Monday, April 06, 2015

A pretty style of modern ideas

It is rather difficult to remember what actually started the fashion so much in vogue now, of the useful dining sitting-room, with the cosy supplementary breakfast room. I rather think it was the difficulty of getting good domestic help that had most to do with it; but of course the new styles of architecture came into the question largely too. With the bungalow era came the greatly increased prices of timber. Gone were the days when anything but heart of kauri was discarded; when stables and piggeries were built of best "seconds." With greater expenses, space had to go. Every inch had to mean something, and modern ideas of hygiene demanded more bedrooms, so in modest-incomed homes the drawing room and the hall had to go. From their kindly contribution of space the architect evolved all sorts of "extras," some merely artistic, others very useful. But like all innovations, the bungalow became too exaggerated. It grew out in all sorts of queer unexpected places, bumps, lumps, all sorts of excrescences till, to use an Irishism, all the room inside was outside. The writer remembers an avenue in a fashionable suburb where the houses (all bungalows, on a slope) looked as if the architects or builders had partaken too liberally of lobster salad and dreamed their plans. While the bungalow style of house did good work from a health point of view, by providing all sorts of outdoor nooks and sleeping porches, with its right hand; with its left it did away with the lungs of the house, and it depressed interiors with its too low browed eaves. "Sweet and picturesque?"— Yes, quite, "outside," but low, sunless and gloomy within.

Windows and Hallways.

Those artistic windows, too, with their mullioned frames, their leadlights, and bull's-eyes—how they add to the attractive exterior, but how prison-like they are on dull days to those behind them. How absurd the windows, placed too high to see out of! Fortunately this fashion in windows is rapidly going out, and though the good old sash-window, which you could open in all weathers at the top, is pushed into the background for the time being, bungalow windows of today are placed more in the line of vision than they were.

The lungs, of course, are the hallways. It was not a good move this, for nothing, can give such privacy— nothing can air a house as the hallways can. I remember a dear old lady who spent a month's visit at a very up to-date bungalow. "My dear," she said, "I was glad to get home; my nerves were in shreds. We all seemed to be living in one room." Yet with all in sensible moderation, the bungalow is a pretty style of modern ideas, and for the man of small capital it presents the possibility of getting away from the awful sameness of the streets and streets of the old style of architecture all built on one plan. The wonder was that each remembered his own front door, and that many escaped cracked heads by absolutely going unceremoniously into Smith's when all the time he was Jones from next door.

Burton, G. Edith. 
"Old and New."
Auckland Star
28 January 1928, 6.

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