telophase: (Default)
telophase ([personal profile] telophase) wrote2014-10-16 09:35 am

So. The subject of dens.

This AskMeFi question on the subject of differences between UK and US houses ended up with a small side-trip into the concept of dens. Someone gave this explanation of a den: A den is sort of a library/office/guest room. It may or may not have a door and is often off the living room. It's not really all that useful, except when you have guests. Then it is.

Which is a bit different from what we called a den (or 'family room'). I posted this:
Where I grew up (Texas), a den is also known as a family room, and is a less-formal gathering/hang-out space. The living room (or parlor, if you have delusions of grandeur) is the formal gathering/hang-out place. At my grandparents' house, the TV was in the den, while the living room had the uncomfortable furniture that kids weren't allowed to splay out on, and which was used for adults to have dull, boring conversations when my grandparents had dinner parties. At my parents' house, the den had the TV and my mom's loom, and the living room had the fireplace and the stereo. Again, when my parents' friends or coworkers came over for activities other than watching TV, they were entertained in the living room, while I stayed out of their hair in the den and watched TV.

Mr Telophase and I have a vaguely similar setup in our house, but it's now split between the living room (fireplace, bookcases) and the media room (TV, video games). I insisted on that when we were house-hunting, because I wanted to be able to sit in one room and read without being distracted by his gaming.
So. What is YOUR concept of a den? (Besides a lair for animals, hah.) I suspect it's really been superseded by media rooms in modern houses. Toby's parents have a great room, which is a living/kitchen/breakfast area, and a really tiny dining room off of it, and a room that they use as a combo office/media room. They built their house a few years ago.

My mom's house is closer to 30-40 years old, and while the kitchen is a separate-ish room, it's got one big room, divided into three by archways, that wraps around the kitchen and serves as living, dining (Mom uses it as an office), and...big weird room that looks like it used to be a back porch that was enclosed, but which I think is actually built in. Here's a rough floorplan I threw together. (It's a townhouse--row house for you Brits, if I've got that terminology correct--with houses attached to it on either side.) I have NO EARTHLY IDEA what the thinking originally was for that house. It was built for entertaining, I think, but the kitchen is weirdly enclosed, except for that island open to Room 3 on the plan. Room 2 is VERY DARK, even with wide archways separating it from the living room and Room 3. I'd have at the very least bashed a pass-through between that room and the kitchen. Mom uses it as an office, and splits Room 3 up between her dining table and a big loom.

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