Kristi, Where Is Your Family Room?

Or your living room?  Where do you watch TV?  Do you not have a TV in your home?

I seem to be getting questions like this quite often lately, and I got even more of them yesterday when I posted our current floor plan…

These are very valid questions, and I can certainly understand the confusion and curiosity.

It’s true…and probably very strange to most of you…that our house at the moment does not have a family room or a living room.  It used to.  I originally planned to use the front room as a living room just as the original builders intended, and I even decorated it that way in the beginning.  Remember that?

That was my “Phase 1” living room where I updated the walls with a gallon of paint, added some cheap trim as a chair rail, painted a cheap floral thrift store sofa, and used chairs and a rug that I got for free from  The plan from the very beginning was to make it temporary, but presentable, and then when I was ready to really dive in and tackle the big projects in this room (i.e., removing the polystyrene ceiling tiles, re-drywalling, replacing windows, etc.), then all of the temporary items would be upgraded to whatever I chose to use long term at that point.  I had planned on new chairs, end tables, sofa, rug, and wall color (that’s when I had my heart set on grass cloth).  The only things I ever intended to keep long term in that room were the fireplace (still keeping in there), window treatments (finally decided that that fabric just isn’t me), and ottoman (still have it and will use it elsewhere).

But, as generally happens with me, plans changed.  The more I planned and dreamed about my final living room design, and the longer I lived with a living room in this front room, the more it just didn’t feel right to me.  First of all, we seldom (almost never) used it.  But also, I really wanted a large dining room, and this was the perfect place for it.  So now I’m working towards making this room my dining room.

So where does that leave the living room or family room?  Well, we do have long-term goals to eventually tear down the sunroom and rebuild back there, adding a larger master bedroom, a utility room/laundry room, and a family room.

But until we tackle that remodel, we really won’t have a family room.  That’s strange, I know.  But you know what’s even stranger?  It doesn’t feel weird to me at all.

The fact is that Matt and I just aren’t “lounge around and watch TV” kind of people.  That might be different if we had kids, but we don’t.  In fact, Matt and I haven’t had a TV (or one that’s actually connected to cable, a DVD player, or anything like that) in over five years.  I used to be a TV junkie.  I would turn the TV on as soon as I woke up in the morining, and it would literally be on all day long, through morning news, daily talk shows, mid-day news, afternoon soap operas, evening news, prime time shows, nightly news, David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, and whatever version of Star Trek came on after that.  EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.  And it wasn’t that I was actually watching all of that, or even remotely interested.  I just wanted the “background noise.”

Finally one day, after turning the TV off at about 1:00am, I realized that it had been on since 7:00am and hadn’t been turned off even one single time.  And then I realized that that was my routine every single day.  It’s like something “clicked” in my brain, and I realized how much of my attention was being stolen by this stupid black box sitting in my family room.  So the next morning, I didn’t turn it on, and it stayed off all day long.  The next day, same thing.  And the day after that.  And the day after that.

Four months later, I still hadn’t turned on the TV even once, and Matt suggested that we just disconnect our cable since we weren’t using it.  I kind of panicked at the idea, and told him I wasn’t quite ready to make that change.  And yet, day after day, I continued to keep the TV off completely.  Finally, two months later, when I still hadn’t turned the TV on even one single time, Matt finally insisted that we disconnect our cable.  I finally agreed.  That was five years ago, and we haven’t “watched TV” since then.

We do watch shows, but we watch them on Amazon or Netflix, and we watch them on our laptops.  We also have very specific times during the day when we enjoy our shows — one show during breakfast while sitting at the dining table, one show during dinner while sitting at the dining table, and one show before we go to sleep when we’re already tucked in bed.  Some days we may indulge in more, but we are no longer “TV on all throughout the day” people.  And the only TV in our house is the one in Matt’s game room that he uses to play his video games.

So all of that to say that no, we don’t have a TV, or feel the need to have a room dedicated to lounging around and watching TV.  I do see that changing in the future, which is why a family room (with a TV!) is part of the long-term plan.  But for now we’re fine without it.

