From early times in the United States (U.S.), up to the 1970s, much family activity centered on the living room of a home. Also known as “the receiving room,” home makers took guests there as soon as they entered the home. This room contained the best seating and furnishings. There, the draperies hung finely about the windows.
A small piano might reside in the room. A vase with fresh-cut flowers and a bowl filled with nuts or mints might rest on the coffee table. “Eat something while I fetch coffee from the kitchen,” a home maker might say to guests.
Kept spotlessly clean, the living room location permitted the homemaker to entertain guests without their getting far into the dwelling (where messes lurked). A home maker might comfortably engage in polite and interesting conversation, and make an impression on guests in the living room.
That location, the most formal, coat-and-tie room in the house, exuded sophistication as well as cleanliness and it wordlessly identified the family as rising in social status (or it did not). But, housing changed in the U.S. in the 1970’s when people wanted to express themselves, to have more choice, and they cared less about what guests thought of them.