Would you buy a house w/o living room

spookyoldtreeMarch 10, 2009

Hello All,

We're looking to buy a house that we're very interested in but not without hesitation. We would greatly appreciate your opinions/input.

The house is around 4,200 sqft and beautifully built by a decent custom home builder with 11-12 ft ceilings through out the first floor.

The only issue that hesitates us is that there is no formal living room with this house. However, it does have a decent size family room, an open kitchen, a breakfast nook and a formal dining on the first floor and an open game room on the second floor.

We're okay with the lack of the formal living. However, we're concerned with its resale considering the size of the house. Also, there is a good chance that we might have to sell the house in 5-6 years.

BTW, we're in DFW area of Texas.

Thanks again for your input.

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Who uses a formal living room anymore? I always thought the big draw was having a space for the kids and one for the adults- so a family room and a game room would fill that need.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 6:46PM
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I would actually prefer the floor plan you are describing.
I have a "formal" living room that I never go into except to clean or answer the door. We live in our family room.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 9:12PM
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Yep, I would never buy a house with more than 1 living area, whether you called it a living room. family room, great room, den, sitting room, or whatever. I don't need more than one room in which to plant my arse.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 9:28PM
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A house that big should have two separate living areas. The game room should suffice as the more casual of the two spaces. Depending on how the layout suited my family, I wouldn't hesitate to purchase a house without a formal living room as long as it had an alternate space such as game room etc.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 10:30PM
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Yes - I'd be fine with one great room type thing and another casual living space on a different floor. I'd prefer it over a formal living room.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 11:22PM
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At 4200 sq ft I would not even consider a house without a formal living room. If the house was under 2400 sq ft I might forgo a formal living room, but at the size you stated I do think a formal space is expected.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 8:00AM
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I'm with xamsx. It would be inconceivable to me to have 4200 sq ft of casual space but no formal living room.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 8:40AM
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Trends in new homes and also surveys of buyers wants over the past several years have pointed to the fact the that formal living room will soon be a thing of the past.

Don't worry about the stupid formal living room missing. Actually, it might even HELP resale that there is no formal living room.

Neat little fact: The "living room" used to be called the "parlor" around 1900 in the USA. Around that time, when a family member died, it was customary to display the body in the "parlor" before burial. Eventually the industry of "funeral parlors" became the norm, and folks stopped using the parlor in their private home for this. Someone in the real estate industry got creative and began using the term "living room" instead of parlor, to help sell homes. The fact the "living room" was used was particularly to remove the fact that the room is no longer used to display dead people. Aha - the "living room" name stuck. But some of you might remember your grandparents refer to a room as a "parlor".

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 12:21PM
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Nope, wouldn't buy it without the formal living room. Especially in a house that size. I would need a space away from the kids/family space when entertaining, a "nicer space". Plus I'm in the minority in this I know...I'm not a fan of the open concept home. I like having my kitchen separate and closed off from my living area. So I probably wouldn't buy the house on that factor alone. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 7:33AM
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NancyLouise, I'm not sure that there are as many fans of open concept living as architects and HGTV would have us believe. There was an informal poll concerning OC vs closed over in the decorating forum the other day and it was split fairly evenly. Even those that liked OC admitted it was a PITA to decorate, it could be noisier and there was a tremendous lack of privacy. There are drawbacks to closed concept and walls too of course. It is just that the grass isn't always greener.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 9:13AM
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Another here that wouldn't purchase a home without formal public spaces. We entertain formally, sometimes hiring wait staff, & I don't want our guests to be within eyeshot of the kitchen. We need both a formal dining room & a formal living room.

Even with family, we enjoy having the more formal quieter space away from the teens'/kiddos' noise & chaos.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 9:34AM
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xamsx, I'll have to hop over to the decorating forum and check that out. Just from what is being built now a days and watching all the television shows, it did seem like my view on OC homes was not current with today's market. But I guess I could be wrong. lol! I just know that they are not for me. Too much wasted space, bugger to keep warm/cool, when we entertain I don't want our guests to see the mess in the kitchen or have cooking smells through out the house. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 10:45AM
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Another no here; I like my traditional spaces for entertaining, etc. I've only been inside one house without a LR, but that was enough to give me pause. This particular house had no diningroom either; gound floor was nothing but a cavernous kitchen and cavernous great room. (Well, there was an in-law suite behind the triple garage.) The greatroom was a step down and had no floor space - designed like a Greek theater with nothing but carpeted tiers and a relatively small "pit" at the bottom. No place for a sofa, loveseat, chairs, tables, etc. It was a rediculous use of lots of square footage.

