THE DINING ROOM
IN a house of very good class this apartment is used almost exclusively for serving luncheon and dinner, and perhaps breakfast; and the characteristics of such a room are so different from those of the corresponding room in more homely form, which is made to serve also as a Sitting-room for the family, whether during the day or in the evening, that it seems most convenient to treat of the latter in special terms, which will be done in a separate chapter, under the name of Parlour Dining-room.
The proper Dining-room is a spacious and always comparatisely stately apartment, of which the chief characteristics ought to be freedom from the heat and glare of sunshine at those hours when it is in use, and a certain sort of seclusion as respects its situation, both internally and externally. . . .
THE PARLOUR DINING ROOM
In smaller houses, and indeded in many of considerable size, the Dining-room is used as a family sitting-room; sometimes for both day and evening; sometimes for the day alone, with the Drawing-room for the Evening; and sometimes for the evening alone - at least in winter, when Paterfamilias, having done his day's work and dined, refuses to move any more from a favourite easy chair. Then again, in some cases dinner is taken early in the day, without ceremony; in some the Drawing-room is "preserved"; both facts we must accept, and indeed others of similar bearing. In short, the character of the household, the style of living, and local peculiarities, form the ground of a deal deal of variety in the occupation of the so-called Dining-room, apart from mere eating puposes; and thus, in one way or another, the homely character of the Family Parlour of an inferior house is introduced; bringing with it a certain kind of comfort which a formal Drawing-room, for instance, does not seem to possess. Or, to put the matter otherwise, where there is no Morning-room (which is a Parlour or more homely Drawing-room) the Dining-room is often used as such, and in the evening may either be superseded by the more formal Drawing-room, or may not. . . .
This apartment is introduced in superior houses primarily ro relieve the Drawing-room; indeed, it may be called the common or morning Drawing-room of the house, and no more, with informal comfort as its particular characteristic; this is especially the motive in houses where the Drawing-room, so called, is "preserved."
In more homely establishments it is often the breakfast-room: luncheon or children's dinner may be served in it, or perhaps a quiet evening dinner itself; and sometimes the family, when small in number, may continue there afterwards. It takes, therefore, in such cases, still more of the character of the old-fashioned Parlour, like the Parlour-Dining-room of the preceding chapter; being based, however, more upon Drawing-room conditions that before. . . .
THE BREAKFAST OR LUNCHEON-ROOM
The so-called Breakfast-room of some smaller houses (if worthy of mention at all) may be said to be an inferior variety of the Morning-room, and to be subject generally to the same regulations, except that the more exceptional uses suggested for the Morning-room are more appropriate here, namely the service of not only breakfast but early dinner or luncheon, or at times the quiet evening dinner when the family is small. It differs therefore from the proper Morning-room in this, that it possesses the character of the Parlour-Dining-room alone, and not that of the Drawing-room at all.
In larger establishments, however, we find this apartment introduced in addition to a Morning-room; and then each of these apartments takes it own purpose. The Morning-room relieves the Drawing-room only, and the Breakfast or Luncheon-room the Dining-room only. Accordingly, the Morning-room being probably attached to the Drawing-room, the Breakfast-room is similarly placed near the Dining-room, so as to be placed in intimate conexion with the Service-room. It then frequently takes the formal character of the Dining-room in ordinary for a small family. . . .
This is the Lady's Apartment essentially, being the modern form of the Lady's Withdrawing-room, otherwise the Parlour, or perfected Chamber of Medieval Plan. If a Morning-room be not provided, it is properly the only Sitting-room of the family. In it also in any case the ladies receive calls throughout the day, and the family and their guests assemble before dinner. After dinner the ladies withdraw to it, and are joined by the gentlemen for the evening. It is also the Reception-room for evening parties. There is only one kind of Drawing-room as regards purpose: there is little difference except in size and evidence of opulence, between that of the duchess and that of the simplest gentlewoman in the neighbourhood. Consequently, although in most respects the chief room of the house, it is perhaps the most easily reduced to system of any. . . . .
