More news that the “great room is dying.
Great rooms are the spaces that absorb living room, dining room and kitchen, to create a large, open room on the main floor of the home. Pasanella calls these rooms the “signature space of the McMansion and he suggests that they are as “cavernous and appealing as airport lounges.
Pasanella says the problem is that as a room becomes ‘too giant, it loses its connection with its inhabitants. This means that the NYT is now prepared to join the apostasy started by Susankas “Not so big house movement.
This revolt has happened once before in living memory. Some families rushed to embrace the wide open split level homes built after World War II. But for some the sheer scale of this space began finally to tell.
One occupant of the mid-century modernist home put it this way.
“The major lack that we have begun to feel is some place to retreat to from the very openness that we like so much. We need a small cozy, den-like room to sit in sometimes as a change of pace.”
“We like the open planning, but there are times when human beings have a need to feel closed in and comfortable. As such times we use the library.”
Modernism demanded big, open spaces. They created the scopic regime, the way of seeing, that modernism believed in. They let in the pure light of reason, science and technology that were the futures hope. They “made room” for individuals and families committed to new kinds of social and existential mobility. When people took refuge in the den or the library, they were not simply declaring a feeling for coziness. They were “voting with their feet, and repudiating if only for a moment the terrible demands that modernism made on individuals and families.
So if we are now once more refusing big, open spaces, the question is what part of post modernism, McMansion grandeur, or middle class striving is under challenge. I am, for one, a little stunned. I give the floor to the reader: what factors, social, cultural, demographic, economic, aesthetic or other, are responsible for the death of the great room and the rebirth of coziness?
Creighton, Thomas H. and Katherine M. Ford. 1961. Contemporary Houses Evaluated by their Owners. New York: Reinhold Publishing Corporation, pp. 219, 195.
McCracken. Trend Watch: the great room Oct. 19, 2004.
McCracken, Grant. 2005. More on great rooms. February 3, 2005
McCracken, Grant. 2005. Great rooms and wee spaces, February 10, 2005.
Pasanella, Marco. 2005. Taming Spaces: Living Large. New York Times. February 17, 2005, p. F1.
Susanka, Sarah 1998. The Not So Big House. Taunton Press.
Sorry about the absence of hyperlinks, something is screwed up at MT.