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The addition of wood gives | more variety and picturesqueness, and if the walls are rather high on either side or
STONE WALL BY AN AMERICAN MECHANIC WHO
ran the stone-work up to the eaves, and the timber gables down to the chamber floorthat is, cut into the walls six feet with my wooden gables, and halved or dove-tailed the lighter material into the heavier, so that neither is complete without the other. Thus each of the four gables is flanked by two stone breasts or piers to a height of six feet. But, better than that, I projected the gables fourteen inches and carried the wall out by three steps with them. This I had no trouble in doing with the admirable stone at my command, and the effect is rocky and bold in the extreme. After this stroke it would not do to leave the wooden ends plain and smooth, so I planted upon them a timber finish, following rigidly the principle of construction, and making every line a line of strength-or showing only ties, braces and supports, and thus breaking the space up into numerous irregular panels.* By building the ends of wood, and pro
In the engraving on page 337 this timber-work is too pronounced and has a cluttered appearance, and obscures the windows on the south gable, which is not the case in the house itself. The plans on page 336 are adapted from Vaux. A more rambling
jecting them thus from the chamber floor, I gain considerable space in the chambersabout sixteen square yards in all, making the rooms in this part of the house unusually large and fine. What should a house of undressed stone be trimmed out with but unpainted wood? Oak, ash, cedar, cherry, maple,-why import pine from Michigan or Maine when nearly all our woods contain plenty of these materials ? And now that the planing mills are so abundant, and really do such admirable work, an ordinary-priced house may be trimmed out mainly in hard wood for nearly the same cost as with pine. Good white pine costs from five to six cents per foot, and in many places in New York State, ash, oak, chestnut, maple, etc., can be had at from two and one-half to four cents per foot. So far as the work can be done by machinery, it makes but little difference what your timber is. The smoothing and fitting, and final putting together of the hard wood finish, takes longer time; but the oiling, or washing of it with some preparation, is again a great saving over three coats of paint.
In my case I began at the stump; I viewed the trees before they were cut, and took a hand in sawing them down and hauling them to the mill. One bleak winter day I climbed to the top of a mountain to survey a large butternut which some hunters had told me of, and which now, one year later, I see about me in base and panel as I write. One thus gets a lively background of interest and reminiscence in his house from the start.
The natural color and grain of the wood give a richness and simplicity to an interior that no art can make up for. How the eye loves a genuine thing; how it delights in the nude beauty of the wood! A painted surface is a blank, meaningless surface; but
style of house would have afforded greater picturwinter, which was an important point with me. The esqueness, but less snugness and compactness for open fire-place in the library is connected with the main chimney by means of a cement pipe in the attic. The house is finished as follows: The kitchen oak; the lower hall in maple and chestnut; the in oak, ash, and yellow pine; the dining-room in living-room or parlor in butternut; the library in butternut; the mistress's chamber in chestnut; the bath in curly maple; the main hall in oak and black walnut; the chambers in ash, maple, and birch; the doors on main floor are butternut, and cost a little over $5 each; the chamber doors are black ash, and cost about the same; the yellow pine doors in dining-room cost $8 each. After one season of a hot-air furnace, the hard wood has hardly started at all, and not one door has sprung. The whole cost of the house was about $6,000.
the texture and figure of the wood is full of expression. It is the principle of construction again appearing in another field. How endless the variety of figures that appear even in one kind of wood, and, withal, how❘ modest! The grainers do not imitate oak. They cannot. Their surface glares; their oak is only skin-deep; their figures put nature to shame.
Oak is the wood to start with in trimming a house. How clear and strong it looks! It is the master wood. When allowed to season in the log, it has a richness and ripeness of tone that is delicious. We have many kinds, as rock oak, black oak, red oak, white oak,—all equally beautiful in their place. Red oak is the softest, and less liable to spring. By combining two different kinds, as red oak and white oak (white oak takes its name from the external color of the tree, and not from the color of the wood, which is dark amber color), a most pleasing effect is produced.
