What Exactly is a Crows Nest?

What is a crows nest, in an architectural sense?

Recently at EVstudio, we’ve had clients more frequently request for a very particular room for their new custom home, a crows nest. Given how common the request seems to have become we quickly realized that the phrase certainly means different things based on which client was requesting it. One client uses the term when referring to a room on the top floor. Another uses the term for a room that captures their amazing views. So this brings the question of, what really is a crow’s nest?

In short, a crow’s nest typically represents a single room in a house that more times than not solely occupies the highest point of the home and has windows on walls that face 3 of the 4 cardinal directions. Remember what the original crow’s nest was, it was the highest point of a ship that was intended to serve as a look out post used for watching out for land and other ships. Similarly, a crow’s nest to a home is the highest point of the house intended to serve as the best location to take in a properties surrounding views.

The room on the top floor is by itself and should thus be considered a crows nest.

So when does a crow’s nest become just another room or floor of the building?

In the original description a few criteria was given that needed to be met. First a crow’s nest should be a singular room. When additional rooms are added to the level of the crow’s nest, then at that point the crows nest now becomes another room that’s apart of a floor of the building. Although the room is still high above the ground, the fact that it shares the floor with another room changes the way you feel when you enter and experience the room The only exception may be including a powder room so traversing up and down stairs or a ladder isn’t necessary. The second criteria is that it occupies the highest point of the house. You will never have a crow’s nest on the first floor of a 3-story home. Height is a major factor when talking about a crow’s nest.

Lastly, a crow’s nest should have visibility in at least 3 directions, if not 4. When referring to a ship, a crow’s nest is meant as a look out post and that same philosophy applies when talking about a house. The intent of a crow’s nest is always to capture views that otherwise may not be feasible on lower levels. Whether its to see above the tree canopy, to capture 360° degree views of mountains and/or to draw your eye away from whatever is happening on the ground, the desire for a crows nest always is rooted in the desire to have a space that you can experience your property in a way that you can’t otherwise do in other areas of the home.

This prominent room in the house would be more of a lookout rather than crows nest because it shares the floor with other program.

With the liberal use of the term crows nest popping up in more projects there’s no question that there’s an increase need to discover what the client really wants out of the space. Here at EV, we pride ourselves on asking meaningful questions to get to know our clients needs better to deliver a home that they can be proud of. If you’re designing a new home, remodeling or adding to your existing home please give us a call.

For more ideas on how to use the spaces in your home please take a look at this article When Mezzanines and Atriums Collide – EVstudio.


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