[Frontispiece: A $3,400 House.]
The COMPLETE HOME
CLARA E. LAUGHLIN
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
Copyright, 1906, by
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
Published November, 1906
CHOOSING A PLACE TO LIVE
By OLIVER R. WILLIAMSON
Taste and expedience—Responsibilities—Renting, buying or building—Location—City or country—Renunciations—Schools and churches—Transportation—The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker—The home acre—Comparative cost in renting—The location sense—Size of lot—Position—Outlook and inlook—Trees—Income and expenditure—Style—Size—Plans for building—Necessary rooms—The sick room—Room to entertain—The "living room"—The dining room and kitchen—The sleeping rooms—Thinking it out
FLOORS, WALLS, AND WINDOWS
By OLIVER R. WILLIAMSON
The necessity of good floors—Material and cost of laying—Ornamental flooring—Waxed, varnished, and oiled floors—Carpets, linoleum, and mats—The stairway—Rugs—Oriental rugs—Kitchen and upper floors—Matting and cardoman cloth—Uses of the decorator—Wood in decoration—Panels and plaster—The beamed ceiling—Paint, paper, and calcimine—Shades and curtains—Leaded panes and casements—Storm windows
LIGHTING AND HEATING
By OLIVER R. WILLIAMSON
Necessity of sunlight—Kerosene—Gas and matches—Electric light—Pleasing arrangement—Adaptability—Protection—Regulated light—The two sure ways of heating—The hot-air furnace—Direction of heat—Registers—Hot water and steam heat—Indirect heating—Summary
By OLIVER R. WILLIAMSON
The quest of the beautiful—Ancient designs—The Arts and Crafts—Mission furniture—Comfort, aesthetic and physical—Older models in furniture—Mahogany and oak—Substantiality—Superfluity—Hall furniture—The family chairs—The table—The davenport—Bookcases—Sundries—Willow furniture—The dining table—Discrimination in choice
By SARAH CORY RIPPEY
Linen, past and present—Bleached and "half-bleached"—Damask—Quality—Design—Price and size—Necessary supply—Plain, hemstitched, or drawn—Doilies and table dressing—Centerpieces—Monograms—Care of table linen—How to launder—Table pads—Ready-made bed linen—Price and quality—Real linen—Suggestions about towels
By SARAH CORY RIPPEY
The plan—Location and finish—The floor—The windows—The sink—The pantry—Insects and their extermination—The refrigerator and its care—Furnishing the kitchen—The stove—The table and its care—The chairs—The kitchen cabinet—Kitchen utensils
By SARAH CORY RIPPEY
Laundry requisites—The stove and furnishings—Irons and holders—Preparing the "wash"—Removing stains—Soaking and washing—Washing powders and soap—Washing woolens—Washing the white clothes—Starch—Colored clothes—Stockings—Dainty laundering—How to wash silk—Washing blankets—Washing curtains—Tidying up and sprinkling—Care of irons—How to iron
By SARAH CORY RIPPEY
Dining-room cheer—Stocking the china-cupboard—The groundwork—Course sets—Odd pieces—Silver and plate—Glass—Arrangement—Duties of the waitress—The breakfast table—Luncheon—Dinner—The formal dinner—The formal luncheon—Washing glass—Washing and cleaning silver—How to wash china—Care of knives
By SARAH CORY RIPPEY
Light and air—Carpets versus rugs—Mattings—Wall covering—Bedroom woodwork—Bedroom draperies—Bedroom furnishing—Careful selection—Toilet and dressing tables—Further comforts—The bedstead—Spring, mattress, and pillows—Bed decoration—Simplicity—Care of bedroom and bed—Vermin and their extermination
THE BATH ROOM
By OLIVER R. WILLIAMSON
Plumbing—Bath room location and furnishing—The tub—The lavatory—The closet—Hot water and how to get it—Bath room fittings
CELLAR, ATTIC, AND CLOSETS
By SARAH CORY RIPPEY
The cellar floor—Ventilation—The partitioned cellar—Order in the cellar—Shelves and closets—The attic—Order and care of attic—Closets—The linen closet—Clothes closets—The china closet—Closet tightness—Closet furnishings—Care of closets and contents
HANGINGS, BRIC-A-BRAC, BOOKS, AND PICTURES
By SARAH CORY RIPPEY
The charm of drapery—Curtains—Portieres—Bric-a-brac—The growth of good taste—Usefulness with beauty—Considerations in buying—Books—Their selection—Sets—Binding—Paper—Pictures—Art sense—The influence of pictures—Oil paintings—Engravings and photographs—Suitability of subjects—Hanging of pictures
THE NICE MACHINERY OF HOUSEKEEPING
By SARAH CORY RIPPEY
Monday—Tuesday—Wednesday—Thursday—Friday—Saturday—House cleaning—Preparation—Cleaning draperies, rugs, carpets—Cleaning mattings and woodwork—Cleaning beds
By SARAH CORY RIPPEY
The general housemaid—How to select a maid—Questions and answers—Agreements—The maid's leisure time—Dress and personal neatness—Carelessness—The maid's room—How to train a maid—The daily routine—Duties of cook and nurse—Servant's company
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
A $3,400 House. . . . . . . . Frontispiece
A Unique Arrangement of the Porch
A Homelike Living Room
An Attractive and Inexpensive Hall
An Artistic Staircase Hall
An Oriental Rug of Good Design: Shirvan
Good Examples of Chippendale and Old Walnut
A Chippendale Secretary
The Dining Room
Wedgwood Pottery, and Silver of Antique Design
A Collection of Eighteenth-century Cut Glass
THE COMPLETE HOME
CHOOSING A PLACE TO LIVE
Blessed indeed are they who are free to choose where and how they shall live. Still more blessed are they who give abundant thought to their choice, for they may not wear the sackcloth of discomfort nor scatter the ashes of burned money.
TASTE AND EXPEDIENCE
Most of us have a theory of what the home should be, but it is stowed away with the wedding gifts of fine linen that are cherished for our permanent abode. We believe in harmony of surroundings, but after living, within a period of ten years or so, in seven different apartments with seven different arrangements of rooms and seven different schemes of decoration, we lose interest in suiting one thing to another. Harmony comes to mean simply good terms with the janitor. Or if (being beginners) we have some such prospect of nomadic living facing us, and we are at all knowing, we realize the utter helplessness of demonstrating our good taste, purchase any bits of furniture that a vagrant fancy may fasten upon, and give space to whatever gimcracks our friends may foist upon us, trusting that in the whirligig of removals the plush rocker, the mission table, and the brass parlor stand may each find itself in harmony with something else at one time or another. Some day we shall be freed from the tyranny of these conditions and then——!
But when the time comes to declare our independence of landlord and janitor, or at least to exchange existence in a flat for life in a rented cottage, we find that freedom brings some perplexing responsibilities as well as its blessings. Even if our hopes do not soar higher than the rented house, there is at least the desire for a reasonable permanency, and we have no longer the excuse of custom-bred transitoriness to plead for our lack of plan. Where the home is to be purchased for our very own the test of our individuality becomes more exacting. A house has character, and some of the standards that apply to companionship apply to it. In fact, we live with it, as well as in it. And if we have a saving conscience as to the immeasurability of home by money standards we are not to be tempted by the veriest bargain of a house that does not nearly represent our ideals. To blunder here is to topple over our whole Castle of Hope.
RENTING, BUYING OR BUILDING
But the test is most severe of all when good fortune permits us to choose locality, site, and building plans, and to finish and furnish the house to suit our tastes, even though less in accordance with our full desires than with our modest means. Now we may bring out our theory of living from its snug resting place. It will need some furbishing up, maybe, to meet modern conditions, but never mind!
Whether we mean to rent, to buy, or to build, the problem of where and what and how is before us. As folk of wholesome desires, we insist first of all upon good taste, comfort, and healthfulness in our habitats; and since we may agree upon the best way to attain these essentials without ignoring our personal preferences in details, we may profitably take counsel together as to what the new home should be.
Thought of a location should begin with the birth of the home idea, even if the purchase-money be not immediately available. We should not only take sufficient time to study conditions and scheme carefully for the home, but must sagaciously bear in mind that where real estate is in active demand anxiety to purchase stiffens prices. To bide one's time may mean a considerable saving. However, life, as we plan now to live it, is short enough at most, and we should not cheat ourselves out of too much immediate happiness by waiting for the money-saving opportunity.
The question of neighborhood, if we decide to remain within city limits, is a difficult one. In most of the larger places no one can accurately foretell the future of even the most attractive residence district. Factories and business houses may not obtrude, but flats are almost sure to come. Few cottages are being constructed in cities, partly because of lack of demand, but principally because they do not pay sufficient income on the investment. Consequently the houses that are to be had are seldom modern. Sometimes they pass into the hands of careless tenants and the neighborhood soon shows deterioration. Still, if we are determined to remain in the city and take our chances, it is possible by careful investigation to discover congenial surroundings. Many of the essential tests of the suburban home that we shall discuss hereafter will apply also to the house in a strictly residence district of a large city; practically all of them to the house in a smaller town.
CITY OR COUNTRY
The chances are, however, that we shall choose the suburb. But before we desert J 72, or whatever our shelf in the apartment building may be, we may well remind ourselves that we are also to desert some of the things that have made city life enjoyable. For one thing, with all our growling at the landlord, we have been able to cast upon him many burdens that we are now to take upon ourselves. Some of our sarcasms are quite certain to come home to roost. The details of purchasing fuel, of maintaining heat, of making repairs, are now to come under our jurisdiction, and we shall see whether we manage these duties better than the man who is paid a lump sum to assume them.