Butternut is the softest and most tractable of what are called hard woods, and its hue is eminently warm and mellow. Its figure is pointed and shooting-a sort of Gothic style in the grain. It makes admirable doors. Indeed, Western butternut, which can usually be had in the Albany market, makes doors as light as pine, and as little liable to spring. The Western woods are all better than the Eastern for building purposes. They are lighter, coarser, easier worked. They grow easier and thriftier. The traveler through Northern Ohio and Indiana sees a wonderful crop of forest trees, tall, uniform, straight as candles, no knots, no gnarls,-all clear, clean timber. The soil is deep and moist, and the trees grow rank and rapid. The chestnut, ash, and butternut grown here work like pine, besides being darker and richer in color than the same woods grown in leaner and more rocky soils. Western black ash is especially beautiful. In connection with our almost bone-white sugar maple for panels, it makes charming doorsjust the thing for chambers, and scarcely more expensive than pine. Of our Eastern woods, red cedar is also good, with its pungent, moth-expelling odor, and should not be neglected. It soon fades, but it is very pleasing, with its hard, solid knots, even then. No doubt some wash might be applied that would preserve its color.
There is a species of birch growing upon our mountains that makes an admirable
finish. It is usually called red or cherry birch, and it has a long wave or curl that is found in no other wood. It is very tough and refractory, and must be securely fastened. A black ash door, with maple or white pine panels set in a heavy frame of this red, wavy birch, is a most pleasing chamber finish. For a hard wood floor, in connection with oak or ash, it is to be preferred to cherry.
Growing alongside of the birch is the soft maple-the curly species, that must not be overlooked. It contains light wood and dark wood, as a fowl contains white meat and dark meat. It is not unusual to find a tree of this species, the heart of which will be a rich grayish brown, suggesting, by something in the tone and texture of it, the rarer shades of silk, while the outer part is white, and fine as ivory. I have seen a wainscoting composed of alternate strips of this light and dark wood from the same tree, that was exquisite, and a great rarity.
Aside from its cost, I think black walnut should be used very sparingly in finishing. Alone, and in large masses, it is too dark, unless the light is very strong; and used in connection with lighter woods, the contrast is too great. The eye soon tires of sharp, violent contrasts. It is pleased at first, but wearied in the end.
In general, that which
is striking, or taking at first sight, is to be avoided in interior finishings or decorations, especially in the main or living-rooms. In halls, a more pronounced style is permissible, and the contrast of walnut with pine or maple, or oak, is not in bad taste, or open to the objection of being too "loud." For mantels, I know of no other wood so suitable. And wooden mantels are what you want. Marble makes good tombstones, but it is an abomination in a house, either in furniture or in mantels. The hand dislikes it as it does a corpse, and it offends the eye. Marbleized slate is much to be preferred. What one wants in his livingrooms is a quiet, warm tone, and the main secret of this is dark furniture and hangings, with a dash of color here and there, and floods of light,-big windows, and plenty of them. No room can be cheerful and inviting without plenty of light, and then, if the walls are light too, and the carpets showy, there is flatness and garishness. The marble mantel-piece, with its senseless vases, and the marble-topped center table, add the finishing-touch of coldness and stiffness.
BEDS AND TABLES, STOOLS AND CANDLESTICKS: II.
MORE ABOUT THE LIVING-ROOM.
FTER the publication of the first of these chapters (SCRIBNER for June, 1875), several letters, as might have been expected, came to the editor, all asking for more minute and particular directions on various points only touched upon the cost of this, that, or the other piece of furniture ; where one might hope to find some piece which looked inviting as pictured in these pages, but seemed as hopeless of ever being achieved in real life as the prize pansy of a seedsman's spring cat
about anything else; it really looks as if house-furnishing turned more upon this one item than upon all else besides; as if, to parody Poor Richard, the American housekeeper were persuaded if she would take care of the carpets, the chairs and tables would take care of themselves. Yet this writer has not had any new inspiration on the subject of carpets and rugs since he wrote his first screed on the subject last June. It shows how the matter of carpets weighs on the housekeeping mind, that even in the summer-time it set people to writing letters about how they are to cover their floors the coming winter. One thinks in these autumn days how pleasant 'twould be if we could only settle the matter as easily as the model housewife Nature does. Here is the lawn, that has been mowed to a velvet nap-the
But more questions were asked | ideal, the poetic carpet!-and raked clean in these letters about carpets and rugs than of every slightest twig or stick; yet a light
as our wits can devise. The advice to use rugs instead of carpets was given, not as the result of an individual discovery, but as a return to first principles, which had been followed for hundreds of years by nations who are admitted, on all hands, to have successfully solved a great many of the problems of external living.
