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Wharton, Edith, 1862-1937; Codman, Ogden / The decoration of houses

IV: Doors,   pp. 48-63

Page 49

to some ingenious person that when two adjoining rooms were
used for entertaining, and it was necessary to open the doors be-
tween them, these doors might be in the way; and to avoid
this possibility, a recess was formed in the thickness of the wall,
and the door was made to slide into it.
 This idea apparently originated in England, for sliding doors,
even in the present day, are virtually unknown on the continent;
and Isaac Ware, in the book already quoted, speaks of the sliding
door as having been used "at the house, late Mr. de Pestre's, near
Hanover Square," and adds that "the manner of it there may
serve as an example to other builders," showing it to have been
a novelty which he thought worthy of imitation.
 English taste has never been so sure as that of the Latin races;
and it has, moreover, been perpetually modified by a passion for
contriving all kinds of supposed "conveniences," which instead
of simplifying life not unfrequently tend to complicate it.  Amer-
icans have inherited this trait, and in both countries the architect or
upholsterer who can present a new and more intricate way of
planning a house or of making a piece of furniture, is more sure
of a hearing than he who follows the accepted lines.
 It is doubtful if the devices to which so much is sacrificed in
English and American house-planning always offer the practical
advantages attributed to them.  In the case of the sliding door
these advantages are certainly open to question, since there is no
reason why a door should not open into a room.  Under ordinary
circumstances, doors should always be kept shut; it is only, as
Ware points out, when two adjoining rooms are used for enter-
taining that it is necessary to leave the door between them open.
Now, between two rooms destined for entertaining, a double door
(~ deux battants) is always preferable to a single one; and as an

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