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.
In a house suitable for an unpretentious family of the middle class, the primary living-rooms arc a dining-room for meals, a drawing-room for the ladies, and a supplementary apartment for the master of the house, usually taking the name of "library" or "study". As the establishment advances in rank, a more proper library is substituted for the last, to accommodate gentlemen-guests and visitors; after which a billiard-room, a gentleman's room or "business-room" for the master's privacy, a subsidiary drawing-room called the "morning-room" for the ladies, and a boudoir or private room for the mistress, are successively provided, and sometimes a subsidiary dining-room called the "breakfast-room". On the other hand, in dwellings of less degree the dining-room is used as the general sitting-room, and the drawing-room chiefly for the reception of visitors, while the supplementary room, if any. is occupied according to circumstances - sometimes as a children's room. In still simpler households the dining-room becomes the family parlour, and the drawing-room, if retained, is only the best parlour for occasions of ceremony.
In all these rooms alike, there are three leading features in the plan, namely, the fireplace, the one or more windows, and the door; and, speaking generally, the fireplace is best placed in the middle of one of the sides of the room, the window or windows in the middle of either of the two sides at right angles to this, and the door in either of the two remaining walls close to that corner which is most removed from both fireplace and window (see Fig. 3). Whenever possible, the fireplace should be against an internal wall, as smoky chimneys are particularly to be feared in external walls, because of the effect of atmospheric cold on the flue; indeed even tall chimney-stacks are liable to produce the same result. Keeping in mind this general type for simple plans, there need be no difficulty in dealing with more complex cases.
Figs. 4 and 5 show two very objectionable plans, one of a sitting-room and one of a kitchen, actually carried into execution to meet the exigencies of "style". In both cases the relation of the door to the fireplace could not be worse.
In a dining-room there is a fourth radical feature, namely, the sideboard; and. whether fixed or movable, it ought to stand opposite the fireplace. Then the mistress of the house is properly seated with her back to the fireplace, at the "head of the table; and the master with his back to the sideboard, at the "foot" of the table; the origin of the latter arrangement being that the master is suppoaed to be in touch with the butler and the wine. The fireplace and the sideboard ought therefore to be placed on the end walls of the usual oblong room rather than on the longer side walls. The door is then to be placed at the side-lioard corner in the wall opposite the windows, rather than in the sideboard end wall; but if there be a second door for service, this may of course be at the farther end of the sideboard wall (see Fig. 6). The furniture is marked on this plan, and need not be further deseribed A drawing-room may be planned according to fancy, provided that the fire-ridfl is disposed in pursuance of the rule of comfort, and the door or doors rightly placed with relation to it; in other respects even a fantastic arrangement, within rational limits, becomes permissible; the only vital objection to this license being that all eccentric things, however pleasing at first, soon pall upon the taste. The aspect of a drawing-room ought to be south-east, and the prospect pleasant. The furnishing is matter of decoration in great variety.
Fig. 3 - .Sitting-room: primary Type.
Fig. 4 -Sitting room: Bad Example.
Fig. ft. - Kitchen: Bad Example.
A morning-room ought to be a simply-designed apartment for the commonplace purposes of unceremonious feminine home-life, the license of eccentricity and the burden of restraint being alike out of place. Here again the aspect ought to be south-east or a little more eastward, and there should be a ready outlet to the lawn, perhaps by a casement-window. A comfortable fireside is essential, and suitable places should be provided for a writing-table and for work-tables; also a good position for a piano.
A boudoir is similar to the morning-room, but on the principle and scale of a strictly private instead of a more public room; it is also practically the mis-tress's business-room, from which the household management is directed, and a particularly methodical lady may have a sort of office-table or escritoire for a conspicuous feature. Otherwise it may be merely a very dainty retreat for refined seclusion, with a minimum of business; and sometimes it will be on the bedroom floor of the house, in which case it ought to be of very easy access from the principal staircase. The aspect and prospect ought both to be of the best.
A gentleman's room is, so far as privacy goes, like the boudoir, but of a thoroughly masculine and more business-like order. On a country estate it is, in fact, the estate-office, and may have a clerk's room attached. A professional man will perhaps make it in like manner purely a business-room. The aspect is preferably in the shade, say north-eastward. The access ought to be of twofold convenience, in the first place for visitors of importance entering the house by the front door, and in the second place for others who come through the servants' offices A library, properly so called, is of course a book-room, surrounded more or less with book-cases, and furnished with reading and writing appliances and very comfortable chairs, etc. In good houses it is the gentlemen's public morning-room or lounge. An eastward aspect is desirable, and the lighting is important. A study or small library is frequently a problem of some difficulty. Fig. 7 represents a good model; the occupant sits with the fireplace at one side and the light at his left hand; his book-cases also are well lighted, the door is as it ought to be, and he has a good place for a sidc-table, an easy-chair for a visitor, and a pleasant fireside.
Fig. 6.-Typical Dining-room.
A billiard-room is not a thing to be planned anyhow if it is to withstand the criticism of even the least-accomplished players. The table, twelve feet by six, ought to have a space of six feet or more all round it: and the lighting ought to be by a ceiling-light immediately over the table and of the same dimensions; wall-windows may be used when better cannot be had. but at best they are only a make-shift. When, as is perhaps most frequently the ease, the billiard-room is used as a lounge for gentlemen, there ought to be a comfortable fireside at one end, with sufficient extra floor-space. It is important that a billiard-room should be well ventilated artificially. The well known three pairs of strong hot lights for evening use render this especially necessary; more particularly if the room is to be used as a lounge during the day. and |>erhaps as a smoking-room, and still more if ladies are to play after dinner or to look on with comfort.
A smoking-room, if so called, is, more properly speaking, a free-and-easy lounge where smoking may be carried to excess without the risk of offence, and whieh may be confidently used for any casual masculine purpose.
A parlour, or unpretending family living-room taking the place of the more formal dining-room, it primarily a sitting-room, having a good fireside at one end and a sideboard at the other, a table in the centre for meals and all Other purposes, a pair of easy-chairs, a couch, and the usual miscellaneous furniture.If there be a second or best parlour, so called, it will be simply a somewhat superior room of the same type, taking the place of a drawing-room. A breakfast-room in a good house is a subsidiary dining-room, similarly furnished, but in a more homely style, and used by the family for breakfast. It is placed somewhat eastward accordingly, and is available for children's meals, and perhaps for parlour purposes at pleasure. In Loudon houses of modest pretensions the trout basement-room is often the breakfast-room, the kitchen being conveniently situated immediately behind it.
Fig. 7 -Typical study.
A conservatory as an adjunct to the house may be best described as a glass room attached to the ladies quarter; preferably to the hall, staircase, or garden entrance; never too directly connected with any of the family apartments (because of the moistened air); calculated for only a moderate temperature; and, of course, sufficiently exposed to the sunshine. The less crowded it is, and the more like an elegant lounge, the better. The plants are its garniture more than its mere contents.