University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture

Page View

Stickley, Gustav, 1858-1942. / Craftsman homes
(1909)

"The art of building a home": by Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin,   pp. 6-8 ff.


Page 8

             THE ART OF BUILDING A HOME
should extend to the last detail of the furnished house.  When his responsibility
ceases with the erection of the shell, it is natural that he should look
very little
beyond this. There is no inducement for him to work out any definite scheme
for a finished room, for he knows that if he had any aim the decorator and
furnisher would certainly miss it and would fail to complete his creation.
 If,
when designing a house, the architect were bearing in mind the effect each
room
would have when finished and furnished, his conceptions would be influenced
from the very beginning, and his attitude toward the work would tend to under-
go an entire change.   At present he but too readily accepts the popular
idea of
art as a thing quite apart from life, a sort of trimming to be added if funds
allow.
  ³It is tins prevalent conception of beauty as a sweetmeat, something
rather
nice which may be taken or left according to inclination after the solid
meal
has been secured, which largely causes the lack of comeliness we find in
our
houses.  Before this idea can be dispelled and we can appreciate either the
place
which art should hold in our lives or the importance of rightly educating
the
appreciation of it, we must realize that beauty is part of the necessary
food of
any life worth the name; that art, which is the expression of beauty as conceived
and created by man, is primarily concerned with the making of the useful
gar-
ments of life beautiful, not with the trimming of them; and that, moreover,
in
its higher branches art is the medium through which the most subtle ideas
are
conveyed from man to man.
  ³Understanding something of the true meaning of art, we may set about
realizing it, at least in the homes which are so much within our control.
 Let
us have in our houses, rooms where there shall be space to carry on the business
of life freely and with pleasure, with furniture made for use; rooms where
a drop
of water spilled is not fatal; where the life of a chill is not made a burden
to it
by unnecessary restraint; plain, simple, and ungarnished if necessary, but
honest.
Let us have such ornament as we do have really beautiful and wrought by hand,
carving, wrought metal, embroidery, painting, something which it has given
pleasure to the producer to create, and which shows this in every line<the
only
possible work of art.  Let us call in the artist, bid him leave his easel
pictures,
and paint on our walls and over the chimney corner landscapes and scenes
which shall bring light and life into the room; which shall speak of nature,
purity, and truth; shall become part of the room, of the walls on which they
are painted, and of the lives of us who live beside them; paintings which
our
children shall grow up to love, and always connect with scenes of home with
that
vividness of a memory from childhood which no time can efface.      Then,
if
necessary, let the rest of the walls go untouched in all the rich variety
of color
and tone, of light and shade, of the naked brickwork.     Let the floor go
uncar-
peted, and the wood unpainted, that we may have time to think, and money
with which to educate our children to think also.       Let us have rooms
which
once decorated are always decorated, rooms fit to be homes in the fullest
poetry
of the name; in which no artificiality need momentarily force us to feel
shame
for things of which we know there is nothing to be ashamed: rooms which can
form backgrounds, fitting and dignified, at the time and in our memories,
for
all those little scenes, those acts of kindness and small duties, as well
as the scenes
of deep emotion and trial, which make up the drama of our lives at home.²
8


Go up to Top of Page