Monday, January 14, 2013

Establishing a Home

I continue to enjoy Vocational Guidance For Girls. Chapter 3, "Establishing a Home", is perhaps less relevant for the modern homemaker - many of the things it discusses are today a given in any house, city or country, and keeping a domestic servant is far less popular. "Once upon a time practically the only labor-saving device possible to the housekeeping woman was another woman." I am thankful that today it is not so; our modern homes are generally smaller, more efficient, and easier to run. I don't need someone else to heat my water or stoke the fire; I have a washing machine and a vacuum cleaner, and many of us also have dishwashers and driers, which save a great deal of time (although there's still enough work to be getting on with!)

Here are some other quotes I loved:

"No more inspiring moment comes in the lives of most men and women than that in which the first step is taken toward making their first home."

"In general, the good house is plain, substantial, convenient, and suited to its surroundings. Efficient housekeeping is largely conditioned by such very practical details as closets and pantries, the relative positions of sink and stove, the height of work tables and shelves, the distance from range to dining table, the ease or difficulty of cleaning woodwork, laundry facilities, and the like."

"We must therefore teach our boys and girls that houses are for shelter, work, comfort, and rest, and to satisfy our sense of beauty, not to serve as show places nor to establish for us a standing in the community proportionate to the size of our buildings. We must teach them to measure their house needs and to avoid the uselessly ornate as well as the hopelessly ugly. But most of all must the homemaker be taught that the comfort and well-being of the family come first in the making of plans."

"[The homemakers] must learn that expense is not necessarily a synonym for beauty; they must know the characteristics of fabrics and other decorative materials; and they must be trained to recognize the qualities for which expenditure of money and effort are worth while."

"The trained housewife will have an eye toward future dusting and will choose the less ornate articles. The same person, in her capacity as the mother of citizens, will see that chairs are comfortable to sit in, that tables and desks are the right height for work, that book cases and cabinets are sufficient in number and size to take care of the family treasures. She will use pictures sparingly and choose them to inspire. Perhaps, most of all, the woman with the trained mind will know how to avoid a superfluity of furniture in her rooms. She will be educated to the beauty of well-planned spaces and will not feel obliged to fill every nook and corner with chairs or tables or sofas or other pieces of furniture which merely "fill the space."


joyce said...

I like the last paragraph. I see a lot of spaces that are overdone wth too many knicknacks and pieces of furniture. The end result is often a cluttered look, although I have seen a few "overflowing" spaces that are actually pleasing to the eye. I guess it's a personal preference.
I do like interesting art work in a home, whether it be framed prints, posters, metal art, sculpture, mirrors, etc. I choose things I like that look good and enhance the room, and not necessarily to inspire anyone else. My taste in art leans toward the abstract, which may not be as inspirationl to some as a pastoral or cozy home scene.
The book you are reading may not be modern, but clearly, there is some timely advice in it.

Leah Brand-Burks said...

This book is so practical it speaks well beyond its likely intended years of audience! Great advice, even so many years later.

kharking said...

I switched over to thinking of my labor aiding appliances as my servants. After all, the clothes washer, dishwasher, breadmaker, etc. were all things that a servant would have helped with. It actually helps me feel less alone in my work and I get a bit of amusement out of thinking of myself as supervising the servants when I'm loading the washer or the slow cooker.
The decorating principles that she is discussing are still an area of growth for me though. I had excellent training in cellular biology but not so much in home design.