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

IV: doors,   pp. 48-63

Page 50

50             The Decoration of Houses
opening four feet six inches wide is sufficient in such cases, each
of the doors will be only two feet three inches wide, and therefore
cannot encroach to any serious extent on the floor-space of the
room.    On the other hand, much has been sacrificed to the
supposed "convenience   of the sliding door: first, the decorative
effect of a well-panelled door, with hinges, box-locks and handle
of finely chiselled bronze ; secondly, the privacy of both rooms,
since the difficulty of closing a heavy sliding door always leads to
its being left open, with the result that two rooms are necessarily
used as one.  In fact, the absence of privacy in modern houses
is doubtless in part due to the difficulty of closing the doors be-
tween the rooms.
  The sliding door has led to another abuse in house-planning:
the exaggerated widening of the doorway.    While doors were
hung on hinges, doorways were of necessity restricted to their
proper dimensions; but with the introduction of the sliding door,
openings eight or ten feet wide became possible.   The planning
of a house is often modified by a vague idea on the part of its
owners that they may wish to give entertainments on a large
scale.  As a matter of fact, general entertainments are seldom
given in a house of average size; and those who plan their houses
with a view to such possibilities sacrifice their daily comfort to
an event occurring perhaps once a year.  But even where many
entertainments are to be given large doorways are of little use.
Any architect of experience knows that ease of circulation de-
pends far more on the planning of the house and on the position
of the openings than on the actual dimensions of the latter.
Indeed, two moderate-sized doorways leading from one room
to another are of much more use in facilitating the movements
of a crowd than one opening ten feet wide.

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