The Rooms Of The House
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The Vestibule. If the front door opens into the living room, there should be a small vestibule to stop drafts and to provide a place in which to receive the casual caller. Little furniture is needed here. A chair, a simple table with a mirror above it, and possibly an umbrella stand are sufficient. The family coats and rubbers should be kept in a retired corner, never in the main entrance. If a hall is used instead of a vestibule it should be furnished in a simple way. The colors used should be dignified. Brown in furniture and floor covering and cream for walls and ceiling are appropriate.
The Living Room. The living room is the center of the home, for here the members of the family meet in their moments of leisure and here their friends are received. This room should be large, if possible, and a fireplace should be provided (even if it must be reenforced by other heat in very cold weather), for it gives a homelike feeling that nothing else can supply.
Windows should be large and well placed, and the curtains should suit the furnishings.
Bookshelves will be needed, as well as two tables, one with shaded lamp for reading and the other for games. Chairs should be low and roomy. A couch with a bright soft cover, a few good pictures, a beautiful plant or two, and such other decorations as seem pleasing would complete the furnishing of an attractive living room.
The Dining Room. Unless the family is very large a dining room need be of a moderate size only. It should be a cheery room with just the necessary furniture, a dining table, a serving table, and chairs. There may be in addition a low side-board and a simple china cabinet if there is no built-in cabinet. Few, if any, pictures are needed in a dining room.
A small pantry between the dining room and the kitchen aids in keeping out the fumes of the kitchen when food is being cooked. If possible, a wall cupboard for china that is in use every day should open into both the kitchen and the dining room, so that the dishes may be carried from the table to the cup-board and taken out on the kitchen side. If the sink and the drying table are just beside this wall cupboard, the dishes when washed can be returned to it and thus many steps saved. A screened porch may be used to advantage for a summer dining room.
The Dishes.Choose dishes of pleasing form, in plain white or in some dainty design in color. Decorations on dishes should be on a part not used for food; for example, a plate may have a delicate border on the rim a little inside the edge. Avoid thick ware, as food served in it is not attractive. In buying china choose what is known as open stock, that is, a pattern sold in any desired number of pieces, so that broken dishes may be replaced without trouble.
Glassware. Choose plain, clear glassware that is of good proportions. A drinking glass that is tall and narrow cannot be used in comfort, and a top-heavy pitcher may turn over. Do not buy imitation cut glass as it is hard to clean and is easily cracked; in fact, even real cut glass is not always artistic and is expensive and troublesome. Do not buy glass in elaborate designs or in colors.
Silver and Cutlery. Choose silver and plated ware in plain designs, as much decoration catches dirt. Since silver plate is hard to keep in order, use glass and china as far as possible. Steel bladed knives are best for meats that require cutting ; but as steel requires even more careful cleaning than silver, it is better to use silver or plated knives where no meat that requires cutting is to be served. The silver plate should not be light in weight. The satin finish scratches more easily than does the polished finish.
Table Linen, Select a medium or heavy weight linen of good quality, and buy it from a firm which will guarantee it to be real linen. Choose napkins to match the tablecloth; two sizes are useful, one for dinner, the other for luncheon or supper.
Small doilies for each saucer and water glass, large doilies for plates and dishes of food, and a centerpiece, may be used in place of a tablecloth.
A quilted or asbestos pad under the tablecloth protects the table, improves the appearance of the cloth, and lessens the noise.
The Kitchen. The kitchen should be in a cool place. A northeastern room gets the morning sunshine, and is cool in summer. The windows should he planned so as to give plenty of air, but care should be taken to prevent a draft over the stove. A small kitchen saves many steps. The kitchen table should not be over six feet from the stove. The walls should be painted with a washable enamel paint of a pleasing color. Linoleum makes a most satisfactory floor covering, as it is much easier to clean than wood. It is too cold for the feet in winter, however, and small rugs or strips of matting should be placed by the table, sink, and stove. Linoleum cannot be used unless the floor is even. It should not be fastened down firmly until it has been used for two weeks as it will stretch and become uneven on the floor.
Furnishings. Provide a good kitchen cabinet, with receptacles for the supplies most used. A table from 28 to 36 inches high, and a stool to correspond, will also be needed. The table should be covered with zinc, aluminoid, or heavy glass. A sink of the right height, about 36 inches, a drain board, and a good supply of running water are other necessities. If possible have a faucet over the stove to fill kettles. An enameled or soapstone sink is preferable to a black iron sink which rusts and is hard to clean. The space below the sink should be open, and the floor should be protected with a rubber mat.
