Keeping rooms date back to Colonial times when families would communally sleep in or next to the kitchen while the rest of home remained unheated and cold. Then, as now, the majority of keeping rooms were directly accessible from the kitchen and whether an open fireplace or kitchen stove was used, this is where the family gathered to keep warm, prepare dinner or spend time together. The keeping room has come to be known by other names such as a hearth or gathering room, but the idea remains the same; a family room for staying warm and spending time together. The main feature of the keeping room is a fireplace and for centuries, one or more fireplaces have been the focal point of most homes whether for heating purposes or a cozy place to gather and, in fact, today’s homes often come with, not just one, but several as a means of gathering and staying warm. One of the main differences between today and yesteryear’s keeping room, is the addition of a television as the whole idea of spending time together has expanded to include movie/television watching, playing board games or helping the children with their homework in a cozy warm environment near the kitchen.
Modern house plans today often include several gathering spots close to the kitchen and since guests and family members typically gather in the kitchen, today’s keeping rooms are ideal for guest overflow and comfort when hosting large gatherings. These modern extensions of the kitchen are great as a multi-use room with a fireplace for warmth and comfort; homeowners love having an extension where cozy furnishings are employed without having the family room or breakfast room replaced.
Above all, remember to keep the furnishings durable and comfortable as it will surely be the most used room in the house. As keeping rooms are ever evolving and becoming multi-functional spaces, remember to furnish the room with plenty of comfortable seating arrangements, storage options, good lighting and a wide range of coffee and end tables. As the family gathering spot, this room will soon become the favorite room in the house and it is vital for the space to allow for easy living options; otherwise, it will soon become another “unlived in” room or a cluttered space. By arranging the room for an assortment of activities to include television watching, relaxing together or doing homework, this room will continue to perform double duty as a functional and practical space in today’s homes.