What Does British Sitting Room Actually Mean?

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If you’ve ever watched a British TV show or visited a British friend’s home, you may have noticed that they often refer to their living room as a “sitting room.” This term may seem unfamiliar to those outside of the UK, but it is simply another name for the living room or lounge area. In this article, we will explore what the British sitting room actually means and how it differs from other terms used to describe the same space.

Origin of the Term

The term “sitting room” has its roots in the Victorian era when the space was primarily used for sitting and socializing. The room was often furnished with comfortable chairs and sofas, creating a cozy environment for guests to relax and engage in conversation. Over time, the term stuck and became a common way to refer to the living room in British households.

Differences from Other Terms

While the British refer to their living room as a sitting room, other English-speaking countries may use different terms. For example, in the United States, the term “living room” is more commonly used. In Australia, it is often referred to as a “lounge room” or simply “the lounge.” Despite the different names, the function and purpose of the room remain the same.

Features of a British Sitting Room

A typical British sitting room is designed to be a comfortable and welcoming space. It often features plush seating, such as sofas and armchairs, arranged around a central focal point such as a fireplace or television. The room is usually well-lit with large windows and may have additional lighting fixtures for ambiance. British sitting rooms also often showcase a mix of traditional and modern design elements, combining classic elegance with contemporary touches.

Common Decor and Color Schemes

When it comes to decor and color schemes in British sitting rooms, there is a wide range of options. Traditional British sitting rooms may have rich, warm colors such as deep reds, greens, or blues, paired with dark wood furniture and intricate patterns. On the other hand, modern British sitting rooms often feature neutral color palettes with pops of color in the form of cushions, artwork, or accessories.

Creating a Cozy Atmosphere

One of the key aspects of a British sitting room is creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere. This can be achieved through the use of soft furnishings such as plush rugs, cushions, and curtains. Adding personal touches such as family photos or artwork can also help to make the space feel homely and lived-in.


1. Can I use the terms “living room” and “sitting room” interchangeably?

Yes, in British English, the terms “living room” and “sitting room” can be used interchangeably. However, it’s worth noting that “sitting room” is the more traditional and commonly used term in the UK.

2. Are there any specific rules for decorating a British sitting room?

There are no strict rules for decorating a British sitting room. It ultimately comes down to personal preference and the desired aesthetic. Some may prefer a more traditional, formal look, while others may opt for a more contemporary and casual style.

3. Can a British sitting room be small in size?

Absolutely! British sitting rooms come in all shapes and sizes. Even if you have a small space, you can still create a cozy and functional sitting room by carefully selecting furniture and utilizing clever storage solutions.


In summary, the term “sitting room” is simply another name for the living room in British households. It has its origins in the Victorian era and is used to describe a comfortable and inviting space for socializing and relaxation. Whether you refer to it as a sitting room, living room, or lounge, the purpose remains the same – to create a welcoming and enjoyable environment for family and guests.