully positioned in the living room. A recliner for dad was required seating.


  • The family room or great room, commonly located at the home’s center or adjacent to the kitchen, is often the largest space in the house.
  • A flat-screen television, often carefully positioned above the fireplace mantel, adorns the focal wall. Drywall, chair rail and crown molding prevail.
  • Hardwood flooring or neutral-colored carpets are coveted, and a grouping of oversized leather- upholstered seating is preferred.

No matter how you refer to the most important gathering space in your house, the family room is where we entertain, are entertained or just relax in the company of friends and family.

Prince William resident Vickie Williamson owns Fine Design Custom Framing & Interiors in Woodbridge. She has worked in the fine art, framing and decorating industry for more than 25 years and has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

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