From early times in the United States (U.S.), up to the 1970s, much family activity centered on the living room of a home. Also known as “the receiving room,” home makers took guests there as soon as they entered the home. This room contained the best seating and furnishings. There, the draperies hung finely about the windows. A small piano might reside in the room. A vase with fresh-cut flowers and a bowl filled with nuts or mints might rest on the coffee table. “Eat something while I fetch coffee from the kitchen,” a home maker might say to guests.
Kept spotlessly clean, the living room location permitted the homemaker to entertain guests without their getting far into the dwelling (where messes lurked). A home maker might comfortably engage in polite and interesting conversation, and make an impression on guests in the living room. That location, the most formal, coat-and-tie room in the house, exuded sophistication as well as cleanliness and it wordlessly identified the family as rising in social status (or it did not). But, housing changed in the U.S. in the 1970’s when people wanted to express themselves, to have more choice, and they cared less about what guests thought of them.
They cared more about configuring their home with imaginative and useful living space. Still, even today, most newly constructed homes, as well as the ones built before the 1970s, have living rooms. Yet, the family room (where the radio once rested, then the television set sat, and now the wide-screen TV mounts upon a wall) practically centers both the family and their guests. Entertainment in the digital age, not simple conversation, requires access to digital content (no coat-and-tie necessary or wanted).
Homeowners began to remodel their living rooms into home offices, a special room ensconced with a desk, a computer work station, and online access. Then, the computer work station evolved to become the source of computer games and many former living rooms and offices became online gaming rooms. Now, neither computing nor gaming require sequestering in a room. A tablet or a laptop enables mobile computing and a smart phone enables online gaming.
Where does this leave the old living room? Some people place a bar there, complete with a pool table. For other people, this has become the guest bedroom (closed off with an access door to a full bathroom). Pets sometimes get the room for themselves, complete with their bed, toys, a hundes bar (a hound’s bar with water and kibble), and an access door placed at the base of the front door. Any of these ideas make more sense than a living room devoid of life, a haunt of bug ghosts and dust bunnies.