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Decoration of Houses - Chapter Guide | Decorating Ceilings & Floors [Previous Chapter] | Decorating Hall & Stairs [Next Chapter]

VIII

ENTRANCE AND VESTIBULE

THE decoration of the entrance necessarily depends on the nature of the house and its situation. A country house, where visitors are few and life is simple, demands a less formal treatment than a house in a city or town; while a villa in a water­ing-place where there is much in common with town life has necessarily many points of resemblance to a town house.

It should be borne in mind of entrances in general that, while the main purpose of a door is to admit, its secondary purpose is to exclude. The outer door, which separates the hall or vestibule from the street, should clearly proclaim itself an effectual barrier. It should look strong enough to give a sense of security, and be so plain in design as to offer no chance of injury by weather and give no suggestion of interior decoration.

The best ornamentation for an entrance-door is simple panel­ling, with bold architectural mouldings and as little decorative detail as possible. The necessary ornament should be contributed by the design of locks, hinges and handles. These, like the door itself, should be strong and serviceable, with nothing finikin in their treatment, and made of a substance which does not require cleaning. For the latter reason, bronze and iron are more fitting than brass or steel.

 104                 The Decoration of Houses

In treating the vestibule, careful study is required to establish a harmony between the decorative elements inside and outside the house. The vestibule should form a natural and easy transition from the plain architecture of the street to the privacy of the in­terior (see Plate XXVIII).

No portion of the inside of the house being more exposed to the weather, great pains should be taken to avoid using in its decoration materials easily damaged by rain or dust, such as carpets or wall-paper. The decoration should at once produce the impression of being weather-proof.

Marble, stone, scagliola, or painted stucco are for this reason the best materials. If wood is used, it should be painted, as dust and dirt soon soil it, and unless its finish be water-proof it will require continual varnishing. The decorations of the vesti­bule should be as permanent as possible in character, in order to avoid incessant small repairs.

The floor should be of stone, marble, or tiles; even a linoleum or oil-cloth of sober pattern is preferable to a hard-wood floor in so exposed a situation. For the same reason, it is best to treat the walls with a decoration of stone or marble. In simpler houses the same effect may be produced at much less cost by dividing the wall-spaces into panels, with wooden mouldings applied di­rectly to the plaster, the whole being painted in oil, either in one uniform tint or in varying shades of some cold sober color. This subdued color-scheme will produce an agreeable contrast with the hall or staircase, which, being a degree nearer the centre of the house, should receive a gayer and more informal treatment than the vestibule.

The vestibule usually has two doors: an outer one opening to­ward the street and an inner one giving into the hall; but when


ANTECHAMBER IN THE VILLA CAMBIASO, GENOA.

BUILT BY ALESSI, XVI CENTURY.

Entrance and Vestibule                          105

the outer is entirely of wood, without glass, and must therefore be left open during the day, the vestibule is usually subdivided by an inner glass door placed a few feet from the entrance. This ar­rangement has the merit of keeping the house warm and of af­fording a shelter to the servants who, during an entertainment, are usually compelled to wait outside. The French architect always provides an antechamber for this purpose.

No furniture which is easily soiled or damaged, or difficult to keep clean, is appropriate in a vestibule. In large and imposing houses marble or stone benches and tables should be used, and the ornamentation may consist of statues, vases, or busts on pedestals (see Plate XXIX). When the decoration is simpler and wooden benches are used, they should resemble those made for French gardens, with seats of one piece of wood, or of broad thick slats; while in small vestibules, benches and chairs with cane seats are appropriate.

The excellent reproductions of Robbia ware made by Cantagalli of Florence look well against painted walls; while plaster or terra­cotta bas-reliefs are less expensive and equally decorative, especially against a pale-blue or green background.

The lantern, the traditional form of fixture for lighting vesti­bules, is certainly the best in so exposed a situation; and though where electric light is used draughts need not be considered, the sense of fitness requires that a light in such a position should always have the semblance of being protected.



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