In England and America carpets were used in the beginning to cover up badly made floors, and to promote warmth by keeping the air from coming through cracks. As floors have continued to be badly made in these countries, as a rule, ever since they began to have wooden floors at all, and as these floors are rarely, we may say never, solid, but simply planks resting on beams closed on the under side by the lath and
Yet they ought to be discarded on several grounds. They are the source of by far the greater part of the dirt and dust that annoy housekeepers and endanger health. It only needs some person of a statistical and worrying turn of mind to save the contents of the dust-pan for a month or so, and to insist upon the presence, at Hankinson's, of the members of the family who stand up for carpets to the bitter end-when the roller brings their end of the acre of painted woolen under the tell-tale beaters-to prove to any doubtful persons what dirt-makers and dirt-holders carpets can be. Of course, rugs are dirt-makers and dirt-holders just the same, but the advantage is, that they can be easily moved and shaken whenever it is thought necessary, and without occa
to be, comfortable, and many people are persuaded that a room whose floor is only covered in one place or in spots by rugs cannot look comfortable. And it is urged, too, that the expense is much greater, or at any rate that nothing is saved by substituting rugs for carpets. The rugs are dear, and it costs to put the floor in order for them. It is a great pity that good floors are not common here; it is to be hoped that the new way of living in "flats" will make it necessary to build the floors solider, making them one compact mass, unburnable, and impermeable to sound or air, which is found so easy in countries where it is not usual for one family to occupy a whole house, and where there must, therefore, be a substantial barrier between the several floors. Our readers have been told on this subject all that we know, and we need therefore only repeat, that the best thing of all is a welllaid floor of narrow boards of hard wood properly deafened and well waxed or oiled; but waxing is the better way. If the floor be already laid, and a poor one, then, if it
can be afforded, an excellent way is, to lay over it a wood carpet, choosing one of the plainest patterns-a "herring bone," or something as unpretending and as easily laid; but if that cannot be, then staining a dark color and shellacking would be a very good resource.
One of these ways the end can be accomplished of making the floor tight and smooth, so that the rug once rolled over and out of the way, the sweeping can all be done with a hair broom, and as little dust raised as possible. It is understood that unless it be a table in the center of the room, no heavy piece of furniture is to rest upon the rug, but that it is to be free to get up and go out and shake itself whenever the house-maid whistles to it. All this has been said or hinted before; but there is one other point that has not yet been touched a point on which nearly all the letters that have been received, in query or criticism on the first of these articles, exhibit anxiety. This is the question of symmetry. Several letters have been received asking how to treat the floors of two rooms opening one into the other, the "front and back parlor" of so many New York houses. But it ought to be understood that "symmetry "-or, to use a word that will apply to color as well as to form
and these inquiries are chiefly about color-not "symmetry," then, but "balance," -is a thing whose laws cannot be taught. At least, it is as difficult to teach them to one who does not perceive them by intuition as it is to teach an earless pupil to keep time in music, to teach a bad speller to spell correctly, or to teach an awkward boy of twenty to get out of a drawing-room when his call is ended.
There are parlors belonging to rich men who are the sons of rich men, who have been educated carefully, and who have traveled and seen all that there is to be seen of splendid and beautiful, and yet, though their rooms are full of the external evidences of wealth and travel, the things seem unhappy; the colors all "swear at one another," as the French artistic slang has it; the chairs and tables, like people too early at a country party, are waiting for an introduction, and the taste, if taste it may be called, in the pictures and bric-a-brac, is so discordant, that if the owner really likes one half of them we cannot understand how he should be able to tolerate the other. Of