J.R.R. Tolkien opens his children's novel "The Hobbit" with a description of its protagonist Bilbo Baggins' home: "it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort." Throughout the "The Hobbit" and his later best-selling novel "The Lord of the Rings," the hobbits' distinctive underground dwellings earn numerous mentions and embody the conservative and hospitable nature of their residents. Even if you're not ready to dig a house into the side of a hill, you can decorate an existing home to imitate the comfort and luxury of a hobbit hole.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Round door and windows
- Brass doorknob
- Green or yellow paint
- Wood panelling
- Carpet or tile flooring
- Wooden furniture
- Hat pegs
Install a round door and round windows. The prologue to "The Lord of the Rings" describes the hobbits' preference for round windows and doors as "the chief remaining peculiarity of hobbit-architecture." Round doors included a brass knob directly centred. In discussing the construction of a home meant to resemble a hobbit hole, Debra Judge Silber of Fine Homebuilding describes installing the round door as one of the project's greater challenges. The architect eventually chose a single large hinge custom-designed by a blacksmith.
Paint the door a bright colour. Bilbo's green door earns a special remark in "The Hobbit."
Cover the walls with wood panelling and the floors with carpet or tile. In "The Hobbit," J.R.R. Tolkien describes both as prominent in Bilbo's hobbit hole.
Choose comfortable wooden furniture. The hobbits highly valued comfort and hospitality, providing plenty of quarters for possible guests. In "The Lord of the Rings," Tolkien describes the hobbits as preferring bright colours, especially yellow and green, so select furnishings with these preferences in mind.
Hang multiple pegs to accommodate hats and coats near to the door, a notable feature of a hobbit hole and further evidence of the hobbits' high valuation of hospitality.
Plant both ornamental and vegetable gardens around the house, especially where residents and visitors can view and enjoy them from within the house. In "The Lord of the Rings," Bilbo and Gandalf sit by an open window and enjoy snapdragons, sunflowers and nasturtium planted outside. Hobbits frequently give their most valued guests rooms looking out from the side of a hill and overlooking the garden.
Tips and warnings
- Don't shy away from clutter in your hobbit hole -- Tolkien describes them as anything but pristine and frequently littered with the many birthday presents they receive.
- Hobbits didn't always live in holes; rather, Tolkien describes the custom as belonging only to the richest and poorest hobbits. Those who lived above-ground in houses chose wood, brick and stone for building materials, so selecting these materials for your own home will help to give it a more authentic feel.
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