What is the most useless room in the house?

In the land before time, or a long, long time ago, formal living rooms were for important visitors. You were brought to your host’s entrance in a horse-drawn carriage, a footman opened the carriage door and threw you to the ground. At the front door, your coat or cape was taken from you; you left your business card on the hall table and were ushered into the front parlor. Wake up! Mortal mothers no longer live like that.

The family room was invented for the double-salaried household with children so that, in the event that they had unannounced visitors, they would not have to run around like a headless chicken putting away their toys and clothes. They could retire to the formal living room. But with the invention of the telephone, perhaps not so long ago, people are calling and making appointments, rather than just showing up. I know, there are a few who stick to the “I was in the neighborhood” ploy, but they get what they deserve.

So why do developers continue to give us formal living rooms? Someone is asleep at the switch. Someone should tell them that men don’t go off to study for brandy and a cigar anymore; and the women have long since ceased to take tea in the parlor away from the men.

If you have one of those undersized, useless living rooms that you barely even look at, repurpose it. One feature that would work extremely well in a space that is clearly too small for formal gatherings beyond the immediate family is a stylish home office. Even if you run a business from this space, it can be outfitted so that things like built-in storage, books, maps, globes, etc. are front and center. The technology can be housed in cabinets to disguise its actual use as a home business or a place to handle family affairs. Today’s great storage keeps important and confidential paperwork out of sight under lock and key. With comfortable seating, this repurposed room can double as a great gathering spot for a small group.

What about a library that is a special dining room when a formal dining room is missing? A game room where cards and board games are played would be perfect. A music room or a reading room are more useful ideas for the ignored room. When it comes down to it, just because an architect labeled a space a “living room” doesn’t mean you should be limited to what’s on a blueprint. It’s your house. Make it useful!

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