Design Review: Volume 5, Issue 3 (July-August 1953)
“A house is a thing for living in”
Many and diverse are the ways of life, and ways of living: so living rooms have likewise many aspects. Every member of the family and a wide variety of people outside it make use of your living room in various ways at various times. The planning problem is therefore complex.
You can simplify matters by having a separate dining room, a separate entrance hall, a separate study, a separate playroom, a separate “best room”, and so on—if you can afford it, and if you don't mind housework—and those are pretty big ifs these days. The tendency is rather to include the kitchen and even the bedroom in the apparent space of the living room, screening or dividing by door-high fittings, sliding screens, or curtains. This means greater apparent space, more flexible and usable, for less gross floor area and less cost. You may, however, prefer a permanently private bedroom; you may feel a playroom is worthwhile and important (can you be sure the kids will want to stay there?) These things you must work out for yourself but do work them out. Make out lists, and draw diagrams. Read about—and go and see when you can—what other people have done. List all the activities that are likely to take place in your living room. Check all the equipment and furniture that is necessary for these activities, and make sure that it can all be conveniently placed or stored. Make your design and selection of furniture as versatile as possible, to avoid waste space and clutter. Your living room will then have character as well as dimensions, and the most that can be said about many a living room is that it is 20 × 12 or whatever it is.page 64
Both living rooms on this page are for married couples whose families have grown up and left home. The upper living-room, photographed from the dining area, opens on to two garden courts. On the right is a glass-fronted head-high china cabinet screening the kitchen; on the left are piano, built-in oil-burning space heater, and head-high bookshelf with radio fitting screening the bedroom sewing space. Architect, S. W. Toomath.
This living-dining-room is on the first floor of a house in a very restricted and steeply sloping site. The dining end opens on to a sheltered paved terrace and the opposite end of the room faces a spectacular view. The door and glass panel to the stair hall divide built-in storage fittings of appropriate kinds, and the varied levels of the ceiling give some character to an otherwise rather flat room. Architect, Barbara Parker.page 65
Plan 1 is a house to be built at Takapuna on a steep bush section (Group Architects). The living room of 2 (A. L. Gabites) is clearly reserved for quiet or formal living, leaving the diversity of family living to the dining-play room. 3 (H. Einhorn) distributes the various aspects of living through the house: the bedrooms are not self-contained boxes, but are appropriately related to living room, study and playroom, each of which relates to a separate dining area as the family centre. A variation of similar relationships is shown in 4 (Group Architects) in which almost all internal divisions are formed by door-high storage units. Another variation, with a permanently private bedroom is 5, designed as an owner-assembled panel house by Edward D. Stone (U.S.A.). The living-dining-entrance-kitchen-playroom-children's rooms relationship is simply and effectively handled. 6 (Group Architects; illustrated below) has a big living room, complex in section rather than plan. It is simply a family house, with plenty of space. 7 (Group Architects) has conventional children's rooms and kitchen but a vast living room with windows around an 18 ft. square timber “dome” in the middle, dining on one side, bed and dressing space on the other, freestanding storage concealing doors to rooms and a big deck 36 ft. × 9 ft. under the main roof. A very open but flexible arrangement is illustrated in 8 (Group Architects): movable bookshelf and cupboard units allow the playroom to be part of the living room, or separated from the spread of toys and toddlers by 3 ft. high cupboards, or closed off completely, as the needs of a growing family change. 9 (Natusch & Son) is a much more modest house, but the plan is well organized and compact. All plans on this page are at the same scale.