Den Vs Family Room: What’s The Difference?

Designing your home to fit your and your family's needs isn't always easy. Do you want to create a space where everyone can hang out, but you're torn between a den and a family room? Is there a difference between these two spaces? Which is better for a family gathering?

Luckily, we've done some research and have the answer below!

The main difference between a family room and a den is their size and vibe. Generally, a family room will be brighter and bigger than a den and closer to the kitchen, dining room, or other shared spaces.

On the other hand, a den tends to be more intimate, often tucked away from the rest of the house. Between the two, a family room is more for entertaining and hanging out, while a den is better for studying, working, or having personal meetings/conversations.

As we start this article, we will cover all things family rooms and dens and discuss their differences. Whether you have a remodel going on, want to build your dream home, or have other related questions, we're here to help. With that said, let's dive right into this topic!

Luxury living room with big beige corner sofa and wooden floor and wall decoration.- This home has a game room with a pool table. - Den Vs Family Room: What's The Difference?


Which Is Better: A Family Room Or A Den?

For those torn between a family room and a den, this comes down to your needs. As we said, a family room tends to be better for entertaining and has a more open-concept design.

A stylish living room interior with brown and yellow colored furniture and wooden elements with dark green colored wall

In contrast, a den feels more intimate and is better suited for quiet time and getting work done. Most times, a den is where you go to read or finish homework, whereas a family room might have an arcade or huge TV for everyone to enjoy.

Furthermore, you might like to play video games with your kids/family. A family room works better for that type of activity, as there will be more room to get wild.

A den will be a better environment if you prefer a quiet space for people to gather, talk, and get things done. Again, this will come down to you, your family, and your home.

Is A Family Room The Same As A Den?

Although these terms are used interchangeably, there are some differences between a family room and a den. Typically, family rooms share more common traits with a living room, as a den is more like a study/home library.

Of course, you can transform any space into a den or family room with proper design, so the two are alike in that way. Additionally, a family room usually needs to be bigger than a den, so size comes into play.

Suppose you have an empty room towards the front of your house. If this space has big windows and high ceilings and is close enough to other common rooms in your home, it's perfect for a family room.

On the other hand, if this spare room is away from everything and has a smaller layout with a more intimate feeling, it might be a better den.

Generally, when you imagine a den, its warm colors and deeper wall paint: it's almost out of a murder mystery. However, you don't have to create a proper study to have a den, but it's more sophisticated than a family room.

What Do People Use A Den For?

There are many uses if you want to create a den-like space in your house. Although this room style became popular in the 70s for informal activities, dens have become "command centers" for many prominent families over the years.

A few different ways you can use a den include:

  • Family meeting space
  • Kid's playroom/area
  • Reading nook or library
  • Guest bedroom
  • Workout space

Again, your den will usually be on the smaller side, so it's not always great for large groups. Instead, try to create a space that feels intimate, comfortable, and well-designed.

If you have children, you can also turn your den into a play area filled with toys, books, and seating.

For families with businesses, you could also consider making the den into a makeshift HQ for the brand, which is perfect for people living under one roof.

Where Should A Den Be In A House?

A den is usually far from other common spaces, often tucked near bedrooms. In addition, you can also find dens on the second or third floor of a home, so they don't always need to be on the main level.

Since they're smaller, you don't always need a den to be right in the middle of your house. Especially if you want to create a quiet space for studying, working, or relaxing, your den should be far away from the kitchen, living room, and dining area.

Unlike a family room, your den doesn't always need to be the most popular spot in town.

It's okay to make it harder to find, even doubling it as a guest bedroom for your extended family or friends. Again, there's no right or wrong way to create a den within your home.

Does A House Need A Family Room?

Shot of two adorable little boys having fun with their father at home

As long as your house has a living space, it doesn't usually require an additional family room. However, having both could be useful if you have a larger estate or want to entertain kids in one room and adults in the other.

As we said, a family room is typically a larger, more open-concept space. Therefore, you'll need plenty of room to design one and add a pool table, ping pong table, or even a video game station.

Additionally, a family room is often more laid-back than a living room. So, if you want to have nicer furniture and decor in one space, we recommend adding a second "family" room.

MyDomaine states how many designers choose to showcase fine art and decor throughout a living room while the family room features more usable items and furnishings for all age groups.

If you have extra space, why not use it to your best advantage?

What Other Ways Can I Use A Family Room?

There are alternatives if you don't necessarily want to create a second, more casual living space in your home. Similar to a den, you can make your family room into a:

  • Home office/study space
  • Kid's playroom
  • Home Bar
  • Music room
  • Gaming center
  • Home theater
  • Guest bedroom
  • Meeting space

Depending on your house's layout, having a family room might not be worth it. As we said, the living room is essentially a fancier version of a family room, but if you don't need to showcase finer pieces, you can combine the two.

Like dens, you might even want to turn your family room into another bedroom for guests, which is especially helpful for large families.

Again, you can take any room in your home and make it wonderful, as long as you're mindful of its purpose and design aspects.

Is A Den The Same As A Study?

Yes. Dens and studies are essentially the same concepts. As we mentioned, a den and study are smaller and more intimate, often tucked away from other loud spaces in your home.

Moreover, a den is a perfect spot for reading, doing your homework, or finishing work, so it's a great place to be productive while at the house.

For example, working out of a den can have the same benefits if you don't have a home office. It's quiet, peaceful, intimate, and should put you in the proper headspace to be productive.

Furthermore, if you want to create an extra studious design, you could incorporate books and fine art into the den space or even a desk.

In contrast, the den can also double as a home bar and movie space, so you can have fun here too.

Should I Add A Home Office To My House?

Although you don't need a home office, this can be useful for virtual/remote working.

Especially if you constantly struggle to find a quiet space in your house for work, creating your own private office might boost productivity.

With that said, having a home office usually means you lose an extra bedroom or family room/den. Therefore, this needs to be a decision everyone can stand behind, as your office won't be a spot for entertaining or relaxing.

As we said above, you could try adding a desk to your existing den and doubling the room as an office so you don't have to give up the entire room.

It's also worth noting that adding an office to your home can increase its value by 8-10%, so that's a good incentive.

Which Is Better: A Game Room Or A Family Room?

Pool table, bar and tv watching area with a large stone fireplace

There isn't much difference between a game room and a family room. Generally, a family room will incorporate some games, whether virtual or physical tables (pool, ping pong, foosball).

Having too many games can become distracting if you want to use your family room for hanging out and watching movies. This can also be an issue if you want to use the space for entertaining.

Therefore, try and find a healthy balance between the two, so everyone can enjoy the space.

To Wrap It Up

Middle Eastern quarantined family, telecommuting with kids du to the covid-19, Canada, Quebec city

Whether you want to turn your spare room into a family space or den, it's always good to create a plan. We found that a family room and den are different aesthetically and serve different purposes.

A den is more intimate and quiet, often a place for family meetings, studying, working, and lounging. In contrast, a family room is more lively and works as a more casual living space.

Furthermore, your den might be tucked away or on the second/third floor, while the family room needs to be in the center of all the action.

Made it to the end? Check out these helpful related home articles below!

15 Family Room Ideas With A TV You Have To See

How To Arrange Furniture In A Den?

Is A Den Considered A Bedroom?

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