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قراءة كتاب The Library of Work and Play: Home Decoration

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The Library of Work and Play: Home Decoration

The Library of Work and Play: Home Decoration

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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comfort and satisfaction that come from artistic surroundings. People who are satisfied with such dwellings seem to show less appreciation of art, the highest product of civilization, than those uncivilized tribes who decorated their caves or huts with beautiful rugs of their own weaving and who ornamented their pottery and their utensils and implements with wonderfully conceived and elaborately wrought designs. Modern cave dwellers in apartment houses with all the conveniences of their ready-made surroundings, are in danger of missing that self-expression in their home belongings that encouraged and delighted even the savage. The most extreme example of this form of degeneracy is found in the suggestion of a certain great inventor, that the age of concrete construction, now at hand, means that we are to have concrete houses poured into a standard mould, hardened in twenty-four hours, and finished for occupancy in a day or two.

The boys and girls of this story would not have accepted a machine-made, standardized house if one had been offered them, ready for use. There was a special purpose for which their house was to be planned and built, as there generally is in the case of any real house. No style A, B, or C, chosen from any series of pattern-built or moulded houses, could fulfil such a purpose; and even if it could, would they willingly give up all the fun of planning and building and furnishing? Would they forego the lessons of experience to be learned from all this work? This is always a large part of the satisfaction which comes to any one who builds his own house. In the present instance it was the chief motive, since the boys and girls who were planning this house were not expecting to make their home there.

Why the House Was Built.—What, then, was the purpose for which this house was to be built; and what were the specific problems involved in realizing this purpose? It was to be a practice house for the girls of the household technology course. This meant that it should be, so far as possible, a model house; but it must of necessity be a simple one. Economy, always a safe guide, was a most important factor in determining the character of the design. A limited appropriation—about $1000—for building material was available. Economy of space as well as of expense was also important. The only available land was a triangular lot in the corner of the school yard, 665 square feet in area. This limited the dimensions of the floor plan to 24 by 35 feet. It was decided to develop the design within these dimensions, on a rectangular plan, with one story and a hip roof, because such a design would present comparatively easy problems in framing and insure a building of pleasing external proportions.

THE GENERAL DESIGN AND THE PLAN

In attacking the problem of design the method of approach was determined by the fact that school- girls and school-boys were to be the architects and builders. House planning, home decoration, and household management were important subjects of study on the part of the girls and various forms of drawing and constructive work were required of all the boys of this school; so they all felt that they had a right to contribute something out of their study and experience that might be of value in working out this problem. The design must therefore be a composite of the best features of many studies.

A Composite Design.—The rooms required for a house of this character were thought to be a hall, a living room, a dining-room, a kitchen, a pantry, a bedroom with a closet, a bath room, and a linen closet. Nothing short of this outfit of rooms would satisfy the demands of a house to be used to give practical training in all the essentials of plain housekeeping and in the entertainment of guests. With these requirements in mind and with full knowledge of all the limitations of the problem, the girls of the junior and senior classes, who were taking the course in household technology, entered into a lively but friendly competition with each other to produce the most acceptable design and draw the best plan. So many excellent plans resulted from this competition that it was difficult to select the best. It was therefore decided to combine in a new and final plan the best features of several studies that seemed to meet the conditions of the problem with equal success. Two of these were selected as having the greatest number of good points. From these the final floor plan was developed and the necessary modifications made in the original drawings to make the general design of the building fit the plan.

Floor plan of the model house
Floor plan of the model house

The Hall.—It may be of interest to note how some of the details of the problem of design were worked out for the final plan. Beginning with the hall, it was easily seen that economy of space required that the room should have small dimensions. In fact, it did not need to be a separate room at all. It could easily be a space between the living room and the dining-room, separated from both by means of portières and joined upon occasion with either room or with both, thus making possible a reception room or a dining-room of good size, or one large room. Of course, the central idea of a hall must not be lost sight of in providing for a desirable extension of other rooms. It should suggest a warm welcome to the guest; and here is where the fireplace may fulfil the double function of giving the cheer of the hearth-stone at all times and the comfort of fire when warmth is needed. The absence of a stairway, since none was needed, was a favourable circumstance. Appropriate decoration and furnishing in due time were to add a few distinguishing marks so that the house could retain, without any appreciable sacrifice of space, the dignity of an entrance hall.

The Living Room and the Dining-room.—The relative positions of the living room and the dining-room, as already stated, were determined by the location of the hall. The purpose of each was distinct and self-evident, and determined the features of design that lent themselves most readily to appropriate decoration. In the living room the floor, the wall spaces, and the ceiling needed consideration with regard to their final treatment, to give pleasing proportions and harmonious colouring. The same was true of the dining-room, though its different purpose suggested a different design. An abundance of light was important for both rooms, hence the large, multiple windows. Such windows would also offer a good chance for pleasing drapery effects.

The Kitchen and Its Appointments.—No room demanded so much study as the kitchen. In the first place it was necessary to make provision for a relatively larger kitchen than would ordinarily be needed in a house of this size, because in this case it was designed to be used as a practice kitchen and must therefore be large enough to accommodate a considerable number of girls—at least eight—at one time. This point assumed so much importance in the minds of the young designers that they were constantly tempted to rob other rooms of the space that was due them in order to get a "nice, big kitchen." But by clever adjustments and combinations the necessary floor dimensions were secured without unduly cramping other features of the plan. The range, laundry tubs, and sink were conveniently located near each other with the tubs at such a height that when not in use the cover was flush with the top of

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