Great Room

Understanding Real Estate Terminology

If you are buying or selling a home, the chances are you are experiencing some confusion with the meaning of some descriptive terms and real estate terminology. As we begin to develop our “dictionary”, here are explanations and definitions for some terms we are often asked about.

Naming the Rooms

Traditional houses usually contain a family room, a living room and a kitchen, but newer houses usually contain a great room, and sometimes also have a keeping room.  As you begin to visit homes, it might be important for you to understand the difference.

Living Room

A Living Room is usually a separate room used for formal and informal entertaining in a house. This is usually located in the front of the house, and in some areas may be called the Front Room.

Family Room

A Family Room is usually an informal room used for recreation and relaxing. It is frequently situated close to the Kitchen.

Great Room

This combination room is used for entertaining and on many floorplans today combines the purposes of the family room and living room and sometimes the kitchen. Typically, a Great Room has the same square footage as two or three regular-size rooms and is organized into separate zones for dining, entertainment and cooking.  The kitchen area of a Great Room usually faces out into the room creating what many consider an open floorplan. As lifestyles have changed, the need for formal entertaining space has decreased in many homes and been replaced with Great Rooms. 

Identifying Outdoor Space

Patio and TerraceAs you visit homes, you may determine what type of outdoor space you would like. Understanding the differences can help in making these decisions.


A patio is level with the ground around it, typically offering concrete flooring.  It also adjoins the house, usually with one wall. Access to a patio can usually be made from the backyard or side yard, as well as from the house.


Courtyards have become increasingly popular and are often seen in active adult communities. They provide open space surrounded by walls or buildings, adjoining or within a building such as a large house or housing complex. They are pretty much enclosed on at least three sides and sometimes four.  Access to Courtyards is usually only from within a house.


A terrace has adjoining areas of ground which are higher, or lower, or sometimes both. It may have a concrete floor like a patio, but that is not always true. It can also refer to a colonnaded porch or promenade, a relatively level paved or planted area adjoining a building or a raised embankment with the top leveled, and sometimes it refers to one of usually a series of horizontal ridges made in a hillside.

Indoor/Outdoor Living

SunroomThe home you are looking at might state that is has a Solarium, Sun Room or Florida Room.  And while they are different terms, they each refer to the same type of room, but they are distinctly different. 


Solarium is typically a room completely enclosed by glass including the roof. Often referred to also as a “Conservatory”, Solariums can be freestanding and offer the benefits of the sun without being exposed to the elements.


Sunroom is a general name that a builder or architect identifies a room with very large windows or even a wall of glass. The structure is simply designed for homeowners to enjoy the sun, and evolved from people just wanting to enjoy their porch or patio, which is now enclosed. This is also sometimes called a Florida Room.

These terms are used to describe rooms with lots of windows (often on three sides). Many times these areas also have skylights. The choice of what to call them seems purely personal. They tend to be charming, bright, sunny places in which to enjoy the outdoors year round, even when it’s chilly or downright cold weather.

Important Details

Jack and Jill Bath

A bathroom with two doors into it. Frequently situated between two bedrooms with doors to each, it usually offers a sink and vanity area with the bath and toilet separated from that with a door, enabling both spaces to be used at the same time.

Water Closet

As bathrooms become larger in some homes, they frequently offer a Water Closet (sometimes marked WC on a floorplan). This is a room with a toilet that has a door. Instead of a toilet placed in the open space of a large bathroom, a separate room is offered within the bathroom.

Defining Your View


Waterfront property actually has a common boundary with (frontage on) the water. Sometimes the property line actually goes into the water.

Water View

Water view just means water can be seen from the property. Sometimes there is a beautiful view. Sometimes it means the water can be seen from one upstairs window when the leaves are off the trees! Unlike Waterfront property, Water View property may change depending on the distance from the water, in that another home or structure may be built that could block the view in the future, unless there is a protective covenant or something to prevent it.

I think that’s enough for now. Look for future articles on this subject or check our glossary page.

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