How a Narrow Hall May be Improved - The Possibilities of the Bay Window and the Fireplace
Let us now step indoors and see what can be done to add to the comfort and convenience of the interior, and also, if possible, to effect improvements in those things which make for good appearance.
As regards the main structure, one must be cautious in embarking upon alterations, particularly where walls and partitions are concerned, or much money may be spent in achieving very inadequate results.
The narrow hall is one of those things one would like altered, and, if one is prepared to spare a little space from the front sitting-room, an excellent compromise may be made by taking down part of the wall - usually only 4 1/2 inches thick - dividing hall from sitting-room, and setting it back some eighteen inches or two feet, as shown in the illustration a. The increased roominess of the hall more than compensates for the space taken from the sitting-room.
An alternative plan is to throw hall and front room into one, as shown in the illustration b. In this case a lobby should be made by retaining part of the partition wall and adding a swing door, to secure privacy and to cut off draught from the front door.
The result is a type of room that some people find attractive - a cross between the sitting-hall and parlour - and one that never becomes stuffy, owing to the excellent ventilation provided by the staircase.
Should the staircase be thought too obtrusive, or productive of too much draught, it might be cased in with panelled woodwork and provided with a door, as one finds in certain old houses in the country.
Structural alterations of this kind do not involve serious outlay, provided no special precautions are necessary for securing proper support to the floor above, a point on which it is well to consult an architect.
It should be noted that the work should never be done without having first obtained the landlord's consent in writing. Moreover, a preliminary conference with the owner of the house may result in his agreeing to bear some part of the cost, particularly if it can be made clear to him that the contemplated alterations are real improvements to the property.
How the design appears when carried out. Not only is the room more attractive, but its accommodation is increased
Bay windows are not always appreciated to the extent they deserve. How often do we not see a table laden with pot-plants usurping the space?
Far better is it to give free access to the bay, and, if the pot-plant is a necessity, to provide accommodation for it by increasing the width of the inside window-sill.
When, however, the fireplace is flush with the wall surface, a not uncommon arrangement when it is on an outside wall, the bareness of the long stretch of straight wall is always conspicuously apparent.
Any device calculated to redeem this state of things is worth while.
If possible, it should be made to accord in style with the mantelpiece, which is easily done if the latter is of wood.
With the old-fashioned marble chimney-piece the problem is not so easy of solution. In that case it is, perhaps, better not to attempt any continuation of structural design, but to add a simple kind of overmantel of the unattached type.
Perhaps a better alternative is to add, also, a chimney-corner in some such way as is suggested by the illustration.
Even when the chimney breast projects into the room, a chimney-corner can generally be added with good effect, always provided that the room is wide enough to accommodate it.
The success or non-success of any feature of this kind, however, will depend upon its design and fitness for the room in which it may be installed.
There is one point that must always be considered when' making additions about the fireplace - viz., the effect that they will have upon the efficiency of the grate as a warming device for the whole room.
Chimney seats act as screens, and are sometimes so arranged as to cut off a very considerable proportion of the heat-rays coming from the grate.
When the fireplace occupies the same side of the room as the door, there is generally a well-defined air current passing from door to chimney that makes sitting on the door side of the fireplace anything but comfortable in cold weather.
A wooden continuation of the mantelpiece effectively breaks up the monotonous effect of a flat wall and serves as an overmantel
The quaint and useful chimney-corner seats which serve also as draught-excluders
The fixed screen there shown forms a very efficient barrier against the cold air current, and at the same time gives an opportunity for adding a comfortable corner seat.
The seat is not a necessary adjunct to the en. It may be omitted, and the corner utilised for accommodating a cabinet or other piece of furniture.
Until one has had practical experience of this device one can hardly realise what a difference it makes, not only in actual comfort, but also in the sense of cosiness it imparts to the room.
It also may be made to add to the general decorative effect, provided that the screen be well designed.
One should never forget, however, that additions of this kind must be made to agree in style with the other parts of the room.
In dining-rooms, except in old houses, one rarely meets with the cupboard.
Yet there is nearly always use for a cupboard in the dining-room, particularly if it also constitutes the general living-room. To what purpose it may be put will depend upon the habits of the household.
The housewife may use it as a store-place for her fancy work, magazines, and other loose gear that too often usurp the tables.
The children may annex it wholly or in part for their toys or lesson books.
Once it exists, its usefulness is never likely to be overlooked.
The corner cupboard is, perhaps, the least exacting in the matter of space. It also least interferes with existing arrangements, and decor-atively may be made to give character to the room, redeeming the monotony that four corners, all right angles, inevitably impart to a living-room.
A drawing-room fireside seat so arranged as to serve as a screen against the draught from the door