The Life and Work of Harvey Ellis

Excerpt from The Craftsman, written by Harvey Ellis
Vol. IV no. IV, July 1903, p. 269

A Craftsman House Design

It is purposed in this design to erect a house for an average family, on a city or suburban lot of fifty feet front and not less than one hundred twenty-five feet deep. It is further assumed that the amount available for this purpose is four thousand dollars, a sum sufficient, with ordinary economy, to build a structure that will be in the best sense of the word, "homely." A house which shall be convenient, harmonious, and related in all its parts. A structure fit and, therefore, a work of art; for nowhere is the axiom of "fitness is beauty" so obvious as in a domestic structure. With the amount named, visions of stone baronial homes, miniature Elizabethan and other architectural bric-a-brac, are of course, out of the question, and as a house of wood has always a look of temporary existence, even if it be substantial, it is deemed best to build a solid wooden frame, covered in the ordinary manner with sheathing paper and wooden sheathing, over which is placed metal lathe. This, in turn, is given a coat of cement, "rough cast," which is unimpaired by the extremes of temperature or weather, rain, or frost, and which has an interesting texture and a color varying from a dead white up to a faint creamy yellow. This, together with a shingled roof stained a Venetian red, with the exterior woodwork also stained (not painted) a rich, full yellow olive green, and the interior of the house exactly expressed in constructive terms, will reasonably result in a good design. For, to quote an old saw of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts--"A good plan makes a good elevation'"--and this is true, if the designer is honest and frank with himself and with his material.


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