WSHAW SPARROW, an English architect and writer, claims that in England and Scotland the flat first found its origin in palaces and castles, where courtiers and retainers lived in separate suites or apartments. This was previous to the sixteenth century, when in the Inns of Court a bencher had his separate chambers, a bedroom and a room for business, and even at an earlier date a similar idea had shown itself in Edinburgh.

Mr. Sparrow further says, "When changes of importance have taken place in Domestic architecture it has happened frequently that the first appeals have been made to the rich and to the poor. The palaces and the castle (or big country house), the cottage and the farmer's homestead have felt the new influence before it reached the houses of the middle classes. Something very similar to this occurred in the case of our modern flats, their benefits being employed most successfully for the poor and for the rich. Between the Flat-de-Luxe and the Industrial dwelling there are certainly many connecting links, but few among them are well fitted for the middle classes. Those flats which have some points in common with the dwellings for the poor without being such have seldom any architectural interest."

In view of these statements it is interesting to contrast the English flat with what the United States has to offer in this line. The American of corresponding financial standing with the middle class of England is the one in this country who benefits most largely from the comforts and conveniences offered by the apartment house, as we term it here.

Architecturally, there has been in this country in the last two decades tremendous strides in the designing of such buildings, and the apartment house to-day has become an important factor in the domestic economics of our cities. Many nations have been drawn upon for ideas, which have been cleverly adapted and often improved to meet the needs of that most exacting personage, "The Citizen of the United States."

An excellent plan for an apartment house - where the ground space permits - is to build it about a square court yard. This may be so arranged that the drive circles about a fountain, which during the warmer months may be surrounded with growing plants. This plan insures well-lighted and sanitary rooms for all of the apartments.

The importance of rendering the entrance hall worthy of the building, in proportions and in decoration, cannot be overestimated. Dignity and simplicity, with harmony of color, are essentials.

Many of the earlier buildings, and even those planned within the last ten or fifteen years, show a tendency to over decoration.

However, the most recent examples of the apartment house, as evidenced in our great cities, exhibit together with the improved design and arrangement far better and simpler decorative effects. The day of imitation-marble columns of disproportionate size, of flamboyant wall covering, and ornamentation of gilded stucco, which usually accompanied flimsy construction, is happily passing;

Simple Dining room in a Modern Inexpensive City Flat.

Plate XCIX. Simple Dining-room in a Modern Inexpensive City Flat and this, fortunately, extends beyond the entrance hall into the individual apartments.

A few years ago cheap wood, stained a brilliant cherry and miscalled mahogany, was given a coat of highly glazed varnish as a finish, and considered entirely suited to the drawing-room and dining-room of an apartment. If this boasted a library as well, the woodwork was probably grained in imitation of golden oak and highly varnished. Where white paint was used for the bedrooms a poor quality of bluish cast seemed the invariable choice. In the selection of tiles, hardware, and fixtures the same bad taste was felt, - extravagance of strong color and incongruous ornamentation taking the place of quality. To-day the architect has brought to the owner the realization that true economy in the finishing materials for such buildings lies in selecting the best, and this fact accounts, in a large measure, for the improved structural, as well as artistic, conditions.

The simple dining-room, shown in Plate XCIX, is in a modern inexpensive city flat. This particular dining-room is in the home of a woman worn and weary with what she calls "the pretentious, musty, fussy decorations" of the boarding-house in which she has lived before she found her own little five rooms.

Plain walls and altogether undecorated surfaces appeal to her. The rough plaster has been painted in flat tone, and presents an unglazed finish; in color it is a soft, clean yellow, and the ceiling is of ivory tone. These colors contrast pleasantly with the brown stain used on the woodwork. The inexpensive china in the plate rack is of blue and white, and the furniture stained to match the woodwork is plain in design and construction. The drugget under the table repeats the deepest shade of blue in the china.

Plain Walls and Altogether Undecorated Surfaces.

Plate C. Plain Walls and Altogether Undecorated Surfaces.

Even scarfs and doilies for the table seem too frivolous to this disciple of simplicity.

The pictured stretches of green and the expanse of blue sky and clustered trees she has on her walls serve as a bit of out-of-doors to her, and she rests content.

While the almost Japanesque plainness of this little room may not appeal to all, it is an excellent and suggestive study. A few gracious decorative touches might be added which, if carefully restrained, would, doubtless, to many women, strengthen the charm of the room.

The finish of the entire building, of which this flat is a very small part, is of marked simplicity. The standing woodwork, in the dining-rooms and living-rooms, is of ash treated with a handcraft stain, unfilled and given a surface resembling rubbed wax, though the material used is one which is impervious to water, and will not spot as does the waxed finish.

The stiles, rails, and panels of the doors, as well as window and door-frames, base-board, and cornice are entirely without ornamentation, as will be seen in the picture. The best quality of finishing materials and careful selection of colors have been employed for woodwork, floors, and walls, and the effect is beyond criticism. (See specifications in Chapter XX (Specifications For The Illustrations).)