Room Identity - Rearranging the House


Rooms each their identity (and therefore their name) by their furniture, their purpose, and their connection with other parts of the house.  It's interesting to see how identity can change over time as furniture and families rearrange within the same space.



The Old House

Front Room <-> Living Room <-> Dining Room

The Living Room and Dining Room were really two living areas for much of the time we lived there.  In fact, because of the French doors, the two rooms were almost a continuous space.  At one point the nominal dining room had a sectional, bookcases, and a tv in it, so it was more of a living room.  The so-called living room was more like a sitting room.  There was no tv, but it was more of a guest-friendly area complete with a fireplace and filled with books (in the built-in bookcases) and guitars hanging on the walls throughout.  So as not to confuse things, we referred to that room as the Front Room since it was at the front of the house.  The other room was the Living Room.  We simply didn't have a Dining Room.

The dining room never really was used as such for the first few years in that house, but we eventually migrated the tv into the Front Room when we bought a pool table.  The intention was to use a conversion top so that the pool table could be used as a dining room table, but it just seemed awkward because of the design of the table, so we never got around to it.  This was in spite of the fact we even put a chandelier above it rather than, say, a pool table light.  We also bought a server, although there was a stereo on it.  The room seemed to be caught between cross purposes.

The end result was that the term "Living Room" was fluid.  It seemed to follow the tv, wherever it happened to be placed.  I preferred to refer to the Front Room as such throughout because, though its purpose shifted, its topography couldn't change short of a major addition into the front yard.  I never was comfortable referring to the Dining Room as such, so it was often called "The old living room" or something along those lines.

Office = My Room

The third bedroom wasn't really suited as such since it had French doors as well, which opened out into the Front Room.  It was always used as my office, the room with the computer, guitar amps, and several guitars.  It was alternately referred to as "the computer room" or "the guitar room" as well, even though most of the guitars were in the Front Room.

The room also contained the closet where I kept most of my clothes (since Dani's clothes took up not only her closet but the armoire and a dresser in our bedroom as well).  The shelves had a mix of my things: most of my tools, guitar parts, computer parts and discs.  It was a bit of everything of mine.

When Dani was pregnant with Stan, the spare bedroom became the nursery, and literally everything in the room found a new home.  I had sold off the bedroom set from my childhood/teen years that used to occupy that room, but it housed our old bed at one point.  That ended up in my office as well, and I occasionally slept there when I couldn't sleep through Dani's snoring.  It wasn't simply an office, it was My Room.

The Spare Bedroom -> Stan's Room

As stated above, we had a spare bedroom before Stan came along.  I jokingly refer to it today as the "Drunk Tank" since we occasionally had friends stay over rather than drive home after the karaoke bar.  The room itself was an afterthought before Stan was a plus sign on a stick.

Even the color was an afterthought.  We painted it a light green that we settled on only after we exhausted the palette throughout the rest of the house.  We just wanted something that wasn't so dark that it was oppressive with the dark wood bedroom set in there.  We mostly kept tubs of craft supplies and unfinished sewing/knitting projects in the room.

Once we found out Dani was pregnant (which wasn't really a shock for obvious reasons), we build a second shed in the back yard and moved very nearly everything out to it or into other rooms.  The only thing that remained was an odd enclosed computer desk that we used as a linen closet or makeshift armoire.  The room was soon taken over by all the accoutrement of newborns: a crib, changing table, dresser, and loads of toys.  We also painted the upper portion of the room a sky blue so that the former green now became rolling hills like the Microsoft background.  There were grander plans beyond that which would have made it into a mixed-media mural, but we simply never got around to realizing them.  It wasn't a sign of neglect; we never got around to them precisely because we were busy with Stan!

Old Shed/New Shed

We never settled on a consistent naming system for the two sheds.  Sometimes they were the "old" vs. "new" shed; others they were the "left shed" and "right shed."  The original shed was filled with old floorboards when we first bought the place.  After moving those around several times in the first year or two, I finally donated them to Habitat for Humanity, and the shed took on things that ordinarily would have gone in the attic (although our attic wasn't usable as such due to the placement of the entrances).

Our Halloween decorations grew over the years, and so it was a welcome addition when we build the second shed.  We needed the room.  The newer shed housed most of the decorations (plus most of the camping/canoeing supplies and my tools), while the original shed took on Dani's things and some scrap wood.  In hindsight, we could have called the latter "Dani's shed," but the organization wasn't that rigid.



