How can the modern builder correct this severe defect? Only by using the services of a skilled and sensitive architect. There are four devices by means of which the Dutch Colonial style can be adapted to the hygienic demands of the modern American family: 1, recessed dormers; 2, a series of small projecting dormers; 3, one long shed-like dormer; 4, one or more secondary gables. None of these is really Dutch. Any of them is likely to break up the quiet effect of the low gambrel roof which is one of the happiest incidents of the style. So it takes more than a good builder to keep the adaptation from being merely a distortion.
Wide eaves with a slight curve upward are typical of this style. So, too, is the narrow piazza extending across the front or part of the front. But this should be supported by rather slender square wooden pillars instead of fat round ones. Small gabled or curved hoods over the entrances do not belong to the Dutch Colonial; they are features of the Pennsylvania Colonial type. But, even without this covering, the front door is one of the most charming single details in Hudson Valley architecture. It appears low and wide in comparison with modern millwork and it usually consists of an arrangement of inset wood panels of interesting size and design. Its lowness permits of a fan-light above and there are sidelights flanking the jambs, most often set between narrow, nicely moulded, wooden pilasters. Both the woodwork and the glass are simply treated; but there are unexpected graces in the carving and delightful niceties in the leaded glazing. A good effect of contrast is obtained by surrounding the dark-wood door and its sidelights with white woodwork.
Windows are treated more plainly. They never are placed in pairs but are spaced uniformly across the wall; their panes are small, as in all Colonial types, and they are hung with stout wooden shutters. Crescent, star-shaped or other odd-patterned saw-cuts appear in the upper halves of the shutters, for this was another Dutch idea for ventilating and lighting the interior.
One more exterior detail we must notice - the chimneys. These never jut out from the walls, for the Hollander's fireplace was shallow. Nor do the chimneys invariably come through the roof-ridge. Occasionally they do so, but as likely as not they just happen through the roof without much relation to general design. They are plain square brick affairs, seldom hooded, but frequently showing good craftsmanship in their caps.
Fig. 16. - Modification of Dutch Colonial house as commonly built to meet modern requirements. Although its double-pitched roof and dormer windows are characteristic of Dutch Colonial style, in the original Dutch Colonials the upper story windows appeared only in the ends of the house. (Copyright - Architects' Small House Service Bureau, Inc., House Plan 6-A-60.)
Low ceilings impart coziness and familiarity to the rooms. In most instances the rafters are exposed and the ceiling itself consists of the under-surface of the upstairs floor. The beams may or may not be painted, but the panels between them are likely to be white.
Walls in old Dutch houses are treated in three ways: With plaster, with wainscot and plastering or, but rarely, with floor-to-ceiling wood panels.
Perhaps the combination of wainscoting and plaster is the most representative, although many of the antique interiors show all-plaster walls with base-boards, chair-rails and cornices of wood. Writing of the famous Lady Moody house, one observer noticed, "The walls are covered with an exceedingly rough plaster, which would never pass inspection in a modern house, but which, because of its very roughness, helped to decorate the interior." Textured wall-treatments are in vogue again now, and here is ample warrant for their incorporation in the Dutch Colonial style.
Tiling is found here more rarely than might be expected. Rarely a floor, less seldom a hearth, of square red blocks appears, and some fireplaces are faced with Delft tile. But usually the mantel is. a veneer of finely designed wood carving imposed over the big bricks of the fireplace and forming a narrow shelf more than halfway up to the ceiling. Floors generally are of wood. Recessed windows with window-seats are common. Cross-corner closets with glass doors and shallow cupboards for the display of china and pewter are typical old-fashioned touches. Generally speaking, the wood-working shown in the old Dutch house is exceptional for its workmanship and its fine proportions. For the rest, there are few differences between the Dutch Colonial house and other American dwellings of the same period.