Shelves and Hooks. Have all shelves and hooks at a convenient height, neither high enough to require much stretching of the arms, nor low enough to require stooping. Make the shelves narrow so that everything may be seen at a glance. Have a small one for cook books. Place hooks near the place where the utensils will be needed; hang only one utensil on each hook.
The Stove. Unless the kitchen is heated by some other means, use a good wood or coal stove for winter; in summer a gas or blue flame oil stove or an electric stove is to be preferred. Whenever possible, use an elevated oven to save stooping. A coal or wood stove may be mounted on brick or iron.
In selecting a wood or coal stove, choose a plain one of heavy iron. If too thin, it will not retain the heat well. An inter-lining of asbestos in the oven saves fuel. The firebox must be in proportion to the space to be heated. A very small one requires constant replenishing. The oven must be large enough to bake all that will be required for the family. If a new stove is needed for a kitchen that is already furnished, be sure that the stove will suit the utensils already on hand.
If any other method of heating water is available, do not have the water pipes in the stove as this is the most expensive way. A gas jet or an oil stove should be used for the purpose.
A small alcohol lamp or an electric plate may be used for heating water for tea or coffee. A good fireless cooker or a steam cooker saves much time and fuel.
Utensils.Use light utensils with lips and joints attached by rivets rather than solder. Aluminum is very desirable, but if thin it dents easily. As aluminum is slightly affected by acids and alkalies, use thin, light enameled ware for foods containing much acid or where soda is used (as in cooking beans). Discard enameled ware when it is chipped. Tin utensils rust, those of iron are very heavy, and wooden ones are not durable; there-fore these materials should be little used. Provide mixing bowls of well-glazed crockery. Glass jars are clean and attractive for storing supplies.
A small kitchen grindstone and a good flexible meat knife are great helps. Provide also long-handled forks, spoons, and skimmers, a long-handled hook for drawing pans to the edge of the oven, and an oven shovel for lifting out pie tins.
The Refrigerator. A good refrigerator is not cheap, be-cause the process and the materials used in its making are expensive. It is not economy to buy a poor one, for such a refrigerator will use far more ice than a good one. It should be tile or enamel lined, as zinc is hard to keep clean. All racks and shelves should be of metal, as wood will absorb moisture. The inside corners should be rounded for ease in cleaning. The waste pipe of the refrigerator should never be connected with the sewers. If a pipe carries the water outdoors, see that it drains away promptly. The refrigerator should be conveniently located.
A Cooling Cupboard. On a porch or on the outside ledge of a window, a box may be fixed which can be used for keeping food cool. It should have screened sides, and a curtain next to the house to keep the hot air out.
The Pantry. A pantry or storeroom should be provided next to the kitchen, unless the housekeeping is on a very small scale. It should be well ventilated and lighted. Where no pantry is available, a wire kitchen-safe, that has the bottom covered with screening to keep out mice, may be used.
The Cellar. A cellar should have plenty of windows on opposite sides to give proper ventilation. In a warm climate cellars should be frequently whitewashed, to keep them free from mold.
The Bathroom. Every dwelling, no matter how simple, should have a bathroom. If there is running water in the house, the bathing problem is easy, as a bathtub and toilet can be installed for sixty dollars or even less. Choose a porcelain or enameled tub, and place it far enough away from the wall to enable one to clean under and about it easily; or have it flush against the wall with a solid base resting on the floor. The floor of the bathroom, if not tiled, may be covered with linoleum. A small washable rug should be provided. Shelves of glass on metal brackets and glass towel rods are the most hygienic for the bathroom.
The Toilet. Although it is best to have the toilet or water closet apart from the bath it may be put in the bathroom. Choose a bowl that is quite low, and with as little wood about it as possible.
Study the plumbing system carefully and note arrangement of pipes and traps. Water stands at the bend in the pipe where the trap is located, to prevent the entrance of sewer gas. This is called the water seal. In plumbing fixtures which are seldom flushed this water may evaporate. Note the location and arrangement of tanks for flushing and the size and condition of each pipe. Are they apt to become clogged? See that the joints in pipes are perfect. All' plumbing fixtures should be connected with escape pipes which extend above the roof. Where is the connection made ? If there is no sewer system consider carefully location and arrangement of cesspools or septic tanks. The latter is to be preferred to the former. (Write to the United States Department of Agriculture for the bulletins on "Comforts and Conveniences of Farm Homes" and "Plans for a Septic Tank.")
