The Home And Its Care
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The very first home the world ever knew was made by some woman as a safe place for her little child. It may have been only a rude cave which she had made comfortable with soft grasses or the skins of animals, but its purpose was the same as that of the home of today ; that is,. it was a place where the family could find comfort and companionship and where the children could grow and develop.
To fulfill its duty properly a home must have an atmosphere of order, beauty, contentment, hospitality, and Godliness.
The Home Maker. To be the guiding spirit of an ideal home a woman needs not only the highest qualities of mind and heart, but also a strong body and steady nerves. Perfect health should be the aim of every girl. To this end she should study her physiology and practice what it teaches.
The efficient home maker, in addition to possessing these high qualities of heart and body, must understand in detail everything that pertains to the administration of her household.
The structure that holds the home is the house, and much of the comfort of the family depends upon it.
Location. The first thing to consider in the house is its location. One should be guided in the selection of a site for a house by the surroundings, which include the neighbors as well as the physical conditions. Are the people desirable associates for the family? Are their ideals in matters of conduct and education what they should be? We must remember that a family cannot always live to itself. In the physical surroundings, too, there are many factors to be considered. Is there a railway, factory, or mill near by which is disagreeable on account of noise, smoke, or odors? What is the direction of the prevailing winds? Do hills obstruct the breeze? Do surrounding buildings cut off the light or air? Is the locality very cold in winter? Is the site well drained? Is there stagnant water near by? Is transportation to school or business quick and direct? If there are children in the family, one should locate near a good school.
Sanitary Conditions. The sanitary conditions, also, should be carefully considered, as faulty plumbing or an impure water supply may outweigh the advantage of location. What kind of water supply is there? If in a city, is there a sewer connection? If in the country, what disposal can be made of the sewage? Are the outbuildings properly located?
Appearance. Next in importance is the appearance of the house. This should be considered whether one is building or renting, as a building of a forbidding appearance is apt to affect the spirit of the home makers. The color of the exterior should be neutral, never glaring. White may be used where there is much shade. There should be little contrast in the color of trim and walls.
A garden and shrubbery add much to the appearance of the house by making it more homelike. Even if the house is rented, some quick-growing shrubbery and fruit trees should be planted. Ugly buildings may be screened with plants and vines. Plants should never be so near the walls, however, that the foundation will be kept damp. Flowers and plants should be at the side of the lawn, for a smooth stretch of green grass is always beautiful. Moreover, if the lawn is broken by flower beds, the labor of caring for it is increased.
A kitchen garden at the back, even if small, is very useful. Parsley, mint, and other plants for garnishing and seasoning may be grown in a small bed, while if space permits, a larger garden will furnish delicious fresh vegetables much cheaper than they can be bought.
The Importance of Air. In building or renting a house one should never forget that fresh air is of prime importance. We must have oxygen to keep the body fire burning ; if the supply is deficient the digestion is slow, the lungs cannot throw off the wastes, headaches and drowsiness follow, and the general health becomes bad. Every room must have some way of letting in fresh air and letting out bad air. This is best done by means of a grate or transom near the ceiling. The opening need not be large, and may be arranged so that there will be no draft. For the entrance of fresh air a window with a cheesecloth screen may be used, or, if the house is heated by stoves, a pipe from outdoors may open into the room by means of a grating under the stove. Some stoves are jacketed so that this air is warmed before it reaches the person in the room. Whatever the means adopted, an abundance of pure air must be provided. An electric fan, if properly placed, is useful in securing good ventilation. Windows should be planned to afford a good circulation of air, but wall space should be left for the furniture that is to 'be used.
Full-length window screens are of the greatest aid in securing good ventilation, as the windows can be opened at the top without fear of letting in the flies.
The Doorway. Since one gains his first impression of the interior of a house as its door opens, the doorway must be simple and dignified. A plain wooden door of good proportions is better than one that contains a small square of glass or much carving.
Woodwork. The woodwork of the house should be of simple and harmonious form. Much carving is out of place in a home, for it catches dust and is not beautiful. The base-board and wooden facings should be flush with the wall, or the edges should be so sloped that there are no ledges to catch dust.
The color used on woodwork must harmonize with that of the wall covering and the furniture. White woodwork is attractive and may be used with almost any other color, but it is hard to keep clean. It would be appropriate in a formal parlor or reception room, but it is not the best for a much used living room. Cream, gray, or even a soft brown may be used, although too deep a brown darkens a room. The woodwork may be finished in a dull varnish, stained and waxed, or painted with a good flat paint.
The Floor. A waxed hardwood floor is durable and easy to care for, but in some localities is very expensive. A smooth pine floor, however, may be painted, or stained and varnished, and then waxed. A light brown is a good color for floors.
The Walls. The general rule is that the wall must be lighter than the floor and darker than the ceiling. A dark color absorbs so much of the light that it may make the room too dark. A light wall on the other hand gives back or reflects almost four times as much light into a room as a dark one. This is true of artificial light as well as of sunlight.
Avoid strong colors. Red or any very bright color makes a room seem small and is trying to the nerves. If a bright color is desired in a room it may be used in a small ornament.
Some colors are warm while others give an effect of coolnessĄ A dark room requires a warm and cheerful color such as a soft cream, yellow, or buff. For a room with much sunshine, cool colors must be chosen. A faint rose or a gray is pleasing in a light room. A delicate blue is a cool color that may be used in a bedroom.
If wall paper is used, the colors should be chosen according to the directions given above. Plain paper gives the best back-ground for pictures, but if a figured paper is used one with small figures that are not too definite should be chosen. Never select paper with such definite figures that the wall seems spotted.
If the room is very high a drop ceiling in border effect is pleasing and makes the room seem broad. Avoid borders that are darker than the paper or of striking design or color.