Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Room with a View

I work in the real estate development world, and assist getting projects on, in our case, multifamily or apartment living, from the drawing board to the groundbreaking shovel entering the vacant land. It's fun, especially when I am working with the architect, reviewing plans, making suggestions.

Recently, I noticed an article about 18th Century housing, which included a drawing of a cottage and a first floor plan. It was interesting, mentioning rooms such as lobby (entry), drawing room (den), parlor (living room), book room (library) and music room. There is a huge kitchen and a larder (pantry). There is no drawing of the upstairs included which contained the bedrooms, I'm sure. By the way, the "drawing room" was originally called the "withdrawing" room, a space in which one could retreat. In these times, the owner of the house, his wife, or a distinguished guest who was occupying one of the main apartments in the house could "withdraw" for more privacy. Today we have our den, or "bonus" room, or study where we can watch tv, surf the net, listen to endless downloads of iTunes, or read.
A great deal of description is given to the room colors, which is still important by today's standards.

I looked into the concept of the bath, and find that there was a clear distinction between bathing for health and relaxation, and washing for reasons of cleanliness. Generally, washing meant the cleaning of face and hands, presenting a neat exterior appearance. No wonder there was such an emphasis on perfume! haha! So, there might be a wash basin and pitcher in the bedroom for that purpose. A bath where the body was submerged in water was mostly for preventative health maintenance. Many books refer to going to Bath, in England, for "the waters". Bath was a resort destination, kind of a spa, by today's standards.  

There are two predominant styles of house from the period. The first is Georgian, named for the English kings of the era, and adopted by the American colonists. They had a long axis running parallel to the street with symmetrical fronts, a middle entry with 2 side windows on each side.

The other style is Federal, named for two Scottish brothers who where architects and interior designers. It has a finer style with more detail, and Palladian influence. Including ornate moldings, sidelights, semicircular windows above doors, decorative classical columns. Red brick is employed a great deal.

But, the cottage I noticed is just that, a cottage. A room with a view, perhaps, but a small place to call home.

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