Whenever there is a covered porch or veranda below, and a window above, something answering to a loggia can be made. In one instance, the roof of a little porch over the front door was taken possession of, the window of the bedroom cut to the floor to form a door. As the sun was needed in winter, awnings and Japanese screens were made to inclose it, pots of geraniums were set out, and straw furniture impervious to the damp was used.

Of all these loggias, none are so fascinating as those which look directly into the branches of great trees, or in which a favorite tree has been made part of the construction; but this ideal, of course, can only be attained in country houses. To look into the very centre of the tree, indeed, over a foreground of red geraniums set out on the railing, and with a suggestion of mountains or of water beyond, is to know the secret of repose and of unruffled sweet content.

For some reason, we Americans do not take kindly to balconies. We fancy that our climate stands in the way, and that in large towns those who sit on them are in too much evidence from the street. We forget how much more habitable and delightful they would make our town houses in the late spring, how much they would do for the man of the house forced to stay in town during the blasting heat of the summer, and how much they would add to the lives of our children in winter.

We are attempting roof gardens here in New York, even on our private houses, but they have to be carefully thought out and planned, since the pipes used for ventilating the drains are apt to open just by the chimneys, and to make a roof not only unpleasant but unhealthy as a lounging-place.

A balcony, even when it opens out from the parlor, and is near the street, can be made delightful with awnings and flower-boxes. Privacy can always be assured by a heavy curtain of English ivy falling from the box set out from the railing. I have one in mind as I write, a balcony that is the envy of every passer-by in summer. The mother, who planned its general lay-out, is never without her stalwart young sons in attendance. She is a wise woman.

I know still another balcony. Few passers-by have discovered it. It is built of finely wrought iron of charming design and hangs just under the eaves of a five-story brown stone house - such an aerie of a balcony, so tucked away, so inaccessible, so comfortable, so absolutely secluded and out of reach of the doorbell, so safe from the intrusion of inquisitive eyes, yet from it one can see the East River on one side and the Hudson on the other.

We might have so many more of these aeries and retreats if we were only willing to try, so many more out of the way fresh air breathing places if we only knew how to utilize a bit of roof over a butler's pantry or an addition in the back of a house; if we only loved the sun enough, and knew how to catch and hold its rays in winter, and warm ourselves in it when the pavements were damp and the streets uncomfortable or impassable; or if we only cared enough for flowers and green things, and knew how to turn our old-fashioned back porches to account.

In some of the old parts of town, these back porches have been covered with vines and set out with hammocks and plants, so that on the hottest days those inside of the house get a feeling of green, instead of blasts of hot air from scorching asphalt streets. The problem for the householder would be simplified if she remembered that permanent wooden roofs were not always necessary to verandas and improvised loggias. Awnings serve every purpose. They can be run up and down at every change of the barometer and rob a house of no sun in winter.

What we call here in America the front piazza, a structure that with its roof often runs all around the first story of a house and sometimes only across one side, could easily have its roof flattened, hung with awnings, and made into a lounging place for a family upstairs. There is a town near New York, inhabited by well-to-do people, in which every fence has been removed that one grass plot may run into the other, and in which the front of every house has a front piazza, and every piazza has its family group, and every family group its various forms of recreation, - its reading and sewing and talking - always its talking, - so that as the stranger drives by he catches scraps of conversation floating out on an air that is filled with the buzzing of voices from scores of piazzas up and down the street. No attempt at seclusion is made. The young girl swings in the hammock; the young man smokes. The baby tries to crawl up and down the steps, some patient soul in attendance holding on to its white petticoats to prevent a fall. I saw only one piazza in this town in which anything had been done to distinguish it from its neighbors. The house itself was ugly enough, but the piazza made it the most interesting dwelling-place along the line. Green and white awnings were hung from the roof. On the railings there were boxes of red and white geraniums fastened, with vines falling over the rails. As these vines did not render the piazza eye-proof, Turkey red was nailed inside the railing. This red was hung again as curtains falling straight under the awnings, to be drawn back and forth at the option of the owner. There were other Turkey red curtains hung at the farther end of the piazza to shut it off. Straw tables, chairs, hammocks, bird-cages, and more flowers on stands and in big pots on the steps, completed the arrangements. Rugs covered the floor. Tea was served here in the afternoon, but all the world of passers-by was not admitted to the spectacle. When curtains are not desired on a porch and vines do not give sufficient privacy, hanging screens are used, made of Japanese straw. Venetian blinds are effective and serviceable.

Verandas Loggia And Balconies 156

Now and then the corner of a country piazza is enclosed in glass, so that a summer dining-room is made; but when this is done, it must not be supposed that what at times is called "a sun parlor" has been created. Every one who has been to certain resorts knows what a hideous place a "sun parlor" may be, - nothing more nor less, in fact, than a sitting-room near the street and open to the gaze of every pedestrian. In one town there is an avenue of them, each one filled with appointments more uninteresting than the other, - cheap chairs, dried flowers in china vases, lamps with painted glass globes, straw rocking-chairs tied with ribbons. Such a room or "sun parlor," if you prefer, should be treated with fresh flowers, not dried blossoms in china-ware. No ribbons should appear, no upholstery. Palms or rubber-trees should be arranged against the panes. The sun can shine through them or over them, which would only add beauty to the interior, since there are few things so lovely as the sunlight through green leaves. A family should not remain in evidence. A man or a woman who sits all day by a window looking out into the street, suggests the possession of a horizon so limited that one's pity, not one's respect, is aroused. These "sun parlors" are never the places for a dining-room. One must dine in quiet when at home. Poor Marie Antoinette offended her French subjects when she insisted upon this privilege. We offend against good manners when we make no such insistence.

An out-door lounging place is never furnished except with stuffs or hangings that are not injured by the damp. Straw chairs and cotton materials are the safest. Care is taken in choosing a dye, since some, like the blue, have disagreeable odors when wet. Every year shows a marked improvement in the manufacture of grass cloths, cretonnes, and stamped cottons which come for the purpose. Navajo blankets, Indian hangings and embroideries, Egyptian stuffs used in dahabiyehs, make effective hangings and rugs for verandas or loggias in the mountains. These blankets are often laid over the benches. Anything brilliant and decorative and intended for out-door use is used. In the verandas of town houses and country places more formality is necessary, though awnings and flowers are the rule everywhere.

Bath-chairs, when lined with a cotton, make agreeable additions to the appointments of the veranda, especially to people sensible to draughts.

Of all the flowers used in the decorations, none is so hardy, nor so amiable, as the geranium. It lends itself alike to the windows and porches of rich and poor. When combined with a vine, it makes the prettiest and most satisfactory of boxes, whether in town or the country, except in places like the Adirondacks or the Canadian woods, where on porches it smacks too much of the manner of the town or the landed estate.

In the large country places, the hydrangeas take the place of the simple geranium. A question not only of latitude and longitude, but of special environment, must cover all decision in the matter of flowers and vines used in the decoration of verandas and loggias. A sure rule would incline a householder to the vine or the green of her particular neighborhood. In town she falls back on the geranium, or the seeds and plants bought from a florist.

There are hammocks furnished with mattresses which are excellent for keeping off the cold when autumn begins.

There should always be a separate set of wraps, cushions, rugs for the floor and rugs for the knees, especially provided for the veranda and kept exclusively for it, as they are for steamers and yachts, which are carried in every night, dried when damp, and which are always ready to use. Extra ones for visitors should never be neglected.