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The Rooms Of A Home - Part 2
( Original Published 1935 )
This chapter deals only with the problems of each separate room in a house or apartment. The unity of the entire home is considered elsewhere.
Bedrooms may be more personal than any other rooms as to type of furnishing and as to color. The furniture in many bedrooms consists of sets with several pieces alike. A set makes an individual effect impossible, regardless of the beauty of the furniture; variety in line and color and even in the kinds of wood used is desirable. Painted furniture is more interesting if the different pieces are painted in colors that are adjacent. Some might be plain and some decorated, but the decorative design of one article should not be repeated on another.
The beds are the most important pieces of furniture in bedrooms. Needless to say, for real comfort every person should have his or her own bed. Twin beds are highly desirable even in guest rooms. The highest degree of comfort in beds that one can afford is advisable. Four-poster beds are often used with other traditional furniture, but it must be admitted that eight posts on a pair of twin beds look like a grove in a small room. The tall posts can of course be sawed off, if they are disturbing in a room.
The arrangement of furniture in a bedroom is often limited by the builder's provision for the placing of the bed. It is unfortunate to have a bed, or a pair of beds, extend into a small room from the middle of one wall; they can usually be placed in corners.
In a small studio type of home, comfortable couches are preferable to beds because they can stand by almost any wall, even in front of windows. Beds should be placed so that occupants do not face the glare of light from the windows.
A chaise lounge is a difficult piece of furniture to place. When it extends diagonally from a corner it spoils the design of a room. It is most useful near a window. A chaise lounge is not necessary in a small home if the bedspreads are of such coloring and materials that the beds may be used for resting in daytime.
A small comfortable chair, a chiffonier, and a dresser or dressing table are the usual pieces in a bedroom. Instead of these articles, it is often better to use sitting-room furniture, including a writing table, bookshelves, a chest of drawers, and some comfortable chairs. The choice of floor covering depends upon the way the room is used.
The bedroom is the place in which to have one's favorite color, for personal expression belongs here; but in using it, the exposure and the amount of light in the room are important considerations. In addition, one's own coloring ought to be an important factor in the choice. Bedroom colors are usually lighter than living-room colors. Since clear colors are usable in bedrooms it is best to employ adjacent schemes. Generally not so much variety of color is needed in a bedroom as in a living room, but two colors are not enough. When bedrooms are treated as sitting rooms the colors should be less personal and darker than is customary for bedrooms in general. There should be a most definite distinction between the colors of bedrooms for men and those for women. A master bedroom used by both husband and wife should contain colors expressive of both. A child's bedroom might be playful in color.
Guest Rooms. Guest rooms are usually treated in an impersonal way, with colors and a style of furnishing that would be acceptable to either a man or a woman. The guest room may be furnished like a sitting room, so that it can be used as a study, sewing room, or sitting room when there are no guests. No bedroom furniture need be used in it. Instead of a bed there can be one or two couches made up of mattresses and box springs on short legs. When two of these couches are used, they are generally placed so that they meet in a corner. The couches can be made comfortable to sit on, too, by means of large box cushions, standing on them, against the wall. A desk with a mirror hanging above it takes the place of a dressing table-certain kinds of desks providing drawer space. A strong low table to hold a suitcase is a convenience, and a good reading lamp for the bed, books, periodicals, and plenty of writing materials are important items.
A Man's Room. A man's bedroom, or in fact his apartment or his house, should be definitely masculine in character. Large and heavy upholstered furniture with wood framing exposed, dark colors, heavy, rough textiles with large simple patterns, and absolute functionalism are expressive of masculine taste. A man who wants to exhibit hunting or fishing trophies should confine them to his own room, except in a cabin. If a man likes books, they are the most appropriate decoration for his room, along with his hobby, and a map perhaps, and a picture or two in substantial frames.
A Boy's Room. Instead of a regular bed, a boy might prefer having a built-in bed with another bunk above it for a guest. If he has to use cast-off furniture it should be simplified and painted or stained to suit. Many so-called ornaments can be scraped or sawed off the old furniture and it can be cut down if it is too large. Articles made by the boy himself should be given places of honor. If there is no other place where he can saw and nail things, he should have a table in his room for such purposes. A large textile can be placed over the table when it is not being used for rough work, such as carpentry.
A Woman's Room. A woman may have her own bedroom as frilly as she pleases, but it is noticeable that women are now less interested in fluffy furnishings than formerly. Small furniture, curved lines, light colors, and fine patterns in fabrics express femininity. A woman wants both perfect artificial light and daylight for her dressing table. A comfortable chair, several lamps, and a bookshelf are necessities in a woman's room.
A Girl's Room. A girl should have her own room if possible. It should be as attractive and personal as the occupant wishes. A lovely room may help to develop personality whereas an ugly one may have a repressing influence. A girl's room should usually be furnished more as a sitting room than a bedroom. It should have cotton fabrics, washable rugs, and light natural wood or brightly painted wood furniture. Her own work and her hobbies should decorate a girl's room.