Living in a flat, or even in a city house, we do not know, nor care to know, who the people above or next door to us may be; and they are in precisely the same position with regard to us. Mere adjacency gives us no claim upon their acquaintance, nor does it put us at the mercy of their insistence. Our calling list is not governed by locality, and we can cut it as we wish without embarrassment. Choice is not so easy in the suburb. There, willynilly, we must know our neighbors and be known by them. Fortunately, in most instances they will be found to be of the right sort, if not fully congenial.
The theater, too, must become rather a red-letter diversion than a regular feature of our existence, if it has been so. Whatever enthusiasm we may possess for the opera, an occasional visit, with its midnight return, will soon come to satisfy us. Our pet lectures, club life, participation in public affairs, frequent mail delivery, convenience of shopping, two-minute car service, and freedom from time tables—these suggest what we have to put behind us when we pass the city gates.
It is also the part of wisdom not to forget that, though the country is alive with delights for us when all nature is garbed in green and the songbirds carol in the elms and maples, there cometh a time—if we are of the north—when fur caps are in season, the coal scoop is in every man's hand, the snow shovel splintereth, and the lawn mower is at rest. Then it is that our allegiance to country life will be strained, if ever—particularly if we have provided ourselves with a ten-minute walk to the station. Wading through snow against a winter wind, we see the "agreeable constitutional" of the milder days in a different light.
We should think of all these things, and of some sacrifices purely personal. It is better to think now than after the moving man's bill has come in. Reason as we may, regrets will come, perhaps loneliness. But the compensations, if we have chosen wisely, will be increasingly apparent, and we shall be the very exceptions of exceptions if, before the second summer has passed, we are not wedded beyond divorce to the new home.
Once determined upon forswearing urban residence, a multitude of considerations arise. First of these is "Which place?" Our suburban towns have been developed in two ways. Some are "made to order," while others were originally rural villages but have come under metropolitan influence. Living in the latter is likely to be less expensive, and local life may have more of a distinctive character; but the husk of the past is almost certain to be evident in the mixture of old and modern houses and in a certain offish separation of the native and incoming elements. The "made-to-order" town is likely to exhibit better streets and sidewalks, to be more capably cared for, to be freer from shanties, and to possess no saloons. Land and living may demand greater expenditure, but they will be worth the difference.
SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES
With ninety-nine out of a hundred families the deciding argument in favor of going to the suburb has just got into short dresses and begun to say "Da-da." Already we see pointings to the childish activities that we would not check. No one who stops to think about it chooses to have his children play in the city streets or be confined to a flat during the open months. For the children's sake, if not for our own, we turn to the country, and one of our first thoughts is for the children's school.
I called on a young business acquaintance recently and found him engrossed in examining a pile of college catalogues. "Going in for a post-grad?" I inquired. "Why, haven't you heard?" he responded. "It's a boy—week ago Saturday. Er—would you say Yale or Harvard?"
This was preparedness with a vengeance, to be sure; but almost before we realize that infancy is past, the boy and girl will be ready for school, and it is important to know that the right school will be ready for them. Happily, the suburban school is usually of special excellence, and the chief thought must be of distance and whether the children will need to cross dangerous railroad tracks.
We shall, of course, wish to be where there are strong churches, with a society of our chosen denomination, if possible. It may be that the social life which has its center there will provide all the relaxation we require; if we seek outside circles, it is desirable to know whether we are likely to please and be pleased. Always there is the suburban club; but not always is the suburban club representative of the really best people of the town.
On the practical side a question of large importance is that of transportation. The fast trains may make the run in twenty minutes, but we shall not always catch the fast trains, and the others may take forty. Morning and evening they should be so frequent that we need not lose a whole hour on a "miss." In stormy weather we must find shelter in the station, comfortable or uncomfortable. On the husband's monthly ticket the rides may cost only a dime; when the wife and her visiting friends go to the matinee each punch counts for a quarter, and four quarters make a dollar. To the time of the train must be added the walk or ride from the downtown station to the office, and the return walk from the home station. A near-by electric line for emergencies may sometimes save an appointment. None of these things alone will probably give pause to our plans, but all will weigh in our general satisfaction or disagreement with suburban life.
THE BUTCHER, THE BAKER, AND THE CANDLE-STICK MAKER
Not every suburb is blessed with a perfectly healthful water supply. We must make sure of that. We want to find stores and markets sufficient to our smaller needs, at least, and to be within city delivery bounds, so that the man of the house shall not be required to make of himself a beast of burden. We hope, if we must employ a cook, that the milkman, iceman, and grocery boy will prove acceptable to her, for the policeman is sure to be a dignified native of family. We want the telephone without a prohibitive toll, electric light and gas of good quality at reasonable rates, streets paved and well cared for, sidewalks of cement, reasonable fire and police protection, a progressive community spirit, and a reputation for our town that will make us proud to name it as our place of abode.
THE HOME ACRE
All these things may be had in scores of American suburbs and smaller cities. But when we have selected the one or more towns that may please us, and get down to the house or lot, our range of choice will be found rather narrow. In the neighborhoods we would select, it is probable that few houses are to be rented. Most of them have been built for occupancy by their owners, who, if forced to go elsewhere, have preferred selling to renting. There is no prejudice against renters, but the sentiment is against renting, and this sentiment is well grounded in common sense. Still, some families find it advisable to rent for a year or so, meanwhile studying the local conditions and selecting a building site. This plan has much to commend it, though it makes a second move necessary. Others, who do not feel assured that a change in business will not compel an early removal, wisely prefer to rent, if a suitable house can be found for what they can afford to pay.
COMPARATIVE COST IN RENTING
The proportion of income that may be set aside for rent depends on what that payment covers. In a steam-heated city flat with complete janitor service, for instance, the rent at $40 is really no higher than the $25 suburban house, for heat and water rent are included. With the former, perhaps as much as a third of one's income could be spared for the fixed charge of rent; but in the country the proportion cannot with safety be greater than a fifth. Few satisfactory suburban houses can be rented under $35, and to this must be added the cost not only of coal and water, but of maintenance. On the whole, we are pretty sure to decide that it is better and cheaper to buy than to rent.
THE LOCATION SENSE
There is some advantage in being able to secure a lot in a square already built up. If present conditions are satisfactory we may feel reasonably sure that they will remain so. We know who our neighbors are to be, the sort of houses and other improvements that will affect the sightliness and value of our own property, and the surroundings that should in some degree govern the style of our abode. There is little of the speculative in such a choice, but we shall have to pay something extra for our assurances.
In a well built-up town, however, we are likely to find a more eligible natural site at less cost if we are not too insistent upon being close to the railway station. The best sites in the older sections are already occupied or are held at a premium. If we have an eye for location and the courage of our convictions, we may chance upon an excellent lot that can be had for a comparatively small price because of its detachment. It may be so situated that the approach is through the choicest part of the village, affording us much of the charm of suburban life without additional cost. Provided sewer, water, light, sidewalks, and paving are in, a little greater distance from the center may be well repaid by the beauty of the site, and after the family becomes accustomed to it the distance is scarcely noticed. Where there are telephones and local delivery of mail and groceries, occasions for going uptown are not frequent.
SIZE OF LOT
The lot should have at least 50 foot frontage; and be from 150 to 200 feet in depth. Many subdivisions are now platted without alleys, which are not desirable unless scrupulously maintained. The site should, if practicable, be on a plateau or elevation that gives an outlook, or at least make natural drainage certain. A lot below street level means expensive filling to be done.
There can be little question as to the special desirability of an east frontage. With this exposure the morning sunlight falls upon the living room when least in use, while the afternoon glare finds the principal work of the kitchen accomplished. The indispensable veranda on the east and south is also usable for a maximum portion of the day, while the more solid side of the structure, being opposed to the prevailing winter winds, makes the heating problem easier.
OUTLOOK AND INLOOK
Though we should not pay too much premium for an east front, it is always most salable, and the difference will come back if we should dispose of the property later. Outlook and protection against being shut in should be assured. Our own property may be "gilt edge," but if the man across the way has backed up a barn or chicken yard in front of us our joy in life will be considerably lessened. Our home is both to look at and to look out from, and we do more of the latter than of the former. There are only two ways to make sure of not being shut in, unless the adjacent lots are already improved. These are to buy enough ground to give space on either side, or to secure a corner. Sometimes a corner at a higher price is the cheaper in the end.
Certainly it is advisable, even though our own house be not high-priced, to discover if there is a building restriction to prevent the erection of cheap structures near by. This is regulated usually by a stipulation in the deeds from the original subdivider. Without this guaranty even a high price for lots does not insure that some fellow who has put most of his money into the ground may not put up a woodshed next door and live in it until he can build a house. We shall not find it amiss either, to know something of the character of the owners of the adjoining property, for if they are real-estate men there is a probability of their putting up houses built to sell. Non-resident owner may be expected to allow their vacant lots to remain unkempt and to object to all improvement assessments.