The proper character of a Boudoir is that of a Private Parlour for the mistress of the house. It is the Lady's Bower of the olden time. In this light it does not serve in any way to relieve the Drawing-room; nor is it even supplementary or accessory to that apartment; but as the personal retreat of the lady, it leaves the Drawing-room - and the Morning-room if any - still occupied by the family and guests.
In some cases, however, what is called the Boudoir is simply a secondary and smaller Drawing-room. It is then generally turned to accountin the way of ordinary use, especially in a small family, so as to preserve the Drawing-room for occasions of more importance. When the Drawing-room itself is very large, this arrangement may have its advantages; but it is manifest that such a Boudoir is really a Morning-room. . . .
The degree of importance to be assigned to the Library in any particular house would appear, theoretically, to depend altogether on the literary tastes of the family, and to be, indeed, so far, a criterion of those tastes. But there is a certain standard room, irrespective of such considerations, which constitutes the Library of an average Gentleman's House; and the various gradations by which this may be either diminished or augmented in importance are easily understood. It is not a Library in the sole sense of a depository for books. There is of course the family collection; and the bookcases in which this is accommodated form the chief furniture of the apartment. But it would be an error, except in very special circumstances, to design the Library for mere study. It is primarily a sort of Morning-room for gentlemen rather than anything else. Their correspondence is done here, their reading, and, in some measure, their lounging; - and the Billiard-room, for instance, is not unfrequently attached to it. At the same time the ladies are not exactly excluded. . . .
THE BILLIARD ROOM
This apartment in a Gentleman's House is not meant to withstand the criticism of players; but we are bound to point out how it is to be more fastidiously planned when required.
The difficulty lies more particularly in the arrangement of lights. The process of plotting the plan is this: set out 12 feet by 6 feet for a table of the most usual size, and not less than 6 feet all round for the players; form a ceiling light about the size of the table, and exactly over it; and give a fireplace where convenient, so as to warm the room effectually and yet not be in the way of the game. If a skylight cannot be had, the character of the room for use by day is seriously damaged; and windows in the walls must then be so contrived as to throw a light on the table which shall be as nearly as possible equal at all parts and without shadow, no easy matter. For artificial lights, three pairs of lights are placed over the table, forming an oblong 8.5 by 3 feet, at a height about 3 feet 4 inches from the table-bed to the flame.
It is important that the table should be warranted against vibration; the floor, therefore, if there be a basement under, must be made rigid, and the construction contrived with special reference to the bearings of the table-legs, four on each side.
If the room be large enough, there may be fixed benches or couches along part of the walls, elevated a few inches by a banquette or step. . . .
THE GENTLEMAN'S-ROOM OR BUSINESS-ROOM
This apartment in its more proper and characteristic form ... is the private room of the gentleman, in which he conducts his affairs. In a superior house it will be a good-sized plain room, with space for a few maps on the walls, bookcases for practical works of reference, similar accommodation for papers, and a fire-proof closet for deeds and documents of importance. If a justice of the peace, the owner will make this apartment his Justice-room; as a landlord he will transact business here with his tenants and servants; and as master of the house he will receive tradesmen and domestics. His intimate acquaintances also will be shown in to see him here as visitors. . . . A Waiting-room or some equivalent space in the Servants' Corridor, ought to be provided in all good houses; or the Butler's Pantry will be used for the purpose, which is inconvenient. The Servant's Hall may be used more legitimately.
The butler will ordinarily be the personal attendant of his master; and so it is well to place his Pantry close at hand. The Dining-room ought also to be sufficiently near to serve as a Waiting-room for friends: the Library is better kept private.
Some gentlemen require an Agent's-room adjoining, for the land-steward or bailiff, or for a clerk; this may have a door or intercommunication with the Business-room (as indeed may the Waiting-room also) provided it is not considered to interfere with privacy. A special Entrance is in such a case sometimes added, called the Business-room Entrance; this relieves the Servants' entrance altogether, but not the entrance-door of the house. . . .
