Here is proof that mere man can achieve both charm and efficiency in housekeeping
MARY AGNES PEASE
THERE is a more or less accepted idea that man is a helpless being as a housekeeper; that only a woman’s hand can give the home touch and keep the home wheels properly oiled and running true. A woman of my acquaintance is of opinion that men foster this idea sedulously, and never miss an opportunity to bemoan their domestic shortcomings with the ulterior motive of escape from active participation in any kind of domestic responsibility. Like Montesquieu, they “love their family’s welfare but cannot be so foolish as to make themselves the slave to the minute affairs of a house.”
Occasionally, however, one comes across a man who likes to paddle his domestic canoe alone, and whose taste and efficiency in household matters are of a very high order and sometimes put to shame the efforts of the average feminine housekeeper. The illustrations which accompany this article show how admirably one such “man-alone” has succeeded in furnishing and maintaining his apartment.
A Studio Over a Shop
THIS apartment is over a shop, which, perhaps, accounts for the unusual size of the main room, which is excellently suited to the purpose of its artist occupant who uses it as a studio during working hours and as a living room at other times. This artist says that he cannot understand why so many people are content to live in little box-like apartments when it is possible to get spacious rooms above shops at very moderate rates. In England and on the Continent, the advantages of such apartments are more generally appreciated, especially by artists, musicians and writers to whom these habitations have a decided appeal, both from an artistic and practical point of view.
The entrance to this apartment is a bit unusual. The front door opens on a small landing from which one steps down to a little reception room. This small room is a most valuable asset to the apartment, as it is just outside the studio and can be shut off from it, thus making possible a place where a visitor can be interviewed without infringing on the work of the artist. In addition to its value as a “buffer room,” it also gives a promise of the interest and charm of the studio into which it opens.
Privacy, air and light
A VISITOR’S first impression of the studio is of spaciousness and light, which make it a most desirable place for work and hospitality. It is obvious that the entire apartment was formerly one huge room and that the space required for bedroom, bathroom and kitchen was rather grudgingly given, as these three rooms are somewhat limited in extent although entirely adequate for the purposes they fulfill. They lie behind the partition shown at the right in the picture of the studio; which partition extends also to the back of the reception room.
The tiny kitchen is a model of convenience. One could sit on a stool in the centre and easily touch each piece of furniture. The sink is flanked by a cabinet on one side and a table on the other, while just opposite them are the little electric stove and refrigerator. Everything is arranged for quick action without waste motions and with order as the watchword.
The bedroom also shows trigness, and a certain austerity due, perhaps, to the absence of those “precious trifles” of the toilet which characterize a woman’s room. You will notice in the picture that a short partition is built down one side of it. This was added by the occupant to make possible a storeroom behind, in which shelves have been built to lodge paints, papers, and all the paraphernalia required by an artist-writer, as well as providing space for clothing, linen and other household requirements. The partition screens all this, but does not extend sufficiently far to keep out the air and light from a window at the extreme left of the room.
The bathroom and the kitchen lie to the right of the bedroom, but as they were arranged on a still further diminishing scale it was not possible to photograph them.
The window blinds in this apartment are set on the lower sash and are operated by means of a pulley placed in the middle of the window frame at the top. This makes possible the admittance of abundant light and air, and also affords greater privacy as only the head of the occupant can be glimpsed by inquisitive neighbors. The windows open from the top, and are all supplied with outside screens made of copper wire. Short lengths of copper wire, on which to hang towels, are also used in both kitchen and bathroom. The artist occupant pointed out that there was a double advantage in using this type of wire for such purpose: it is invisible when not in service, and it will not rust.
Beige, Brown and Blue
TN FURNISHING his rooms, this artist was not
hampered by belongings which had to be fitted into a new background, each piece was a new possession and he had, therefore, every opportunity to exercise his individual preference and to choose furniture with an eye to its indisputable beauty as well as its suitability. Of course, I am unprepared to say that his furniture was purchased for a song, but in spite of the fact that practically every piece is a very fine reproduction of early English furniture, the cost was not prohibitive. The pieces are excellently constructed and have none of the faults commonly associated with some of the modern furniture. All of the furniture and decorative objects in the room were made in Canada and are highly prized possessions. The absence of rugs on the floor is, unquestionably, a feature of the majority of studios, but, in this case at least, rather adds to the charm of the place, as it seems to emphasize the sturdiness and beauty of the wood and design of the furniture.
The walls of the room are beige in tone, making an ideal background for the pictures which are for the most part copies of the works of the occupant, and which you will observe are beautifully grouped upon the wall. The easel is a very decorative feature also, especially when it is occupied, as in the illustration, by a painting in vivid colors.
Beige, brown and blue provide the color scheme for the room. The curtains are very masculine in type, being made of monk’s cloth in the brown color always associated with this material. The coverings for the sofa and chairs are of heavy silk material in beige and soft blue tones. The whole effect of fabric and wood is in perfect harmony and most pleasing to the eye.
eye. Books and magazines are everywhere in the studio and also in the reception room, and give their own special decorative effect. The sideboard at the right of the studio serves its usual purpose in so far as the drawers and cupboards are concerned; but the top is pressed into service for books and is able to accommodate them in every size and weight.
Why not a Studio Window?
AS CAN be seen, there is the usual studio window in the roof which makes the room a glory on a sunny day and gives it a very distinctive quality. I have often wondered why these windows are used by artists only. There are many rooms that could be lifted out of the mediocre class by the introduction of one of them, as, in addition to bringing light and air and charm into a room, an opportunity would be provided for acquaintance with the stars.
You will notice that the quaint, little bed shown in the smaller picture, is built very close to the floor. The artist explained that his idea in having it made in this fashion was not to prevent the possibility of a hiding place for a chance burglar, but to have a piece of furniture that might sometime be an attractive addition to the studio as a low seat, an extra bed, or perhaps another place for books.
There is in this apartment, and particularly in the studio, that quality which we find so difficult to define but are glad to accept—charm. The host of this “oneman” establishment has evolved a setting that is simple but satisfyingly complete, and it seems to me that he has thoroughly disproved the idea—without in the least intending to do so—that a home cannot be a real home without the presence of a woman.
The way in which this “upper chamber” has been turned into a real home might quite easily be copied by anyone with taste and ingenuity. If one were “inconveniently poor” it might not be possible to have fine reproductions of beautiful furniture, such as those pictured; but if one were rich in ideas and patience there are often rare bargains in furniture to be had in the shops for little money These could be attractively assembled in a place similar to the one I have described and would make possible a room of space and charm in which to work or study or entertain—or all three. The main requirements for a room of this type are comfortable chairs, a sofa, a substantial table for working and dining purposes, several tables to hold lamps, books and the like, a desk or writing table, plenty of movable and adjustable lights . . . and there you are!
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