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Wharton, Edith (1862-1937); Codman Jr., Ogden (1863-1951) / The decoration of houses
(1898)

XI: gala rooms: ball-room, saloon, music-room, gallery,   pp. 134-144


Page 134

                             XI
GALA ROOMS: BALL-ROOM, SALOON, MUSIC-
                    ROOM, GALLERY
EUROPEAN architects have always considered it essential that
     those rooms which are used exclusively for entertaining -
gala rooms, as they are called-should be quite separate from the
family apartments,- either occupying an entire floor (the Italian
piano nobile) or being so situated that it is not necessary to open
them except for general entertainments.
  In many large houses lately built in America, with ball and
music rooms and a hail simulating the two-storied Italian saloon,
this distinction has been disregarded, and living and gala rooms
have been confounded in an agglomeration of apartments where
the family, for lack of a smaller suite, sit under gilded ceilings and
cut-glass chandeliers, in about as much comfort and privacy as
are afforded by the public "parlors" of one of our new twenty-
story hotels.  This confusion of two essentially different types of
room, designed for essentially different phases of life, has been
caused by the fact that the architect, when called upon to build a
grand house, has simply enlarged, instead of altering, the maison
bourgeoi~e that has hitherto been the accepted model of the
American gentleman's house; for it must not be forgotten that
the modern American dwelling descends from the English mid-
                             Z34


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