This section is from the book "Your Home And Its Decoration", by The Sherwin-Williams Company. See also: Nell Hill's Feather Your Nest: It's All in the Details.
THE selection of the site for the erection of a building is of much importance in determining the style of architecture to be employed. We will, therefore, in these pages, consider, first, the relation of style to site.
Where one has preconceived ideas of the house he will build, it would be well for him to seek a site which will make a suitable and harmonious setting for the type he favors.
If he leans toward the Tudor style of English country house, the composed and dignified Georgian Manor, or our own stately Colonial, he might choose for his site a broad plain by a river, or let his house crown graciously some gentle slope, its quiet beauty enhanced by spreading trees and sweeps of well-kept lawn.
Again, he may select a rugged hillside as best fitting the irregular sky line, turreted towers, and strong rough-hewn walls of the Feudal type which embodies his ideal. The suitability of such architectural designs to such settings is unquestionable and many old-world examples rise readily - even to the layman's mind - to verify it, and yet he may also recall an occasional adaptation of either the one style or the other to the opposite site which will serve to confuse him and should make plain to him the necessity of leaving the work of planning in the hands of his architect, in fairness to whom he should completely lay bare his mind and through whom, he will find, lies his way to the truest realization of his ideal, providing the realization be practically possible.
The mode of life to be pursued by the occupants of the new house, their individual interests, and all such detailed information as he may need should be fully supplied. With such data in hand, the house may be made characteristic of its owners as well as architecturally correct.
In the confines of the greater cities, special planning is required, and much must be conceded to the lack of open spaces to surround the building. This is particularly true where the house will form one of a block.
It should be borne in mind, however, that the exposure or, technically speaking, the aspect of the city house is important to the comfort and even the health of its occupants, as such placing as will afford protection from wintry blasts and more complete comfort during the heated term may thus be insured.
The clever architect of to-day is introducing individuality and a certain dignified beauty in the new and reconstructed city house, which, until the last decade, was almost unattempted in the monotonous rows of brown stone and red brick homes, which were distinguished, one from the other, only by the numerals over the door. Latterly, from many of the best residential streets of New York, this type is disappearing. The English basement entrance, with the foyer hall from which wide stairs lead to the living rooms on the first floor, is now a favored style and one which is conducive to convenience and much comfort in living. Also there is a considerable recurrence to French architecture in these houses. The small-paned long windows, with the flower-boxed iron balustrades which they show, are attractive. In both types of houses much of red-brick facing and white trim appears.
The frame house on the city lot, of which the cost of construction does not exceed $5,000 and is often less than $3,000, has in past years followed certain stereotyped lines in plan and exterior which make neither for comfort nor beauty. The only variety exhibited in such houses is in the color combination shown in the exterior treatment, strong and vivid contrasts of inharmonious shades unfortunately prevailing, or where a little more money is to be invested in the building an extinguisher type of cupola or tower is added at one end of the mansard roof and unsupported box-like bay windows break out in incongruous places.
In the less-congested cities, these detached or semi-detached houses, with more or less ground surrounding them, provide a wider field to the architect and his client in determining the style of house he will build. This decision should be governed by the individual location and the types of the neighboring houses. Where the lots are small and the houses close, careful placing and spacing of the windows is essential, avoiding too complete cognizance of domestic arrangements in adjoining houses.
During the last few years, by a gradual process of elimination and adaptation, a style of architecture has been evolved which is distinctly of this present period and is also American.
Plate I. Good Types of Detached Houses.
The small house which is honestly and sincerely good is a development of which this generation of architects may well be proud. Many countries have been drawn upon for suggestions, but the adaptation of these to the needs of the American householder shows a cleverness which amounts to art.