Culture(s) / The importance of the house

A1 Breakthrough
In your country and culture, is a home considered to be a shelter or a kind of protection? Is it only seen as utilitarian, or is interior decoration important? Do people spend a lot of time and money enhancing the interior of their home? Does its outward appearance matter? Do people decorate their home or put objects in the windows? In France, Canada, and Belgium for example, there are many magazines on how to arrange and decorate your house. TV5MONDE and www.tv5monde.com also boast many programme and videos on this subject: Côté maison, Changer d'intérieurs, Intérieurs d’ailleurs, Leçon de style, Passion maisons, Une brique dans le ventre. They represent different styles of decoration: classic, modern, exotic, country… In the Seine-Saint-Denis area near Paris, there is a mall with 100 different shops all specialised in the business of interior decoration and enhancement. According to the 2003/2004 Data supplied by the National Statistical Office and by the INSEE of Paris (National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies), 68% of Belgians own their homes; this was true for 64% of Canadians, 55% of French people, and 33% of Swiss people. The home financing system is more or less restrictive depending on the country; some even offer 30-year mortgages (taken from the www.ffcmi.com website, accessed on 5 April, 2010). In Belgium, town houses often have decorative objects in bright colours displayed in their windows. Residents like to hang net curtains in their windows and close the drapes or shutters at night to keep prying eyes out. Whether in the city or the country, in a big house or a very small flat, one of the most important rooms in a home is the kitchen, where the whole family gathers.