This section is from the book "The Principles And Practice Of Modern House-Construction", by G. Lister Sutcliffe. Also available from Amazon: How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding & Maintaining Your Home.
Every person who has experienced the satisfaction of occupying a thoroughly comfortable bedroom must have seen how much its proper arrangement, whether as regards the planning of the room itself or the dis-position of the furniture, becomes identified with its comfort on the other hand, there are few who can have failed to observe that in too many bedrooms there is something wanting; in fact, that the plan of the room has been very much left to chance, and the disposition of the furniture to the ingenuity of the mistress of the house, often under considerable difficulties. It is true that the bedroom-floor of a house, as a whole, has to follow the lead of the ground-floor, and no less that the principles of plan of the two storeys and their requirements may not correspond. Compromise, therefore, must then of necessity enter into the solution of the secondary problem; that is to say, wherever the living-rooms below and the sleeping-room- above are at variance, it is the sleeping-rooms that must give way. But it does not by any means follow that the bedrooms are to be negligently dealt with; on the contrary, the earnest designer must devote all the more trouble to them.
A bedroom, just as much as a living-room, ought to be planned within itself, or strictly upon internal conditions; and it is most essential that the furniture should be plotted on the drawing. The governing features are not only the one or more windows, the one or more doors, and the fireplace, but obviously the bedstead, the dressing-table, the wash-stand, and the wardrobe; and the problem of plan is to find a proper place for each in relation to all.
The standard bedroom is one for the accommodation of a married couple. It is the custom for the lady to use it also for dressing, a small adjoining dressing-room being provided for the gentleman. In planning an ordinary or typical suite of this kind in the simplest form, and taking the bedroom first, the window may be considered as a fixed point. Whether to place the bedstead opposite the window, or against one of the other walls, then becomes a sort of personal question; far BOOM people when in bed object to a glare at the foot, while some have the same objection to a glare at the side. The fireplace will preferably be in the middle of one of the other walls, and the wardrobe in the middle of the remaining one. The dressing-table then is placed against the window, and the wash-stand preferably towards one corner well in the light, and there is another corner for a chest of drawers. As regards the dressing-room, the first tiling to bear in mind is that there must be a place for an emergency bedstead, probably, if the room be small, in the corner away from the window. The fireplace, wardrobe, and washstand may then be accommodated according to circumstances. The door of intercommunication with the bedroom ought to be removed from the outer door, and also from the fireplace. The dressing-table goes to the window.
Several illustrations must be given under this important head. Fig. 8 represents a good standard arrangement when the rooms are sufficiently large. In the bedroom the bedstead is placed with its foot to the light, standing centrally against the wall, and the wardrobe occupies a central position opposite a central fireplace. The outer door is in the position which is most usually accepted, but one which has an obvious disadvantage in relation to the bedstead, although it would undoubtedly be still more objectionably situated if in the warsrobe wall. The door to the dressing-room is conveniently situated for both sides, A centre table has frequently to be accommodated, but this involves no difficulty if the room be large enough; a bedside table is also shown. The wash stand may be at either side of the window, and the chest of drawers at the other. Space must be left for a good fireside, which it is so often essential to maintain. Turning to the dressing-room, it will be seen how a good position for a bedstead becomes a primary consideration; the fireplace need not be central, the wardrobe and drawers are well in the light, and so is the washstand, of course the arrangement as a whole admits of modification where the general plan of the house requires it.
Fig. 8. - Typical Bedroom anl Dressing room.
Fig. 9 shows a similar plan for an ordinary street house on the well-known London model willed "two rooms on a floor". The bedroom arrangements are the same as in the last instance. but in the smaller apartment in the rear, shown as the dressing-room, a little difficulty arises as to the place for the bedstead. There are three alternatives. Firstly, it may be put in the inner corner opposite the door of entrance (as dotted); which may require the sacrifice of the door of intercommunication. Secondly, it may be put in the corner next the window (as also dotted); which raises the question of a draught. Thirdly, it may be placed, as here represented, against the middle of the staircase wall, and the sleeper may make either end the head as he pleases. The wardrobe gives no difficulty; and the fireplace in any case need not have a central position.
Fig. 9. - Bedroom and Dressing room in Street House.
Fig. 10. Bedroom with Recess. and Dressing room.
Fig. 10 represents an arrangement for a street house, which has certain advantages. The stair-landing being extended to accommodate a separate flight for the storey above, leaving the space over the main staircase free for a room, the bedroom becomes L-shaped, so that the bedstead stands in an alcove secluded from the door. The dressing-room bedstead then occupies an inner corner sideways to the light, the door of communication has a suitable place, and the fireplace may be central.
Fig. 11 shows the bedstead standing sideways to the light (but exposed to the door), the fireplace is central opposite, and the dressing-room has its two doors, its bed-stead well placed, and its fireplace central. Otherwise this bedstead may be in the corner, and the fireplace out of the centre.
A sort of French bedroom or bed sitting-room, especially suit-aide for young ladies, is represented by Fig. 12. It has a bed-alcovc. which may be screened off during the day by a portiere) the two side closets serve for washing and dressing respectively, and the main area of the room is free from all sleeping-room furniture except a wardrobe and probably a cheval glass.
In cases where dressing-room-must be dispensed with, and the bedrooms themselves are of diminished size, the principles above indicated ought to be followed out as best may be, but in no case is it excusable to pass such a room on the paper plan until the bedstead, window, door, and fireplace have all been plotted thereon in a sufficiently satisfactory relation to each other.
On the other hand, a bed-chamber suite on a superior scale is perhaps all the more easily designed. It is simply a group of rooms, comprising a bedroom, two dressing-room-. perhaps the boudoir besides, a wardrobe-room, a bath-room. a water-closet, and. for access to the whole, a lobby or corridor with its own private door. The general principles of arrangement are still the same.
Every bedroom of sufficient size ought to be designed with an eye to the chances of occupation by an invalid; and in many cases of even the most temporary illness it may be found extremely desirable to have a second room in communication, available for the nurse's work. The ordinary dressing-room will suffice. A door towards an adjacent bedroom is objectionable.
Fig 11 - Bedroom and Dressing, room Alternative to Fig. 8.
Fig. 12-Bed Sitting room, with Alcove.
Children's rooms have to be specially designed. In wry complete form these will constitute a suite, comprising a night-nursery, a day-nursery, a nurse's private room, a private corridor with its own outer door, a bath-room, a water-closet, a wardrobe-room, and perhaps a little scullery. The night-nursery ought to be carefully planned so as to accommodate a sufficient number of little bedsteads kept clear of draughts, with a comfortable fireside and plenty of light and air. The day-nursery also must have a good fireside, and be well lighted and ventilated; and the furnishing will probably have for its basis a large square central table for elementary school-work, etc. The subsidiary apartments are easily designed. In a permanent family residence the necessity for a school-room ought to be kept in view, with a governess's room close at hand; and both of these, and the nurseries as well, ought to be available as ordinary bedrooms when not specially in use. Cupboards and closets are particularly useful for children's rooms; and there must be ready access for the mother at night.