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What Is a Parlor Room?

Brenton Shields

A parlor (spelled "parlour" in the United Kingdom) room is a special, wide open room in a large house that is specially suited for entertaining guests. It may include several tables, a fireplace, and a sitting area for guests to converse, drink, or eat. In most modern homes, the traditional parlor room has been replaced with the more current living room.


Parlor rooms have been all but been replaced by modern living rooms.

The traditional parlor room has been around since the Victorian age of the 19th century and originated as a room that women would retreat to after a meal to converse with others on various topics. It was also known as the drawing room. The parlor room was the primary focal point of a household and was common in mansions or other large Victorian houses. It was used primarily on Sundays and closed during other days. The room would also house the reception party during a loved one's funeral.

Historical Style

The parlor room was typically a symbol of a family's societal or financial status and as such was decorated with their finest displayable property, like works of art, flowers and fine furniture. The room would be decorated primarily with light colors and floral schemes, with darker hues to accentuate the light tone. Wall-to-wall carpeting was not common, so most parlor rooms employed a variety of rugs.


The living room has essentially replaced the use of parlors in modern culture. Living rooms contain several of the same elements of the traditional parlors, including sitting areas, possibly a fireplace, tables, paintings, and other items akin to the historical parlor room. The term "living room" came to fruition in 1900 and has been common ever since.

Other Uses

The term "parlor" may also be applied to a variety of shops or goods that provide different services. Ice cream parlors, pizza parlors, tattoo parlors and beauty parlors are all examples where the term is often applied to refer to such a location. A "milking parlor" is another term that uses the word. Milking parlors are buildings or rooms where cows are brought for routine milking.