Charming Canadian Homes: No. 3, A Mansion in Ten Rooms
ANNE ELIZABETH WILSONJuly11925
Art and Decoration for Town and Country Homes
Charming Canadian Homes: No. 3, A Mansion in Ten Rooms
ANNE ELIZABETH WILSON
A TYPE of house which has always been a source of complete satisfaction to my simplicity - loving soul, is the brick of modified Georgian.
It is bound to be in good form in any neighborhood, and because of its perfectly natural outline ought to be almost immune to architectural blunders. No matter where you are building, or who your contractor may be, he can hardly go wrong, if you set him a model as straight-forward and self-contained as an English Georgian.
As fine an example of this type of home as I know is the house of E. L. Ruddy, in Toronto. It is the joint work of two well-known architects, assisted by clever landscape architects. And not only is it particularly interesting for its interior plan, but for its intriguing grounds and garden. Following its development of simplicity, in which three experts have conspired, is much to be learned by the builder who longs for beauty far from the guiding hand of any specialist.
The lot on which this house is built is of such a nature, sloping down as it does almost immediately to the ravine, that the general plan of the house has of necessity been developed toward a large frontage. The ground level at front is higher by one storey than at the rear, where the basement level opens directly upon the tiled terrace.
The house itself shows through the oaks which shade it, in warm variegated shades of red and brown brick, and in the same inviting shade, is entered by a big stone-framed pair of dark oak doors. This door frame in buff Indiana limestone seems to suggest a Spanish influence. It is beautifully chiselled at center in a basket design. The oak doors, carrying large raised square and rectangular panels, just fit into a vestibule which in turn opens upon the hall by a muntined glass door.
The large living room directly at left is lighted on three sides—at front by a bay window and at back by a group of windows overlooking the terrace and ravine. On either side of the fire-place, too, are casements. The fireplace itself is faced in black gold-veined marble, while the oak mantel supported by carved brackets carries a frieze centering in a carved motif of urn terminating in ram’s heads. The woodwork is all of dark oak, in antique finish, as is all natural woodwork throughout the house.
Standing in the drawing room door, one has a vista directly through the dining-room and sun - room opposite.
This dining-room and sun-room can hardly be spoken of separately.
They are in no sense divided being treated practically as one room.
Both the pilasters and beam are delicately divided, in panels with rosettes—all in plaster.
The entire wall-space is in antique ivory “wipe” finish. Autumn shades were carried in mind throughout the entire interior finish of this house, and nothing could be more in keeping with this idea than the antique ivory finish.
This is obtained, as I have written in another article, by applying as many as four coats of cream paint and a fifth coat of almost a chocolate brown. Before this last coat has dried the painter wipes it away, leaving a tinge of the brown towards the mouldings or declivities.
The effect is wonderfully rich. The walls in this room are a sort of plaster stucco and carry a plaster cornice at ceiling, a treatment which balances with the other decorations.
The lower hall is finished entirely in dark panelled oak and where doors appear, they are treated to conform with this panelling.
You will note the entrance to maid’s sitting-room from the hall. In this room is a stair leading above as well as an access to pantry, opening in turn to diningroom and kitchen.
The sleeping quarters for servants are provided in rooms either on third floor or in basement.
A Nest of Cupboards
'T'HE kitchen of A red quarry tile flooring and tile wainscoting is a treasure of hidden cupboards and modern conveniences. Unfortunately the electric refrigerator, elect r i c dishwasher and countless other labor-saving accessories which it boasts are outside of the limit of the “moderate means” of many of us, but they are certainly an inspiration! (It is interesting to note that with all the mechanical helps provided, it requires the
services of only one house man to run this entire establishment.) One beauty about the new household inventions, though, is that they may be installed in the most modest home or the most lordly mansion—there is no real discrimination there at any rate.
A little access to the basement is provided in the kitchen by a floordoor-area leading by ladder to the boiler-room. Two con\enient wall doors lead to the garage and tradesmen’s entrance.
Once more back into the hall, we follow the oak panelling from floor to ceiling with its wood cornice, and on up the stair to second floor where the rectangular oak panels finish in a three - foot high dado along the entire second floor hall. Above, the wall is treated in the effective ivory “wipe” finish with plaster cornice. The stair, with its turned newels and balusters, has turned the landing with a graceful easement of the handrail,
carrying along the well of the upper hall. (Note that there is no newel at the landing; a mere curving of the handrail.)
The space over the living-room is divided into two bedrooms.The south room boasts a shower and wash basin, while the north chamber has the aesthetic advantage of a window on the ravine! Both rooms, however, are convenient to the bathroom in the center hall.
The master bedroom is at front, left of the stairs, with bath adjoining. But perhaps the most interesting feature of the sleeping quarters in this house is the little suite which opens at left back of hall through a little arched passage. (Going through this passage we pass the sewingroom, a well-equipped little snuggery just large enough for its purpose and provided with good north light, ample linen closets and clothes chute.)
