116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Who among us has a conservatory at home? I think I’ve seen one glass wall and roof structure attached to a home in my neighborhood, but I’m guessing not most of us. Class, wealth, status and time period are large determinants of the construction and function of rooms in a home. Just as the formal dining room has largely gone out of fashion so will other rooms that are common today.
I began thinking about rooms – specifically a mudroom – as I’ve been busy planting. Almost every free moment I have that the weather’s nice, I’m out the door to work on the yard. The hands-on work in the earth can get messy. Limiting the mess indoors can be a challenge without a mudroom. This is the space between the garage and kitchen that provides room to isolate shoes and a drop-off place for items.
We have the perfect space for a mudroom. Except that it’s used as our laundry and pantry. The room is not likely to change because not having to walk up and down stairs to do laundry is convenient.
Mudrooms typically have storage for shoes and backpacks, hooks for jackets and keys and a surface to sit on to put on or remove shoes. I think it could use some additional features. A small sink and mirror would be useful anytime, especially in a pandemic.
Hand washing after returning from the outside world is important. Sometimes we’re just in too much of a hurry to get something done that we delay hand washing. For the gardener who has dirt and mulch up the arm and under the fingernails, it would be ideal for hand washing to be done before entering the kitchen and living areas.
Thinking about mudrooms led me to thinking of terms for other spaces in houses. A butler’s pantry came to mind. This is an area behind the kitchen where china, silver and larger dishes were stored. In the Victorian era, the butler may have slept in this space. I first learned about a butler’s pantry on a Brucemore tour.
Other antiqued spaces include a larder, a cool area to store food prior to refrigeration in homes. As the name implies, this was where raw meat was covered in fat to be preserved. A scullery is a precursor of today’s laundry room. It’s where dishes and clothes were washed. Then there’s a garret, an attic with sloping ceilings used as a living space, that was commonplace in the late 1800s. As the farthest space from a home’s entrance, it was viewed as a less desirable location and for someone lower in stature. An inglenook, a partially enclosed fireplace area that is adjacent to an open area, is an Arts & Crafts characteristic and was used by Frank Lloyd Wright.
With rising home prices and space at a premium, for most people there’s not extra space to dedicate solely to one activity or purpose. Rooms need to be multipurpose and be re-configurable when a family’s needs change, such as working from home or having an empty nest.
From the butler’s pantry to a billiard room and ballroom, rooms will be a product of their time. Maybe we’ll see decontamination rooms after the pandemic.
Erin Owen graduated from the interior design program at Kirkwood Community College. She has worked as a commercial and residential interior designer. Comments: email@example.com