Ancient China Houses

Ancient China houses had lots of similarities whether the home was of a poor family or wealthy family. The size of ancient China houses depended on your wealth status.

Poor families had smaller homes and wealthy families had larger homes. Each home had a similar layout with a garden in the center that was surrounded by the house.
Pottery Palace


Ancient China houses were constructed of three types of materials. The materials used to build an ancient China house were mud bricks, dirt and wood. First there would be a foundation of tightly packed dirt. Then a frame was constructed with wood.

The walls and floors were then constructed with dirt and mud bricks. Many homes in rural ancient China used wood walls instead of dirt or mud bricks. Wealthy ancient China houses had tile floors installed inside the home.

Roofs of poor ancient Chinese houses were thatched for protection from rain. Wealthy homes used tiles on the roof in a curved upward shape.


Ancient China houses had a rectangular garden in the center. The wealthy constructed three linking sections. The fourth section was usually the gate. The garden area of the house was then shielded by the structure on all four sides.
Poorer families could not afford large homes. Poorer ancient Chinese built numerous smaller houses around an open garden area with a shared garden area in the middle.

The placement of the front door was important in an ancient China house. The front door faced south. Ancient Chinese thought the front door facing south combined with a home built of dirt and wood brought the residents good energy.


Inside an ancient China house there were numerous portable screens used to break apart spaces. The screens allowed for privacy and were used to transform spaces throughout the day.

The portable screens allowed for families to separate members while sleeping, eating or relaxing.

The kitchen area was either in the garden or near the garden. Depending on the weather ancient Chinese ate their meals inside or outside. Sleeping areas were created with portable screens.

Like most homes in ancient societies there were no bathrooms. Residents would go to the restroom outside in the garden or fields.

Human fertilizer was more commonly used than manure from animals. Some ancient China houses had a latrine that was constructed above a portion of the garden. Underneath the latrine they raised pigs.

The pigs would consume the human waste in order to become fat. Chamber pots wre also used by wealthy families as a way to use the restroom.
Siheyuan Model


Most ancient China houses had very little furniture. The most expensive furniture in the house could be found in the hall or great room area.

Poor families may only have a few benches while wealthier families had more elaborate carved furniture made of blackwood, mahogany and red sandlewood.

One item that was in all ancient China houses was a Kang bed. A Kang bed had a raised platform off the ground with enough room underneath for a fire or some form of heating device like pipes filled with hot air or water. The Kang bed was also used for sitting and eating.

Important facts about ancient China houses

  • Most ancient China houses were made of wood, dirt and mud bricks.
  • Ancient China houses contained a rectangular garden in the center.
  • The size of an ancient China house was determined by your wealth status.
  • The front door or gate of an ancient China house always faced south.
  • The kitchen was in the garden or near the garden.
  • Portable screens were used to break apart spaces in the great room or hall for privacy.
  • Most ancient China houses did not contain a bathroom.
  • A Kang bed was common in both wealthy and poor ancient China houses.


1. What materials were used to construct an ancient China house?

Dirt, mud bricks and wood

2. What was used to provide privacy throughout the house?

Portable screens

3. Which direction did the front door or gate face on an ancient China house?


4. What piece of furniture could be found in a wealthy or poor ancient China house?

Kang bed