Back in the Colonial period of American history, the chores and tasks that went into everyday life were something that was shared among family members. Families would gather together to cook, clean, and do laundry. Colonial architecture reflected this lifestyle, through a common area called a “keeping room” that connected to the kitchen and was situated at the center of the house. It was a place where families could gather, work, talk, and laugh.
Keeping rooms disappeared in the 20th century as Americans became more affluent, housework became automated, and people became more private. But these days, the keeping room is making a comeback in home design, fueled by families’ desire for a place where they can reconnect in the midst of their busy, hectic lives.
Keeping Room Design
There are as many keeping room designs as there are individual tastes. A common factor is that most keeping rooms combine the kitchen with a living area in a setting that is less formal than a parlor or living room. The features of your particular keeping room design should reflect your lifestyle. For example:
- The Family and Business Center: For families in which one or more spouse works at home, it often makes sense to move features such as a desk or computer armoire into the keeping room. A telephone, fax, and photocopier might even adorn your space. This way, spending weekend hours on a last-minute report or work project doesn’t need to keep you from also spending time with the kids. For their part, children need computer access more and more often these days in order to complete their homework. This is another way in which a business-oriented keeping room can accommodate the working needs of the entire family.
- The Entertainment Center: Many families use the keeping room as a place to gather to watch television and movies together. In this case, the room might incorporate couches, a big-screen, and surround sound. And you can make popcorn without missing a scene.
- The Oasis: On the other hand, the bombardment of modern technology and the ever-expanding work week may have you looking for a place where you can leave work behind and just enjoy the lost art of conversation. In this case, your keeping room might contain comfortable couches and chairs, a dinner table, and perhaps the supplies for a few chosen hobbies that you can enjoy as a family. The keeping room can also be a great place to entertain guests, as you can cook or mix drinks without losing contact.
Once you’ve determined the function of your keeping room, you can begin to think about form. Traditionalists may want to stick with a country/colonial theme, in keeping with the room’s roots, but if this isn’t your style, you can go with anything from rustic to ultra-modern. You will find that your keeping room will be a place where the whole family spends lots of time, so be sure to choose d?cor that makes you comfortable.