The Bedroom. The floor of the bedroom should be bare except for small rugs placed where they are needed. As the bed is the most important piece of furniture in the room, one should buy the best springs and mattress possible. Wire springs should have a stout covering to protect the mattress from rust. The bed itself should be plain and of pleasing form. White enameled metal beds are the easiest to keep in order. Brass beds are attractive, but they are hard to keep polished. Never buy elaborately carved wooden beds with wicker insets. They catch much dust and cannot be kept clean. Chiffoniers and dressers should be roomy. All heavy furniture should be on rollers that work easily. Low chairs and a small table are the only other necessary pieces of furniture.
Good woolen blankets will outlast many pairs of cotton ones, are warmer and more comfortable, and can be easily cleaned. Comforts, or puffs, as they are sometimes called, cannot be well cleaned. Good feather pillows are durable and comfortable.
Sheets should be of smooth material ; they must be large enough to tuck in around the mattress on all sides, and the upper sheet should be long enough to fold several inches over the top of the blankets.
If there is a stationary washbowl in the bathroom washstands are not needed in the family bedrooms. One should be provided, however, in a guest chamber: A metal framework, with a glass top is preferable. The space underneath should be open.
There must be plenty of well-lighted and ventilated closets for clothing. These should have shelves arranged low so there will be no strain in reaching.
The Stairs. If the house has more than one story, stairs are a necessary evil and must be planned for comfort in climbing. A stair that is easy to climb has a rise of about seven inches with a tread ten inches wide, exclusive of the part that overlaps. If the rise is too high, climbing is difficult ; if too low, the jar of each step is great ; if the tread is too narrow, one is apt to stumble. The stair should never be less than three feet six inches in width.
Does the word home mean only the house, or does it include the atmosphere or feeling that centers in the family? What are some of the qualities of a real home? Mention some way in which these blessings may be secured. Do they depend on wealth?
Why is the location of a house so important? Select a suitable location for a home in your community. Enumerate some of the factors to be considered. What sanitary points must be considered in selecting a house? What kind of water supply have you? Is it safe?
Why is the appearance of a house so important? What color would you choose for a house in the location you have selected? Why? Bring a picture of a house that you like. Plan a lawn and flower beds suitable for your climate.
Make a list of fruit trees that you could plant. Plan a kitchen garden.
Is the woodwork in your home easy to dust? Could it be improved? What color would you select for your woodwork? How would you finish it? How would you finish a pine floor?
Why is color so important in wall coverings? What color would you choose for a dark room? For a well-lighted one? For your dining room? Why avoid red? What color would you select for the ceiling of a dark room?
Which do you prefer, tinted or papered walls? Why? Compare cost. Select samples of wall paper, and consider carefully their design and color. How could the apparent height of a room be decreased?
What are some of the points to be considered in selecting rugs and curtains? How should pictures be hung?
Select a picture of a good lamp suitable for the living room table. Mention some essential points in choosing lighting fixtures.
Tell how a dining room should be furnished. What dishes would you select for your table? Describe good glassware. What designs in silver and plated ware do you like? Which scratches- more easily, polished or satin finished silver? What is the price of table linen of good quality? What good designs have you seen?
Draw a plan for a convenient home kitchen, marking location of sink, table, cabinet, etc. What color would you choose for the walls? How would you cover the floor? Can a kitchen table be artistic? How would you cover yours? How high should it be to suit you? Why provide a stool? What is the proper height for your sink? If there is no running water in your kitchen, make an estimate of the cost of securing it. What kind of sink will you want? What are the important points in arranging shelves?
How can your stove be placed at a convenient height? Why is a good stove so important? Give some important points in selecting one.
What utensils or appliances used in the school kitchen do you need in your home? Make a list of utensils and furnishings needed for a family kitchen, giving size and price.
If you do not have a bathroom, estimate the cost of equipping one with tub, seat, and wash bowl. How should the tub be arranged? How would you finish the floor?
Describe the furnishings of a bedroom. How much would they cost? What length is required for sheets?
Find a plan of a house that would suit your family. Select samples or pictures of furnishings for each room. Illustrate your color scheme for each room, either with sketches in water colors or with pictures and samples.