What is this indoor gravel bed for?
April 2, 2024 10:09 AM   Subscribe

My daughter and I went to an estate sale and the house had an odd feature--a gravel bed in the corner of the second floor game room. What's it for? The estate sale agents were just as stumped.

- I'm guessing the house was built in the 1920s. It's fairly large and hasn't been remodeled anytime recently.
- The bed is roughly three feet by ten feet and only a few inches deep.
- It's in the corner of a large room on the second floor. The room also featured a pool table.
- It's the wrong setup for tossing horseshoes or something similar. The length of the bed runs perpendicular to the length of the room. To the left of the pool cues in the photo is a door to another room. Behind my back as I took the photo was another wall.
- The bed is not in the right position for optimal natural light, but it does get some. To the right of the TV are south-facing windows.
- I didn't notice any waterproofing--tin, plastic or otherwise--but I didn't dig around in the gravel.
posted by hydrophonic to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
An area for an indoor Zen gravel garden?
posted by underclocked at 10:17 AM on April 2 [6 favorites]


I have seen multiple "rich people houses" in Florida that have rock beds like this for indoor xeriscape. Absolutely no idea if that's what this is meant for, but I've seen it often enough it's the first thing that came to mind.

They were big in the early 00s when my "rich people" uncle was house hunting and dragged us around on show off tours.
posted by phunniemee at 10:19 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Yes, agreed probably a gravel garden, perhaps for succulents, or other plants that don't require a ton of light...
posted by Noah Czark at 10:21 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


My two best guesses are a Zen gravel garden (as already suggested) and a place to set pots of humidity-loving plants (a giant version of a pebble tray.)
posted by Redstart at 10:24 AM on April 2 [5 favorites]


I'm guessing giant cat litter box is not correct.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 10:28 AM on April 2 [13 favorites]


Tiny bocce court?
posted by staggernation at 10:42 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing giant cat litter box is not correct.

I would like to see this giant cat though.
posted by klanawa at 10:48 AM on April 2 [19 favorites]


It looks like pictures were hung behind it, so that is points against my perching area for parrots.
posted by advicepig at 10:57 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]


Could it have formerly been a fountain / water feature that was later filled in?
Edit: I agree with other posters, looks like a zen garden that someone added in more recently
posted by gnutron at 11:34 AM on April 2


It doesn't really look like "zen garden" gravel, but what do I know? I think it may have been a display area for sculpture or other art objects. You see that kind of display surface (gravel/stones in a frame) in older museums from time to time.
posted by niicholas at 12:19 PM on April 2 [5 favorites]


scaled-down gravel pétanque court
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:42 PM on April 2 [4 favorites]


A foley pit for a sound recordist who specialises in foot steps on coarse gravel?
posted by run"monty at 1:58 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]


Maybe an area for kids to play with toy trucks and building materials?
posted by cocoagirl at 2:06 PM on April 2


klanawa: I would like to see this giant cat though.

Savannah cat, or Serval.
posted by Stoneshop at 2:33 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


I play bocce in a league, and therefore can confidently confirm that this is FAR too small to be useful for even practicing bocce or pétanque.

Gravel is the wrong material for bocce and the correct material for pétanque, HOWEVER I promise you that those walls and floor have not been subjected to pétanque balls--which are made of steel.
posted by desuetude at 6:57 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Non-regulation boules, you know, for kids.

Exercise area — walking on gravel, to improve gait and balance?
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:20 PM on April 2


My best guess is that it's an 'indoor garden' and once held plants in pots. It may have been installed as an alternative to the indoor garden beds that were popular around the '80s - '90s or so.
posted by dg at 10:08 PM on April 2 [4 favorites]


My best guess is that it's an 'indoor garden' and once held plants in pots.

Perhaps even pot plants in pots. This is a place for potted plants that might drip on the hardwood.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:28 AM on April 3


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