Suburban Home Plan
A suburban home plan for a residential house in the suburbs, with pictures and illustrations.
¶ The prime object of a house in town is concentration, that of a house in the country is the enjoyment of external scenery and the free air of heaven. In the town we rarely meet with anything to admire beyond the productions of man, and the eye meets with but little beauty in its daily range except such as may exist in the architecture of the place. On the contrary, the country presents not only such architectural beauties as it may possess for our enjoyment, but the extensive and verdant views of varied scenery, which retain the former in a secondary position.
¶ The influence of two leading principles seems to pervade the villa residences of every age, in directing the disposition of the different rooms: one of these is, shelter from the winds and storms which prevail in the particular situation selected; the other, the enjoyment of the views of the surrounding scenery: hence it is that country residences have in all ages and countries been comparatively scattered and irregular. The conclusion drawn from these observations, and applicable to the present subject, is that a villa residence ought to be more or less characterized by its marked irregularity and tendency to extension.
¶ When we see a home asserting its character by such unmistakable signs, we take for granted that it is a country house; but when it assumes the detail and exquisite polish of city architecture, another rank must be assigned to it: its location is either in some country village or the suburbs of a great metropolis; strictly speaking, it is not destined for either country or city, although bearing the stamp of both.
¶ This design is of this character: irregular and picturesque in outline, yet subdued and finished in detail, we at once recognize the strong spreading outgrowth of the country district equipped in the habiliments of artificial refinement. Its decorative features are of the Florentine Italian cast, as indicated by the use of rustic quoins, showing how a strong massive style of building can be rendered subservient to domestic architecture by the introduction of features having a counter-effect; in this we allude to the numerous windows of ample dimensions exhibited in this design.
¶ On examination of the rooms, however, none will complain that they are too well lighted. We have no fancy for that sort of domestic economy which, like Miss Havisham's, prescribes merely light sufflcient to disturb the darkness of a room, without overcoming or dispelling it. Most of our readers will agree with us in saying that the requirements for internal convenience and the demands of the style adopted for external decoration here meet, and admirably harmonize with each other. Before proceeding with the description of the interior, we would call attention to the drive in front, which forms not only a pleasant adjunct to the base of the tower, but is also a matter of great convenience and utility. Aside from the propriety of it as a protection to the front entrance, it is obviously of much importance as a shelter upon the occasion of arrivals during a storm.
¶ Referring to the plan of the principal floor, picture 30, we find D at once the entrance and staircase hall, 15 by 18 feet, beyond which an ample passage extends to the rear veranda, furnishing an opportunity for complete summer ventilation as. well as a pleasant thoroughfare. The room A, 16 by 22 feet, is the dining-hall, which is commodiously situated with respect to access from the hall and principal room, and is well calculated for a sitting room after the table and its appendages are removed. The room B, 15 by 24 feet, is the parlor, or room specially devoted to the entertainment of company. C, 14 by 16 feet, is the library or office, where the gentleman of leisure can enjoy his books and newspapers, or inhale the essence of a fragrant "Havana".
¶ A fine veranda extends along the rear of parlor and library, and might be continued to advantage entirely around the library or the living room, as could be determined by the location of the house with relation to the points of the compass; we would recommend both, but rather insist on the latter, as being an addition compatible with both the comfort and beauty of the design. The division designated by the letter E is a kitchen, 16 by 18 feet, communicating with the dining room by the passage F, and with the yard by a side door, and also by the passage intervening between it and the closet G. The servants' stairs start from the passage F, and afford access to the bedroom L, intended for a servants' bedroom, and by a passage to two of the three bedrooms H. On this floor, picture 31, we find the bathroom K, the dressing room L, and ample closets N; from the main hall M the stairs are continued upward to the roof of the tower, with landings at the several floors indicated by the elevation; from the windows of the third floor project balconies of moderate dimensions, which form a very pleasant feature in the external aspect of the building. Unfortunately, the pedestals of the balustrade surmounting the tower are represented too large in the picture; the consequence is, an appearance of heaviness in the design which it does not actually present when erected, as it has already been in Germantown, near Philadelphia, to the entire satisfaction of its proprietor, a very tasteful and well-educated gentleman: and much to the admiration of hundreds who have visited it.
¶ This design is manifestly intended to be executed in stone of a fine quality. There is a delicacy, a chasteness in it that will admit of no trifling with, in the way of introducing any coarse or commonplace material. Notwithstanding the same effect might be produced on ninety-nine one-hundredths of those who see it, by brick, wood, and plaster, yet the finer sensibilities of the artist revolt at the idea of such substitutes.
¶ We might indicate several varieties of stone in which this design could be executed to excellent advantage, - one for which we have on many occasions already shown our preference is the Pictou or Acadian freestone; another is the stone from the Mount Joliet quarries, Illinois. We are not fully apprised of the durability of the latter, but can recommend it for beauty of appearance and susceptibility of fine polish. Other varieties exist in different parts of the country; in the neighborhood of Pittsburg and Cincinnati are quarries which produce an excellent quality of stone for the execution of fine details, but few of these varieties approximate so near our beau ideal of color for villa walls as the Pictou or Mount Joliet stone. It is scarcely necessary to say that, in speaking of the use of stone in the exterior walls, we allude only to facing them with what is termed asidar work. This is done when the stone is transported a great distance, or procured with difficulty, in order to avoid extravagant expenditure; it being cheaper, under such circumstances, to build the body of the wall (technically called filling-in) with brick.
¶ The roof of this building is intended to be overlaid with tin, a material which can be put on, in the neighborhood of Philadelphia, for about $10 per square; and, where good mechanics are employed in laying, well merits the precedence given it for all roofs of moderate pitch. The bay windows, drave, and verandas are also covered with it.
¶ In finishing up the interior, we should recommend walnut doors to all the principal rooms, espe. cially for those of the first story. Marble mantels, in the library and parlor at least, would be required, to give a finish consistent with the established character of the design. By reference to the dining room A, the reader will observe that it contains no fireplace. This leads us to observe that the plan was arranged with a view to warming all the principal rooms by a furnace in the cellar; and also accounts for the absence of jambs from the bedroom immediately over the dining room.
¶ The cost of this design for a residential suburban house, if erected in the neighborhood of a large city in the Middle or Western States, would be about $15,000, (1861 cost) with proper supervision by an architect or competent builder. In any event, a house of this magnitude, involving the above outlay, requires that an architect should be consulted for the working plans, as few builders are found competent to do justice to the design from the scale on which it is here presented.
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