Trees on the lot are a valuable asset, though dislike for sacrificing them, if carried too far, may result in shutting out the sunlight that is more essential than shade to health. Cottonwood, willows, and even the pretty catalpa are to be shunned in the interest of tidiness. On a 50- or even 100-foot lot we cannot have many trees without overshadowing the house. A few away from the building, not crowded together, will give more satisfaction than a grove and be less a detriment to health. Ordinarily grass will not grow to advantage where there is much shade; and a beautiful lawn, though open to the sunlight, is not only more attractive but much more serviceable than ground in heavy shadow and covered with sparse grass.
INCOME AND EXPENDITURE
Prices of vacant property in different sections vary so greatly that one cannot safely approximate the cost of a building lot. It is safe to say, though, that if values are figured on a proper basis, a satisfactory site for a moderate-priced home can be purchased for $1,000 in the town of our choice.
We have made it clear to ourselves that a home—anyone's home—should be much more than a house plumped down upon any bit of ground that will hold it. When we come to consider the house itself, we are confronted by the knowledge that here the tastes and habits, as well as the size and resources of the family, must govern the decision of many problems considered. Numbers alone are not always a fair guide, for sometimes the man or the woman of the house, or the baby, counts for much more than one in figuring space requirements.
We have in mind here that we are a family of four, that we have an income of from $1,500 to $2,500, and that we are prepared to spend or obligate ourselves to spend from $2,000 to $3,500 for a house to go on a lot to cost $1,000. The house we think of would be not too large for two and certainly would comfortably accommodate five or even six, depending upon their relations to one another. The extremes of income mentioned would scarcely affect our plans, and the difference in cost is accounted for by the choice of nonessentials and not by differences in the principal features of the house.
Now, if we have already set our hearts upon having a house just like that "love of a place" we saw in Wayout-on-the-Hill the other day, we shall have to reconsider the entire lot proposition. We may as well face the fact that the house which is everything appropriate and artistic in one place may in another be simply grotesque. In this phase of the selective work we will profit by the advice of the architect, if he be something of an artist and not simply a draughtsman. At any rate, if we have the lot, let us decide what style of house should be on it; if we are surely settled upon the house, then by all means let us get a lot it will fit—and have a care, too, with regard to the style of architecture (or lack of it) in our prospective neighbors' houses.
There have been two extremes in later American home architecture—overornamentation and absolute disregard for appearance. The first arose from a feeling that every dollar spent in the interest of art (!) should be so gewgawed to the outer world that all who passed might note the costliness and wonder. The second extreme had its birth in an elementary practicality that believes anything artistic must be both extravagant and useless.
None of us can afford to build a house merely for its artistic qualities. Yet we feel that we owe it to our neighbors and to the community to make the house sightly. Most of all, we owe it to ourselves, for the product of our plans will be the concrete expression of our personality. Fortunately showiness is neither necessary nor desirable; while artistic qualities are not so much a matter of money as of thought. A few days ago, in a suburb of a Western city, I passed two houses recently constructed. One was simply an enlarged drygoods box with a few windows and doors broken into its sides—altogether a hideous disfigurement to the charming spot on which it was erected. Across the way stood the other cottage, with the same number of rooms as its vis-a-vis, but really exquisite in its simple beauty. And the latter, I was told, though equally spacious, cost less than the monstrosity across the way! Into the one, there was put thought; into the other none. Can we resist an opinion as to which home will be happier?
Should we be somewhat limited in funds, we may have to make a selection between a large house finished in cheaper materials and a small house of the best quality all through. Doubtless much of the "hominess" that attaches us to some houses is due to their snugness, but not all of it. Size is secondary to adaptation to the family requirements. Waste space is an abomination, because it adds unnecessarily to the burden of the housekeeper; yet to be so cramped that everything must be moved every day is not a satisfactory alternative. There should be some reserve not only for emergencies but for future needs that may be foreseen. As the children grow up they will demand more room, and we shall want to give it to them. If we do not care to maintain surplus space for possible needs, the house should at least be planned with a view to making additions that will be in keeping with the general effect and will readily fall in with the practical arrangement of the house.
What is said about emergency space applies principally to the sleeping apartments. There is an altogether happy tendency in these days to simplify the living rooms and to plan them for constant use. We of the East have something to learn from the Californians, whose bungalows and cottages are so often models of simplicity without the crudeness of most small houses in other sections. Our coast brethren have demonstrated that a four- or five-room cottage will satisfactorily house a considerable family, and that it may be given the characteristics that charm without increasing the cost.
PLANS FOR BUILDING
The simplest and in many instances the prettiest cottages are of only a single story. But more than four rooms in one story makes a comparatively expensive house, besides using up a great deal of ground. With the foundation, first story, and roof provided for, the second story adds little to the cost compared to the space gained. Where ground and labor are cheap the single story is to be considered; but in most places it would not be practicable for us.
In planning the house due regard must be had for the dispositions of the respective members of the family. In any event we shall not please all of them, but the less the others have to complain about the happier the rest of us shall be.
If paterfamilias is accustomed to depositing his apparel and other belongings rather promiscuously about, expecting to find things where they were left on his return in the evening, it may be better to plan his room where it may stand undisturbed rather than to attempt the breaking of a habit which shows that he feels at home in his own house. Likewise, some place there should be where the mistress may conduct her sewing operations without wildly scrambling to clean up when the doorbell rings; the children should have at least one place in the house where they may "let loose" on a rainy day, and the master should have somewhere a retreat safe from interruption, as well as a workroom in the basement in which the tools and implements that quickly accumulate in a country home may be secure.
THE SICK ROOM
Sickness, too, may come, and the questions of privacy without an unwholesome curb upon both children and adults, of convenience to hot water and the bathroom, of saving steps for the nurse, should be thought of. An upstairs chamber is likely to be best on account of the ventilation, lighting, and distance from ordinary noises; but frequent journeys to the kitchen mean an excess of stair climbing. Whether there be sickness or not, there should be somewhere provision for individual privacy, where absolute rest may be gained.
A large indulgence in entertaining must have its influence in settling both size and arrangement. Ordinarily, however, we may expect to be reasonably hospitable without enlarging our home into a clubhouse. If we do not consider this matter in building, propriety must compel us afterwards to limit our company to numbers that we can comfortably care for.
ROOM TO ENTERTAIN
A good many of us who have contrived very nicely to live in a six-room city flat seem to think that we cannot get along with that number of rooms in a suburban house, though the latter would be considerably more spacious, not taking the basement into account. So far, however, as absolute essentials go, a six-room house, carefully planned, will provide for a family of four very comfortably, and it can be built in an artistic and modern style for $2,500 near Chicago, about ten per cent. more in the vicinity of New York, and probably for a less sum in smaller cities. An eight-room house would cost about a third more, and is, of course, in many ways more desirable. But, generally speaking, we demand more room than we really need, and then put ourselves to additional expense filling up the space with unnecessary furniture.
THE "LIVING ROOM"
In small houses there cannot be great variation in the proportioning of space, but it is important that the use of each room should be well understood and that it should be planned accordingly. If that is not done our decorative and furnishing schemes later on will be misapplied. Families differ as to their dispositions toward rooms. Most of us would not think of calling for an old-fashioned parlor in a small house nowadays, but merely to change the name from "parlor" to "living room" doesn't change our habits. The living room is meant to take the place of parlor, library, reception hall, and sitting room. If the family adjust themselves to it a great saving of space is effected, and the home life is given added enjoyment. Not all of us, however, can fit ourselves to new ideas, and it is better to suit ourselves than to be uncomfortable and feel out of place in the home.
The living-room plan in a small house reduces the reception hall to something little more than a vestibule, but where six rooms are exceeded the reception hall may be enlarged and made serviceable. The first impression counts for much, not only with our guests but with ourselves, and if the hall be appropriately finished and fitted it seems fairly to envelop one with its welcome. One thing that must be insured, whatever form the entrance may take, is that it shall not be necessary to pass through the living room to reach other parts of the house.
THE DINING ROOM AND KITCHEN
Vastness is not essential to the dining room. Under usual conditions we are not likely to seat more than a dozen persons at our table, and a dinner party exceeding that number is too large for common enjoyment. Connection with the kitchen should be convenient without having the proximity too obvious. City kitchens are now usually made just large enough to accommodate required paraphernalia and to afford sufficient freeway for the cook. Many families do no home baking, and where fruit and vegetables are preserved the basement is utilized. Compactness in the kitchen saves hundreds of steps in the course of a day, and though it is difficult for us to forget the spacious room thought necessary by our parents, we may well learn, for our own comfort, to profit by the modern reasoning that opposes waste space. Still, it is better to defy modern tendencies and even to pain the architect than that the faithful house-keeper who clings tenaciously to the old idea should be made miserable. Some persons feel perpetually cramped in a small room, whereas others only note the snugness of it.
THE SLEEPING ROOMS
The general well-being of the family is more directly affected by the character of the bed chambers than by any other department of the house. However we may permit ourselves to be skimped in the living rooms, it is imperative that the sleeping apartments should be large—not barnlike, of course—well lighted, dry, and airy. Three large rooms are in every way preferable to four small ones. It is, to be sure, sometimes difficult to put the windows where they will let in the sunlight, the registers where they will heat, and the wall space where it will permit the sleeper to have fresh air without a draught. But marvels in the way of ingenious planning have been evolved where necessity, the mother of invention, has ruled; and assuredly there is no greater necessity than a healthful bedroom.
