Dutch Influence on the Home

It is impossible to say where the concept of the home originated, since it developed out of shelters that humans have used since time immemorial. But where did the modern conception of a home come from? Given our shared culture, one might think that the home is an English creation. In fact, if any one country can lay claim to the modern concept of the home it is probably the Netherlands.

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Early Dutch homes in America had simple layouts, like this Timberpeg cottage.

While the English, and other countries, had a concept of the home, it was mostly defined by the homes of the wealthy aristocracy. These grand homes were attended to by many servants, and the function and design of the home was shaped by this fact. Rooms where servants worked, including kitchens, were utilitarian and tucked away from view. Many public spaces in the home were used not only to entertain guests but to conduct business as well, so privacy was limited.

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Flared eaves were common in Dutch homes. Seen here is Hawk’s Head Public House, a Timberpeg recreation colonial pub.

In contrast, the Dutch concept of the home was developed during the “Dutch Golden Age” around the 17th century. At this time, the Netherlands became the world’s greatest maritime power and used their trading prowess to invest in their homes. Since this housing boom was among the merchant class, it reached a far greater segment of the population than the aristocracy. Furthermore, the culture of egalitarianism in the Netherlands ensured that the concept of the home became more widespread.

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Gambrel roofs were very common in Dutch homes.

The Dutch also had a philosophy of self-reliance, which led them to forego servants. In contrast, even middle class households in Britain would often have a servant or two well into the 20th century. Since the Dutch house was only meant for the members of the immediate family, it was a much smaller home than found elsewhere and easier for the family to maintain on their own.

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Open kitchens were somewhat common in 17th century Dutch homes.

While the elimination of servants increased the privacy of the home, the Dutch went even further by removing business functions entirely from the home. Elsewhere, merchants would often live above their stores, so their business and home lives were never far apart. In the Dutch Golden Age, however, the idea of the home as a respite from the rest of the world began to take hold. Furniture and rooms were built for the first time with an emphasis on comfort.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed this look at how the modern idea of the home started in the Netherlands. If you’re looking to realize your own conception of the home, whether inspired by Dutch ideas or not, please contact Timberpeg today.

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Rooms With Many Functions

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In smaller homes, having multi-purpose rooms is very helpful. Home built by Timberpeg Independent Rep, Smith & Robertson, Inc.

Last week, we discussed the etymology and evolution of a few less-common rooms that may be found in the home. However, the general trend in the housing market is towards slightly smaller homes. This reduction in size means that for most homeowners, rooms need to be more functional and be utilized more often to make sense in the modern home. One way to accommodate this trend is through multi-function rooms that take on the roles previously served by multiple rooms. Here are a few examples of combination rooms that pull double duty.

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In the winter, features like mudrooms become all the more important.

In the winter, features like mudrooms become all the more important. Home built by Timberpeg Independent Rep, Old Hampshire Designs and designed by Bonin Architects.

 

This combination room may seem like the most obvious choice, primarily since it is a very common room in homes. The mudroom is a great space to have to keep dirty clothes and shoes from soiling the inside of the home. It is usually placed in transitional space between the garage or porch and the public spaces of the home. However, since the mudroom does not need a great deal of space by itself, it is often paired with the laundry as well. Especially if you participate in outdoor sports, it is great to be able to unload your dirty outerwear immediately upon arriving home.

Laundry/Pantry

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The pantry space (seen just beyond the kitchen in the above photo) in this Martha’s Vineyard home also houses the washer and dryer. Home designed by Geoffrey D. Thors, AIA

As we discussed last October, the pantry has undergone a resurgence in popularity lately. No longer just a place to store food, modern pantries also have sinks and dishwashers for food preparation and cleaning. With the plumbing already in place, the pantry is a great place to site the laundry room as well. The counter space and sink can be used both for laundry and food prep, saving space and conveniently consolidating these tasks near the kitchen.

Office/Bedroom

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A bump out houses a desk and makes the room much more spacious as a bedroom in this Virginia hybrid timber frame home. Timberpeg Independent Rep, Smith & Robertson, Inc.

Guest rooms are wonderful to have the few times a year when you have visitors, but often see little use throughout the rest of the year. In contrast, an office space may get used much of the year but not when you are entertaining guests. Combining these two rooms makes a great deal of sense, but a few design choices help them mesh together. One way to accomplish the bedroom office is to site the desk in a small closet so it can be closed off from the room when guests arrive. A bump out can also house the desk and make the room function better for guests.

Fondly referred to as the “Libing Room,” this homeowner combined the Dining Room and Library. Timberpeg Independent Rep, Smith & Robertson, Inc.

 

We hope this look at multi-function rooms has shown you how to get the maximum use out of all the rooms in your home. If you’re looking to design a new timber frame home, with rooms either single-minded or with many uses, please contact Timberpeg today.

