Keeping room, hearth room, great room – bottom line: I like a fireplace near the kitchen! 

One of my favorite floorplan discoveries has been learning about keeping rooms. Or hearth rooms. Or great rooms. I had no idea the mighty great room, which has taken over the U.S., was originally the same concept of the keeping room. As some brief internet research informed me, the keeping room/hearth room began in colonial days when people would spend the night in the space beside the kitchen because the fire kept them warm. 

We’ve expanded our floorplans a bit in the past 200 years and now the idea of a keeping room is branching away from a great room. My working definition of a keeping room is an intimate fireplace-centered space adjacent to the kitchen. The photo below is a great example of this.


Contrary to the popular trend, I don’t love a completely open floorplan. Great rooms can feel cavernous when they are wide open and have soaring ceilings; I prefer ‘cozy.’ I also like there to be some separation between rooms. Ideally, I would have a kitchen with a keeping room, which includes wingback chairs for me to read a book or drink my morning coffee. A big point for me is no television. My husband and I aren’t big tv watchers, so I’d rather have a crackling fire for background noise while I cook.
I searched through Houzz to find good examples of keeping rooms. There were not a lot of traditional examples, so I had to expand the searches to a kitchen that includes a fireplace. And let’s be honest, not all of us (myself included) are in the place to afford a home that includes a keeping room. I discovered some varied designs and grouped my “finds” in 3 categories: traditional, modern and unique. Enjoy!

Traditional Keeping Rooms

What I like: Another great example of a by-the-book keeping room. It is an inviting part of the home and looks to be a wonderful place to curl up with a good book!

What I like: It is a compact version of the above idea. Fireplace, kitchen, wingback chair? Check, check, check!

What I like: The sea-inspired accents are great even if few are a little on-the-nose (I’m looking at you seashell rug). This keeping room is separated from the kitchen, but the larger space is divided from the rest of the home. If you want to be part of the action in this house, I have a feeling this is where you’d want to be.

What I like: Besides those adorable pets, I like the colonial-inspired design. It seems to be a nod to the original purpose of a keeping room. Even with our modern conveniences, I bet this room would be a popular place to hang out in the middle of winter.

What I like: I would not consider this a keeping room, but it was close enough so it was included. Perhaps there wasn’t extra square footage for wingback chairs, but the homeowner still wanted to include a fireplace in the kitchen. This was a great compromise! (I don’t know the homeowner, but I do like making up stories – maybe the homeowner hates keeping rooms. I couldn’t imagine a world where that opinion exists, but I don’t like great rooms so to each their own.)

What I like: Without looking up the information, I would guess this home is older due to the aged look of the fireplace surround and the low ceilings. Making the most of the space given, I love the bold fireplace just around the corner from the kitchen. I would add a chair beside it, but there may be a door or hallway on either side. I can’t tell from the photo.

What I like: Expanding the keeping room idea to an in-kitchen dining room. It seems as though this space’s interior design isn’t quite finished, but I like the footprint and where it is going.

Modern Keeping Rooms

What I like: Clean lines, bright white appearance and the massive fireplace. ‘High contrast with a hint of cozy’ is done well in this room. This could be a kitchen in an art gallery. It’s very chic.

What I like: The marble herringbone design on the backsplash complimenting the marble fireplace surround. Ultramodern design for an antique idea.

What I like: This fireplace is low profile and could be mistaken for a tv if it wasn’t alight in the photo. I like that it is eye-level for the diners at the high-top island table.

What I like: This is similar to the photo above and I like the framed quality of the fireplace. It’s as though the fireplace is a work of art, which, in my opinion, it should be.

What I like: I almost added this to my unique category, but kept it here because it isn’t too far out of the norm. I would raise up the fireplace (similar to the above photo) to elevate it to ‘artwork’ instead of ‘fireplace accent.’


Unique Keeping Rooms

What I like: I would love to hear the origin story behind this fire feature in the kitchen. It is a great space divider and focal point. Guests would be impressed when they saw this flickering away as you made dinner!

What I like: I still can’t figure this one out and my first thought since I work at a vet clinic was, “Please, no pets with this design.” I guess I should include children into the ban too. This is funky, it’s not my style, but I wanted to include it because it was so unusual.

What I like: I would take a guess that this house has quite a few fireplaces. The elaborate ceiling brings the room’s enormity down to scale (a bit), though the room still seems cavernous. Am I the only one who thinks of Beauty and Beast when I see this room? I think it’s the architecture and the wardrobe causing my imagination to go there.

What I like: Well, I’m a sucker for an atrium, which is why this room is in here. There’s a fireplace and a kitchen, so I’m playing fast and loose with the keeping room idea. This would be a great design to beat those wintertime blues!