Rooms for small children should be planned to please them. The furniture should be on a scale that is comfortable for them. Furniture is now being made with collapsible legs that can easily be lengthened as the child grows. Articles of furniture should be of various colors; in fact, the beauty of children's rooms should be largely the result of color. Low shelves should be provided for good-looking toys and books, and low chests with lids to conceal the most unsightly playthings. Breakable or elegant things have no place in a child's room. There should be nothing that children can not play with as they like, without adult supervision. It is desirable, however, to have plants around, and also a bird, so that children become interested in them and develop a protective attitude towards them.
The floor might well be covered with some washable composition material such as linoleum. The wall covering should probably consist of washable paper, oilcloth, or washable paint.
Any decoration in children's rooms should be on their eye level or close to it so they can see it in comfort. Wall paper or oilcloth borders to paste on the walls just above the baseboard can be purchased. They are designed with animal motifs or others interesting to children. Ordinary wall paper can be varnished to make it washable. Sometimes an art student is commissioned to decorate the walls. Children might help to decorate their own rooms with cut-out paper figures pasted along a border around the room.
Curtains should be of simple cotton material, but should be pushed back so as to admit all the light and air possible. Overcurtains or curtains to the floor are absurd in children's rooms. A platform built about six inches high over a third of the floor lifts the children out of the draft and is a source of pleasure to them, if they can damage it without rebuke.
Closets must be numerous if a house is to be kept in good order. Generally speaking, there are two types of closets: room closets, and built-in wardrobe or cupboard closets. The room closet into which one can step is most generally used, and is preferable, particularly if it has a window and a light of its own. The cupboard closet is necessary where there is little space, as it is only the depth of a coat hanger. Its chief drawback is that its double doors take up considerable wall space. Drawers, shelves, shoe racks, sliding trays, and a clothes pole and hangers can all be installed in closets. A coat closet near the front door is a necessity. It should have a pole for coat hangers, with hat shelves above it, and other shelves at one end for gloves and rubbers. Umbrellas can be kept in a rack fastened to the inside of the door. Sometimes closets are planned with several drawers next to the floor and the clothes pole up very high, to be reached by long-handled hangers. A man's closet sometimes has one rod halfway up and another one at the very top of the closet; his tie racks are often flat rods inside the closet door.
Closets should be dust-proof if possible. Sometimes closet shelves are covered with figured roller window shades to protect their contents. Sliding glass doors are also used to protect dresses. Nothing should be allowed on the floor of the closet. Several kinds of shoe racks are on the market, but if they cannot be used, an old-fashioned shoe bag might be fastened inside the closet door.
A linen closet should be protected from dust. Variety in the height of the shelves is sensible, as there are more of some articles than others. Chintz pads with scalloped edges make very attractive shelf covering.
Clear, daring color may be used in closets as they are seen for only a short time. Sometimes a bedroom ceiling and a closet are painted the same bright color.
In planning a bathroom it is usually best to place the tub at the end of the room. The room itself may be small, but it is well to have a full-sized window, a large medicine cabinet, and a large rim on the wash basin. The space above the tub near the ceiling can be made into a storage place.
Walls and floors of composition material are possibilities to be considered for new bathrooms and for remodeling old ones. For redecorating old bathrooms, enamel paint is the easiest medium of transformation. There are marvelous new waterproof materials for curtains and for rugs also. If the floor is patterned the rugs should be plain. One distinguished decorator uses plain darkcolored carpet to cover ugly bathroom floors.
Bathrooms look well decorated in wet colors, that is those which suggest water, such as green, blue, violet, gray, and white. Lighter colors suggest cleanliness, but it is well to have the floor, at least, of medium value. Now that the tub, bowl, and stool are obtainable in attractive colors, a new bathroom can be really beautiful in color. There ought, of course, to be enough variety in its color to make it interesting, at least three colors being desirable. A successful adjacent color combination consists of a medium blue floor, pale violet walls and ceiling, darker violet porcelain fixtures, with pale blue-green notes in the linen, glass, interior of cabinet, and shower curtains. The dominating color is violet, next is blue, and third is pale blue-green. Black produces a rich, sophisticated, masculine effect if used in large masses, but narrow lines of black or a sprinkling of black merely makes light colors look faded. Beautiful walls of opaque glass are now obtainable in almost any color.
For the average-sized city family that does little entertaining a small kitchen is desirable. If one person does the work compactness is a requirement. The placing of kitchen equipment and the breakfast nook should be planned with care.
The sink must be made the right height for the user, as having it too low may be a cause of physical injury. It should be large enough to hold a dishpan. Some housewives prefer to have the sink in two sections, half being used for washing and half for rinsing dishes. A double drainboard is a convenience.
A table on rubber-tired wheels is valuable for serving in the dining room. In the kitchen everything is placed on the table, which is wheeled in beside the dining-room table, where it is emptied. After the meal, soiled dishes are placed upon it and it is pushed into the kitchen. Such a table usually has a rim around the edge and a shelf or two below, sometimes with rims also. A small kitchen may not have space for such a table. In a larger kitchen the work table is often placed in the middle of the room.
