Seems like a bit of a weird thing to talk about right? It wasn’t something that majorly jumped out at me as a significant differences between the two but last summer whilst in Holland at a BBQ a guy who I had just met decided that a good conversation starter would be to tell me how weird our houses are. The Dutch are very brutally honest at a times, its one of the qualities I love so much about them so I wasn’t in any way offended more intrigued.
In the UK I have lived in two houses. One being a rather modest 3 bedroom semi and the current being a rather large bungalow/converted extension thing (there isn’t a name for it its basically just a massive bungalow). Both houses have had a rather open living room/dinning room, good size kitchen, extra utility room, bedrooms (there is always the ‘box room’), bathrooms, hall, stairs, landing…you get the picture. To me this is normal, the qualities I would look for when buying any kind of house but for the purpose of this post here starts the first major difference.
Dutch houses don’t seem to like walls or doors. They like huge open plan areas, or those miniature 4ft walls, or glass partitions, very rarely are room cut off from one another. The living room has a dinning table in it, that leads on to the kitchen, which then may or may not lead on to another living space or office area. Its all very open, in thinking about it it must be rather easy to hoover through. I live in a bungalow now so once you start at one end there is NO excuse for not working straight through. In England we have a name for every separate room and assign tasks to each area.
Bathrooms. The Dutch seem to have loads of bathrooms. This is rather hit and miss in England. I like the idea of having two (e.g. one upstairs one down) but here in the UK
some most houses only have one. The Dutch have loads. They separate the actual toilet from the other standard bathroom features too. Maybe they do this because they love having so many baths? I’m a shower girl, in out and done. I personally don’t get the stewing in your own dirt idea, not that i’m knocking those that do it is pretty popular around the world!
Pride in the outdoors. This is massively due to climate obviously, in the UK you are lucky to get two consecutive days of good weather but the Dutch invest just as much money into their outdoor furniture as they do to the stuff they keep inside. The Dutch people I know survive solely on BBQ cooked food for probably half of the year. I love a good BBQ! I’ve never sat on such comfortable outdoor furniture either. My go to ‘happy place’ is on a particular lounger in my friends back garden over looking a nearby lake in the summer. Oh yeah and every house seems to have one of those roll out fabric sunshade things (the ones that come out from the wall?? Know what I mean??).
Plastics. Of any kind really, doors, windows, walls, hell they even make their dorma extensions or loft conversions from plastic. Its incredible. Possibly again due to the weather being pretty darn good most of the year I can’t think of any other explanations, maybe its cheaper, they make it all look super pretty too. In the UK the options I mostly limited to white or brown. There is some variation but no where near as much as there is in NL! They can even make plastic look and feel like wood, actual wood, not a weird coating we but on them in this country.
Window Furnishings. I’ve read lots of people talk about this so I thought I would give it a mention. The Dutch as a room have very big open windows, you can quite clearly see straight in. In a cheeky rather nosey kind of way I love it! I am a firm believer that you can learn so much more from observing rather than asking questions so i love a cheeky nose into someones house. The Dutch prefer shutters and the option of mosquito/fly nets to cover open doors with the occasional voile sheet if its too bright.. There is not a net curtain in sight! Me personally I am a big fan of blinds, they do their job but I must admit I have developed a bit of a distaste for curtains. I don’t use them and they don’t seem to make much difference to me if they are there or if they aren’t any more.
So those are the differences. There are loads more I guess too, most Dutch houses I have been in have coffee machines rather than kettles but thats a individual thing rather than a sweeping accusation I can make. Ready for the similarities?
It turns out that as superficial as my differences have been there isn’t so much of a difference. Yes we refer to rooms separately and have set areas for certain tasks but all in all our houses are both family centred and nine times out of ten they are in some way centred around the kitchen. We have different styles of house just the same as the Dutch. semi-detached, detached, bungalows, flats etc. They may look a little different from the outside, larger more slanted roofs, balconies, large window walls etc. especially the traditional houses like the ones you’ll find lining the canals in Amsterdam but they still hold a family and personally I don’t notice much difference.
So what do you think? Do you agree with the guy I spoke to? Are our houses really different? If so in what way? Whats weird to you?