Sep 7, 2011

Houses with Names: charming or pretentious?

I recently met the original owner of our house,
and she told me that it was named 
which means where the birds sing 
in one of the Aboriginal dialects. 
She was sad to see that the name sign 
was no longer in the front garden.
When I told my eldest son about this, 
he said "If you put another sign back up I will disown you 
because it is pretentious." 

I have always considered names on old houses
fascinating: a part of their provenance.
But it begs the question, 
is a house sign charming or pretentious?



  1. Annie Loveridge7/9/11 9:29 AM

    You know your own kids will give it to you straight! I think your home's name sounds lovely - it's local, historical and seems to capture the pictures you've shown of your garden. I think stately or British names with no link to the home, on homes in NZ and Australia are pretentious and I always have a wee chuckle. What a lovely piece of history to unearth. Annie x.

  2. Annie I think you have nailed it. All about context - and perhaps that is why I also feel uncomfortable about names on new buildings but ok about old ones. 

  3. Like what you and Annie said, I think it very well depends on the context! If it is a new home, it is pretentious! If it was an older home with a long history, I am okay with it! :)

  4. Well then we are all in agreement Jessie! As they say... great minds think alike! 

  5. nattie @simplynattie7/9/11 3:20 PM

    Oops! press wrong button! Hi Virginia, thanks for visiting my blog! So glad that you did, coz I ended up finding your awesome blog! totally bookmarking it! :) I think a house with a history is charming, it gives you a sense of belonging! Have a nice day!

  6. Thelaurelhedge7/9/11 3:51 PM

    My grandparents had a small bungalow in Adelaide, not grand by any means. When they built it in 1938 they named it Dover after the little town in Tassie they came from. I have special memories of watching my Grannie clean the brass name plate with much pride. A lovely Vietnamese family bought the house about 20 yrs ago. from my Mum's estate & despite doing many alterations to the property, that name plate still sits glistening on the wall by the front door. So I reckon a house does need a name!
    Millie x

  7. Yes, a sense of belonging...that's a lovely thing.

  8. What a wonderful story Millie. I love that it has stayed there - taken on its own meaning, long after the Dover in Tassie link has been lost! 

  9. robinsonheather7/9/11 5:33 PM

    Depends on the house. Depends on the name. There are many country houses with names here in Provence--I do giggle sometimes when a tiny stone hut is called a "mas" but why not? I love the provenance of your home's name--because only a home can be called that, not a house. Too beautiful!

  10. Heather I just had to ask my daughter what "mas" is and she replied a "house in Provence". Is that correct? How wonderful to have a name for something that is regional, not countrywide.

  11. Jane and Lance Hattatt7/9/11 5:44 PM

    Hello Virginia:
    We are entirely at one with your son here UNLESS the house stands alone, is without any number, and the name is the only means of identification. 

  12. Charlottaward7/9/11 5:44 PM

    I love that houses have names - it implies a connection and soul.
    I don't mind if it is silly, pompous, ordinary or complex. What counts is that someone, some time wanted to Christen the house and even went to the extent of having a sign made and put up. I like that.

    Hope you are well down there my friend. Sweden is heaven right now. September is such a stunning month!

    xx Charlotta

  13. Georgica Pond7/9/11 6:07 PM

    I think houses of substance and with a history are charming with a name, but not so much the new project home in the burbs. 

  14. Maybe that's has to be a country house, or if in the city, then it should have no near neighbours (or at least had none when it was originally built).

  15. Glad you are enjoying yourself in beautiful Sweden (I have a soft spot for it because I have a lot of relatives there).

  16. Whereupon they just become pretentious - yes I think I agree. There seems to be a pattern forming here in everybody's thoughts! 

  17. Marina @ Iced VoVo's7/9/11 6:17 PM

    Hi Virginia
    Our house in Sydney was built in 1886 and is known as Clifton House , named after Reverend Clifton who once lived there (even though it doesn't have a sign on it).  It has had a colourful history and we would receive many utility bills with the name, rather than the house number. I would love to have a sign made, once we return from  living in the UK. I agree with Charlotta and dont think it is pretentious to name your house ... whether it is old or new! 
    I think kids can be funny sometimes in what they consider pretentious or 'stuck up' ...

  18. What a fantastic history your house has - so it can definitely classify as the "charming" and not "pretentious" category in my book, because it has a real story attached. I would be getting a name made up for it too! 

  19. Kathy@princessannecounty8/9/11 2:11 AM

    When talking about our home, we call it "Greentree"....we live on Greentree Arch. There is no plaque, it's just how we refer to our home amongst each other (family members..friends)...I think that it can be like naming a boat..It's a sentimental way of refering to your home...a place that you love...k

  20. I don't think I have ever heard of a prettier street name Kathy! Greentree Arch - so many images of lovely gardens are conjured up in simply saying the name. No wonder you refer to your home as "Greentree". So the point being, it is more about the name than the idea of a sign to proclaim the name - yes, I get that. 


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