American vs British housing – what’s the difference?

Hi fellow nomads,
As you may have heard I’ve just moved house, which means I’ve recently spent a fair while looking round properties both online and IRL, and I’ve also just started reading some new interiors blogs like Apartment Therapy. This has made me think a lot about what I see about American housing from these blogs, and what I’ve seen around me during my British house hunt – not to speak of having lived in British houses all my life. I’ve noticed a few key differences*.

Wardrobes vs Closets

This is one I’m perhaps a little jealous of. Whilst perusing apartment tours, I’m struck by the prevalence of proper walk in closets in many houses and even relatively small apartments. For my British readers who haven’t seen quite as many house tours as me, they are basically small bedrooms in their own right with lots of built in shelves and racks for all of your many clothes, shoes and accessories to live in. Some have their own windows, electricity and plumbing. Some really go to town on the organisation and modelling in this room but I’m guessing that’s the exception to the norm (please tell me it is). Whilst over this side of the pond we just have wardrobes. They’re generally freestanding, quite small and you’re forever overstuffing it, but they sit in the corner of the room and don’t require their own postcode.
Waste disposal units vs bins

A what now? I hear you ask. Well, as far as I can tell, it’s like a little mincer that lives in your plughole that makes a horrific noise and grinds up anything you throw into the sink so that you can use it as a glorified rubbish bin without clogging up your pipes. Yeah, pretty much nobody in the UK has one of these, we just use the bin instead! Maybe we are missing out. Maybe not.
Integrated appliances vs freestanding

Here in the UK, a lot of people (and most new kitchens) have integrated appliances. By this, I mean the front of your fridge, dishwasher, washing machine, etc looks just like the front of all the rest of your cupboards. I think the design aesthetic is supposed to make it look clean and uncluttered. I kind of like it, but some may find it boring. There’s also no allowance for the ubiquitous American style cold water and ice dispenser in the front of a sleekly panelled fridge. I notice that most kitchens in the US haven’t gone this route, preferring separate, free standing fridges, and some are even confused as to where our appliances have gone when looking at pictures of our kitchens.

Front loading washing machines vs top loading laundry
I suppose this is quite similar to the above. In most British houses, the washing machine is located in the kitchen (or in the utility room if you’re really fancy) and is generally front loading. It may or may not be integrated into the rest of the kitchen with a cupboard door on the front of it. Pros being that it fits neatly under the counter, giving you more work space. Cons being that it’s not as easy to load or unload. I constantly feel like Christopher Robin trying to free a stuck Winnie the Pooh whenever I unload our machine (sadly without quite as much help as CR gets). If you’ve no idea what I’m blathering about then a) what happened to your childhood, you poor thing and b) illustration above to help you out. On the other hand, residents of the US seem to favour top loading machines which, due to their inability to fit under counters, seem to usually live in their own separate room or closet, aka “the laundry”. 
Bar carts/coffee stations

Ok maybe this is a Pinterest thing. But a lot of people in America seem to have a bar cart or coffee cart whose sole purpose is to contain everything you may need to make the beverage of your choice. Including, but not limited to; spirits, mixers, garnishes, mixing equipment, glassware, drinking accessories, cute containers of straws. I don’t know, maybe this is an aspirational thing like peonies and perfectly iced cupcake displays, but it’s something I think we’d find quite strange in the UK for day-to-day use. Here in the UK we may have a drinks cabinet, but that’s for liquid content only. Or a wine cellar, if you’re posh like that. I do however rather like the idea so this is something I may try and instigate in our new dwelling place.
Plugs in the bathroom

Again, some commenters on US home sites express shock and horror at there being a lack of electrical outlets, or plugs as we call them here, in their bathroom. Here in the UK we have no plugs in our bathroom and haven’t for a number of years, thanks to our “stringent” health and safety laws, as it’s deemed unsafe to mix electricity and water. If you’re lucky, you may find a solitary shaving plug but forget being able to run hair dryers or straighteners off that bad boy. Go back to your bedroom for that, you danger monger.

Have you noticed any differences between houses in the UK and the USA? 


*Please note, I am no expert. I know nothing about American houses, and I only know about the British housing I’ve been in. I am writing this from my knowledge and perspective only, so if I’m wrong or you disagree with any of the points, feel free to educate me kindly in the comments!

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