The children's bedroom in the house of six to eight rooms is likely to be utilized as a nursery or playroom on rainy days or in winter. It should have an abundance of sunlight. The largest and best room of all should be used by the heads of the household. To reserve the choicest apartment for the chance guest is an absurdity that sensible people have abandoned. If we must, we may surrender our room temporarily to the visitor, but the persons who live in a house twelve months of the year are entitled to the best it affords. Flat living has taught us to make use of all our rooms, and perhaps its influence is against hospitality; but we need not neglect that very important feature of a happy home in doing ourselves simple justice.
THINKING IT OUT
If we would be quite sure of it—to use a Hibernianism—we should live in our house at least a year before it is built. We need an imagination that will not only perceive our castle in all its stages of construction but will picture us in possession. Advice is not to be disdained, and a good architect we shall find to be a blessing; but the happiness of our home will be in double measure if we can feel that something of ourselves has gone into its creation. And this something we should not expect to manifest genius, or even originality, but tasteful discrimination.
FLOORS, WALLS, AND WINDOWS
Tradition has established the condition of her floors as the prime test of a good house-keeper, and the amount of effort that faithful homemakers have had to waste upon splintery, carelessly laid cheap boards would, if it could be represented in money, buy marble footing for all of us.
But we don't want marble floors. We are not building a palace or a showplace, but a house to live in. We are not seeking magnificence, but comfort and durability (which are almost always allied), as well as sightliness (which is not always in the combination).
THE NECESSITY OF GOOD FLOORS
Happily, when we come to floors we find that those which may be depended upon to endure and to give their share of home comfort are also the best to look upon. It would be agreeable to say, further, that they cost least, but that would be misleading. This book fails to say not a few things that would be interesting but which wouldn't be of much real use to the homemaker, because they aren't so.
Leaving the everlastingly pestiferous question of cost aside, what is the best all-around flooring? Well, so far no one has been able to suggest anything that seems so appropriate as a good quality of hard wood—which means oak or maple, or both—properly treated and, above all, laid down as it should be. The flooring is a permanent part of the house, or, if it isn't, we'll certainly wish it had been. As it is subject to harder and more constant usage than any other part of the structure, it must be strong, and it must have a surface that will resist wear, or we shall simply store up trouble for the future. It is also a part of the decorative scheme, and as such must help to furnish the keynote of our plans. All these requirements are met by hard wood.
It is possible, we may admit, to have a happy and comfortable home with cheaper flooring; but the price that is not paid in money will be afterwards collected with interest in effort and sacrifice of satisfaction. Doubtless it is not wise, as some one suggests, to put so much money into our floors that we cannot afford to buy anything to put on them; but in many instances the appearance of our house interiors would be much more pleasing if fewer pieces of superfluous furniture were brought in to cover the floors. At any rate, the longed-for furniture may be "saved up for" and bought later; a mistake in floors to start with is hard to rectify.
MATERIAL AND COST OF LAYING
Oak flooring comes in narrow, thin strips of plain- or quarter-sawed. At this writing the plain-sawed costs, laid, usually 16 cents per square foot. It will never be cheaper. Where quarter-sawed is desired, a cent per foot must be added. Borders, which are by no means essential, cost from 20 to 45 cents per lineal foot (laid). In a country house, where local artisans do the laying, the expense may be somewhat less for labor. But it must be remembered that fine floor laying is a trade of itself, and that the time to make sure of the work being properly done is when the wood is put in. If the building is properly constructed, a bulging or cracked floor is unnecessary. At all events, if we are in doubt as to the village carpenter's skill, we would do well to pay the few dollars extra for the expert from the city. Careful measurements are also important, especially with borders and parquetry.
The hall, if large, will permit of rather more elaborate treatment than the rooms which are to be constantly occupied. No part of the house that is in use for hours at a time should be at all over-elaborated, particularly in its unchangeable features. Care must be taken even in the hall to avoid any freakish combination that will either stand out conspicuously or demand a like treatment of the walls.
Some folk like tiling in the hall, and if we have little more than a vestibule, tiling is quite satisfactory. It is durable and can be easily cleaned. But if the hall be of the medium or generous size, parquetry will be found more approvable if the expense can be afforded. The designs are richer without being so glaring as many of the tile effects, and the wood seems to have less harshness. Rubber tiling, however, has been found useful in places where there is frequent passing in and outdoors, and has been developed in some pleasing designs.
The additional cost for parquetry is not formidable in a moderate-sized hall. Prices range from 20 to 40 cents per square foot, according to design. We shall be wisely guided in choosing a simple square arrangement that will not protest against any passable decoration of the walls. Unless the hall is spacious borders would better be omitted. They need to have the effect of running into hearths and stairways, and in a narrow passage the center will be too crowded.
Dining room and living room suggest the quarter-sawed flooring, the former admitting perhaps the stronger border, unless the two rooms are in such direct connection that they require continuous treatment. Upstairs, plain-sawed will do nicely for the hall and chambers, and also for the bathroom if it is not tiled. Borders, of course, may be dispensed with here, as there should be no suggestion of over-ornamentation in the permanent features of a sleeping room.
For the kitchen hard maple is found to serve well. One may not find it amiss to inquire into the merits and costs of composition and rubber tiling, but they are not essential to comfort and cleanliness. Here we are concerned with essentials; it is fully understood that we have our own permission to go farther afield in pursuit of more costly things if we choose.
WAXED, VARNISHED, AND OILED FLOORS
Unless there are small children, expert opinion and the demands of beauty favor waxed floors. Ordinarily the floor must he rewaxed about every three months, but a pound of wax, that will cover two ordinary sized rooms, costs only 50 cents, and it may be applied by anyone. To keep the floors in best condition the wax brush should be passed over them every fortnight.
Varnish floors scratch but are not affected by water, and on the whole are rather more popular than oil or wax. They cost something less to maintain, and are less conducive to embarrassing gyratics on the part of dignified persons wearing slippery shoes.
If we may not demand oak or maple floors, well-laid Georgia pine, carefully oiled or varnished, would be our next choice. There is a large saving in initial expense, and perhaps some one else will be using them five years from now! Though we cannot expect to get anything like equal satisfaction from the cheaper wood as compared with oak, if we do feel bound to adopt it we shall have less cause for complaint later if we view very carefully the material and the operations of laying and finishing. Poor workmanship can spoil the best of materials; what it can do with cheaper stuff is absolutely unmentionable. Paint may be used on the upper floors and even limited to a border in the bedrooms.
The floors would not be quite so important if we were planning to entirely cover up their beauties or their uglinesses with another kind of beauty or ugliness in the form of carpets. But experience has long since made it clear to all of us that rugs are not only more healthful and in better taste, but, taken by and large, give less trouble to the housekeeper than carpets. Owing to the fixed position of the latter they are, too, quality for quality, less durable. It is true that in some parts of the house a rug or carpet fastened down may be desirable, but with good floors no such thing will suggest itself in the living rooms at least.
LINOLEUM AND MATS
Where a very small vestibule is substituted for the reception hall a parquetry or tile flooring would be left uncovered. Over a cheap floor a good quality of linoleum, costing about 50 cents per square yard, may he placed. A small mat of neat design, if such can be found, will take care of those persons who have the foot-scraping habit, regardless of what they scrape upon, though the mat outside should do the important work. Serviceable mats are seldom things of beauty. As they come under the head of floor coverings, it may be well to note that the best quality leather mat, guaranteed to last twenty years, costs $1.25 a square foot. A fair imitation may be had for less than half that figure, and has the same proportion of value. The open-steel mat that serves best with tenacious mud costs 50 cents per square foot, and for rubber we must add a half or double the price, depending on whether we demand the made-to-order article or are content with stock. The old reliable cocoa mat may be had from 35 cents per square foot up, and is quite as useful and scarcely uglier than the others.
For appearance' sake, if our stairway is well constructed of good woods, we should forbear to hide it. But there is no place in the house where little Willie can more effectively proclaim to all the household world his possession of double-nailed heels than on the unprotected rises of the stairway. Even the tiny heels of the mistress of the home seem to clump like the boots of a giant in their numberless journeys up and down. So the hall runner must have a place. Perhaps the carpet will be of red or green, depending on the walls, but it need cost little more than $1 per yard for a fair quality. It is put down with stair pads ($1 per dozen) and ordinary tacks, and the expenditure of 10 cents per yard for a professional layer will not be regretted. The amateur who can do a really good job on a stair carpet is a rarity.
The Biglow Bagdad domestic rug in 27 by 54 and 36 by 63-inch sizes is inexpensive but looks and wears well in the hall. The first size costs about $4 and the second $7. A little better quality in Anglo-Indian or Anglo-Persian costs a dollar or so more per rug. Where there is constant direct use in the hall we will do wisely to get either a moderate-priced article that may be renewed or something expensive that will wear indefinitely. Sometimes the latter is the more economical plan. Very often halls are so shaped that a rug must be made to order. It is better to do this and have a good-sized rug that will lie well than to risk tripping and slipping with smaller ones.
For the living room a variety of choice in rugs is offered. Attempts to utilize a number of small rugs are not usually joyous in their outcome; besides, the floor space is too badly broken up. The large center rug holds its own, with some reenforcement in the alcove or perhaps before the hearth.
What quality the rug shall be depends largely upon the length of our purse; yet sagacity and a modest fund will sometimes do more than plethora and no thought. Design selection is a task to vex the most patient, but we must not be drawn into a hurried decision. If we are near enough to the business house with which we are dealing, it is advisable to have a selection of rugs sent out for inspection on the floors. Seen in the salesroom and in our house they may present different aspects.
