Aspect of Rooms
The Rooms: Entrance Hall and Staircase
The entrance hall and staircase are usually best placed on the north side, so that the sitting rooms may face south. A good square Hall, containing an open newel staircase, well lighted by a large window and warmed by an open fireplace which gives it a homelike effect, can on occasion be used as an extra sitting room or lounge. Sometimes the Hall can have a recess to serve as a dining room.
The long, narrow passage, dignified by the name of hall, in many town houses is dreary and draughty, instead of cosy and comfortable. In planning a Sitting-hall care must be taken to avoid draughts by the arrangement of the rooms round it, and the Staircase should not interfere unduly with the use of the Sitting-hall. The stairs should be at least three feet six inches wide, to allow room for two persons to pass one another. In order to prevent over-fatigue to delicate people, they should not be designed in longer flights than ten steps without a landing. The construction should be strong enough to avoid objectionable creaking, which interferes with the quietude so essential to a well-ordered house.
The proportion of height to width of tread is important. The rule that twice the height of the riser added to the width of tread should equal twenty-four inches will be found to give a comfortable proportion.
The Dining room aspect should usually be north, east or north-east. If also used as a Breakfast room, it should certainly have a few points of east, so as to get the morning sun, and this can be effected by means of a bay window. A western aspect should be avoided, as the level rays of the sun on a summer evening tend to make the room hot and unpleasant at a time when it should be cool. The Dining room should of course be near the kitchen quarters; but separated by a well-ventilated Servery, so arranged as to exclude kitchen smells. A recess for the sideboard may be formed at the end near the serving-door or hatch, which should always be provided.
The Drawing room should have a southern aspect, but anything between south and west is suitable. The room should be bright and cheerful with plenty of window-space, and with bay windows to form attractive corners. It may open on to the flower garden or be formed in connection with a Conservatory.
The Library should be in a quiet and retired position for purposes of study, and is best with a north or eastern aspect, as dryness is an important consideration, but if possible a sun window should be provided.
The morning room should have a south-east aspect in order to catch the morning sun, but if due east it is as well to add a bay window, so as to obtain in addition the southern sun. A north-western aspect should be avoided.
A smoking room may sometimes in small houses be planned in connection with the garden, but much depends upon the idiosyncrasies of the owner, as some people do not object to smoking in any part of the house.
The billiard room is best in a retired position, and it is often possible to plan the ground-floor Lavatories in connection with it.
A toplight is undoubtedly the best: that of a lantern type with glass sides is preferable, as it is less liable to leak. We have often, however, to be satisfied with sidelights, but this is not so inconvenient when the room is used mostly in the evening, as is often the case.
Lavatories and Toilets
Lavatories and toilets should be planned with special regard to privacy. A Lavatory and W.C. are generally placed on the ground floor in proximity to the front or garden entrance, and this is a suitable position provided that it is properly screened.
An ideal position for the Lavatories and W.C.'s is in a sanitary wing, cut off from the main building by cross-ventilation lobbies, but this is not often carried out on account of the disinclination to mark these conveniences too prominently, and owing to the extra expense involved. A ventilating lobby can, however, generally be arranged, or one can be formed by placing the Lavatory itself between the passage and the W.C.
The bathroom on the first floor may have a lavatory basin with hot and cold water, and thus help to economize labour. There is no need to overdo the size of a Bathroom, as one eight feet square is, as a rule, quite large enough. The bathroom should if possible be provided with a fireplace, as it provides ventilation for carrying off the steam.
Wherever possible, for the sake of economy, water-closets, bathrooms, lavatories and sanitary fittings should be placed over each other on each floor, so that the wastes can discharge into the same down-pipes. Bath wastes should be placed near the highest point of the drain, so that their discharge may act as a drain-flush.
Kitchen and Offices
The kitchen should be planned with a view to cross-ventilation, so that smells from cooking may not find their way into the house. The aspect should be north or east, as both are cool and dry, and the position should be convenient for access to Dining room and front entrance. The cooking-range should be planned so that the light comes from the side, to enable the cook to see what she is doing. Neglect of this precaution is a common failure in house-planning, and it would seem that some designers think that as long as light is introduced into the Kitchen the position of the windows is of small consequence.
The scullery should have a cool aspect, and be in connection with the kitchen. The sink should be in front of a window, and of glazed stoneware in preference to stone, for the latter after a time becomes objectionable by being impregnated with grease.
The wall above the sink should be lined with glazed tiles for a height of two feet, so that the splashings may be easily washed off. The flooring should be impervious, and tiles are therefore suitable for this purpose and are neat in appearance.
The pantry, which is used for the cleaning and storing of china, glass and silver, should be near the Kitchen, and may form part of the service room. It should either be fitted with a glazed stoneware or a lead-lined sink, and hot and cold water should be laid on.
The larder should face north for coolness and have two windows, to create a through draught, and thus prevent stagnation of air. The windows should have perforated zinc gratings to keep out flies and insects.
The bedrooms should be planned, where practicable, so as to get as much morning sun as possible, and therefore east, south-east or south are all good aspects. As old Dr. Fuller said in the seventeenth century, "An east window gives the infant beams of the sun before they are of sufficient strength to do harm, and is offensive to none but a sluggard." Beds should not be placed in a direct draught between the door and fireplace; they should not face the light nor be too near the window ; but they should be in a position where air can freely circulate.
A ventilation flue is required by all sanitary authorities in bedrooms which have no fireplace, but the latter should be provided where possible.
The position of the dressing-table, wardrobe and wash-stand should also be considered, and the doors and fireplace planned with regard to these fittings.
Next: Types of Plans.