As a side note, that whole “I just want the TV on for background noise” excuse was complete nonsense.  Having it on constantly was distracting me from getting things done that needed to be done.  It stole my focus, destroyed my concentration, and made my projects take way longer than they should have.  I was so shocked at how much more productive I became when I finally turned the TV off.

But aside from relaxing and watching TV, a family room or living room is also pretty important for when guests come over, right?  So obviously I need to come up with a solution in the meantime.  My interim plan is to turn the right side of the sunroom, which is pretty much being used as a storage room right now, into a sitting room.  (And no, this is not a priority.  My focus right now is my entryway, dining room, and music room.)  It won’t be fancy, but hopefully it’ll be comfortable enough for chatting and enjoying a glass of iced tea with guests who stop by.

This journey of turning an old house into our forever home is very interesting and unusual at times, but I’m confident that it’ll all work out in the end.  🙂



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  1. I think your eventual plan to have a sunroom/family room will be perfect. As for TV, we watch little of it. It doesn’t even get turned on until evening and then it’s for sports or specific shows. We probably should just save the money and totally unplug.

  2. While looking at your floor plan, I noticed the space behind your front door when opened. Since you no longer have a coat closet after removing the one in your hall, why not put one there before you finish all the drywall work in that area?

  3. You can chat and drink tea with guests at a dining room table too. 🙂

    Separate subject…An idea for you future addition regarding you closets and laundry room…You should add additional access to the back side of your master closets directly from the laundry room. That way, when you take the clothes out of the dryer, you can hang them straight into the closet. Just my two cents…

    1. Great idea, Rachel! I also agree with the niceness of visiting at the table, plus you can play cards and games, dominoes, etc. It seems that sports keeps some of us stuck with cable or satellite. Not me, but my husband of course. And when the sports people have taken over the family room, the rest of us end up at the kitchen table or better yet on the deck or in the garden! I think you can converse better at the table than you can sunk into a couch or easy chair.

  4. In the Midwest when I raised my kids, we had had separate family rooms. Now, everything is open concept and “family rooms” are near the kitchen! yay! When I looked at your floor plan yesterday, I assumed your sunroom, adjacent to your kitchen, would serve this purpose. Can’t wait to see it!

  5. We live in South America and most homes do not having a living room at all. All the entertaining and living is done around the dining table. We even have a word for it: sobremesa (over the table). Even though most people do have televisions, they’re positioned so people can watch from their place at the dining table 🙂 One good friend once showed me her living room. She was quite proud of it! It held a sofa, a chair, a couple of tables, and was obviously NEVER used. hahaha

  6. i can imagine that when the dining room is done you’ll find that sitting there with visitors is very comfortable and you won’t need the family room so urgently! We have both the comfortable zone with a sofa in front of a fire place and the dining table, and whenever friends are over we tend to not move from the table if I do not force them 🙂
    Concerning yesterdays question re the wainscoting: When reading your post, you kind of lost me and I thought: this is a question I don’t have an opinion so I won’t answer. And then this morning I kept thinking about it all the time (might have even dreamt about it!!)… and came to this conclusion (if it were my home of course): As much as I love and admire the wainscoting with the recessed panels and wainscoting in general, I think you have enough of that in the area already. I would add the “picture frame wainscoting” in the entrance area and dining room (of course in the latter, as you remarked repeatedly on how much you like it there, and I agree :)) but I wouldn’t even do the upper part of the walls in the entryway as I think that would take away fro the effect of the pony walls (which I adore!). In the music room I would not use wainscoting at all (somebody remarked yesterday that it would only be visible on a small part of wall in that room anyway), but would perhaps decide on a solid colour in the lower part of the walls and the beautiful drawn evrsion of the bird wallpaper on top.
    Just my idea – whatever you decide, I’m looking forward to watching it come into existence and grow 🙂

  7. My husband and his parents are all day TV people and it drives me bonkers. Especially since they are all hard of hearing, so the TV is SO loud it hurts my ears. I was always taught that if a guest stopped by, you out of respect for your visitor, you shut the TV off and gave you attention to your visitor. When someone drops in, If I can reach the remote, I shut off the TV, his family doesn’t get it. While I do enjoy a bit of TV, home improvement shows etc. I don’t need the noise or distraction all day & night.

