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7 Practical Formal Living Room Alternatives

A photo collage of a living room alternatives.

Formal living rooms are traditionally used for entertaining guests. As the name suggests, the room’s style leans toward the formal type and it’s often used to showcase fine furniture pieces.

However, with the passing of time and the value of real estate soaring ever higher, the traditional purpose of formal living rooms makes it redundant. In some cases, this showcase room goes unused.

Space is a commodity we don’t want to waste so we’ve rounded up this list of practical alternatives to formal living rooms in the hopes of converting it into a productive space enjoyed by you and your family.

1. Kid’s Playroom

Young girl playing in a spacious kid's playroom.

One of the most popular alternatives used for a formal living room is a kid’s playroom. If you have multiple children, then they might wind up testing your patience from time to time.

As heartwarming as it can be to see the young ones running around and playing in your home, you will sometimes wish that things could be a bit quieter. If you are able to give the children their own playroom, then you’ll be able to enjoy a little more peace and quiet.

A good kid’s playroom will keep your children occupied. You can put many of their favorite toys in the playroom and you will be able to do your best to make it feel special. Some parents like to make kids’ playrooms that have interesting themes. You could build a room that looks like a jungle area or one that has the feeling of a medieval castle.

Whatever type of play area your children would enjoy the most can be achieved. You just need to put in a little bit of work and your kids will have a spot where they can make great memories. They will be able to enjoy having their friends over to play in their own little space. It’s a use for your old formal living room space that will help to bring a smile to your children’s faces.


Building a playroom for your kids is going to give them a fun place to enjoy their playtime. You will be able to outfit the room with many toys and other fun features for them to enjoy. It can be a nice room that your kids will use all the time. The old formal living room may have just been another room to you, but it can mean everything to your children.


There are some parents who don’t like the idea of giving their kids their own room. Some parents want to have their children play while being supervised at all times. It just depends on your own particular parenting style. If your children are old enough to play on their own, then this can be a very practical use for the room.

2. Library

Home library with floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelves.

If you are among the millions of people who love to read for fun, then the idea of turning the formal living room into a library will appeal to you. This is something that is going to make fans of paper books very happy.

Even though many people are turning to e-books, there are a lot of people who simply enjoy the feeling of reading a real paper book. You can set up a nice reading area for yourself where you can enjoy a beverage and just unwind.

Those who have extensive book collections may need some type of library if they want to display all of their books. Buying some nice bookshelves and some appropriate decorations will really be all that you need to do.

Add some furniture that will be comfortable for reading purposes and you will have a great library. This could also work well for those who need to study for college or other types of academic or intellectual pursuits.


Having a convenient room in your house where you can read in peace is really a great luxury. If you love to read, then this will be a perfect use for your formal living room. It will be able to fit plenty of bookshelves, so you will be able to display your book collection. It can be a quiet space that you can escape to when you need some time to relax.


Having a library is not a necessity, so this may be something that you will only want to do if you have no other uses for the room. People usually put their needs ahead of their wants, and this may not be considered essential by some. It depends on your perspective and how badly you need to have a quiet spot to read. It’s a great idea that will appeal to many people, even if some might not find it to be a practical choice.

3. Music Room

White music room furnished with black and wooden furniture pieces.

Music is something that speaks to the hearts of billions of people around the world. It is highly likely that music has touched your life in some way. You may even be a musician yourself. If you like to play music, then you know how annoying it can be to have difficulties finding a place to practice.

Being able to practice playing your instruments is not always a simple thing. Playing music can make a lot of noise and this can wind up disturbing people. You may wind up deciding not to play simply because you do not want to be rude. This is unfortunate for those who love music and want to be able to continue to pursue it.

If you have an unused formal living room space, then you could decide to turn it into a music room. With a little bit of effort, you could turn the room into the perfect space for playing your favorite instruments. Buying some soundproofing equipment will allow you to avoid annoying your family or your significant other. It won’t be too difficult to accomplish this and is certainly worthwhile for those who love music.


Being able to use this room to play your music will feel very good. You’ll be able to practice your music without having to worry about disturbing people while they are doing other things.

It makes your music more convenient and it will allow you to take the time to continue to improve. This is a use for the room that could make you incredibly happy, so it’s recommended for people who like to play instruments.


The cost to soundproof your new music room might be a bit much, depending on your budget. It will also take a little bit of effort to get everything done. The way that you soundproof a room isn’t too difficult to understand, but it won’t necessarily be something that you can complete fast. Some people don’t like having to go through all of this trouble.

4. Game Room

A card or mahjong table in the game room.

Having a free room in your house is something that you can really use to your advantage. If you are interested in building a room that is purely for your entertainment, then you could make a game room.

Game rooms are something that more and more young adults want to have in modern times. It can be a space where people can display the things that they are passionate about and have fun with friends.