The simplest form of Study exists in a small house built for a studious man, for instance a Parsonage. It is generally the Library also fro his own purposes; a bookcase of light reading being lpaced in the Dining-room or Drawing-room, for the family, but the arrangements of a Study attached (we may say instead of a Gentleman's-room) to a larger Library will not necessarily differ from what is required in this; as a study, in whatever circumstances, may be defined to be a place of reading and writing for one person alone. . . .
In our Mansions of the 17th and 18th centuries the Saloon is a standard feature. It occupies, for sintance, the middle of the Garden front, having on one hand the Drawing-room, and on the other perhaps the Library, with central doors of intercommunication, by means of which the three apartments are thrown into a suite at pleasure. ... The Saloon when used in similar form in more modern houses is, as a rule, still more of a thoroughfare and less of room . . .
THE PRIVATE FAMILY SUITE
A feature much esteemed in our best Mansions may be called by this name; being, in fat, generally a suitable portion of the Ground-floor, perhaps one particular wing, specially appropriated as a private lodging for the master and mistress fof the house. It comprehends a Gentleman's Sitting-room (being the Business-room), a Lady's Sitting-room (being the Boudoir), the Bedroom, Dressing-rooms, and appurtenances of a Principal Bedchamber Suite and occasionally a Waiting-room. The whole of these are grouped upon a private Corridor, which is often placed in connection with a special Garden door, thus constituted a Private Entrance for the suite. A Staircase close at hand goes upwareds to the Nurseries and Bedchambers of the Family. . . .
THE HOUSE CONSERVATORY (AND WINTER GARDEN)
The Conversatory which is here referred to is merely such a structure as may be attacehd to the House by way of an adjunct to the Family-rooms, to accommodate potted plants and perhaps a few creepers to cover a wall or run up a pillar. . . . It must never be lost sight of that for a Conservatory to be too directly attached to a Dwelling-room is unadvisable. The warm moist air, impregnated with vegetable matter and deteriorated by the organic action of the places, is both unfit to breathe and destructive of the fabics of furniture and decoration. . . . The intercommunication most usual for a Conservatory is with either the Drawing-room, Boudoir or Morning-room; or what is probably better than all, with a Saloon, Vestibule, Gallery, or Corridor, immediately adjoining any of these apartments. . . . The term Winter Garden is applied to a glasshouse on so extensive a scale as to cover a considerable area, say 50 feet square or upwards. . . .
THE SMOKING ROOM
The pitiable resources to which some gentlemen are driven even in their own houses, in order to be able to enjoy the pestiferous luxury of a cigar, have given rise to the occasional introduction of an aprtment specially dedicated to the use of Tobacco. The Billiard-room is sometimes allow to be more or less under the dominion of the smoker, if contrived accordingly; but this would in other cases be impossible; and there are even instances where, out of sheer encouragement of the practice, a retreat is provided altogether apart, where the dolce far niente in this particular shape may solely and undisturbedly reign. . . .
THE GENTLEMEN'S ODD ROOM
In the country more especially, the young gentlemen of the house may find themselves very much at a loss sometimes for an informal place in which "to do as they like." In one corner there may be a work-bench and tool-chest; over the mantelpiece there may be foils and dumb-bells; the fireside may be dedicated to the cigar, very properly forbidden elsehwere; there may be a lathe in another corner; in a closet, out of harm's way, there may be an electrical machine and half a dozen things of the sort; while in a plain cabinet at the end of the room there may be deposited collections, prepared and unprepared, botanical, entomological, mineralogical, &c. &c. &c. There seems no reason why, in a large house, there should not be one room more on this account.
Friday, 8 April 2011
Here, then is a description of every possible 'day room' in an upper-class home, from Robert Kerr's The Gentleman's House (1871). I hadn't heard of half of them; but then I tend to investigate the poor. If you don't fancy reading all of it, skim down to The Billiard Room (how to build one) and The Gentlemen's Odd Room - which gives you a glimpse of how young unattached males were expected to pass their time.