  8. I have the same TV and VCR that we used when my kids were little; my grandkids watch the very same Disney movies that my kids watched! Haven’t had cable/satellite in 30 years. And don’t miss it!

  9. Kristi, what about making the breakfast room into a living room? This just seems like such a great entertaining space to me since it is open to your kitchen. While working in the kitchen you can seat your guests comfortably in the living room. You can continue the conversation and eye contact as you get up to offer a drink or prepare the meal. You could still eventually have the TV room/family room in the rebuilt sunroom area.

  10. So glad to see you’re embracing the way we live today. I have also been without cable for several years now and don’t miss it at all. Netflix, Amazon,Hulu etc. give me access to anything I want to watch,minus the huge cable bill.
    As to the living room,your remodeled sunroom will be the room you “live, relax and entertain” in. Growing up my family had the designated “living room” that was used only for guests. We did our real living in the small den. This resulted in a room that was seldom used. It really made no sense. Today we use all the rooms of the house as we need them for day to day living.
    Just like cable TV some things and ideas have outlived their usefulness and have been replaced with something more practical and up to date.
    I love how you are embracing the way you and Matt live on a daily basis in such a stylish and practical way.
    Love following your remodeling of the house. No cookie cutter ways for you.Keep surprising me with new and innovative ideas on how you and Matt want to live.

  11. We have found the joy of not turning our TV on either although we do have cable, because, well, the NFL channel or whatever you call it, is getting plenty of the use these past couple weeks 😉 but for me, I get soooo many projects completed without the thing on 🙂 🙂 🙂

  12. I am very surprised at how my tv life has changed. During the last 7 years while I was at my dad’s home 24/7 taking care of him, I had the tv on every days from dawn to dusk just for a distraction for my dad. After he passed in March, and I moved back to my home, I strangely found I didn’t need it. We pay for the very cheapest package we could find, Dish tv for $31.00 including tax, and it doesn’t get turned on until the evening news. Then it stays on until we go to bed, but often is not watched. The news and Hallmark channels, sometimes DIY, are about all that I watch. My husband watches the Outdoor Channel. So while we have 2 tv’s, we no longer have the addiction that we used to have. Too much living to do to waste time on someone else’s drama. I love your plan, I love your plan. We pretty much live in our sunroom and enjoy being surrounded by nature!

  13. I understand and totally agree about the tv. My husband and I never watch tv and never turn it on. We do, however, watch one Netflix movie and a Netflix series episode in the evenings. If it wasn’t for that, we would disconnect our tv cable too. We prefer watching our Netflix shows in our living room as the tv screen is larger than our computer monitors.
    Guests around the dining table make for better conversation. Therefore, no living room is necessary unless you often have a lot of guest groups that need to spread out into more space. We don’t do that anymore.

  14. No cable, just the original antenna from 1967. Only watch when it’s raining and I’m using the ol” treadmill.
    I entertain in the kitchen, it’s meant for thrills, chills and spills!
    You’re a trendsetter woman.

  15. I think this final plan is awesome. (And yes…I typed “final” with a grin on my face!) Love the hallway, master suite, laundry & pantry. The house makes a lot more sense now to me. I’m in awe of what you’ve completed so far and can’t wait to see it all finished inside & out, although I know that will be awhile…and I know those plans can (and probably will) change with a little tweak here & there! 😉 Great job, Kristi!

  16. Consider a small “Keeping Room” at the end of the Breakfast Room neared the kitchen. No new wall necessary just a couple of comfortable chairs plus open space for Matt’s chair and perhaps a small table between the chairs. I first became aware of Keeping Rooms when I first looked at homes in Georgia and think that it is a charming notion.

  17. In looking at your master bedroom plans, the bedroom door opens across the bathroom entrance. This could be irritating on a daily basis.

  18. Where do your overnight guests stay? I don’t see a second bedroom in either version, unless the game room has a bed in it?

    1. Matt’s game room has a queen size bed in it for now. That probably won’t be permanent, but I still don’t think we’ll have a “guest bedroom” in the future. We just don’t have guests enough to warrant an actual guest bedroom.

