The entrances and halls considered indicate a few of the ways in which the thoroughfares of the lower floor may be treated in the distribution of the floor space. The width of the hall will depend upon the size of the house, the location of the hall and the purpose it is intended to serve. Seven and one-half or eight feet is a minimum width for a central hall. The lighting of it too is an important factor. It is usually accomplished by making a part of the entrance door of glass, by transom and by glass at the sides of the door. Artistic and pleasing effects are often thus produced.
It may be well now to consider some of the characteristics of the rooms usually found on the first floor. If one classifies the rooms of a house as rooms to live in, to work in, and to sleep in, those rooms which belong to the first two classes will be found most often on the first floor.
It has been said that proportion is the good breeding of architecture and it is one element never to be forgotten in house construction or decoration. The thoroughfares are to have their due proportion of space, no more; no less; the separate rooms are to have their proportion of space, determined by the purposes which they are to serve. For example, a large parlor or reception room and a small living room would seem to indicate that the comfort of the family was to be sacrificed to display for the formal caller. Each room is to be considered not only in reference to its specified purpose but in its relation to the other rooms, and to the thoroughfares.
Much is said in these days about "the passing of the parlor," and great emphasis is put upon the living room. A closer study would seem to indicate that it was not the room that was passing away, but that its purpose was given a new interpretation.
The term parlor to many people suggests a square room with a few pieces of hair cloth furniture set at regular distances about the wall, a "center table" in the center of the room and on it a glass case containing wax flowers and an album; the walls decorated with the family portraits, and the whole having a generally unlivable air and so quite properly reserved for funerals and weddings.
Happily such parlors are "passing" and some people, because of the ridicule attached to them, are almost afraid to own that they possess a parlor. The fact remains, however, that that ridiculed parlor stood for two things which every well-regulated home should have, - a room that is kept in order, and a place where the formal caller may be received without intruding into the privacy of the family life. The rooms in which the family live and work are not always and should not be expected to be ready for the reception of the passing stranger. So, for the comfort of all it is better that there should be a room near the principal entrance and not far from the front stairs for the reception room or parlor. To avoid the "stiffness" sometimes associated with a square room its outline may be changed by the introduction of a bay window or a grate. The haircloth furniture and family portraits also may be eliminated. It is desirable too that this room have more than one door of exit. In case a company is to be entertained in the house "circulation" is much more easily accomplished if one may pass from the parlor to either the hall or library or sitting room.