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The Origin of Various Room Names

When we think of a home, there are several rooms we always expect to find present. The kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms are all necessary components of any home. Since they are such common rooms, with common names, the purpose of each is immediately clear. However, several more specialized rooms have names with more opaque origins. Here are a few rooms that you might include in your timber frame home, and the interesting history behind them.

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Home above built by Timberpeg Independent Rep, Old Hampshire Designs.

 

Conservatory

While it may seem very similar to a sunroom, a conservatory is actually a much more specialized affair. The main purpose of a conservatory is growing and displaying plants that would otherwise perish in the cold outdoors climate. Conservatories really took off when citrus fruits were imported to England from the Mediterranean and wealthy households wished to grow them year round. In the UK, a conservatory needs at least half of its walls and 75% of the roof space to be glazed (either glass or clear polycarbonate) to meet the legal definition.

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A timber-framed conservatory

A great place for a conservatory or greenhouse is immediately adjacent to the kitchen. The fresh herbs and fruits growing year-round are then perfectly placed for harvest and immediate preparation, while the room can do double duty as a buffer to the outside.

Drawing Room

While the name of this room may suggest a room for writing or other work, it is actually a shortened form of withdrawing room. These rooms were very popular in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries in Europe. As the name suggests, they provided a place to withdraw to after dinner. In some cultures, the women withdrew to the drawing room while the men remained in the dining room or moved to the parlor. In others, the women and men both retired to the drawing room after dinner.

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A grand piano is fit for a grand drawing room. Home built by Timberpeg Independent Rep, Smith & Robertson, Inc.

Drawing rooms were once common in affluent homes in the Southern United States, but the term has since fallen out of favor domestically. In England, it is now typically only used in large homes when distinguishing between multiple sitting rooms for guests. In that case, it is usually the most lavishly appointed sitting room.

Parlor

The word parlor (or parlour) entered English around the year 1200, from a French word meaning to speak. It was first used in monasteries, to denote a room where monks could converse without disturbing fellow clergy, or conduct business with outsiders. Later, it was used in homes to refer to a primary room in the front of the home for entertaining guests. Since it was the most seen room by guests, this room was routinely the best decorated in the home. In the 20th century, the living room grew to take over most of the parlor’s functions.

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A parlor should be richly furnished.

If you’re looking to incorporate a conservatory, drawing room or parlor into a new post and beam home, please contact us today. Our team of designers will work with you to make sure your home contributes to the rich and evolving history of these rooms.

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The Ideal Marriage of Practicality and Whimsy

Due to its mountainous location, homes in Asheville, North Carolina are typically built on highly sloped lots. While this can present a design challenge, it is the type of challenge Ken Wertheim lives for as an architect. One of Timberpeg’s Independent Representatives, Ken is also one of the leading architectural experts in the Asheville area. This mountain home, designed by Ken and built by Living Stone Construction, is the perfect combination of character and usability.

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On first examination, the highly-pitched roof of this home may seem unusual for the area. This choice gives a bit of fairy-tale cottage feel to the home and appealed to the New Zealand-born owners’ heritage. There are two doors on the front of the home, with the central formal entrance under a grand king-post truss while the mudroom door is more subdued.

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Entering the formal entrance brings us into a foyer, with nearby powder room and closet. Also nearby is access for an elevator between the ground floor and basement, a welcome feature in this retirement home. Stepping forward into the great room we enter a light and airy space. The posts and beams are the darkest features here, while the flooring, furniture and even the stone fireplace are brighter greys and whites.

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The dining room keeps the light walls, but the trim, table and china cabinet stand out with their darker stains. Off the dining room a screen porch allows for bug free entertaining.

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The adjacent kitchen also strikes a balance between the dark tile backsplash and countertop and the lighter wood tones of the cabinets. Next to the kitchen is the mudroom as well as a pantry and laundry room.

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On the other side of the great room is the master bedroom, which again continues the dark timbers and light walls found throughout the home. The bedroom has its own access to the rear deck and great views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It also features a walk-in closet and large master bath.

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The basement houses the two-car garage as well as an office space, bathroom and rec area. However, the highlight of this floor is surely the home theater room. About the size of the great room, the theater has three tiers of seating to ensure that every seat is a great one. Obviously, a theater this grand needs a video and audio system to match!

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The upstairs houses the guest quarters, with two guest rooms separated by a central loft and sharing a central bathroom. Far from ordinary, one of the guest rooms hosts the most unique feature of the home. A built-in book case swings inward to reveal a secret attic. The homeowners use it for storage, but it would surely also be a child’s favorite room.

If you’ve enjoyed this quick look at this North Carolina home, be sure to pick up a copy of the March/April issue of Timber Home Living that will come out February 2nd to read a feature on the home. If you have any questions, please contact us.

All photographs copyright Living Stone Construction.
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