How to Name a House

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A name for this English cottage might reference its stark white color or stone wall.
A name for this English cottage might reference its stark white color or stone wall. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Street numbers and names, in the grand historical scheme of civilization, are a relatively new phenomenon, and have only been in use for the past couple of centuries. Before homeowners identified their dwelling by number and street name, they often used a house name that represented one of the structure’s identifying factors. Descriptive names such as Rose Manor told visitors what to look for when coming to visit: a large house with an abundance of rose bushes. Revisit this charming, nostalgic custom by naming your home similarly, even if it can only be used unofficially.

Visit the most social and visually interesting areas in and around your home, and observe the views from inside and outside your home at various times of the day. Look for noteworthy features like an unobstructed sunrise or sunset view, sun-drenched or shade-filled spots and think about the defining geographical features near your property, such as hills, gardens or bodies of water.

Write down descriptive words that strike you as poignant or accurate terms for your home. Words like “sweet,” “peaceful,” “shady,” “rolling,” “quiet” and “old” invoke the descriptive qualities of traditional house names. Create a complete list of your favorite features.

Create a second list of words that describe what kind of house you’re naming. Use words like “cottage,” “bungalow” and “hut” for small houses; words like “house” and “villa” work for mid-sized homes; really large houses might take “manor,” “mansion” or “castle.” If the home once served another purpose, add words describing that purpose to your list, too. For example, you could describe a former school as an “academy” or “schoolhouse;” an old store as a “shop” or “market;” or an old church as a “rectory” or “chapel.”

Combine descriptive words from your lists in different combinations until you find one that describes your home and sounds good together; examples might include “Rolling Hills Manor,” “Quiet Lake School,” “Old Mountain Chapel,” “Shady Oakville” or “Sweet Sunrise Cottage.”

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't want to tie your house's name to its physical characteristics or site, use meaningful personal symbols and favorite words to name your home, even those that have nothing to do with the house itself. If you love poppies, but live in the middle of the desert, you can still name your house "Poppy Cottage."
  • U.K. residents can legally change their house's name, although they will retain their assigned street number if they already have one. Contact your local council's engineering or highway department for the appropriate paperwork.
  • If your home already has a name with some historical significance, think twice before renaming it, which superstitious Britons believe brings homeowners bad luck. Nearby history buff neighbors may also take offense to new U.K. homeowners that rename historical structures.

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