Need to be clairvoyant to make any predictions on how things will go with sales down the line though - other than there will be a lot of stock for buyers to choose from. And from the responses here, not everyone sees the need for livingrooms, etc.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 11:15AM
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Count me in the like-to-have-a-separate-space for adult entertaining. While I like to have an open kitchen-family room, I also like to have a place for adults to sit and talk without looking at dirty dishes or being around the kids (esp. if they're watching a video).

In my house, we have the best of both worlds - there is a more formal living room/dining room combination and a more informal kitchen/family room/breakfast nook area. This allows for adults to have their space and kids to have theirs for both eating and conversation.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 1:31PM
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I would never buy a house without a proper living room, dining room, kitchen. That said, I would prefer to never live in a house that is less than 80 years old so the room situation will never be a question for me. Old homes have individual rooms..many with doors...and that's my preferred style.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 2:22PM
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My in-laws built a new home several years ago, and they were all about the open concept. Moving from a large 1970s ranch, they thought they'd had quite enough of individual rooms. Their main floor now is essentially one large all-purpose room.

To me, it says "gee, wouldn't these spaces seem small if you had visual separators? Instead, we've made it a foyer / great room / dining room / kitchen ALL IN ONE to fool your eye!" Not the impression they wanted to create, I'm sure. And they hadn't thought about how much noisier one big space is... it's like Friday night at the high school basketball game whenever guests are over.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 5:35PM
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A little sideways for the topic, but I also don't like open concept. They look nice (airy and all that) but are impractical, don't allow for privacy and (for me) the worst is that there are no longer any walls to hang artwork!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 6:09PM
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Count me also as one who like a formal living room. We are in the process of purchasing an "open space" condo. Some have a guest bedroom on the main floor (along with the master bedroom) and an open family, kitchen and informal eating area. They all have a formal, but open dining room, but not open to the family room. In another option, the guest bedroom is on another level and the main floor guest room is then a formal, but small living room. I realized that I do love my formal living room and like to occasionally go in there and read, entertain, have a glass of wine, etc, plus I also have nice furniture that I would not like to have in a loft area, basement or family room. It just is nice to have that get away space even if it is small, and feel cozy and comfortable.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 7:23PM
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That is a really good point about not having formal living space in a house that size. I don't care for formal spaces but I also wouldn't want a 4200 square foot house.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 7:44PM
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Duluthinbloomz, for a minute I thought you were talking about my house! On our first floor, there is a small office (or dining room) and breakfast nook, but most of the space is taken by our cavernous kitchen / cavernous great room :) We have a large family, though, so it works for us. The kids play in the basement if we entertain, so spookytree, the game room you referred to would serve the same purpose for us.

We do entertain, but never formally, so I would have no reservations about buying the house you describe.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 9:22AM
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In a house of that size, (4200sf), I would definately expect to find a formal living room....although it doesn't seem like many use them anymore. But personally, I don't want a formal living room in the house we build, but it will not be nearly that large.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 2:08PM
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Below is the address to an article in the Dallas Morning News concerning this very subject. Sorry, couldn't make it a link for some reason.

"More than half of participants in a 2007 survey by the National Association of Home Builders said the formal living room will vanish from the average home by 2015. The survey named the informal family room as the space most likely to increase in size."


I wonder how many of you who wouldn't go without a formal living room are under the age of 50?

Times are changing and formal areas are passe´.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 7:09PM
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I am over 50 and in the home we just built, we did not put a formal living room in it. My husband and I wanted our separate offices so we used the square footage for those rooms instead of a living room that we would seldom use.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 11:36PM
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I'm over 50 and would want a living room. I always used ours because the family room was a mess. My kids played there, the TV was there as were the toys, books, magazines. We always entertained in our living-room.

Our family room was for relaxing and casual living. My living room was for adult entertaining. I would not buy a house without one.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 12:18AM
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Our formal living room is where we read the newspaper on Saturday mornings. It is our "reading" room.

However, if I liked a house enough, I would buy one without it.

As for entertaining, most people we entertain want to be by the 55" flatscreen in the family room!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 9:03AM
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I don't like formal living rooms at all. I'm 32 with a small child, if that matters. The house you described sounds perfect. A dining room for formal dinners(holidays) and a nice open entertaining area.

I agree that the formal living room is a relic of the past.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 11:01AM
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Add us to the "no need for formal living room" side. We have large, open living areas in both our house & lake house and really enjoy both. I would consider a formal living room a waste of space & would have to find a way to re-configure. Also, why have the added expense of another whole set of furniture if you never use it?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 11:13AM
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I'm chime in as another who wants a formal living room. I like our family room that is mostly open to the kitchen, but I definitely want my separate living room.