Generally speaking, the showiest designs are in the cheaper goods, and the showier a cheap article is the quicker its shoddy qualities will be made manifest. Therefore, if we must count the pennies on our living-room rug, let us select a simple design with a good body—something that will be unobtrusive even when it begins to appeal for replacement.
There is a considerable range of Wiltons, from the so-called Wilton velvet to the "Royal" Wilton. They are by no means the cheapest, though one may go fabulously beyond them in price; but their popularity shows them to be a good average quality, suited to the home planned on a modest scale. Body Brussels, although not affording such rich effects, also has many friends, and tapestry Brussels may be considered. There are names innumerable for rugs and carpets, some of which have little real significance. If one knows a good design when it is seen, a little common-sense observation of weights and weave and a thoughtful comparison of prices will help to secure the best selections. Here are some specimen sizes and prices quoted by one establishment:
SIZE. Body Brussels. Biglow Bagdad. Anglo-Indian. 6.0 x 9.0....... $18.00 $25.00 $30.00 8.3 x 10.6....... 22.50 30.00 45.00 9.0 x 10.6....... 25.00 35.00 50.00 10.6 x 12.0....... 32.50 45.00 65.00 10.6 x 13.6....... 35.00 52.50 75.00 11.3 x 15.0....... 42.50 60.00 80.00
Saxony Axminster, 9 by 12, is priced at $45, and is considered to be more serviceable than most grades of Wilton.
For the dining room the problem is about the same as for the principal apartment. The rug need not be so expensive as the one in the living room, but it must assuredly be of the enduring sort.
The Scotch Caledon rugs sometimes solve the difficulty here. Indeed, they are not out of place in a really "homey" living room or elsewhere in the house. They are made of wool, woven like an ingrain, with no nap, and are especially pleasing for their artistic soft colorings, mostly in green or blue two-tone effects. They are, strictly speaking, not reversible, but some designs will permit use on both sides. While they do not wear quite so well as a Wilton, they come at least a fifth cheaper. Prices range from $9 for a 4.6 by 7.6 to $45 for a 12 by 15.
The sizes we have mentioned are standard. If our rooms have been planned in such wise as to require rugs to order we shall have to add ten per cent to our expenditures.
The subject of oriental rugs, to be intelligently discussed, would require an entire book, and there are books that may be and should be studied by those who can afford orientals. Most of us cannot. There are, indeed, good reasons for the high cost of the genuine oriental, in its superior coloring, wide range of design, and wonderful durability. The right sort grows richer with age. But our plans are not so much for posterity as for present uses, and we can get along very well without testing our wits in the oriental rug market. It is a test of wits, for there are no standards of size or price, and spurious goods sometimes get into the best of hands. Small Daghestans and Baloochistans may be had even lower than $20, but anything we would care to have in living room or dining room would take $150 to $200 from our bank account.
KITCHEN AND UPPER FLOORS
In the kitchen, and perhaps in a rear vestibule, unless the floor is of a sort to be easily wiped up, linoleum may be demanded. The upper hall will require a continuation of the stair runner, with perhaps a rug if it broadens out at the landing. For the bed chambers the question of individual use must be thought of. Brussels rugs will do in most cases. A large rug means considerable shifting to get at the floor, but is the more comfortable. Smaller rugs will permit sweeping under the bed without moving it far, and should be placed under the casters, which will injure the hard-wood floors if allowed to rest directly thereupon.
MATTING AND CORDOMAN CLOTH
Next in choice would be to spend 25 or 30 cents a yard for matting and cover the entire floor, adding one or two rugs to head off the shivery feeling that arises from a contact of bare feet with cold matting on a winter morning. The casters will cut the matting, too; we must look out for that. A border of flooring, painted or not, may be left; but generally, if anything is to be fastened down, it should cover the entire space, avoiding the ugly accumulation of dust that otherwise gathers under the edges.
More expensive than matting, but likely to be quite satisfactory, is cordoman cloth, a floor covering that comes in plain colors and may be easily swept and wiped up. It costs from 45 to 55 cents per yard, and the wadded cotton lining that goes with it is very cheap. Considering its greater durability than matting, cordoman is really the more economical, and the homemaker will do well to investigate its merits.
CHILDREN'S ROOM AND "DEN"
For the children's room linoleum will probably stand the wear and tear, prove more hygienic, and do as much toward deadening noise as anything short of an impossible padding could do. On the porch a crex-fiber rug or two—the sort that stand rain and resist moths—may be desired, but they can wait until we are settled and have found our bearings. The "den," if there is to be one, or the separate library, may in the one instance be left to individual caprice, in the other to good judgment in suiting it to the prevailing thought.
USES OF THE DECORATOR
If we have not done so before, when we take up consideration of the walls we will, if we can afford it, call in a professional decorator. First, of course, we will make sure that he really may be of service to us, for his duty is to give practical and artistic development to the more or less vague ideas of which we have become possessed, and if he seems, from examples of previous work, to be wedded to a "style" of his own that would not jibe with our aspirations, we would better try to struggle along without him.
But it is possible to secure the services of a decorative artist for a sum not necessarily tremendous, and if we get hold of a sensible fellow his advice will be, in the end, worth much more than the extra outlay. If he is a sincere artist, he will plan just as carefully for a modest six-room cottage as for a mansion, and he will be able to take the good points of our own schemes and adapt them to expert application without making us feel too insignificant.
Explicit advice as to decoration, where there are thousands of us, each in different circumstances and with variant tastes, would be rather an absurdity. We may emphasize to ourselves, however, a few phases of the decorative problem in which lack of thought would lose to us some of the joys of a house perfected.
If we are not to employ a decorator we must study out the problem for ourselves. To leave it for the painter and paperhanger to settle would be a fatal error. Much knowledge may be gained by the study of books and magazine articles, provided they are very recent. It will be advisable to weigh this knowledge in the scales of practical observation, however, in houses of late date. This is not so much because of changes in fashion as for the reason that improvements in process are always being made, and even the omnipresent folk who write books sometimes overlook a point. Concerning fashion, which of course has its sway in decoration, we will remember that the simplest treatment survives longest.
WOOD IN DECORATION
It seems that with the steady increase in cost of lumber we have grown more and more to appreciate the beauty of our woods. At any rate, wood is being used more extensively than ever in interior finishing. This is in some ways a healthy tendency, as it makes for simplicity and admits of artistic treatment at a reasonable cost.
Hall, living room, and dining room, for instance, may be treated with a high or low wood wainscoting and wooden panels extending to a wooden cornice at the ceiling. The wood may be a weathered oak, and between the panels is a rough plaster in gray or tinted to suit the house scheme. Friezes and plastic cornices are somewhat on the wane, in smaller houses at least; though, of course, they will never go out of use altogether.
PANELS AND PLASTER
This plaster effect is less expensive than 40-cent burlap or ordinary white calcimine or paper. The picture molding may be at the bottom of the cornice. Sometimes the cornice is dropped to a level with the tops of the doors and windows (usually about seven feet), leaving a frieze of two or three feet, the molding then going to the top of the cornice. Ceilings and friezes of ivory or light yellow are usually in good taste.
The living room may carry out the panel and plaster effect, but is more likely to demand a simple paper of good quality with no border. Here, as in the hall, the wooden (or plastic) cornice with no frieze is suggested. Grilles are discarded, and portieres are avoided where possible.
THE BEAMED CEILING
In the dining room the beamed ceiling has been found so appropriate that it continues popular. It is simple, easily maintained, and has the broad, deep lines that put one at ease. Here it is advisable to carry a wooden wainscoting up to about 3 1/2 feet, the panels continuing to the ceiling. Tapestry, burlap, or plaster may show above. Plate shelves are somewhat in disfavor, partly because of abuse and partly because the tendency is to eliminate all dust-catchers that are not necessities. Where doors and windows are built on a line (as they should be), shelves are sometimes placed over them. But there should not be too many broken lines if we would preserve the comfortable suggestion of the beamed ceiling.
PAINT, PAPER, AND CALCIMINE
For the kitchen, painted walls, which can be easily wiped off, and resist steam, are preferable to calcimine. Tiling halfway up will be found still better, but tiling paper, which costs more than painting, is scarcely to be chosen. For the bedrooms the professional decorators are disposed to over elaboration. A simple paper, costing 15 to 35 cents per roll, is best, or even plain calcimine, which many persons consider more healthful. The latter costs only $3 or $4 a room and may be renewed every year or two. Very nice effects are had in a Georgia-pine panel trimming running to a wood cornice, and in natural wood or painted white. With this the ceiling should be plain white, and if bright-flowered paper is used, pictures should be discarded. Lively colors, if not too glaring, give a cheerful aspect to the room, but the safer plan is to stick to simplicity.
In the children's room a three-foot wood wainscoting is desirable. Part of this may be a blackboard without costing more, and at the top a shelf can be placed for toys. Figured nursery papers cost, per roll, from 35 to 75 cents, and will be a never-ceasing source of delight. If the walls are not papered they should be painted, for reasons that need not be suggested. Isn't it wonderful how far a three-foot boy or girl can reach?
SHADES AND CURTAINS
We have not advanced much in the production of window shades that will let in light and air, shut out the gaze of strangers, hold no shadows, match interior and exterior, fit properly, work with ease, cost little, and last forever. The ordinary opaque roller shade still has no serious rival, and usually the best we can do is to see to it that we get a good quality which is not always reliable, rather than a poor quality, which never is.
