10 Ways Technology Has Changed Your House

A guest post by Judith Flanders, author of the new book The Making of Home: The 500-Year Story of How Our Houses Became Our Homes.

QDT Editor
3-minute read

From Judith Flanders' The Making of Homehere are ten ways technology has changed your home:

Joe Lodge/Flickr

1. Window glass only became common in many places in the nineteenth century. Until the sixteenth century, it was so valuable (and so fragile) that the panes were routinely removed from their frames and stored away when the owners were away. When a house was sold, the glass was considered to be part of the furnishings, not the building, and was sold or bequeathed like any other personal possession.

Anthony Easton /Flickr

2. Before central heating, heat came from fireplaces. Keeping a fire burning was labour-intensive, so families tended to stick to one room, no matter how many different occupations were being undertaken. Once central-heating arrived, it didn’t take more work to keep more rooms warm. People moved to different rooms to perform different functions.

3. For most of history, people cooked over open fires, and there was rarely space for more than one pot. Solids and liquids were put in a pot to be boiled or stewed together, together with a starch: before stoves, meals with different dishes were difficult, expensive and therefore rare.


4. Home-sewn quilts are a product of the industrial revolution, not hardy pioneer life. Before cheap textiles, clothes and goods were cut square, so that every last inch of precious fabric was used up. Only in the 19th century did textiles become cheap enough for most people that ‘scraps’ were available to make quilts common.

5. Until gas-lighting arrived in the 19th century, most people reserved their social outings in the evening to those nights in the month when the moon was full.