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The Living Room vs Den Question

The main difference between a living room and a den is quite simple – the living room is essentially a public space.

Living rooms entertain guests and allow people from outside the household to come in and interact with the family.

A den, on the other hand, is a private space.

This is a family room that provides a respite from the world outside. You wouldn’t expect to use a den on formal occasions, for example.

So, let’s take a closer look at both kinds of rooms and what they have in common and what is different between them too.

What Is A Living Room?

A living room is the space where most members of the family will spend their communal time.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you live in a formal living room and you may not spend very much time at all in such a room if your lives tend to unfold outside of the home.

It’s a formal gathering room and a comfortable room for entertaining guests or your family in front of the TV.

What Is A Den?

In contrast, a den is an enclosed space where the family can gather and spend time together without getting involved with everyday life beyond the household.

You may have sitting room furniture in both but while you might put a pool table in the den, you would never do so in a living room even if you have a very large room dedicated to that purpose.

The den will most commonly be used for entertainment and that means it is often in a space less accessible than a living room too. Many American homes have their dens in the basement, somewhere that strangers don’t commonly have access to.

Is That The Same As A Family Room?

Both the living room and a den are a form of family room. You could even argue that your dining room is a family room too.

Living Rooms Vs Dens

Living Room vs Den

OK, so let’s break down the rooms slightly further and see how they are similar or separate from each other.


Your living rooms tend to be set out around their main function. If you want to watch television in there – the sofas, and couches will be laid out around the TV.

If it’s more for reading and relaxing? You will find the coffee table tends to be the central attraction.

However, as it is also meant to cater to guests. There is often some consideration paid to form as well as function.

By contrast, your den or family room, is going to be much more “adjustable”. It’s a bonus room that can serve many different functions at once.

It might be a man cave or a study at times, then a games room or rec room, it might have some dining rooms functionality too.

You could even use it as a spare room. The joy of a den is that because it’s private – it doesn’t need to be as neat and function dominates form.


In most cases, the design of your living space is going to be seating laid out around a fireplace, TV, or table. (You should read our feng shui guide for living rooms to get a better idea of this).

You might opt for a large sofa or a sectional sofa for this space too to give it a little flexibility in the way that it is laid out.

A den room on the other hand may take the shape of many other family rooms as required.

The design won’t be standardized in most homes – it will be down to the family to organize around their desired use of the room.

The Level of Formality

You would expect your living room to be a more formal space than your den. They tend to be kept tidier than a den too as they may be needed, at a moment’s notice, to seat guests.

There are no real design standards for a den – it can look like a media room to watch TV, it may have super comfortable furniture, or act as a private study most of the time.


Your living room should be accessible pretty much as soon as somebody sets foot in your home. They enter the foyer, ditch their shoes and then head into the room which is usually on the main floor.

A den, on the other hand, is hidden away often in the basement or the attic. It’s a private space that is cut off from the world at large.

There is, of course, no need to have strict rules about rooms. You can use your home as you please. But in the strictest sense, there is a difference between a den and a living room and that’s kind of handy to know.

Both can be a great room to relax in and each of them can improve your home too.

P.S. If you’re searching for a sofa for your den or living room then check out the best sofa brands to transform your space. You’re going to love them!