The good old lace curtains that were the pride of the housekeeper's heart and the jest of the masculine members of the household seem to have had their day. It has been a long one, and any article that holds sway for so lengthy a period must have had some merit. But the soft chintz, linen, madras, or muslin is now the vogue, and there is much good sense in the innovation. No lace curtain ever made could be both artistic and serviceable; some persons go so far as to say that they never were either, but we have too much reverence for tradition to be so iconoclastic. However, they certainly were expensive if they were good enough to have, were difficult to wash, and usually caused a dead line to be drawn about the very choicest part of the room. Linen curtains, costing from 50 cents to $1.25 a yard, may be had in a set or conventional design or plain applique. Chintz and muslin cost less, and some remarkably pretty effects in madras are obtainable. Curtains now sensibly stop at the bottom of the window instead of dragging upon the floor.
Besides shades and curtains the window question involves not only light, ventilation, and artistic relations, but such details as screens and storm windows. These latter matters come under the jurisdiction of the architect and should not be carelessly settled upon. Each room has its uses, to which the window must conform as nearly as may be, and then the outward appearance of the house must not be forgotten. It is often made or marred by the character and placing of the windows.
LEADED PANES AND CASEMENTS
Leaded or art glass is attractive if not overdone. Small panes are difficult to keep clean, of course; but we can probably endure that if all else be equal. In living rooms the upper sash should be made smaller than the lower, so as to get the median rail above the level of the eye. In some parts of the house a horizontal window gives a fine effect, besides affording light and air without affecting privacy. Casement windows have their points of excellence, and are additionally expensive chiefly in hardware. The frames are really cheaper, but they must be very accurately fitted to avoid leaks.
Casement windows seriously complicate the screen and storm-window problem, and expert planning is necessary. The durability of screens depends mostly upon their care or abuse, but if it can be afforded, copper wire will usually last sufficiently longer to repay its additional cost. Metal frames are not so essential. The best form is that which covers the entire window and permits both sashes to be freely opened; but this costs practically twice as much as the half-window screen.
Storm windows should be carefully fitted or they will come far from serving their purpose. If they are of the right sort they will soon repay their cost in easing up the furnace. Preferably they should be swung from the top, both for ventilation and washing and to avoid a check upon egress in case of fire. Some persons object to storm windows on account of the supposed stoppage of ventilation, but that rests entirely with the occupants of the house. They can get plenty of fresh air without letting the gales of winter have their own sweet will.
With floors, walls, and windows determined upon, we have a good start on the interior of our house. But we may only pause to take breath, for we now have to give most careful consideration to two decidedly important factors in our comfort—lighting and heating.
LIGHTING AND HEATING
If common sense has governed our proceedings to date, the new house we are building, or the ready-built one we have chosen, will have full advantage of the one perfect light—that afforded by the sun.
NECESSITY OF SUNLIGHT
The health-giving properties of sunlight are so well known to all of us that we wonder why so many otherwise sensible folk seem to shun it, with trees and vines, awnings and blinds denying access to that which would make the house wholesome. When possible, every room in the house should have its daily ray bath, and our apartments should utilize the light of the sun as early and as late as may be.
Perhaps nature intended all creatures to sleep through the hours of darkness. If we had followed that custom we might be a race of Methuselahs; who knows? Why some one has not established a cult of sleepers from sunset to dawn is really inexplicable. But mankind in general has persisted in holding to a different notion, and since the sun declines to shine upon us during all the hours of the twenty-four, and we insist upon cutting the night short at one end, we have had to devise substitutes for the sunlight.
Of course the sunlight does not always leave us in unbroken darkness. Few of us are so far departed from the days of mellow youth as to forget certain summer evenings, linked in memory with verandas or bowered walks, when moonlight—and even that in a modified form—was the ideal illumination. But even if we could employ the good fairies to dip them up for us, we should find the soft moongleams of the summer evening a rather doubtful aid in searching for the cat in the dark corners of the basement.
Omitting pine knots, which are rather out of vogue, modern home lighting includes four forms—candles, oil lamps, gas, and electricity. The first-named are not, it is true, used to any extent for what may be called the practical purposes of lighting; but in many ways their light is most beautiful of all. Some charming candelabra suited to the dining table are found in the better shops, and an investment in a choice design is a very justifiable extravagance. Candle illumination is of all varieties the one least trying to the eyes and to the complexion, though its effect upon the temper of the person tending the candles is not so sure to be happy. However, the sort with a hollow center, called Helion candles, require little attention, and the patented candle holders, which work automatically, give no trouble at all.
Notwithstanding there are some points in favor of the old reliable kerosene lamp, even when put in the scale with other illuminants, few people of the younger generation regard it as other than something to be endured. In view of the facts that an oil lamp requires a great deal of attention, usually leaves its trail of oil and smoke, is ill-smelling, disagreeably hot in summer, and always somewhat dangerous, it is strange that those who cling to it as to a fetich are usually the ones who have longest struggled with its imperfections. The pretext for this conservatism, whether it be spoken or reserved, is economy. If we are of this class, we may be shocked to discover that, after all, kerosene lighting is really no cheaper than gas or electric light, if sufficient illumination is afforded, and insufficient lighting is surely ill-judged economy.
GAS AND MATCHES
Few communities of respectable size are now without gas or electricity, and even in the country the latter is almost everywhere obtainable. If not, an individual gas plant, of which there are several makes, may be installed at a moderate cost. Properly placed, such a plant is safe and easily regulated and will furnish light for somewhat less than the usual charge of the gas companies.
Gas has never fully supplanted kerosene, even where it is readily obtained. Why this is true we need not pause to discuss; perhaps a fairly well-founded suspicion of the meter has had something to do with it. But certainly no one building a house in these days would fail to pipe it for gas if the supply were at hand, even if it were to be used only for kitchen fuel. Gas has its virtues as an illuminant also, and is favored by many on account of the softness of the light.
But while gas is preferable to kerosene, electricity is with equal certainty preferable to gas. It is more adaptable, is in many places quite as reasonable in cost, and is cleaner and safer. In numerous country communities where gas is not to be had electricity is available, as frequently a large region embracing several towns is supplied from a single generating plant.
Gas is subject to fluctuations in quality, sometimes becoming quite dangerous in its effect upon the atmosphere. Water gas, which is very generally manufactured, is said to carry four or five times as much carbon monoxide per unit of bulk as retort gas. It has for the hemoglobin of the blood four hundred times the affinity of oxygen, and a proportion of only two tenths of one per cent may produce heart derangement. While we are wondering that we are alive in the face of such dreadful facts, we may note further that gas is rather variable in its qualities as an illuminant. We have mentioned the suspicious gas meter, whose vagaries doubtless have caused more virtuous indignation with less impression upon its object than anything ever devised. An open flame is always a menace; and then there is the burnt match. Most housekeepers, I am sure, would testify to their belief that matches were not made in heaven. Is there anything that so persistently defies the effort for tidiness as the charred remains of a match, invariably ignited elsewhere than on the sandpaper conspicuously provided, and more likely to be tossed upon the floor or laid upon the mahogany table than to find its way into the receptacles that yearn for it?
For cooking, however, gas must still be a main dependence, and for this reason, as well as to provide for remote emergencies, the house should be piped for gas. At least it should be brought into the house, even if the piping is not continued farther than the kitchen.
In seeking to secure sufficient light we often go to the extreme of providing a glare that is trying to the eyes and would test the beauty of the loveliest complexion that ever charmed in the revealing light of day. We go further, mayhap, and concentrate the glare upon the center of the room, with a shade of bright green which gives an unearthly but not a heavenly cast to all the unfortunate humans who come under its belying influence.
Objection is sometimes made to electric light that it is too powerful, and that it is difficult to modify and control. This impression is due to the tendency of which we have spoken—the working out of the thought that proper lighting is a question of quantity. For some persons the ideal arrangement would seem to be a searchlight at each corner of the room, with a few arc lights suspended from a mirrored ceiling.
Electric light, to furnish the most agreeable effects, must be softened and properly diffused. If the light units that so perfectly illumine a room during the day were concentrated they would make a blinding glare, but diffused they are properly tempered to the eye. The common thought seems to be to put all the lights of the living room in the center, and to make them so powerful that they will penetrate every corner of the room and make it "light as day." In consequence the center is overlighted, and instead of a similitude of daylight we have unreality.
For the dining-room and library table some form of drop light is essential. There are arrangements that will transform the banquet or student lamp into an electric drop light, or the special outfits for this use may be had in some very artistic designs. For general lighting, wall sconces, lanterns, or brackets are preferable. Some of these are very beautiful, though there is a tendency to overelaboration. Design, of course, should be in keeping with the general decoration and outfitting of the room. Instead of four sixteen-candle-power lights in a center chandelier, eight of eight-candle power will "spread" the illumination better and add little to the expense, except for fixtures. In beamed ceilings which are not too high, the effect of lights placed upon the beams is pleasing, though the effect upon the monthly bill may not have the same aspect. Electric lamps at the sides should be at a fair height and throw their light downward, instead of wasting it upon the ceiling.
The pretty lanterns of antique design are expensive, the simplest sort costing $4 or $5 apiece. There are numerous artistic brackets, however, that may be had for smaller amounts. Bulbs are made in all sorts of shapes to fit recesses or for special purposes, and the designs in shades and candelabra are legion.
