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.
The essential purposes or aims of the internal arrangements, decoration, and furniture of our dwellings are health and comfort, together with the pleasure derived from the contemplation of beauty of form and colour, which may be itself made conducive to health and comfort or the reverse The necessary conditions of health are air, light, warmth, and the absence of damp and dirt; and no artistic effects should or need be allowed to conflict with these primary paramount considerations.
Light is scarcely less necessary to animal life, or, at any rate, health, than it is to plants. The production of haemoglobin, the red pigment of the blood of animals, is dependent on the enjoyment of the fullest possible amount of light, as is seen when one compares the ruddy complexion of persons who are constantly in the open air, with the pallor of the denizens of dark dwellings, or of those who pass most of their time indoors, though the freer oxidation of the blood by the respiration of a purer air is a no less active factor. Still, the influence of sunshine - that is, of the maximum amount of light - is scarcely less important as an auxiliary to oxidation of the Mood.
By Edward F. Willoughby, M.D. (Lond.) Diplomate In State. Medicine Or London University. And In Public Health Of Cambridge University Author Of "Public Health And Demography". "Health Officer's Pocket-Book ", Etc.
Even in the house, light, and light of particular colours, has a powerful influence on the senses and the mind through the medium of the nerves. Dull, dark, dingy colours are depressing to the spirits, glaring reds and yellows are more or less irritating, while white light is healthful, and the chemical rays, blue and violet, are agreeable and soothing. Persons in robust health may not be much affected by these differences, but the invalid and sensitive are very susceptible to the influence of colour, which is doubtless no less real, though less in degree, on all.
Dirt was defined by Lord Palmerston as "matter in the wrong place", and this description can scarcely be improved on. The grosser and more repulsive forms of dirt find no place, or lasting lodgment, in a well-regulated household, where the refinements of civilized life are rightly appreciated; but there are other forms that are ubiquitous, and elude all ordinary efforts made for their prevention and removal.
Foremost among these is dust, or the fine particles of organic and inorganic matter which, floating in the air, are deposited on every horizontal surface and adhere to every inequality on walls and furniture. Dust enters our houses with the fresh air from without, and is formed within by the wear and tear of our carpets, the combustion of fuel in our fire-grates, Ac. It is of the most varied imposition. That from without consists of fine particles of sand and other earthy matters raised by the wind, and produced in enormous quantities in dry weather, especially by the traffic in roads and streets, together with dried and pulverized horse-dung, the proportion of which varies with the efficiency of the scavenging. In towns, especially in dull or foggy weather, the air contains a large amount of soot in finely-suspended particles, or in floating masses or "Macks". The internal dust is composed of the light ash from coal-fires, with more or less carbon of smoke. the debris of carpets worn by treading and in sweeping, and that of clothing, etc. with epithelial scales shed from the skin, fine hairs, etc. Dust is deposited everywhere; it permeates carpets, rugs, mats, the covers of furniture, and the interior of cushions; it clings to curtains and the margins of books; adheres firmly to rough wall-surfaces, especially flock-papers; fills the crevices of the flooring, and accumulates in the space beneath the boards.
Moisture within our houses is not wholly due to external conditions; much of it is produced within the house itself by the combustion of gas and oil, and by the lungs of the occupants. These are the chief sources of the water, which, condensed by the cold glass of the windows, runs down in streams on a winter's night, or, freezing, encrusts the panes with feathery ice. One frequently hears it urged against impervious wall-surfaces, that a porous wall affords a certain amount of ventilation. But, true as this is of the bamboo-mat walls of an Indian bungalow, the quantity of air that can pass through brick and plaster is inappreciable, and the evils consequent on the absorption of moisture from without and its evaporation within, are so real and grave, that the contention is unworthy of serious consideration. The notion that impervious wall-surfaces are themselves a cause of damp in rooms, - a notion based on the fact that drops of water may be seen standing on or running down such walls, - is the result of a misapprehension of the source of the moisture, and the cause of its condensation, which are the same as those of the water on the windows; and it would be as reason able to maintain that these should be made of muslin or instead of glass. The surface of a plaster or papered wall always appears dry.simply becausre the moisture, instead of being condensed, is absored , to be again evaporsted when the room is warmed, leaving behind the organic matters exhaled from the hog until in course of time the wall becomes saturated with decomposing animal matter, even to the extent of emitting e musty or offensive odour.