The Keeping Room, or Keeping Area: What is It and Why Does Tom Leppert Have One In His House?

I am not seeing as many of these as I used to, but a Keeping Room is pretty standard in any home of 8,000 square feet or larger. The “keeping room” originated in colonial times, before homes were ginormous, or rather, when only a select few had ginormous homes, usually called castles. It was a multi-use room attached to the kitchen or open to it, complete with a fireplace for warmth. Remember, kitchens used to be the place where people cooked, unlike my house. So creating an extra little sitting area is really an old-time concept that adds depth, warmth and activity to modern kitchens.

Or cool: in July, we sip iced tea in the Keeping Room. Come August, mojitos.

“Kitchens are always evolving,” builder Carolyn Isler of Isler Custom Homes once told me. “I have created several keeping rooms for my clients, and they love them.”

The modern keeping room is also a cozy, more comfortable alternative to the bar peninsula with stools, which more homeowners are tiring of. It’s a place where the family can relax on a sofa and nosh, watch television, flip through the ipad or or gaze into the embers in January.

Another place for a Christmas tree come December, too.

Of course, the keeping room does not in any way replace the breakfast room or the family room.

“You’re really not supposed to eat in the family room,” Isler says.

Duh — why in the world do would we have the breakfast room, otherwise!

Which I have been telling my family for years. Now only my husband may eat in the family room for two reasons:

One, designer Michelle Nussbaumer taught me to buy and make a piece of fabric identical to the fabric on the sofa and keep it on the sofa to catch mess and crumbs — an elegant alternative to plastic slipcovers so many of my Chicago friends grew up with. Also great if you pets like to jump on.

Two: He messes the sofas, he pays to reupholster!