Most people don’t need to understand the intricate definitions of each type of room in their home. However, if you’re buying, selling, or having your home appraised, these definitions become important. One common question is about whether or not a den is a bedroom. We’ve researched this topic and have come up with the answer.
A den is not a bedroom. In order to be called a bedroom, a room must meet some specific requirements. Dens do not have any requirements, and in fact, they don’t have a singular definition. You can use your den for a wide variety of purposes.
We’re excited to help you understand the definition of these two types of rooms in this guide. Plus, we’ll help you think about how to use your den, including what furniture to use and how to arrange it. Ready? Here we go!
What defines a bedroom in a house?
Making a room a bedroom isn’t as simple as just adding a bed. In fact, there are pretty strict rules about what you can officially call a bedroom in your home. These rules are divided into two categories: safety requirements and real estate requirements.
The assumption with bedrooms is that someone will be sleeping in them, which means that person will be spending consecutive hours in a vulnerable state — asleep — in the room. Thus, it’s important to protect the inhabitants from dangers such as house fires. Builders are responsible for following these codes each time they construct or update a home.
Each bedroom must have two means of egress, another term for exits. In the case of a fire, building code writers always assume there must be two ways out of the room. One of them can exit into the interior of the home (like a typical bedroom door), but the other one must exit outside of the home.
Because the assumption is that a person may have to exit through one of these means of egress, there are size requirements it must fulfill. The window must be at least 5.7 square feet total and have an opening at least 24 inches high and 20 inches wide. It also must be 44 inches or less above the ground so that the average person can reach it. You also must be able to exit without any special tools, knowledge, or keys. Of course, the exterior means of egress could be a door that leads outside, but that is much less common in a bedroom.
Bedrooms must also have a functioning smoke detector within a certain distance of the room, though that distance varies by location. In most areas, a newer code states that bedrooms must have an ACFI (arc fault circuit interrupter). This prevents house fires by stopping the electricity to a certain point when there’s a problem.
Real Estate Requirements
The number of bedrooms in a home impacts its value. This is important for buying and selling a home, plus knowing how to tax it. Thus, real estate officials came up with a set of standards to define a bedroom. This keeps real estate agents and homeowners from claiming that a home has a false number of bedrooms.
These requirements, like the safety codes, differ based on the location of the governing body. Most agents would agree that official bedrooms should contain a closet, window, and way to be closed.
Though these are the generally accepted stipulations, some exceptions can be made based on the agent and the specific governing body. For instance, many homes built in the early twentieth century were not built with a closet. In this case, sellers might be required to have an armoire or wardrobe that remains in the room. Or, some bedrooms don’t have the ability to close because someone has removed the door. Again, the seller might be required to hang a new door but might still be allowed to list the room as a bedroom.
Other requirements that might be included in some parts of the country might state that ceilings must be at least seven feet tall. Or, some bodies might say that bedrooms must be at least 70 square feet in total. Pay attention to your local codes and requirements.
What is a den in a house?
Unlike a bedroom, the term den is not an official term in real estate or in building codes. This means there is no completely agreed-upon definition. In fact, what someone means when they refer to a room as a den can differ from region to region. Generally, the term can be used to describe any sort of bonus room that doesn’t have a distinct purpose.
The New Oxford American Dictionary would define the word as “a small, comfortable room in a house where a person can pursue an activity in private.” Many people use the term den to describe their home office, library, man cave, sitting room, family room, TV room, or another informal room.
Real estate agents often use the term to denote a room that has flexibility. The potential buyer can use it for whatever they like. In a home that has both a living room and a den, the den is usually the smaller of the two.
Is a den considered a bedroom?
Since the main use of a den does not include someone sleeping in it long-term, it doesn’t need to follow the rules above. As mentioned earlier, many real estate agents would use the term den, specifically if the room can’t be described as a bedroom. Since bedrooms are more valuable than dens, agents would rather be able to call a room a bedroom.
Does a den need a window?
A den does not need a window. This is a common reason that a den isn’t listed as a bedroom. Often, other things are prioritized in a den than natural lighting. Curious about the other rooms a house can have? Check out this article: “21 Types of Rooms A House Can Have.”
What do you put into a den?
Since dens are flexible and ambiguous by definition, you can place whatever you’d like in a den! Here are a few of the most common uses for dens, plus the things you can fill them with.
Sometimes, people want to have two comfortable areas where they can sit and enjoy socializing. If this is how you want to use your den, you should fill it with comfortable furniture. Most likely, if you’re using your den as a family room, it’s smaller than your main living room. Perhaps a comfy loveseat would be perfect!
Pair it with a coffee table so that you can share a beverage with a friend. This one would be fantastic in a den!
Those who work from home will appreciate a well-styled office. A home office should be free from distractions, be clean, and point to productivity. This desk will help you keep your workspace clean. Put the items you aren’t currently using on the shelf to the side.
Make things easy on your eyes by turning on this desk lamp while you work. It’s also great for late-night work sessions when you’re trying to meet a deadline. This one also features a cordless charging station for your phone.
You’re more productive when you’re comfortable, so your desk chair is important. This one is designed with ergonomic lumbar support. Plus, the arms raise and lower whenever you want.
Read this article for more office decor ideas: “25 Modern Home Office Ideas.”
Using your den as a library feels luxurious! A quiet room designed just for reading? How fun! In your library-inspired den, you’ll want a couple of heavy-duty bookshelves like these.
Set up a comfortable reading spot for you and a friend with a pair of luxurious armchairs.
Finally, a great way to dampen loud noises in your reading nook is to put down a soothing area rug. Make sure it matches the rest of your decor, but we love the idea of a soft rug with warm color tones.
How do you arrange furniture in a den?
The way you arrange the furniture in your den should be based on its purpose and your personal preferences. However, there are a few basic principles you can follow in most rooms. Since comfort is important in a den, make sure the arrangement isn’t awkward.
The furniture should be arranged similarly to how you would arrange a living room. Seating should be facing a focal point but can still allow for conversation between people. This den, for example, has two chairs facing the armoire but angled in toward each other.
This luxurious combination of library and sitting room has the two seats angled toward each other with a fireplace as the centerpiece.
This den is being used as an office but still has a sofa. The desk is facing away from the sofa for maximum concentration, but notice the end table at the end of the couch.
On the other hand, this room features a desk that floats in the space and faces the other seat. It’s a great combination of socialization and productivity.
A bedroom must meet some requirements, while a den does not. You can use your den for whatever purpose you’d like, but it shouldn’t be slept in frequently. Instead, use it as an office, library, or family room. Whatever you choose to use your den for, we hope you enjoy it and that it fits your style.