The New House

As I write this, we are still figuring out what roles the various rooms will serve.

Office -> Library

The previous owners used this room as their shared work-from-home office (though they had non-overlapping employment).  I had intended to use it similarly, but it seemed too removed from other areas in the house.  For one thing, my guitar collection was centered in the living room at the old house, but at least that was adjacent to my office.  Here, the office was behind the dining room and next to the kitchen.  It was also by the back door, which is where we usually enter from the driveway, and there was a dog door through it to the back yard, meaning there was a fair amount of traffic through the room.

Our books were usually scattered across three or more rooms at the old house, so I wanted them in a more centralized location at the new place, so it gradually emerged that this was a library.  The emerging design was that Dani's books and mine were on opposite sides of the room, making it even more organized than before.

Three Porches

The house has three entrances, so it can be a little confusing which you're referring to at times.  The "front door" and "front porch" are obvious enough, but neither of the other two doors actually exit directly into the back of the house, so there's no such thing as a "back door," strictly speaking.  What we usually call the "back yard" is on the side of the house, whereas the actual back of the house (i.e., the side opposite the front) is a driveway, thanks to our location on a corner lot.

The remaining exit also leads indirectly to the back of the house.  For want of a better term, it became the "north porch."  It's not the front porch, and the other entrance is onto a patio, not a porch, anyway.  "North porch" is as descriptive as one can get with an area that has no other defining traits than which side of the house it's on.

Under-the-stairs Closet -> Tool Closet

The only closet downstairs (other than a small broom closet) happened to be under the stairs, so for many months it was simply the "under-the-stairs closet."  That was shorthand for "none of the other closets."  Not the linen closet, and none of the bedroom closets or water heater closet or furnace closets.

However, it gradually emerged that it was going to be occupied almost exclusively by tools.  There are other things in there like leftover paint, some Halloween decorations that we didn't want to put in the heat of the attic, and some toys Stan hasn't grown into yet, but those are pushed to the back where they're effectively inaccessible.

I wanted my tools where I could get to them quickly, and I don't trust them in the shed since that's protected by nothing more than a padlock.  The shelves in the closet are now covered with boxes of tools and parts for repairs around the house, so it's pretty much just "the tool closet."

Utility Room -> Craft Room

Due to the curious history of the house having been a triplex at one time, the washer and dryer connections are upstairs.  Perhaps there were other connections in an earlier incarnation, but these are the only ones that remain.  Although this sounds unusual, it isn't for this neighborhood (e.g., the same is true for our neighbor Barry), and it sort of makes sense anyway since we bathe/shower and then dress/undress upstairs, so why lug the clothes up and down just to wash them?  Granted, I do that nine months out of the year anyway since I dry them outside, but I'm not most people.

I'm not sure who coined it the "Utility Room," but that name stuck for a while.  There were even pipes sticking out of the wall in one place to testify to that designation.  In spite of this, I planned to use it as my office.  It was the one room that was large enough to accommodate all my toys (i.e., guitars; the action figures are another story).

However, it became apparent that there was not enough room for both my things and Dani's.  Her tubs of craft supplies (plus wrapping paper and other girly stuff) took up a quarter of the room.  This is in addition to the space occupied by the washer and dryer.  I was edged out by the crafts, so it was the Craft Room.

Dining Room -> My Office

I didn't really consider it a viable option in the beginning, but it gradually emerged that the dining room was probably the best candidate for an office/guitar room.  The bay window afforded the room to set up an expansive multi-section desk as a work station with a computer, printer, 88-key keyboard, scanner, guitar effects processors, etc.  The other wall was filled with guitars.

Garage <-> Shed

We don't know what to call it.  It's more like a carriage house with a small apartment on top, although it's suitable for none of the above.  It looks like a two-car garage, but there is a steep curb at the opening, then a sharp drop once you're inside, so even an SUV could only manage this uncomfortably.  It's more than a shed though, since the space above it could be rented if we ever got around to renovating it (which is in the plans, just not for a while yet, after other projects have been addressed).

At the moment it's just for storage.  One side still houses things I'm trying to get rid of such as antique toilets and trim/molding scraps.  The other side are things I'm keeping like plumbing materials and lumber, camping gear, etc.  In the future I would like one side to be dedicated to Halloween decorations while the other side serves a more utilitarian role as a work space.


Copyright 2012 Alexplorer.
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