I was talking to Kirsten…

I was talking to Kirsten yesterday, and she suggested that we should name our house. I think she said that her grandmother's house had had a name (I can't quite remember, but I think it might have been Linger Longer, which is charming.) I, of course, am an unreprentant Anglophile, and had already been thinking about the possibility of naming our house, although I haven't brought it up with Kevin yet, and I'm not at all sure he'll go along with it. But on the chance that he might, I've been thinking about house names off and on. It's not so easy to find a good one!

Here's a U.K. article on how to name your house, which is pretty interesting. Even tiny homes often have names in the U.K. -- in the old days, they didn't have numbers, so the name was really how you found the right house! And even though they have numbers much more widely now, the tradition continues, with names like Rose Cottage being super-popular. I think our house is going to be too big to get away with having 'Cottage' on the end of the name -- it's really not a cottage. It's a house, and a substantial one. It's definitely not a manor either, though. There are no servants' quarters. :-) Apparently, it's a popular tradition in Australia too.

I don't think there's anything famous associated with our house -- just a string of families living there over the last hundred years. The huge parking lot behind our house (which we are not so fond of, and plan to screen off with big shrubs), actually used to be part of a railroad stableyard, according to our neighbors, which is pretty cool, but the railway building itself is at least a block away. So no 'old anything' in our house name.

The article suggests that people often used their professions in the house name -- Mill House, Wool Hall. If I could come up with something clever that combined writer / mathematician, that'd be a cool option, but I'm coming up blank so far. Any thoughts?

I think we're leaning towards house colors in purple, blue and green -- although blue, purple, and dark red is still an option too, I think. Heck, maybe even blue, green, and red, although that's less likely. So maybe a name that connects to that, especially since I'm planning to plant blue-green-purple-white flowers in front? The second story paint color is probably going to be Blueberry. We could plant a lot of blueberries, and then name it Blueberry House. That's kind of charming, no?

I've mostly been thinking about names of flowers for the house. Does something like Iris House sound nice? Irises are one of my absolute favorite flowers. Should I make sure that I can actually plant irises and have them survive/thrive at our house first? :-) There's that lilac bush in the back -- but I don't think I'll have enough lilacs to go for Lilac House, and in any case, that doesn't seem quite appropriate to us, though I couldn't tell you why. In the spring, there are large patches of ground at our house covered in scilla, and I'd like to plant even larger swaths in the future, along with vinca and violets. Just a carpet of tiny blue-purple flowers across our lawn, like a blue mist floating just above the ground in spring. Scilla House? That's pretty.

Heh. Now scilla has made me think about Scylla -- I'm tempted to name it Scylla and Charybdis, and let people wonder why. Of course, no one would be able to spell it, which would be a nuisance when telling people our address. How often do you actually say an address, as opposed to writing / typing it out?

And of course, I keep thinking about just naming it Serendipity. Or Serendib House. For much the same reason I named my small press Serendib Press, although the house was even more unlooked-for, given the whole house-buying process we went through:

Serendib: one of the many names for Sri Lanka, Ceylon, Taprobane; an Arabic corruption of the Sanskrit compound Simhaladvipa, "Dwelling-Place-of-Lions Island"
Serendipity: n : accidental sagacity; the faculty of making fortunate discoveries of things you were not looking for; ref. Horace Walpole and the Persian tale, The Three Princes of Serendip

Any opinions? Is naming your house just too pretentious for Americans to get away with? This Garden Web thread and this thread over at Apartment Therapy seem to indicate that at least some Americans do it too -- I like the first commenter at AT, who named his house Williams Weyr. :-) And I like the suggestion in the comments that you choose a name based on something you want to emphasize or increase. Hmm...

Does your home have a name? If not, what would you name it?

List of first-thought possiblities so far:

  • Blueberry House
  • Iris House
  • Scilla House
  • Scylla and Charybdis
  • Serendipity
  • Serendip
  • Serendib House

11 thoughts on “I was talking to Kirsten…”

  1. Catherine Shaffer

    I’ve thought about doing this, too, but the pretention factor is worrisome. I think if we came up with something cute and quirky, it would be fun. We’ve named all of our cars.

  2. Interesting. i have a friend in Tennessee whose house is named Linger Longer. It was once a small Bed and Breakfast.

  3. Our house is Brenneis Oaks–Brenneis for the man who built it, and Oaks because we love acorns/oak leaves (and the name of our SCA group is Darach).

    Our friends have Mathom Grange, The House at Wits End, and…drat, I can’t remember the other one.

  4. Robert Sinton

    “Numbandum’s Rest”

    I’m sure you could make up a convincing Indian-flavoured* fiction about Numbandum and why and when he rested, and only friends and family need know it’s an anagram 😉


    * It’s a pity you couldn’t squeeze an extra ‘R’ in there and make it “Numbandrum” or “Bammundran” — i.e. a real Tamil-sounding name — but there you have the limitations of the form!

  5. I keep forgetting to comment on this. I’ve always liked the idea of naming houses, cars, musical instruments, computers, etc, but I’ve never had a knack for it; I can never come up with good names.

    So, yes, I think it would be cool if you were to name your house.

    I tend not to be so fond of negative house names, even though they’re usually tongue-in-cheek and/or fond. All the Bedlam/Madhouse/Asylum kinds of names don’t do so much for me. And similarly, I’m less than fond of “Scylla and Charybdis” as a house name. (If for no other reason than that people will be forever asking which of you is which!)

    I hadn’t previously heard the word “Scilla,” so I would’ve been confused by that name.

    “Blueberry House” seems reasonable, but somehow isn’t quite grabbing me. Perhaps it sounds a bit precious to me? Not sure.

    I like the others. Although I guess “Serendipity” seems a little odd to me by itself, but maybe “Serendipity House”? Or, yeah, Serendip, or Serendib House. Or “Iris House,” which somehow seems nicer to me than “Blueberry House,” I’m not sure why. Maybe blueberries seem a little frivolous to me for some reason?

    I was tempted to suggest “Polymath House,” but I suppose enshrining a pun in a house name may be as bad an idea as giving a kid a pun for a name. You want a name you can live with for the next few decades.

    I mean, I guess you can always change the house name later. But somehow that feels like cheating.

    A few other American house names I’ve encountered, just to round out this comment:

    Arthur used to live in a house in Santa Cruz on Calvin Place; I don’t know if the house was named Calvin Place per se, but the residents were known as Calvinists.

    Arthur and I informally called our house on Mardell Way the Mardell Library (and we and our housemates were Librarians). (I always wanted to get the domain name bibliotech.org, but someone beat me to it.)

    Kam has friends whose house in the Boston area was known as the Asylum.

    Oh, and of course there’s Diana Paxson’s house, Grayhaven.

  6. While I agree that it’s not the most practical name, “Polymath House” had me laughing delightedly.

  7. Dayle, I love that “House at Wit’s End.”

    And Jed, sorry about the negative name, but my house is “Chateau Chaos” which is, unfortunately, exceedingly appropriate. That’s my domain name, too, chateauchaos.com.

    “Serendipity” leads me to think of “Serenity”, which I looooove, but perhaps mainly because of the show.

  8. Lenore Jones/jonesnori

    In college I lived in two named homes – House Goodkeeping (or Goodkeeping for short), and Westmarch. The latter got a lot less use, though I do still have a beautiful Westmarch sign with a sea monster on it that an SCA friend painted. My current place isn’t named.

    I like Serendib House best of the ones you named. Good luck!

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