Then straight through the passage into the most charming of sitting-rooms! There is a deep wood mould in old gold roundabout it, and its walls are softly tinted. It opens upon another passage to its adjoining bedroom with access to master bath en route.
Then the bedroom! This is a room which deserves and shall have a fulsome round of description. In the first place, it is directly over the garage—you might perhaps consider this a drawback. But in this case, the flooring has been insulated with cork to prevent the rise of noise from beneath, and the big space of the garage provides basis for a gorgeous room.
One of the beauties of the plan of this house is that the garage and the room over it might be left off entirely without in any way upsetting the compact layout, but in a similar lot, would provide an additional and lovely room (if properly insulated) above stairs, and a first class adjacent arrangement for garage below.
As the room in question exists, it is charming. The corners of its ceiling are splayed and cross beams carry along the length and breadth of the room. These wooden beams give it a cozy cottagy effect, while casements look out over the front and back gardens.
This whole suite is admirably laid out. The master bath is accessible to both bedrooms, and the little sitting room can be conveniently utilized by the occupants of either room.
On the third floor is another large bedroom directly over the master chamber of the second floor.This is equipped with wash basin and shower. The rest of the floor is taken up by two maids’ rooms and trunk room, cedar closet and bath off hall. A feature of the rooms of the third floor is their cross ventilation. This is very important.
AS HAS been pointed ÁX out, this house is entered by a different level at rear, owing to the slope of its ravine lot. So that the tiled terrace is reached directly from the basement floor. It is a most attractive arrangement as carried out in this case. A huge billiard room with large rough stone fire place and heavy wood shelf lies directly below the living-room. It is a big cheery place suggestive of real use and good times. It is essentially a “man’s room,” being finished almost entirely in rough stucco, and if not necessarily utilized for the conventional billiard room, would furnish a splendid “liberty hall” for the boys of the family where noise would net matter, nor tracking boots! Then, too, its
almost direct access to the terrace is a great asset.
The other parts of the basement are divided into a fine laundry in enamelled brick outfitted with every modern equipment; a room suitable either for a servant's sleeping room or store room (it is m fact at present occupied by the houseman); another store room and a vault. The boiler room provides a bin for coal, although the house under description is heated by a gas furnace. In fact it contains two furnaces, both heated by gas, and an automatic gas heater, in tantaneous all the year round.
The general details of this house reveal splendid construction. For instance, all plastering throughout is on metal lath: all ceilings and w alls t hat are not stucco are cottoned. Plate glass is used throughout; all chimneys are provided with flue linings. Then, too, as 1 have mentioned, it is equipped with every modern labor-saving device, but these are of course optional and additional fixtures which greatly enhance but in no way set beyond the reach of the average builder the prospect of such a home.
The exterior of the house is unusually beautiful.
In the first place, it is built of variegated brick in browns and reds, as I have noted. The exact builder’s term for the grade of brick is “culled,” which is simply another name for ordinary stock brick, selected— than which there is no better material. If you will turn to the photograph of the terrace in which the little fountain appears, there are several details I should like to point out. Note first the arrangement of the brick in plastering. This method of laying is known to builders as English bond; that is, one course of "headers” (small size brick)and one course of “stretchers” (large size brick) the stretchers breaking the “bond” or plaster line between the headers above and below. Below the grade line, you will note the stone foundation of coursed ashler. This is a very beautiful soft-tcned and manycolored stone which can bs got to^harmonize with almost any material.
(The word “coursea ■ in regard to its laying signifies that it has been placed in
the plaster in more or less well-defined layers, rather than at random.)
As at the front, the door to terrace at rear is also of buff Indiana limestone, as is all such stone work about the house. Concrete outlines the tapestry brick garden tile of the terrace and a very charming little design has been carried out in the centre of the terrace with diamondshaped tiles and concrete. “Tapestry” tile is that which the clay has been roughened by screening, producing a very much more attractive surface than the ordinary smooth-baked brick.
The wall is carried out in the coursed ashler of the base of the house, while the steps leading to the back garden continue the terrace-border of concrete. Another set of steps in flags lead on the up-grade around the side of the house, and on to a flagged path across the front garden.
THE grounds of this home have been thoughtfully laid out, as you will readily agree in examining the plan drawing. Shrubs are banked for screening the service area at rear, while the trees of
the ravine and the front lawn form a natural protection for upstairs chambers. The trees were a part of the property site, but the shrubbery has been introduced almost entirely. The retaining wall along the west of the property is lined with bushes, furnishing a finishing enclosure for the lot, while the house itself is nested with delicate shrubbery. The location of this house demands considerable screening for privacy, and this has been excellently provided.
As the house now stands, in one of the most conservative sections of Rosedale, on a piece of very valuable property, equipped with everything which modern ingenuity can provide in work-saving machinery, it represents the home of a wealthy man. But this same type of home in comfortable detail is open to every builder in Canada who has taste to appreciate its compact beauty and spacious possibilities for individual and original interior development. In its mere “framing” a modified Georgian house is the most simple and consequently the least expensive. In its every outline, it is sturdy and “good”-— an admirable Canadian home.
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