We have for a long time had a ‘sunroom’ it was a small room with low ceilings and horizontal picture windows designed to catch the sun. However it offered up little else in terms of aesthetic pleasure. An earlier owner did their best painting it with a coat of apple green paint but the room remained tiny and cramped. That room has gone, demolished down to its floorboards and rebuilt as an elegant space with both room to stretch and some respectable head height. So now the term ‘sunroom’ seems wrong – a 1950s word redolent of retirement homes and semi tropical pot plants.
What then to call our new room?
The rooms here need names if only because Peter has a habit of calling out – where are you? My usual response ‘here’ is proving daily less effective as we reclaim more of the house back from the builders and Peter is left wandering from room to room and getting increasingly annoyed. In his last posting he refereed to this space as the ‘sun room aka back dining room’ but that’s not really satisfactory.
The modern age sometimes seems all about the limiting of options (particularly with language) and the range of names for rooms in current use has bumped down to the usual boring suspects, lounge, living room, kitchen, dining, bedroom and bathroom. Yes there have been some recent additions to the room vocubulary – the rec room, jacuzzi, or the home theatre but they’re not rooms one wants ever to confess being in.
It is no surprise that the Victorians had a whole slew of room names and I’m keen to see some of them brought back. We do fairly well here – with the Studio, the Library and a Dressing Room. However at the same time we’ve also demolished the Scullery, the Pantry and the Washhouse and in a way deleted them from the language of the house and it seems we need to make amends and bring a few terms back from obscurity
It seems to me that two of the leading contenders for the old sunroom should be the ‘Breakfast room’ or the ‘Morning room’. The logic being that this is the room we have breakfast and lunch in and is the best room in the house to be in in the morning – all sounds very proper to me.
Looking at images that Google has kindly organised under the heading of Morning rooms – it seems to me that the requirements are morning light, a good sized table – something of delicate proportions is prefered – is pretty much what’s required and a couple of comfortable chairs. Sure, grand proportions help (don’t they always).
It’s just how to work these terms into the daily vocab without sounding like extras from Downton Abbey or Upstairs Downstairs?
I would have no compunction embracing the ‘Morning Room’. What might be slightly more difficult is safely navigating decorating etiquette in said room, once given this Proper Name.
As an example Downton Abbey followers well know the letters of consternation received by the papers, particularly the Telegraph, from the historical inaccuracy spotters of Tunbridge Wells etc in regard to the presence of Begonias’ in the Morning Room at Downton in Season One.
Julian Fellowes rather enjoys this caviling about the decoration of the Morning Room (along with every other minute detail of the show) saying ‘the knowing middle classes … are reaffirming their connection to lost values and a time when things were done properly, a day when details mattered.”
I am – frustratingly – not quite middle class enough to have innate knowledge of such things and usually trusty Google can’t tell me why you shouldn’t put begonias in the Morning Room – can you shed any light on this?
I think the essential answer is that one shouldn’t put begonias anywhere – except perhaps in a 1950s sunroom – however I would have once said the same thing about Dahlias.