In homes that lack a parlour or drawing room, the living room may also function as a reception room for guests. Objects in living rooms may be used « to instigate and mediate contemplation about significant others, as well as to regulate the amount of intimacy desired with guests. »
A typical Western living room may contain furnishings such as a sofa, chairs, occasional tables, coffee tables, bookshelves, electric lamps, rugs, or other furniture. Traditionally, a sitting room in the United Kingdom and New Zealand has a fireplace, dating from when this was necessary for heating. In a Japanese sitting room, called a washitsu, the floor is covered with tatami, sectioned mats, on which people can sit comfortably.