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What is a Keeping Room?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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A keeping room is an area just off the kitchen of a home. Keeping rooms date back to Colonial times when families would sleep in that area when the rest of the house was cold. Since the area could be heated by the kitchen stove, it often provided the only heated place in the house. Today, a keeping room is called by many different names, depending on one's geographical location, such as a family room, a great room and a hearth room.

A fireplace is the focal point in many keeping rooms today. Many people also have a television in this room and families gather in here daily. The whole idea of a keeping room is to have a family gathering place that is near the kitchen. The open space concept of the room is popular with modern design trends.

Keeping rooms help to sell a home as they are usually very popular, well-used rooms. Homeowners working in the kitchen area are able to see and hear their children playing or watching television in the keeping room. When entertaining, they can also talk to guests easily from the kitchen. A keeping room can be small or large, but it is always next to the kitchen. Some keeping rooms that have windows on one end are used for displaying plants.

Some modern housing plans show a living room, family room and a hearth room or keeping room. Larger homes especially may have more than one gathering place close to the kitchen. Popular home remodeling projects include removing walls to create an open concept keeping room right beside the kitchen.

The multi-purpose aspect of a keeping room today is similar to its function in Colonial days. Although people don't regularly sleep in keeping rooms now and there was certainly no televisions in Colonial times, children still play there and families gather there to read, talk and often keep warm by the fire. In warmer climates a fireplace is not usually a part of a keeping room, but in many regions it is even if it is more ornamental than heat-producing.

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Discussion Comments

By honeybees — On May 11, 2012

When we visited the home of my step-son in Ireland, they had an old, well-built home that had a keeping room.

This was a fascinating house, but did not have a big open area like many of the newer homes have. There were many smaller rooms scattered throughout the house.

There was a separate room for entertaining that had a fireplace in it. There was also a nice sized keeping room right off the kitchen. After our meal, we went in that room to relax with dessert.

I think this room was probably the most 'lived-in' room in the whole house. It was close to the food, but was an area where you could relax and read a book or play a game.

The decor in the dining room was very formal and elegant. The keeping room furniture was much more casual and comfortable.

By andee — On May 11, 2012

When you walk in the front door of our house, the great room, dining room and kitchen are all open and visible.

Most of the time I really like this arrangement as it makes the space seem bigger and not so chopped up.

The kitchen and the great room are definitely the most used rooms in the house. Our great room has a nice fireplace and that is where we have our main TV as well.

The only thing I don't like about this is my kitchen area can get pretty messy sometimes. When guests come in the house, they can see all the mess that is in the kitchen.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a separate room like a keeping room. One that was right next to the kitchen, yet could have a doorway that would hide the mess of the kitchen area.

By golf07 — On May 10, 2012

I have never heard of a keeping room, but can see why this would be such a popular room during Colonial times.

I really like the open floor plan that many homes have today. I can hear and see what my kids are doing while I am in the kitchen making dinner.

It also makes it nice when you have company over as you don't feel like you are isolated from everyone when you are working in the kitchen.

When we looked at houses, the family room was one of the main things we considered. We knew we wanted an open floor plan where the rooms our family spent the most time in were open and right next to each other.

By myharley — On May 10, 2012

The house I grew up in did not have an open floor plan like many of the newer homes do today. Like most homes though, the kitchen was the main gathering room of the house.

When we would lose electricity in the winter, the only way we could keep warm was from the heat of the gas stove.

We would block off the doorway to the kitchen to keep the heat in, and that is where we would stay until the electricity came back on. Sometimes it was longer than a day.

While this wasn't a separate keeping room, that is what our kitchen area became when we were without electricity.

It was never convenient to be without any lights or heat, but those ended up being some of my best childhood memories. We would stay in that room and eat, play games and read with whatever light we had to use.

If the electricity stayed off all night long, we would also bring cots in that room and sleep there during the night.

Our kitchen became our keeping room many times when I was growing up.

By anon96146 — On Jul 14, 2010

keeping room is a old southern expression, frequently a room with a separate entrance off the kitchen.

By anon76059 — On Apr 08, 2010

So, is the idea to "keep warm?"

By arunil — On Sep 08, 2009

I've never heard the term "keeping room" before - very interesting. It seems like the "den" in a house would be the same idea.

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