Italian Villa House Plans
Italian villa house, home, and building plans in the Italian villa architecture style.
¶ This design is intended for the country house of a man of ample fortune, and to occupy a site in the midst of highly cultivated and beautiful scenery. Though not remarkably ostentatious, its appearance at once bespeaks it the abode of the wealthy and refined, and demands all the accessories necessary to the highly decorative landscape, such as parks, lawns, and artificial lakes; the possession of these would entitle it to a rank inferior to few country residences within our knowledge. There is an evident partiality existing in some parts of our country for the Italian style of building and architecture. Originating in a climate almost similar to that of the middle and southern sections of our country, at least so far as relates to the greater portion of the year, but little difficulty is experienced in modifying it to suit our tastes and habits; and, indeed, it seems to need less modification than any other style, to make it perfectly acceptable to those who seek a union of the useful with a combination of the picturesque and beautiful.
¶ Though not so essentially northern as those styles of which the high roof is a characteristic, its projecting roofs and ample verandas afford pleasing shelter during the dazzling sunshine of our summer months, and furnish an excellent reason for the preference frequently shown for it in the Middle and Southern States.
¶ In the example before us, it was the object to show as much force and spirit as the nature of the style would allow; for its general tendency is rather to exhibit placid repose, than the result of effort or violent action. The active American mind is not satisfied with the quiet aspect of unbroken horizontal lines; we have, therefore, striven to effect a compromise between the evidences of action and repose, by going the full length that the style permits, and varying the effect by intersecting walls and roof-lines; to complete the picturesqueness of what is already done, we introduce the "campanile" or Italian tower, which, in an irregular composition like the present, will be admitted to be not only a desirable but beautiful feature of these plans.
¶ The vestibule A, picture 24, 10 by 10 feet, is entered from the front veranda K, and affords communication not only with the main hall F, but with the living room B, 17 by 33 feet, which will be found occasionally, and perhaps frequently, of very pleasant utility upon the withdrawal of company.
¶ The room E, 17 by 18 feet, may be used for a library, or thrown open at pleasure, as an extension of the living room; this can readily be done by sliding doors. The veranda surrounding these rooms will greatly tend to keep them cool in summer, aside from the facility afforded by it for enjoying social promenades in the evening air. To enhance the opportunity for this, we would extend all the living room and library windows of the villa to the floor; this would present a uniform and agreeable appearance, aside from its desirability for the purpose already mentioned.
¶ We notice C, a very pleasant reception room, having, in addition to two windows opening on the veranda I, a recess opposite the entrance, which is not only an excellent and effective appendage to the room, but tends to diversify the external appearance. D is an ample dining room, 17 by 18 feet, for a family of eight or ten persons; if it is desirable to have this room of greater proportions, by the removal of the private stairs into the kitchen G, and the consequent extension of the back building, it may be increased to 17 by 22 feet with very little additional cost. The only objection to this would be, that the half-pace of the main stairs, and consequently the whole of the bedroom floor, would be inaccessible to servants from the kitchen; but even this difficulty is not so hard to surmount as might be imagined: it would probably be best done by cutting the corners of the dining room next the hall, by either a circular or straight partition-we should prefer the latter; by shifting the position of the windows nearest the corners, the octagonal form might be complcted,-the angles against the external wall being turned into account for closets. In the present arrangement, however, a very fine china closet for the dining room may be had beneath the principal stairs, access to the cellar being given beneath the private stairs. A kitchen G, 17 by 17 feet, with a wash-house or sunmmer-kitchen H, 15 by 16 feet, attached, completes the division of the principal floor of this villa; if the latter room should be needed for summer use only, the temperature of the place would be greatly modified by inclosing at least two sides of it with glass and pivot blinds; time sun and wind could thus be admitted or excluded at pleasure.
¶ On examination of the second floor, picture 28, we find five excellent rooms, respectively designated by the letters A, B, C, D, E, and a bedroom F, over the kitchen. It will be observed that provision has been made in all the rooms on both floors, except the bedrooms C, D, for warming by fireplaces. However much this may seem out of date to those accustomed to the modern appliances of hot-air, steam, and hot-water furnaces, our experience convinces us that many years must elapse before the old-fashioned fireplace will be dispensed with in the warmer portions of this country, - indeed, in view of the nature of the climate and mode of service, we doubt whether any of the above inventions will ever be adopted to the exclusion of the time-honored fireplace.
¶ A small flight of stairs to the observatory may be constructed in the tower G. In addition to the effect of this feature on the aspect of the building, it will give a delightful opportunity for the enjoyment of an extended view of the surrounding scenery.
Villa Building Plans
¶ All the important walls of this structure are intended to be of brick, and to rest on foundations of stone carried up to the surface line of the surrounding grounds, if that material can be procured at reasonable cost. The whole area of the building should be occupied by a cellar; this is not only useful for various purposes, but is promotive of the durability of the joists, floors, and whatever accidental woodwork may necessarily occur beneath the first floor.
¶ Where stone is plentiful and can be used with small cost, - for much depends on the nature of the stone, whether it is easily quarried and dressed, and of a suitable color, - we should extend the stone-work to the level of the principal floor, taking care, however, to face the exterior with well-dressed range work, with a projecting course, which would form a drip for the wall below, and make an agreeable line indicating the proper base or beginning of the structure. It must be borne in mind, however, that no stone should be used that would make a violent contrast with the color intended to be given to the body of the building; thus it would be bad taste to exhibit white marble or the white limestone of St. Louis in the foundation walls, unless the building was intended to be white or nearly so. The idea we wish to convey is not that contrasts should be avoided in detail, but that violent contrasts in any of the essential components of the structure are destructive to harmony of effect.
¶ Assuming the height of stories to be respectively 15 and 13 feet in the clear, and all the verandas, cornices, etc., as well as the interior finish of the rooms, executed in a finished and workmanlike manner, the cost of this Italian villa building, in the neighborhood of Philadelphia, would be about twelve thousand dollars, (1861 price). This of course does not include the grading of grounds, or the expenditure for any lawn or garden embellishments.
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