TV Homes…Our Homes

18 03 2011

In my evolving discussions and thoughts regarding residential design, and the concept of home versus house, I gave some thought to where I might have developed some of my ideas of home.

As with many growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, I was glued to the TV.  And, as I stated in an earlier “Note”, I had always wanted to be an architect so I was drawn to the homes that some of my favorite characters lived in.  A little search on the internet brought images of some those homes back to life and I surprised myself by remembering a lot about the layouts.  What did these homes have in common?   The entrances were simple without soaring window ceilings, and gaudy lighting; each had a family room with a fireplace and comfortable seating for family gatherings; there was a more formal dining room where evening meals were usually shared; the kitchen was the work center for the stay-at-home mom and had a breakfast/ lunch area; many times, there was a study for home work activities (and discussions when you were in trouble); then the upstairs had cozy bedrooms and bath areas.  Most were modest, middle-income homes in quiet neighborhoods in which a sense of community and belonging seemed to exist.  Of course, you could argue that these were props for the show and, as such, were limited in scope. But, I believe it was more, I believe it was a picture of warmth and caring amongst the families, there were few places for a person to get lost in the house and start to fade away.

And then, I started thinking about the home where I grew up.  It wasn’t a great layout and had been renovated in a haphazard fashion, but it did possess many of the aspect that I speak of and miss.  One of the fallacies of the house was that it did have a formal living room and it was an unused space from the start.  My parents, of course, purchased the obligatory formal furniture and stated, “We would only use the room for special occasions or visitors”; this seldom happened and the room collected more dust than memories.  The rest of the house worked nicely though, our kitchen door (the main entrance for family and guests) opened from an inviting breezeway and visitors were greeted by an open plan with the kitchen opening to the dining area which opened into the family room; all of our time was spent in those areas with most meals occurring at the kitchen bar of dining table where we could relax and discuss events happening around us.  The bedroom were separated to allow for privacy and the 4-bedroom, 2-bath house  was only approximately 1,600 square feet.  There were no soaring ceilings or over-sized rooms, just a warm, comfortable family home.

So, remind me again, why do Americans feel this need for the “MacMansions” that fill the modern subdivisions?  Think back to your past, what kind of home did you grow up in?  What was your ideal vision of the family home?  For many of you, it might very well be some of these TV homes that I’ve selected.  With each, I’ll share some of my memories; if you’d like, share some of yours about these or others that you remember.  In any event, enjoy.

The Cleaver home from Leave It to Beaver.  Many afternoons were spent watching this show and I remember the layout implicitly.  You entered the front door and, to your right was the family room where many Cleaver moments were shares; to the left was Ward Cleaver’s study where Beaver of Wally would have those serious discussions with Dad; and before you was the stairway leading to the private sleeping areas.  And, of course, June’s kitchen was just beyond the dining area which was the hub of daily activity.

Even the Cartwright’s house, on Bonanza had a great family layout.  Yes, it had a soaring ceiling in the main area but, the spaces were opened to one another with the living, dining, and study all sharing space. Many important moments in the drama were played out between the family members in this warm and comfortable space.

Darren and Samantha Stevens played out many episodes of Bewitched in this home.  Again, modest entry with a guest area to the left; stairs leading to bedrooms in front of you; a cozy family room to your right; and then the formal dining area which led to the kitchen.  One may remember that Samantha could have conjured up any house imaginable but, her desire for her family to be the typical American family resulted in this wonderful example.

Who can forget the house that a man named Brady designed?  The Brady Bunch lived in a great example of a modern interpretation of home.  Again, it contained soaring spaces, that were being experimented with in architecture, but the family core remain somewhat unchanged as the entry had the stairway in front; a study to the right (where serious discussions, again, occurred); and the family and dining room to the left.  A new twist was that the kitchen had a small area for dining and watching TV in addition to the cooking areas.

Another home that many of us stepped into each week was that of the Partridge Family.  Without a lot of explanation, its layout mimics much of that described above and is again, emblematic of family.

And of course, the home that many fond memories of the Cunningham family in the home they shared in Happy Days.

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