Many people use game rooms as a space to play video games. Collecting video games is a hobby that many people enjoy, and being able to display your collection is nice. You can hook your various game consoles up to televisions and add in some comfortable furniture. It will make for a perfect way to spend your free evening hours.

Those who aren’t into video games love game rooms as well. Some people decide to make game rooms that contain things such as pool tables, pinball tables, foosball tables, and much more.

Your game room could turn into the preferred spot for watching sports on Sundays just as easily as it could a place where people go to play games. What you do with this space is up to you, and you will certainly have fun crafting it to your liking.


This is one of the best options when you are looking to build a room for fun. Your formal living room will certainly be large enough to be turned into a great game room.

Whether you want it to be a video game room or a room with pool tables and other bar games, it will certainly be fun once you have finished it up. This is a room that your friends will love hanging out in and you’ll really enjoy hosting parties so long as you are the social type.


Building a game room can wind up getting pretty expensive fast. If you don’t have a bunch of stuff to put in your new game room already, then you may wind up spending a small fortune. Things such as pool tables aren’t as affordable as some would like and retro video games can be costly as well. It can be worth it to buy these things when you are passionate about them, but it may not be a practical option for everyone.

5. Exercise Room

Exercise room with different types of physiotherapy equipment.

A much more practical use for the formal living room space would be to create an exercise room. Everyone wants to try to stay in the best shape that they possibly can.

It isn’t always easy when you spend the majority of your time at work. There are a lot of people who can’t get motivated to go to the gym, but they might have an easier time if their gym was inside their home.

To build a good exercise room, you are going to need some equipment. You could decide to purchase some weights or some type of machine for strength training. Cardio equipment can be very useful as well. You’ll be able to put a treadmill or an exercise bike in your new exercise room to really help you get your heart rate up.

You can also simply lay down some exercise mats and use the space to perform yoga or Pilates. There are a lot of people who use yoga as their sole method of exercise and they have had some pretty great results.

What types of exercise are going to appeal to you the most will largely depend on your fitness goals. Think about what you want to achieve and then build your exercise room in such a way that you can make it happen.


It might wind up being a lot easier for you to exercise regularly if you have your own exercise room. You will be able to exercise whenever you feel like you have the free time and enough energy to do it. This is a use for your formal living room that will potentially improve your quality of life. You can use this room to get into the best shape that you have been in for years.


If your budget for this new room is not very high, then you may want to avoid building an exercise room. Depending on the types of exercise equipment that you are interested in, things could get rather costly.

Exercise machines are going to cost you quite a bit and they may not wind up fitting into your budget. Options such as yoga mats are a lot more cost-effective, but some people want to gain muscle mass rather than lean themselves out.

6. Home Office

Spacious white home office with different types of storage.

A home office area will give you a room where you can do your work without being interrupted. If you work at home, then you really should have your own work environment.

It can be fine to work elsewhere in your home sometimes, but you might find that you get distracted too easily. There are many things going on in the rest of your home and your attention needs to be focused on your work.

You can make a nice home office using a desk, a few bookshelves, and a computer. Add in some decorative elements and it will be a great area for you to get some work done. This is ideal for people who work using computers. It also works well for people who do a lot of business over the phone.


Setting up a home office area won’t take you a lot of time. You may wind up having many of the things that you need for a home office already. It should be a space that you can use to work effectively. You will have fewer distractions during the day and will be able to increase your overall productivity.


If you don’t do enough of your work at home to necessitate having an office, then this is going to feel like a waste of space. Some people only work from home every once in a while.

These people may prefer to just work wherever, rather than having a room that is dedicated to working. Home offices are a better fit for people who work many hours from their homes on a consistent basis.

7. Personal Bar

Purple and pink luxury home bar.

It has been established that using your formal living room to create a space for entertainment purposes is appealing. Some people are less into games and books than they are good adult beverages. If you are a bit of a wine or beer connoisseur, then you might be interested in the idea of a personal bar. You can set up your own bar area and keep it stocked with all of your favorite drinks.

Many people choose to add televisions and other entertaining elements to their personal bar. You could install a dartboard or purchase a pool table. It could wind up being a combination of a game room and a personal bar if you will it to be so. Either way, the ability to enjoy a nice stiff drink after a long day of work is very appealing.

Those who are very handy could even try to build their own bar area. This method can take a lot of work, but the results will be worth it for those who are committed.

Whether you choose to buy a nice bar or make your own, it will look great in your home. A formal living room area should be more than big enough to house a personal bar, so this option is certainly possible.


You will be able to use your new personal bar as a place to unwind. It can also make for a very nice spot to entertain guests. If you have family or friends coming over, then you can take them to the personal bar for an evening of drinks and conversation. It can be a very classy room in your home that will add to the overall aesthetic appeal of your property.


There are people who are vehemently opposed to drinking alcohol. This is obviously not a room idea that will appeal to everyone. Some people abstain from drinking for religious purposes and others simply don’t like it. You could make something such as a juice bar instead, but it may not have the same level of appeal as a traditional bar setting.