The Cool House: Name That Room

Friday, May 19, 2006

Name That Room

One of the differences between Europe and America is what we call the rooms in our houses. Actually, the first difference is that Europeans call it a house, Americans call it a home, but further than that we (I am a European living in the US) tend to have fewer rooms and less creative names for them. For example in Belgium the typical house has a living room, a dining room (or a large living/dining room), a kitchen, a bathroom, a shower room and three or four bedrooms. Some houses may have an office, basement or rarely a playroom but generally you know what your getting.
When we first looked at property here we were confronted with terms like EIK. I phoned my American friend but she was no help, apparently they either don't have eat in kitchens on Cape Cod or this abbreviation gained popularity only after she left the US. And I still don't know what the difference is between an EIK and a kitchen with a breakfast nook. I was familiar with the term "den" from American TV shows but I thought it had to be practically windowless and have knotty pine paneling and I never knew what you were supposed to do there that you couldn't do in a living room.
Then there's the Great Room. I call the room in the middle of my house the great room because it has a great big ceiling but the previous owner called it the living room. The room where we do most of our "living" ie vegging in front of the TV, she called the den but it is full of light. Our neighbors watch TV in the Media Room; it's dark and windowless but please don't call it a den. I'm confused.
This posting was inspired by an email from Dream Home Source that features a room I had never heard of before: The Gathering Room. I have an idea that each morning the family gathers in The Gathering Room and picks out a room that they will occupy for the rest of the day so that they do not have to interact with the other family members. Although it has its attractions this doesn't win the prize for the oddest named room. In my opinion that goes to Home Plan 18913 that has a something called "Future Quarters". Any clue, anyone?
I love Dream Home Source. One of the search options you can use is "Secret Room". Isn't that the best? And one last question: if you have a Media Room, an Exercise Room and a Billiards Room, what the hell do you need a Bonus Room for?

5 comments:

Gary said...

I spent 12 years in England. It seems to me that Europeans live in pubs and just use their houses to sleep in!

jay s said...

Its all marketing - you market the benefit not the feature. Thus with a house - it is not an extra room, it is marked by its possible use.

Typically the "family room" began in the 1950s for marketing. The "living room" was an offshoot of the "parlor" or a formal living space that you entertained guests in. The family room was where the tv was, where the kids did crafts, etc.

The den was the man's room. It was his office/retreat etc. (ie a bear's home). The decoration was traditionally more masculine etc. When you had couples over, the men would go there for whiskey and cigars.

The great room / gathering room are also different concepts for living, manifested in their shape. The great room is a large room that incorporates "family room", casual eating area and kitchen into one great living area. Gathering room just another concept, as most americans feel pulled apart from their family, so it is a reinvention of the family room.

The bonus room is a room developed by real estate developers. It is typically a room above a garage, in various states of finish. Some are completely finished, some just barefloor, some bare studs etc. It is intended for future expansion as playroom, bedroom etc. Usually it is less than a normal room with the sloping ceiling etc.

orc said...

I think that the "future quarters" may be the space for the entryway to the new apartment you'll want to put up over the front garage when you've overflowed the piddly little 7200 square feet of main house.

*shudder*

modernemama said...

Ok, but what the heck is a "keeping room"? Is that where you lock up unwelcome visitors or where you send the kids for "time out"?

misspickles said...

You forgot such rooms as the rumpus room, the service porch, the mudroom, the butler's pantry...it just goes on forever and depends greatly on the year the house was built and the region of the country it was built in. My grandmother had a "mad" room, where she would go and sit if she got mad at my grandfather. Go figure.