Part 1: The living room and balcony

Recently, I always pass by a real estate commercial poster, showing a happy couple standing in the kitchen of a house with the following text next to it: “I am the house of your life”.

Every time I look at this combination, I have to giggle: Using the kitchen as an eye-catcher for real estate commercials is something that only happens in the Western world.

What do Chinese real estate commercials look like? Here are some examples:



In this article, I don’t want to talk about commercial designs, but rather the difference in space structure and functionality between Western and Chinese homes.

We know from various studies, the kitchen is the center of the house in the Western world. It is the place where family and friends get together and enjoy some time together.

But in China, the kitchen is a functional area, as only the cooking process takes place there. Here, the living room is the center of the home.


The living room

The living room is the center of the house, because friends and family will get together when they visit here. People watch TV together, have drinks, chat, sing karaoke, play video games, etc. This room always takes up the most space of an apartment or house.

Here are some pictures of the living room of an apartment (click the green bar below to unfold the post):

Here is a video showing the living room of a 260 sqm house, starting at 00:30 min.

Since the living room is where friends will visit, its furnishing and decoration are crucial. Here, the owner shows his or her taste and financial status.

Typical styles are:

  • The traditional Chinese style 中式风格: with (expensive) wood furniture from the Qing dynasty style, rather used by people over 50 years old (in apartments and big houses)

  • The American style 美式风格 or the European style 欧式风格: Rococo inspired, almost only in big houses

  • The Northern European style 北欧风格: clean and minimalist style, frequently used in small apartments

For apartments: As the living room is also connected to the balcony, you have two choices when it comes to the design of the balcony:

  • leave it “open” – just like all the balconies in Europe
  • “close” it – using glass walls to build an extra space
    • in a lot of buildings, this is even the standard
    • for small living rooms, it is also common to use the balcony space to extend the living room

The balcony is also where plants are put because it is usually the lightest place in the apartment. Clothes are also hung here because Chinese people believe that sunshine will kill all the bacteria on the clothes and blankets. A lot of families also have their washing machines on the balcony.

Here are several examples of an open balcony, a half-closed balcony, and a fully-closed balcony:

In the next article, we will talk about the kitchen and dining room.



Spiegel Institut conducts international consumer research studies, offering insights into the cultural and social background information for a better understanding of the consumer’s mindset. Feel free to contact us for cooperation:


Author: Yue Liu, Spiegel Institut Mannheim

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