The Ideal House
I’ve been reading Robert Louis Stevenson. A lifelong invalid, he travelled in search of benign climates. He writes about everything, and usually in a style that is exact, generous and friendly. Here he is describing some of what makes up a perfect house. I thought about his description of a ‘castleful of cabinets’ not long ago, when visiting an architected house conversion in Islington.
‘A house of more than two stories is a mere barrack; indeed the ideal is of one story, raised upon cellars. If the rooms are large, the house may be small: a single room, lofty, spacious, and lightsome, is more palatial than a castleful of cabinets and cupboards. Yet size in a house, and some extent and intricacy of corridor, is certainly delightful to the flesh. The reception room should be, if possible, a place of many recesses… but it must have one long wall with a divan: for a day spent upon a divan, among a world of cushions, is as full of diversion as to travel. The eating-room… should be ad hoc… In neither of these public places should there be anything beyond a shelf or two of books; but the passages may be one library from end to end, and the stair, if there be one, lined with volumes in old leather, very brightly carpeted, and leading half-way up, and by way of landing, to a windowed recess with a fire-place; this window, almost alone in the house, should command a handsome prospect.’
Posted by Robert Sakula