Saturday, December 05, 2015

A Typical Russian Home

There is, of course, no such thing as a "typical" Russian home, any more than there is a "typical" American, British or Mexican home. Homes is Russia vary from extremely modest studio apartments to enormous mansions--the rustic vacation home near Lake Baikal pictured above is somewhere in the middle but toward the high end.

Based on a very small sample of Russian homes where I have stayed or visited, I can however make some generalizations. These homes, where I was welcomed thanks to, ranged from very simple to very comfortable. In all cases they were spotlessly clean, as is characteristic of most Russian interiors. (Exteriors may be a different story.)

A Russian home is sure to have a room or at least a designated area near the front door for removing shoes or boots and coats and donning slippers.Outside footwear is never worn indoors. This is actually a sensible arrangement, since it makes the task of cleaning floors a lot easier.

The toilet may be in a room by itself. Modern homes often have the toilet combined with a shower or bathtub and a sink, but in older homes and apartments the toilet is likely to be accorded its own tiny chamber. I'm not sure what the reasoning is for this--perhaps it dates from the time in the 20th century when many people lived in communal apartments where a toilet, bath and kitchen were shared by several families.

The kitchen is the heart of the home. In modern homes open plan kitchens are very popular, as they are in the West. But even in older places, the kitchen is likely to be the largest room in the house or apartment. And, regardless of when you return home, you are likely to be invited to partake of a large assortment of cold meat, cheese, bread and tea or vodka.

The living room, on the other hand, may be non-existent even in luxurious homes. Perhaps because of the housing shortage that existed in Soviet times, Russians tend to congregate in the kitchen for long periods of time, or to spend time in their individual rooms.

The home is very likely to be surrounded by a fairly high wall. This defensive characteristic may seem odd to Westerners, but it is typical of Russian detached homes and dachas, the usually small summer cottages many city-dwellers own. In one home where I stayed that was already in a gated community there was also a guard house with a full-time security guard at the home itself. Russians love gated communities. I suspect this defensiveness stems from Russia's long history of invasion and occupation--by Mongols, by Napoleon's troops, by the Germans in World War II.

If the home is occupied by people under 40, it will probably be furnished totally in modern style with the latest electronic devices. However, if the home owner is older, furnishings may be in the more ornate style common in Soviet times, when rooms boasted large highly polished wooden wall units that housed many books, usually Russian and Western classics.


Post a Comment

<< Home