Most kitchens are not well enough supplied with cupboard space. In cupboards narrow shelves are preferable to deep ones that hide things. There should be a convenient stool or two to invite the housewife to sit as she performs her tasks. Everything possible should be done by machine, in order to prevent weariness.
The appearance of the kitchen is also very important. It should be workmanlike, but may have individuality and even beauty. Kitchen furnishings, such as sinks, stoves, refrigerators, and cabinets, are now designed as one unit, so that there is perfect harmony of line among them. Norman Bel Geddes is designing such units; it would be well for the prospective buyer to look for his products.
A kitchen is sufficiently decorated if the dishes that are used daily are placed on open shelves, and if the bright-colored utensils and kettles that are used constantly are hung in neat rows on the wall. Chefs hang their utensils within reach, so why shouldn't the housewife?
One of the most important parts of the kitchen is a dining nook, sometimes consisting of two fixed benches with a table between them. A window in the nook, with flower pots and bright curtains, is highly desirable. Naturally the curtains must be simple and washable like everything else in the kitchen.
The kitchen should be a cool color to discount the heat of the cooking, unless the room is on the north and needs light. There has been such an epidemic of green kitchens in apartment houses that they look very ordinary unless they are carefully planned with variety in the greens and with other related colors to add interest. One successful kitchen has a blue-green linoleum floor; soft green dado, wood trim, and cabinet work; and pale yellowgreen walls and ceiling. The cupboards are yellow inside, and the window curtains are yellow and green. If one is so unfortunate as to have a black stove, black should be used elsewhere in the room. If the sink is white, then white should be used elsewhere. In planning a new kitchen it is well to remember that the stove, sink, and refrigerator are procurable in almost any color. Stoves painted to imitate marble do not look well. Everything in the kitchen, except the stove, can be painted, so there is no excuse for an ugly kitchen, except lack of money to buy a brush and paint.
Women who are furnishing their homes in a cottage style want simplicity or quaintness in their kitchen furnishings. Oldfashioned houses, too, require the same atmosphere in the kitchen. The owners of such kitchens would probably benefit by study of pictures of farm kitchens in foreign lands, for they are still furnished about as they were a hundred years ago. The appearance of a kitchen, however, should not be permitted to interfere with its efficiency.
SUNROOMS, PORCHES, AND TERRACES
A sunroom is less desirable for a small house than a screened porch. Either one must be carefully placed so that it does not shut out light from the living room. The south exposure of a living room should not be darkened by a porch or a sunroom. A screened porch should be considered a necessity for use as an outdoor living and dining room in the summer time; a terrace in addition is desirable. In a windy locality the terrace and porch should be placed on the sheltered side of the house, otherwise outside the dining room or kitchen, so that meals could be conveniently served in the open. Sometimes an L-shaped house has a terrace in the corner. Awnings over certain parts of the terrace and a large parasol on it provide shade when it is wanted.
The furniture used on a porch or terrace depends much upon the type of furnishing in the rest of the house. A house with traditional furniture requires porch furniture in harmony with that style. A modern house may, of course, have extremely modern porch furniture made of metal tubing, which would be quite out of character with an English cottage in which simple oldfashioned furniture was used. It seems necessary to comment on a peculiar combination frequently used for porches, namely a mixture of early Colonial maple living-room furniture and wicker. Needless to say, this is inconsistent and disturbing.
Although porch furniture may be modern or traditional in line, the same materials-willow, reed, rattan, fiber, metal, or painted wood-are procurable in either type. It is best to combine porch furniture of various harmonious materials; a set of furniture of the same color, design, and upholstery pattern is distressingly monotonous. It may be well to point out that stripes, checks, plaids, or plain materials are mach more desirable for covering on wicker furniture than flowery motifs. Curtains in a sun-porch should be simple but may be colorful, and they should in no way interfere with the light. Floor coverings should be of fiber, linen, grass, or similar material. It is more pleasant to walk on rubber linoleum tiles than on the hard pottery tiles, but the pottery tiles are more beautiful. The color of outdoor furniture should harmonize with the color of the house and with natural greens. Plants in pots and window boxes are the most important decoration of the porch and terrace.
The hobby room or the workshop in many houses must be in the basement or attic. Since it is highly important to have some place where members of the family can use the saw, hammer, paintbrush, loom, photographic apparatus, or whatever interests them, it is much to be regretted that so significant a room must occupy some odd corner. As leisure time increases, it will be necessary to develop in children interests that will be avocations later. A room assigned and arranged for handwork encourages members of a family to create things with individuality for their own homes. Such a room might prevent the boredom that at present seeks relief in moving-picture theaters or on automobile highways.
There should be play space somewhere indoors. In some houses the living room and adjoining rooms become game rooms when occasion requires. The basement often provides space that can be made into a game room, particularly if there is no dust from the fuel. Large screens can be built to hide the unsightly parts of a basement. If the furnace is interesting in appearance it might be featured; at least other things placed in the basement should be consistent with the furnace and pipes in scale and texture. Colors, too, must be vigorous, for the basement is no place for daintiness.