VARIATIONS OF DESIGN DEVELOPED FROM THE FEW FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURAL MOTIFS.
Variations in the proportions and the details of these motifs is about all that the designer can hope for, and yet this is one of the hardest problems to solve. The correct designing of dormer-windows is a very rare thing to be seen. How many houses of modern Colonial style have ugly dormers! They are usually made too large and too wide and fat. The dormer-windows used in the old Colonial houses were narrow and high, and in those proportions were their charming appeals. To-day a double-hung window with weight-boxes is used in these dormers, and the whole width made too wide because of these additions to the sides. This is a warning that the designer should be careful in adapting old motifs to modern requirements. This particular problem has been correctly solved with the use of the weight-box, but how many times it has not been solved is evident on all sides. Another unfortunate use of the dormer-window motif is the extension of the second floor up through the lower slope of the gambrel roof. This cuts away any legitimate lower section of the gambrel roof, and in order to preserve it, the designer projects it outward from the ends of the house, and has it skirt by the side of the second floor like an added toboggan-slide with no earthly reason for its existence. Then, too, the prairie-schooner dormer, the semicircle one, and the eyebrow dormer are certainly types to be used with great care, for they can become eyesores without effort, and they cost a good deal to construct. Where the dormer is to be made inconspicuous the flat-roof type has been successfully employed, but the roofing material on it should be tin or copper. In some of the trap-door types of dormers where the pitch is very slight, the roofing material ought to be of sheet metal. The sides of dormers are made less conspicuous by covering them with the same material as used on the roof, but this is not always desirable. However, all vertical joints of dormers with the roof should be carefully flashed to prevent leaks.
The treatment of the gable ends of dormers is practically the same as that required for the treatment of the gable ends of the main roof. Here again, although on the face of it there seem to be innumerable ways of treating the gable ends of roofs, yet there are comparatively few methods. The drawings show about all the possible ways, and any types which appear to differ from these can be shown to be merely variations. The simplest method of treatment is to place a small moulding under the ends of the shingles. A variation of this can be made by adding a wide board below the moulding or a course of shingles running parallel with the edge. The classic cornice can be used, but great taste is needed in handling this motif, for any pitch which is not of the traditional classic pediment form is apt to look badly. The verge-board motif comes from half-timber traditions, and is generally used in a very careless fashion. In general, it usually looks best when some visible means of support is made a part of the design.
FLAT TREATMENT OF GABLE END.
The shingle imitation of the thatched-roof gable is one of those amusing architectural fads which do not have very deep roots, and sooner or later are forgotten.
FLAT TREATMENT OF GABLE END.
ADAPTATION OF CLASSIC PEDIMENT.
The wall-gable treatment is very dignified, but is usually associated with larger houses, but when simplified it has a charm which none of the other motifs can offer.
Other than these few, there are no common motifs to use in adorning the gable end of a roof. This and the previous statements only go to prove that the originality of design in the small house is limited within a narrow scope, and that the real beauty is not obtained in trying to find different forms, but in trying to use the traditional structural forms in the best proportions and giving careful attention to the details. In fact, it has been said that house designing is largely an assembling, into pleasing general proportions, of carefully designed traditional details.
SHlNGLE IMITATING GABLE END OF THATCHED ROOF.