This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
The plan of the modern residence began to be worked out in the 18th century. There is a treatise on architecture published at that time by Blondel, who says that a complete reformation had been made in the architecture of large and small dwellings from the point of view principally of the arrangement of rooms; great efforts had been made to substitute for the long, rambling succession of single rooms, an arrangement of rooms double in depth, with separate communications 30 indispensable for conveniences in a building.
It became clear that in a dwelling the ease of circulation was very important, and that the approaches to and exits from the various parts had to be well worked out, for the living rooms as well as for the service rooms. The aim of architects in the 18th century was for independence in the house, and it is to this that we owe their very remarkable plans.
The treatise on architecture by Blondel contains many interesting plans, well worthy of careful study. On the subject of Room, in particular, Blondel gives some interesting data:
"It seems", he says, "that within about fifty years French architects have, in this respect, invented a new art. Before this, our edifices in France, in imitation of those of Italy, had an exterior decoration which made a very beautiful architecture; but the interiors were hardly livable. The architects seem to have tried to keep out the light; one could hardly find a place for a bed and for the principal articles of furniture. The fireplace occupied the largest part of the rooms, and the smallness of the doors gave an inadequate idea of the places to which they gave entrance . The arrangement should be the first object of the architect; decoration depends absolutely on a well-studied plan. It is the arrangement which establishes the length or width and the height of a building."
Number of Rooms. The great objection to many small houses is that the people want the same number of rooms for a small amount of money that others have where more money has been spent. A desire to have six rooms and a bath often results in making all the rooms tiny and uncomfortable - more like boxes than living, habitable spaces. These houses are not necessarily cozy just because they are small; a cozy corner in a big room has much more of the cozy feeling than is found in the small rooms of an apartment. There should be one good-sized room in every house or apartment, even though one room has to be sacrificed.
Hallway. The hallway should be neither a cramped, narrow space, nor arranged in such a way that it will be a draughty part of the house. It should be borne in mind that if open from first floor to roof, the heat will pass up the hallway; for that reason it should be sufficiently closed off from the other rooms. It may be arranged as a comfortable gathering place for the family. Indeed, with the staircase kept properly to one side, and with a large fireplace the hallway may form the central room of the whole house.
Stairways. Some men say that they build a house around a bathroom, because they consider that the most important room in the house. Next in importance is the staircase. The front staircase should be easy and large. A 7 to 7 1/4-inch rise, with 10 to 10 1/2-inch width of tread, is customary, though a 6 1/2-inch rise with an 11-inch tread is easier and looks much better. Staircases, in the better class of house, maybe as easy as 6-inch rise by 14-inch tread,or even 5 1/2-inch rise with 15-inch tread. In back staircases a 7-inch rise with 9-inch tread is not too steep; and they are frequently found as steep as 8-inch tread. If space allows, the rear staircase should be sufficiently wide to take up trunks and furniture - say 3 1/2 to 4 feet, with wide doors (3 feet 3 inches) opening into it. In this case the stairs should be strongly supported. Staircases may be made fire-resisting by stopping the space between the stringers with brick and by covering the underside or soffit with metal lath.
2 R + T = 25. i. e., twice the height of the riser plus the width of the tread should equal 25 inches.
Living Rooms. The living room, library, parlor, reception room, should all be "livable." The shut-up "best room" is a thing of the past.
Sitting Room. This should have a southerly exposure, so that it will be sunny and cheerful all the time.
The best arrangement for a sitting room is to have the fireplace at one end, the windows at the side, and the entrance at the further corner. The next best arrangement is to have the fireplace on the same side of the room as the entrance, and both on the long side of the room. The most unsatisfactory arrangement is to have the door on the wall opposite the fireplace or close by the fireplace, where there is a constant draft.
The room should express comfort and restfulness. There should be no feeling of over-decoration, and nothing in the room should be so striking as to be the first and only thing to be seen. The great objection to so-called "decoration", is that each decorator or designer thinks only of his own work, consequently making it prominent; and it is extremely difficult to make the decorative elements harmonize.