Electricity's strong card is its adaptability. It can go wherever a wire may be carried, and into many places where gas or oil lights would not be safe or practical. The only thing lacking is to make it wireless, and perhaps invention sooner or later will be equal to that demand. Early installations were rather carelessly made, but municipal and underwriters' rules are now so strict that practically all danger of fire has been eliminated. The householder in the country should make sure that the underwriters' prescriptions are fully observed, as his insurance may be affected. In the city, official inspection usually guarantees correct wiring.
Probably only in the hall, dining room, and living room will we be greatly concerned with the decorative phase of lighting. Elsewhere the question is largely one of practical use, though considerations of taste are not to be neglected. Careful study should be given to the adaptation of lighting to the future uses of the rooms. This will perhaps avoid the use later of unsightly extension cord, though this avoidance can scarcely be made complete.
A very useful light may be provided for the veranda, just outside the door, illuminating the front steps and path to the sidewalk. This light may be turned off and on by a switch key inside the door. It is particularly comforting when some stranger rings the doorbell late at night and one does not feel overpleased to be called upon to open the door to an invisible person. Other switch arrangements make it possible to turn on the upper hall lights from below, or the lower hall lights from above, and the lights in each room from the hall. When there are unseemly noises downstairs in the wee sma' hours it is much more agreeable to gaze over the balustrade into a bright hall than to go prowling about in the darkness for the bulb or gas jet, with the chance of grasping a burglar instead. Some burglars are very sensitive about familiarities on the part of strangers, and it is always better to permit them to depart in a good humor. The basement lighting, too, should be regulated from above, and the dark corners should be well looked after. At best, the basement is a breeder of trouble. If the light is in the center, and must be turned off at the bulb, the return to the stairway from the nocturnal visit to the furnace is likely to be productive of bruised shins and objurgative English; if the light operates from above, one either forgets to turn it off and leaves it to burn all night, or becomes uncertain about it just as he is beginning to doze off, necessitating a scramble downstairs to make sure. Perhaps it would be well to have a choice of systems.
Some houses have been so wired that one can illuminate every room from the hall or from the master's bedroom. This necessitates complicated wiring and will not be found necessary by most of us. Neither will we desire to spend our hardly won cash in wiring our four-poster bed for reading lights, or to put lights under the dining table for use in searching for the lost articles that always by some instinct seek the darkest spots in the room. If there be a barn or shed on the lot, an extension carried there will be found convenient and comparatively inexpensive. In the kitchen and pantries the lights should be considered in detail so that all the various operations may be served. Shadowed sinks and ranges and dark pantries are not necessary where there is electric light.
In halls, closets, and bathroom lower-power lamps, or the "hylo," which may be alternated from one- to sixteen-candle power, will prove an economy. The "hylo" is also useful in bedrooms where children are put to sleep, affording sufficient light to daunt the hobgoblins without discouraging the approach of the sandman. Some persons cannot sleep without a light; for them, and for the sick room, the low-power light is eminently preferable to the best of oil lamps.
There are numerous conveniences to be operated by electricity, such as chafing dishes ($13.50), flat irons ($3.75 up), curling-iron heaters ($2.25 up), electric combs for drying hair ($4), heating pads, in lieu of hot-water bags ($5), and many articles for the kitchen. These are operated from flush receptacles in baseboards or under rugs, or from the ordinary light sockets.
THE TWO SURE WAYS OF HEATING
There is only one efficient and healthful method of heating a house, and that is with a hot-air furnace. I have that on the authority of a man who sells hot-air furnaces, and he ought to know.
Substitute "steam or hot water" for "hot-air furnace," and we have the assurance of the man across the way who sells boilers and radiators.
The beauty of it is that each proves his case to one's entire satisfaction—not only that his own system is a marvel of perfection, but that the other systems are dangerous to health and breeders of unhappiness and really ought (though he wouldn't like to say so) to be prohibited by law.
So we shall have to decide the question for ourselves. If we err, we can still abuse the dealer, or the architect, or the contractor, for letting us make a mistake.
THE HOT-AIR FURNACE
The hot-air furnace costs least to install. (We leave stoves out of consideration.) It is also supposed to be easiest to manage. That, in a sense, is true. A good furnace will act pretty well even under indifferent direction; a bad one cannot be made much worse by the greatest of stupidity.
However, the average person can run the average furnace with a fair degree of satisfaction to the household, if not to himself. For a house of six to eight rooms the furnace may be considered an efficient means of heating. It requires more fuel than some other apparatus, but there are compensations.
Since ventilation and heating are inevitably associated, the argument that the furnace provides for ventilation is a strong one. If the air is taken from outdoors, passed over the radiating surface into the rooms, and then sent on its way, something like perfect ventilation is assured. If the air is simply taken from the basement—a poor place to go for air—heated, passed through the rooms, returned, and heated over again, we may well pray to be delivered from such "ventilation." The success of the furnace depends not upon ability to keep up a rousing fire but upon a proper regulation of air currents. Many a first-class furnace, properly installed, fails to work satisfactorily because the principle of heating is not understood. Even with the best of knowledge, the air is hard to regulate, and the very principle that gives the furnace its standing as a ventilator must prevent it from being a perfect heater.
Unless some artificial moisture is provided, not only will the air be too dry for comfort and health, but an excessive degree of heat must be attained in order to warm the rooms, thus increasing the consumption of coal. A water pan is usually provided in the furnace, but too often it is neglected.
DIRECTION OF HEAT
If any mistake in selection of size is to be made, it should be in favor of excess. Most authorities urge the choice of at least a size above that indicated by the heating area. A chimney with suitable draught is imperative. The furnace should be placed in a central location and should be set sufficiently low to permit the essential rise of the heat ducts. If the basement is low the furnace should be depressed. While the heat conveyors should not ascend directly from the furnace, they should not be carried any farther than necessary in a horizontal position. The velocity of heat is diminished in carrying it horizontally, increased vertically. Crooks and turns add to the friction and decrease heating power. Therefore the pipes should be as short and direct as possible. It is not necessary to carry the register to a window on the farther side of the room, say some authorities, as the warm air rises to the ceiling anyway, and the greater length of carry involves a loss in warmth.
Pipes for the first floor should he large. Those for the upper rooms, having a longer vertical range, may be smaller. All the pipes should be double, with an inch air space between, as a protection against fire. Asbestos paper on a single pipe is not regarded as a sufficient precaution, as it is easily torn and quickly wears out.
There are arguments in favor of side-wall registers. They save floor space and obviate some dust. On the other hand, they are not quite so effective in heating as the other sort, since the pipes for floor registers may be of larger diameter and as a rule require fewer bends. Each register should have a separate pipe from the furnace. Where direct heat is not desired, a register opening in the ceiling of a downstairs room will sometimes carry enough heat to the upper chamber to make it comfortable for sleeping purposes.
Since furnace efficiency is largely dependent upon air control, a strong wind sometimes makes it difficult to heat portions of the house. To meet this emergency there is a combination hot-air and hot-water heater which supplies radiators on the upper floors, or elsewhere if desired. The additional cost is practically all in the installation, as the same fire furnishes both forms of heat.
For an eight-room house or smaller, a first-class steel-plate furnace, securely sealed against the escape of gas and smoke, costs free on board about $150. Each two rooms additional raises the price about $25. Other furnaces may be had as low as $50. Cost of tin work, brick setting, etc., depends upon locality.
HOT WATER AND STEAM HEAT
Hot water and steam heat cost more for installation, but have many advantages over the furnace. Their chief drawbacks are the space usurped by radiators, lack of ventilation, and the possibility of an occasional breakdown. The ingenuity of the makers, however, is partly overcoming these difficulties, mainly by the device called the indirect system.
We need not fret ourselves here with a technical elucidation of either form of heating. We may, however, consider some of the claims made for hot water, which is apparently coming to be considered the preferable arrangement for dwelling houses. There is not a great deal of difference between the essential features of steam and hot-water systems.
It is declared that water will absorb more heat than any other substance, hence will take from the boiler practically all the heat produced in the combustion of fuel. As the temperature of the water is automatically controlled, the atmosphere of the rooms may be kept at the desired degree, the presence of radiators in each room, all of the same temperature, giving an even heat over the entire house.
There can be no sudden drop in temperature, as the water in the pipes continues to distribute warmth even after the fire has been checked or has been allowed to go out. The fuel required for an ordinary stove, it is asserted, will warm an entire house with hot water. An engineer is not required. Inexperienced persons have no difficulty in operating the ordinary boiler, and there is no danger whatever, because, the makers adduce, for steam heat the maximum pressure is about five pounds, while with hot water there is practically no pressure at all. Very little water is used, and a connection with the street water system is not imperative, though convenient.
Indirect heating is provided by passing air over radiators attached to the ceiling of the basement, thence to the upper rooms. In the "direct-indirect" system the radiators are placed in the partition walls of the rooms they are to heat, the cold air being brought through a duct and, being heated, passing into the rooms. These two systems are economical of space and afford provision for excellent ventilation. They are considerably more expensive, however, than the direct system, which involves exposed radiators.
Radiators are now constructed in many different forms, to fit under windows, in corners, in fireplaces, under cabinets, and so on. Much effort has been directed also toward relieving their painful ugliness, and if of a neat design appropriately colored they need not be a serious blot upon the decorative scheme of a room.
Radiators, in the direct system, should be placed far enough from the walls to permit free circulation over the heating surfaces, and should not be directly covered at the top. Ordinarily there are good reasons for putting them near the more exposed places, such as windows and outer doors. As both steam and hot water furnish a dry heat, provision should be made in every room for evaporation of water.
