Cluttered and homely (Words to describe buildings and homes, Part 2)

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by Kate Woodford

In part 1 of our ‘describing buildings’ post, we focused mainly on adjectives to describe the size of buildings. This week, we’re looking inside the building and, amongst other things, considering words that are used to describe its décor (= style of its furniture and decoration). We’re also focusing on the state of the building.

Starting with a very basic feature, a house or apartment that is furnished contains furniture. We also use this adjective in descriptions of the type of furniture in a place: I’m looking for a furnished apartment. / a tastefully furnished apartment The opposite is unfurnished: an unfurnished apartment. A self-contained apartment/flat is complete, including its own kitchen and bathroom: a self-contained, two-bedroom flat

A room that is airy has a lot of light and space, in a way that is attractive. We often use this word in the approving collocation ‘light and airy’: The waiting room is light and airy, with plants and flowers. The opposite – a room that is unattractively dark – may be described as dingy, gloomy or dimly lit. (‘Dingy’ also suggests that somewhere is dirty.): It was a dingy, poorly furnished apartment. / We entered a gloomy old dining hall. / a dimly lit corridor

If you describe a building or room as UK homely, (US homey) you mean that the noticeable thing about it is that it is comfortable and relaxing rather than stylish and elegant: Inside, the restaurant has a homely feel, with candles on tables and comfy chairs. Somewhere that looks lived-in, meanwhile, looks comfortable but not perfect, with furniture that has obviously been used a lot: The house has a charming, lived-in feel.

An untidy room with too many things in it is often described as cluttered: She invited me into her rather cluttered office. We use the noun clutter to refer to a lot of untidy objects: We need to clear out some of this clutter!

The adjective uncluttered describes somewhere that has few objects in it and looks tidy and attractive: Try to keep a well-organised and uncluttered workspace. Somewhere that is perfectly clean and tidy may be described as immaculate: The whole house is immaculate.

Meanwhile, a room that looks very comfortable and expensive may be described as plush or luxurious: She was taken into a large room with luxurious furnishings. / They held the meeting in the plush surroundings of a West End hotel.

Let’s move on to the state of a building. Somewhere that is shabby looks old and in poor condition: The family occupied a shabby, two-room basement apartment. A run-down building hasn’t been looked after for a long time and is in poor condition: They bought a couple of run-down cottages and fixed them up. The adjective dilapidated is very similar, meaning ‘old and in poor condition’: She’s been restoring a dilapidated farmhouse just outside Bath.

A derelict building is not now used and is in poor condition: There are several derelict houses on the street, with boarded-up windows.

That concludes our two-part post on houses and rooms. We hope you found it useful.

10 thoughts on “Cluttered and homely (Words to describe buildings and homes, Part 2)

  1. Clara Bella

    In my personal opinion it would be nice to have some posts about techincal English words to describe buildis and their structures.

  2. Tram Nguyen

    Thank you. It is so useful for us. We should have more posts like this for description of houses/flats/condos.

  3. Maria Grazia

    This lesson is so nice ! I was looking for some vocabulary to describe houses and here it is ! Thank you! This blog is so interesting 😄

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