Ours does get used a lot, both for formal entertainment (no tv on during my parties, unless it's the super bowl; I HATE being a guest in someone's house and the tv being on, distracting from conversation, or making it hard to hear), and when it's just my husband and myself at home. He can watch TV in the family room, while I read quietly in the living room.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 3:56PM
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beachlily z9a

My husband and I are retired and own one of those homes without a formal living room. Suits us perfectly! None of our friends have formal living rooms either. Relics due to life changes.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 7:57PM
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I wouldn't want one with a formal living. I'd repurpose it for something else if it had one. We don't have one in our current house either although ours is half the size of what you're looking for and doesn't have a game room either.

My in-laws who built their house a few years ago and is about similar size to what you're looking for and they skipped the formal living as well and they do have a game room.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 8:15AM
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"I wonder how many of you who wouldn't go without a formal living room are under the age of 50?"

Me, for one!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 8:49AM
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Bought a new construction home in 2003. 3900 sf. Formal living room at the front of the home, and large 2 story family room at the back. Both were furnished.
We used the Formal LR no more than a dozen times in 4 1/2 years. 4 of those times were on Halloween, waiting for the doorbell.
Moved to another new home in fall 2007 that's 10% smaller. gave up the Formal LR. Don't miss it one bit.
In our area most new construction that has a main floor room that isn't either a kitchen/dining room/family or "great" room has either a bedroom and bath at the back of the house or an office at the front.
We are also starting to see an increase in the "Keeping Room" which is a sitting area off the kitchen. I have seen them with vaulted ceilings, fireplaces, french doors to a deck or screened porch.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 10:48AM
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Our house is 2500 SF...and we have a living room dining room, and family room. I would not exactly consider the L/R formal...and we use it often. When entertaining, often the visiting children will watch DVD's or play games in the F/R. The L/R allows space for the adults to talk, etc...

It's also great when the guys are watching sports or the last super high action movie...those not interested have another room in which to gather...

As we have a side hall colonial, the D/R is connected to the L/R...therefore we can add a few tables in a row to accomodate crowds..

Last but not least, it is a great reading room, or an "anything" room when one wants to escape the TV.

IMO, its nice to have a place to hang out besides the F/R that is not a bedroom, and for that reason alone I would not buy a house without one.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 7:26PM
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We just built a house and are under fifty with two small children. A formal space with elegant big windows was a must. I want a room right off the entrance that always looks perfect. This way if we have unexpected guests I can scoot them in there and don't have to be embarrassed about the condition of the rest of the house.
Like any trend, I think there's a swing one way and then it goes the other.
What do most of the homes in the area have?
Is there the possibility of putting up a wall somewhere and making the first floor family room into a formal space and keeping the second floor space as a family room?
Check out other houses. In this market, you really don't have to settle

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 8:37PM
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51 - no kids - so generally the place is presentable enough if someone stops by that I don't need a special place to direct them to. I can understand how that's different if you have small children though as I've noticed how their stuff fills up the living areas of my friends homes. Am I the only one who grew up in a home where you had to keep your stuff in your room or a designated kid stuff area? We had one living area and our toys were never stored there - brought out for use but put away in our rooms daily. (And we had an attic play area - nothing fancy - a largely unfinished attic but it had regular stairway going to it.).

I do like two separate living areas though so people can enjoy two different activities at the same time - reading, TV, listening to music, conversation, etc. I just don't care for the spaces to be "formal" and the living areas don't have to be on the same floor.

I just watched a program last night with Sarah Susanka - The Not So Big House architect. It was fantastic - I am definitely a "not so big house" kind of person.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 10:58AM
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It's all a matter of perspective I suppose. I don't want my house or any particular room to look perfect. I love the look of a lived in house. Not super cluttered or dirty - but lived in. I was watching "Eyes Wide Shut" the other night. Terrible movie but I loved the Nicole/Tom house. It was staged to look lived in. Papers on the counter, slightly cluttered, a lamp shade tilted a little bit. I don't want my guests to feel like they can't plop down on the couch and get comfy. I don't want the ladies to feel like they have to perch on the edge of the couch.

My perspective is that formal is stifling. I've been in plenty of formal living rooms and felt ever-so-slightly uneasy. I don't want someone to feel that way when they come to my house.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 10:59AM
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gibby3000: "Am I the only one who grew up in a home where you had to keep your stuff in your room or a designated kid stuff area?"

No...we grew up the same way. I never could understand why people allow their children to turn their house into Toys R Us.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 10:55PM
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