Dining Room. The dining room should be, as a rule, on the side of the house toward the morning sun. It should be cool in summer and warm in winter, as it is the one room that is necessarily occupied at least three times a day. A westerly outlook is generally disagreeable on account of the low-lying sun for the evening meal.
Butler's Pantry. The butler's pantry should have an outside window, and doors leading into the dining room and kitchen. Sometimes a slide is put in, opening into a small china closet in the dining room. The butler's pantry should be quite large. The story is told, of an architect who dined with his client several times while he was making the sketches; and each time, on his return to his office, he enlarged the butler's pantry, and when the building was erected it was still one of the cramped rooms in the house.
Kitchen. The kitchen should not be placed in too close proximity to the living rooms, and should be on the northwest corner of the house. As a rule, it should be separated from the living parts of the house by at least two doors. This is done, partly on account of the odors from the cooking, and also because of the heat. A basement kitchen is objectionable on this account. The kitchen should be thoroughly ventilated, the windows being set high - as near the ceiling as possible - to let out the hot air, the sill being located above the backs of the tables and sinks. A hood over the range connecting with a ventilating flue, is very useful for ventilating. This ventilating flue will be either a space around the flue from the kitchen range, which will be constantly warm; or it may be a separate, square flue next the smoke flue in the chimney. It is advisable sometimes to put deafening felt over the kitchen, so as to prevent the passage of sound and heat if there are sleeping rooms above.
Refrigerator. The refrigerator should be located so that it will be easily accessible from the outside, for putting in ice; and it should be near the kitchen without being too near the range. The refrigerator drip should never connect directly with the sewer but should have a separate pipe leading to a dry well outside the building. The simplest and cleanest way to trap this is as follows: Build a galvanized-iron pan large enough to rest on the floor under the drip-pipe of the refrigerator; and carry lead pipe from this down into the cellar, ending in an ordinary milk jar which stands in another galvanized-iron drip-pan connecting with the dry well.
Storeroom. The storeroom may be made rat-proof by plastering on metal instead of wooden lath, and by plastering the ceiling underneath with the same lathing, taking the precaution to cover all openings.
Bathroom. The bathroom may have tile floor and walls, or, for ordinary work, a Georgia pine floor, with North Carolina pine sheathing four feet above the floor. A sanitary base - that is, one rounded to avoid a corner between the wall and the floor, such as is used in hospitals and in many schoolhouses, may be used. Waterproof paper should be put in between the upper and the under floor in the bathroom, being connected by lead flashing with the outside of the building. This will prevent damage in the case of an unexpected overflow.
Lavatory. A lavatory on the first floor is very convenient. This may open from the hall or be connected with a coat closet. It should have a window.
Closets. The closet doors should open in such a way that the light from the window shines into the closet.
On the sleeping-room floor, a housemaid's closet may be provided - if possible with an outside window. This closet should contain a galvanized -iron or enameled-iron sink, provided with a flushing tank as well as with hot and cold water faucets.
The linen closet should preferably have no drawers, as they furnish hiding places for mice. Shelves will answer every purpose.
Bicycle and dark rooms, play room, sewing room, billiard room, music room, den, conservatory, etc., should also be considered.
Cellar. The cellar should be well drained, if possible, with a drain-pipe separate from the soil-pipe. There should be a blind drain under the wall, and the wall should be damp-proofed in damp locations, by the use of layers of slate stone extending through the wall at the surface of the ground, or layers of well-tarred paper at this point.
CHICAGO ARCHITECTURAL CLUB EXHIBITION, SPRING OF 1907.
Exhibit of Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect, Oak Park, 111.
Waterproof cellars are made by putting down several layers of tarred paper well mopped with hot tar or asphalt, on which the concrete cellar floor is laid. As a rule, however, it is best to have the cellar connected either with the soil-pipe or with the blind drain, and to have all the concreting put in so that it will slope to one point, where will be placed a trap with grating.