A lot of the blogs I read are written by British bloggers, and I’ve noticed that there seem to be differences in various home-type things compared to North America. I thought it would be fun to take a look what those differences are. I don’t think I’ve actually been in any American homes, but I’m assuming they’re pretty similar to what we’ve got here in Canada.
Closets vs. wardrobes
It sounds like most British homes don’t have built-in closets; they have wardrobes as a piece of furniture.
Closets reign supreme on this side of the pond. My apartment is considered a 1-bedroom plus den. What’s the difference between the bedroom and den? A closet. To be considered a bedroom here, a room must have a built-in closet. Walk-in closets seem to have become more of a thing, and my bedroom has a walk-in closet. I just learned that a non-walk-in closet is called a reach-in closet.
One thing I’m curious about is what a cupboard refers to in the UK, because it seems like it’s broader than the way it’s used here. When I think cupboard, I think where stuff lives in the kitchen. Funny, when I Google “cupboard definition Canada”, it wants to tell me about government cabinets. I wonder if that’s a matter of Google being confused, or Google assuming that searchers are confused when entering those search terms.
Here, most people use a range (combo oven & stove) for cooking. I’m not sure what the most common cooking situation is in the UK, but when I search Google Images for “cooker UK”, it gives some funky-looking options, including this whole situation shown below with multiple doors. Separate oven and cooktop/hob seems to be a thing too. Speaking of hobs, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone speak of a hob in Canada.
Fridges are bigger here, apparently. Some UK homes just have little under-the-counter fridges.
I had no idea garburators (the Canadian term for garbage disposals) existed until I was an adult. Apparently they don’t exist in the UK. They let you dispose of food waste down the sink, and the garburator will grind it up, but they tend to block pipes, and my building has requested that everyone remove or at least stop using their garburators.
Gas boilers are/were a common heating system in the UK. These pipe hot water through radiators and also supplies hot water to taps. Apparently these are going to be banned.
Then there are combi boilers, although I’m not really sure what those are.
I’m really not sure what the heating situation is across Canada. My apartment has electric baseboard heaters. The hot water comes from some magical place that has something to do with natural gas, but I know nothing beyond that.
Forced-air furnaces are common in Canada. In my home growing up, we had an electric furnace. Hot water came from an electric hot water tank.
In British homes, the washer/dryer is one thing, and it’s usually located in the kitchen, as you can see in the picture of the AGA cooker contraption. It seems weird to me that it happens in the same machine, although I don’t seem to have a problem with understanding that a dishwasher washes and dries all in one place.
In North American homes, the washer and dryer are separate machines, although they might be stacked one on top of the other. They can live in various places, but I’ve never encountered them living in the kitchen. In my apartment, the washer and dryer live in a closet in the bathroom. North American dryers are vented to the outside, and if too much lint accumulates, there’s a risk of fire.
The Guardian has an archive article from 1950 with the title “More than half of British homes don’t have a bathroom.” When I read that, I wondered where people would pee, because in Canada, the bathroom is where the toilet is, and the bath/shower is in the same room. Apparently, it’s not uncommon for the bath to be in a separate room from the toilet in the UK.
In the UK, there are often separate faucets for hot and cold water. Here, there’s usually one faucet for combined hot and cold water. There are exceptions, though; my bath has separate hot and cold faucets.
The light switch in UK bathrooms may be on a string or outside the room. How is your younger sibling not always turning off the light while you’re taking a bath?
In the UK, outside the house is the garden. On this side of the pond, the outside area is the yard, the grassy part is the lawn, and an area growing other stuff is the garden.
75% of American homes have central air conditioning (as opposed to hardly any British homes), and there’s an air conditioning unit outside the building. Very few people have air conditioning where I live now, but in the area where I grew up, most people had central air-con. I was not aware until adulthood that window air conditioning units existed.
Were you familiar with these differences? If you live in the UK (or elsewhere, for that matter), do you have anything else to add that’s different from North American-style homes?