With no prejudice against good furnaces, it may be said that hot water apparently affords the greatest possibilities for comfort and regularity of heating, and that there are usually no reasons why it cannot be utilized in country houses. A hot-water installation is likely to cost twice as much as a furnace, but if we are to live in the house it is better to make our estimates cover ten or twenty years rather than to bear too strongly on first costs.
The following table, while it must not be taken as fully conclusive, gives at least a basis of consideration:
HOT AIR. STEAM. HOT WATER. First cost.................. Small. Higher. Highest. Comparative coal consumption ............ 18 1/2 tons. 13 1/2 tons. 10 tons. Average durability.......... 12 years. 35 years. *Indestructible Heat distribution........... Uneven. Regular. Even. Temperature................. Variable. Fair. Regular. Ventilation................. Good, if Good, with Good, with properly indirect indirect managed. system. system. Quality of heated air....... Ditto. Ditto. Ditto. Dust and dirt............... Much. Little. None. Danger of fire.............. Moderate. None. None. Danger of explosion......... Slight. None. None. Noise....................... None. Occasional. Almost none. Management.................. *Delightful. *Pleasure. *Joy. Relative cost of apparatus.. 9 13 15 Ditto, plus repairs and fuel for five years..... 29 1/2 29 2/3 27 Ditto, plus repairs and fuel for five years..... 81 63 52 1/2
* Makers' statement.
These comparisons are probably, on the whole, somewhat unfair to the high-grade furnace.
Much of good sense and more that is nonsensical has been written about furniture. Observation tends to justify belief that in general effect the nonsense has proved more potent than its antithesis.
THE QUEST OF THE BEAUTIFUL
Originality has been preached, and we have seen the result in abnormalities that conform to no conception of artistic or practical quality ever recognized. Antique models have been glorified, with a sequence of puny, spiritless imitations. Simplicity has been extolled, and we find the word interpreted in clumsiness and crudity. Delicacy of outline has been urged, and we triumph in the further accomplishments of flimsiness and hopeless triviality.
And yet through all that has been preached, through all that has been executed, there runs a vein of truth. Each age should express itself, not merely the thought of centuries past; still, it can expect to do little more than take from antecedent cycles those features that will best serve the present, adding an original touch here and there. So far, then, as we find in the furniture of the Georgian period, or of Louis Quinze, or even of the ancient Greeks, such suggestions as will help us to live this twentieth-century life more comfortably and agreeably, we may with good conscience borrow or imitate.
Some "very eminent authorities" assure us that many of the objects of our admiration in museums and in private collections are remnants of the furnishings of the common households of the olden times. If the breadth of knowledge of the "eminent authorities" is indicated by this assertion, they must have touched only the high places in history, so far as it records social conditions. The truth is that the household appurtenances which have survived to our time are mostly those of the few and not of the many, of the palace and mansion and not of the cot. These articles were costly then and they would be costly now, and very often quite as useless as costly. They were not found in the cottage of the older days, and they do not belong in the cottages of the present.
Nevertheless, many of these old designs exemplify the elementary essentials of furniture—good materials, gracefulness, and thorough workmanship. These are qualities that are to be sought for the cottage as well as for the mansion; and while they may add to the purchase cost of the separate articles, it is possible to secure them at no great increase for the whole over the cheaper goods, provided we guard against the common error in housefurnishing—overpurchasing.
THE ARTS AND CRAFTS
What is known in America as the arts and crafts movement has, in its sincere developments, sought to adapt the better qualities of the old designs of furniture to the demands of modern conditions, artistic and practical. Not always, however, has it been possible to distinguish between the honest effort to enforce a better standard and the various forms of charlatanry under which clumsy and unsightly creations have been and are being worked off upon an ingenuous public at prices proportioned to their degrees of ugliness. In colonial times many an humble carpenter vainly scratched his noggin as he puzzled over the hopeless problem of duplicating with rude tools and scant skill the handiwork that graced the lordly mansions of merrie England; to-day some wight who can scarcely distinguish a jackplane from a saw-buck essays to "express himself" (at our expense) in furniture, repeating all the gaucheries that the colonial carpenter could not avoid making.
Others have set themselves to reproducing the so-called mission furniture which the good priests of early California would have rejoiced to exchange for the convenient modern furniture at which the faddist sniffs. But most of us who stop to think, realize that there is no magic virtue in antiquity of itself. The average man, at least, cannot delude himself into the belief that there is comfort to be found in a great deal of the harsh-angled stuff paraded as artistic.
Let us not be understood, however, as hinting that artistic qualities must be disregarded. Though furniture should not be chosen for its beauty or associations alone, it must not be considered at all if beauty is absent.
COMFORT, AESTHETIC AND PHYSICAL
The first consideration of the home is comfort. Let no one dispute that fact. But there is such a thing as being aesthetically as well as physically comfortable. Conceptions of physical comfort differ with individuals, but are usually well defined; some of us actually have no conception whatever of aesthetic comfort. That is no reason why we should not seek it. Probably we had a very faint idea of what good music or good painting was like until we came to an acquaintance with the masters; but we are surely not sorry to have progressed in experience and feeling. And so it is that though we may not feel specially urged to insist upon tasteful surroundings, the higher instincts within us that persuade us to make the most of ourselves demand that we shall not be content with mere physical comfort. Therefore we may need to look a bit beyond our definite inward aspirations, and we should not disdain to follow others so far as they adhere to certain well-authenticated canons of good taste.
OLDER MODELS IN FURNITURE
Study of the older models of furniture is bound to prove suggestive, and it is better to secure from the library or bookseller a book by some authority than to depend upon dealers' catalogues, which are not always edifying. English models affecting present-day outfitting date back as far as the Elizabethan period, approximately 1558-1603. Following there came the Early Jacobean, the Early Queen Anne, and the Georgian. The last includes the work of Chippendale, Heppelwhite, Sheraton, and the Adams, all of whom executed some beautiful designs. The so-called colonial furniture belongs also to the Georgian period, as does the "Debased Empire," corresponding to or following the Empire styles in France. In the latter country the periods of vogue are known as Francis Premier, Henri Deux, Henri Quatre, Louis Treize, Louis Quatorze, Louis Quinze, and Louis Seize. Under the designation of the "Quaint style" W. Davis Benn groups the "Liberty," Morris, and arts and crafts designs. Mr. Benn's "Styles in Furniture" will be found helpful in both text and illustration to those who would learn to distinguish between the products of the various periods.
MAHOGANY AND OAK
Mahogany and oak are the best materials for furniture. The former is cleverly imitated in a mahoganized birch, which presents a pleasing appearance and sometimes deceives those who are not familiar with the beautiful rich tones of the genuine article. Mahogany adapts itself to almost any sensible style of interior decoration, is likely to be of careful manufacture, and is almost invariably cherished for its beauty. Like other highly finished woods it takes on a bluish tint in damp weather, and if not well protected, will demand attention more frequently than other materials. But if its purchase can be afforded the care given it will scarcely be begrudged. The eggshell (dull) finish requires less attention than the higher polish.
Next in degree to mahogany, oak in the golden, weathered, or fumed effect is handsome and durable, while it is somewhat less expensive. The moment one drops below genuine mahogany, however, a wary eye must be kept upon construction. There are shifts innumerable to make cheap furniture that has an alluring appearance, and the variety of design in the moderate-priced materials will lead to confusion for those who do not exert a Spartan discrimination.
To insure satisfaction there must first of all be substantiality—a quality which affects both comfort and appearance. A chair may be beautiful, it may be comfortable, at the time of purchase, but if it be not substantial its glories will soon depart. A superficial view cannot be conclusive. The carefully made article built upon slender lines is often quite as strong as a more rugged creation hastily put together. The chair that is properly constructed may be almost as solid as if it were of one piece, and still not require a block and tackle to move it. The strongest article is made entirely of wood, and we find some of the old models so sturdily built that no rounds were required between the legs. In chiffoniers, dressers, or side-boards a handsome exterior should not blind us to cheaply constructed drawers. The latter should be of strong material, properly fitted, and well sealed. There need be no sagging, jamming, or accumulation of dust in drawers that are well constructed.
California, with its pretty little bungalows, not only has pointed out to us the possibility of living satisfactorily in a small number of rooms, but has shown us something in the way of simple furnishings. Not until we see what may be "done without" do we realize how much that is superfluous crowds our floors.
A pretty good rule is to test everything first by its usefulness; if it is not useful, we may dispense with its purchase. Even at that, it may be necessary to demand that the article shall be not only useful but absolutely indispensable, for between the beguiling advertisement and the crafty salesman, almost anything that is manufactured may be proved necessary. At the best we shall probably purchase a-plenty, and the question of when a house reaches the point of overfurnishing is a difficult one to settle. Let one of us, for instance, venture at midnight into a dark room—be the apartment ever so large—with nothing but a rocker in it, and the impression may be gained that the place has been turned into a furniture warehouse. And some persons—none of us, to be sure!—are never happy while any of the floor or wall space is unoccupied. So the world goes. But if nine out of ten persons bought only what they could not do without, what they did purchase could be of a great deal better quality.
No bit of furniture should be purchased for which there is not a suitable place in the house. A piece may be very attractive in the salesroom, and its practical qualities may appear irresistible, while on our own floors it may be perfectly incongruous and perhaps, on account of its enforced location, almost useless.