The Evolution of Public and Private Home Spaces

The Home has never been a static concept, and what constitutes the ideal home has changed throughout time. With the increasing living standards that have occurred over the centuries, we have been able to build more intricate and complex homes. This trend has allowed us to build homes with more rooms, leading to an increased distinction between public and private spaces within the home. Mostly, this trend has allowed increased private spaces within the home, with one notable exception.

Modern timber frame homes allow for the perfect balance of public and private space.

The earliest homes, as we would recognize the term today, consisted of one large enclosed room. Typically, the kitchen was near the center so that the fire could also provide heat to the home. Guests were received in the “front” of the house between the entryway and kitchen, while the family slept in the rear area. This arrangement provided some privacy from people outside the home, but once inside there was very little separating guests from the sleeping quarters.

Even small timber frame homes offer outstanding privacy.

The first increase in privacy was, naturally, to build an interior wall separating the public front of the house from the sleeping quarters. Now the home finally had separate public and private spaces, so that guests could be entertained only in the public areas of the home. However, all members of the household still slept together in the one private room. It was only in the Victorian age that privacy of a married couple from their children became an important consideration. Even then, all children would typically share one room. By the early twentieth century opposite sex children might have their own rooms, with individual rooms per child only becoming common much later. In non-Western countries, two-thirds of children still sleep in the same room as their parents.

Private bedrooms were a welcome, but relatively recent, innovation in the average home.

The bathroom is another room that has been trending towards more privacy over time. Initially, the functions of a bathroom were separated by necessity. While the outhouse provided a fair measure of privacy, washing up was done in the bedroom or kitchen, while bathing was typically done in the kitchen since that was the only source of hot water. Once indoor plumbing consolidated these functions into the bathroom, there was privacy during use but only one bathroom shared among all. Later, separate restrooms for guests and bathrooms for the family became common, and the increased privacy of a master bathroom has become de rigueur in recent decades.

The master bathroom is one great leap forward for privacy in the home.

With this trend towards increased privacy in the home, the kitchen is one area that became more private before becoming public again. Early kitchens were public by necessity, but as soon as a family could afford to tuck the kitchen away in the back they did so. Until perhaps the 1980s, the kitchen was considered unsightly and was often hidden from guests who were served in a more formal dining room. Recently, however, the kitchen has become the social center of the house and the cooking experience is shared with all. Today, the kitchen has become one of the most public rooms in the home.

The kitchen has become a more public space in recent decades.

We hope you enjoyed this look at the history of privacy in the home. Whatever your privacy requirements are in your dream home, feel free to contact our designers about building the perfect home for you.