  19. Kristi…go bravo! on the TV. My husband just ordered SLING ($20/mth) and with our Apple device (which was a gift from a friend down under–so he can do his work while he is visiting us I think..”smile”) it works great. I get to watch HGTV two nights a week…and hubby has his NetFlix and we watch movies there…and we have CNN for news if we turn it on at all. You are so right,, time waster it is. I do not miss it and I have what I want two nights a week…

    love your ideas …say how is the HVAC working as it is still Hot here in TX…yes it is…95 today here in Dallas.

    1. We’re loving our HVAC! It does struggle to keep our house at 72 during the hot afternoons, but that’s because I have gaps in the ceiling drywall, and absolutely zero insulation in the attic right now. 🙂 As soon as I get those things finished up, it’ll be great. I really need to get those finished before this winter so we don’t lose all of our heating through the ceiling cracks and out the attic!

  20. I am so in the minority about the tv. I turn mine on as soon as I wake up and off when I go to bed because it helps me cope with my panic/anxiety disorder and agoraphobia. The background noise makes me feel not so alone. I love my tv!

  21. Here in Australia we still have free to air television as well as cable and satellite. In this house we use free to air to watch the evening news and maybe one other show. Like you there is too much else to do… my husband is studying and I have lots of other more interesting things to do!!

    There has also been a trend here in Australia for many years now (maybe it is due to our casual lifestyle) for the kitchen, dining & living spaces to all be open plan and this is usually where the TV is situated. These rooms are oriented to the north if possible to catch as much sun throughout the year… in the northern hemisphere this would be to the south. This allows for everyone to be together especially when entertaining.

    I notice on your floor plan that the walk in pantry is at the rear of the breakfast room and therefore does not allow access to the future family room… can this be reversed so that the pantry is at the front and therefore closer to the kitchen and then you are able to have access to the future family room from both sides… just a thought..!!.

  22. LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog!! So glad to read that we aren’t the only “odd” ones – been married 17 years and we have never had cable TV. We can go days without turning the TV on at all. Actually, my hubby doesn’t watch TV – ever. I do like to watch local/world news.(we get about 5 local stations). He gets his via other media outlets. Can you imagine the $$$ we’ve saved over the years!! 🙂 Yeah, it’s amazing the things you can accomplish when you don’t watch TV…… I just need to cut the computer time!! :-/

  23. We don’t have cable or satellite TV either. We get local channels, but have such bad reception, that I never know which channels are going to come in, plus we only watch TV in the evening. Your house is your house, and you can do whatever you want…..however, I do have 1 question…..I’ve always wondered why you only have 1 bedroom. Any future plans for an additional bedroom, maybe a guest bedroom?

    1. We don’t really have need for a guest bedroom often enough to have a room specifically as a guest bedroom. When Matt’s dad comes, he sleeps in Matt’s game room. For now, we have a queen size bed in there.

  24. While I am with you on the TV issue, having four kids and a husband who love TV, we do have them in the house. And at night, after a long day of work, I don’t mind vegging out to watch a favorite show. But I can’t have it on all day on the weekends if I’m home.

    At the end of the day, your house has to work for you. If you aren’t in a point in your life where you need a living room and prefer a dining room, then that’s what you should have! I love your future layout plans I really wish we could add on to the footprint of our home, but that’s not an option with our subdivision, so I work with what I have.

    Are you going to keep your fireplace in your dining room?! I really love how that turned out! 🙂

    1. Yep, it’s staying in the dining room. Matt wants me to build another one for the bedroom, but I’m not sure about that. When we add the family room onto the back of the house, I’ll put a real gas/wood-burning fireplace in there.

  25. Good for you, Kristi! Hubby and I are the same way regarding Television watching. We do have a TV, but watch only Amazon, Netflix, or DVDs and usually only together at meal times. I realize how much distraction (and NOISE) there is when I go to my parents home and the TV is on there almost 24/7. If I need background noise I turn on the radio or a Podcast. 🙂

  26. Oh gosh I liked this blog so much better before the “I am too important/busy/intellectual for television” comments.