Better Homes in America
by Mrs W.B. Meloney
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The Kitchen as Laundry

If the Kitchen is also used as Laundry, laundry equipment should be away from cooking equipment if possible. Two Tubs—well-lighted, tops 34 inches, a Washing Machine run by whatever power the locality affords, preferably electricity. Washing Machine may have direct connection with plumbing, or good pipe hose should be provided for draining and filling machine. Copper lined Wash Boiler with spigot for emptying. Zinc Topped Table—on rollers, same height as top of stove, for carrying wash-boiler between sink and stove. Ironing Board—If possible, board that folds into cupboard. Board should have its own support far enough in from ends to permit of putting garment over it. Clothes Basketwith Casters on Bottom.

Iron—Electric Iron, or if electricity is unavailable, gas iron. Electric or hand Mangle for ironing.

Have tubs, washing machine, ironing board and plug for electric iron grouped together.

The Equipment of the House

Having a house that is structurally sound, well planned and with adequate yard space, the next question is its equipment. Equipment has to do with the operation, with the house work. On the one hand this is more or less determined by the size and plan of the building, on the other by the furnishing and decoration. A well planned house makes house work lighter; and furnishing and decoration which add unnecessarily to the number of things which must be cleaned or cared for, or heavy pieces which must be moved, add to the labor of house work. Nevertheless, equipment occupies a clear outfield of its own that calls for separate discussion.


Central Heating—Central heating preferred. May be hot air, steam, hot water, or vapor. Insulate heater and pipes. Large furnace water pan, or radiator waterpans, desirable. Select heating system, using fuel most economical for your locality. Thermostat heat regulator installed in living room is desirable. Write placards describing why you selected this heating plant; why it is so well insulated; why large water pan or radiator water pans are important.

Supplementary Heat—Open fireplace, Franklin stove or gas logs desirable in living room for beauty and comfort in spring and fall.

Water Supply

Should have running hot and cold water. If city water not available, should be pumped by power rams. Hot water boiler may be attached to coal range with auxiliary gas or oil heater for summer. Where gas rate is low, gas may be used alone. Automatic gas hot water heaters very desirable.


Size—Should be large enough for tub, basin, toilet, clothes- hamper, stool, medicine cabinet and towel cabinet.

Floor—Should be most sanitary. Tile, stone or linoleums are the most sanitary. Small black and white pattern or light blue and white are good. A well-filled painted wood floor of battleship gray or colonial buff may be used.

Walls—Tile or plaster painted with two coats flat paint and one coat of enamel, or oil cloth wall covering. White, blue and cream are the best colors.

Ventilation—Window board should be in window to allow top and bottom ventilation. An additional separate ventilator is desirable.

Fixtures—Porcelain or enameled iron tub with hot and cold running water; shower with spray set at angle not to wet hair.

Basin—Porcelain or enamel with hot and cold water. Toilet—porcelain, white enameled seat desirable. Medicine Cabinet with door and mirror over basin, shelves for shaving equipment, lotions, antiseptics, etc. Cupboard large enough to hold supply of towels, soap, toilet paper, and equipment for cleaning bathroom fixtures.

Clothes hamper unless chute to bin near wash tubs is provided. Hamper should have white smooth surface. Enameled metal or wood desirable.

Towel racks—A nickel or enameled wood rack for each member of family to keep towels separate.

Miscellaneous fixtures—Two nickel or enameled metal soap racks, one beside basin and one beside or hooked to tub. Tooth brush rack to hold tooth brushes well separated. Toilet paper basket or rack. Individual mugs or glasses for each member of family. Shelf of glass or wood covered with oil cloth over basin.

Stool—White enamel, preferably. Clothes hooks on back of door, or clothes tree. Sash curtains of white material, easy to launder.

Lavatory—It is well to have additional lavatory on ground floor to save steps. It should contain toilet, wash bowl, stool and fixtures for accessories. Should be as easy to clean and hygienic as bathroom.


Electricity if possible. Bulbs in all rooms should be frosted or shaded. Hall—Electricity or lamp hung from center in form of lantern or cast iron bracket to hold at least one bulb or one lamp. If side lights are desired, fixtures of brass, cast iron, or enameled iron are effective.

Living Room—If possible, at least one baseboard plug, one center ceiling light or side brackets if desired. If room is large a center floor plug is desirable. Plugs permit lamps to be used without unnecessary cords showing. If wire must pass through rug, do not cut rug but push threads apart.

Dining Room—If a center light in shape of dome is used, hang low enough to avoid shining in eyes of those dining. A soft effect is gained by side brackets representing sconces. Wired metal or glass candlesticks on mantel and side-board, give pleasing effect. Floor plug near dining table for electrical table appliances.

Bedrooms—Fixtures should be placed in long wall space convenient to bureau or dressing table. Have plug near bed for lamp for reading in bed. If space permits, night light on table in upper hall is useful. All plugs and sockets should be of standard shape and size.


House should be easy to clean with hard smooth floors, with cracks well filled, and rugs rather than carpets. Rounded edges and corners of baseboards desirable, also simple baseboards. One flight of stairs is sufficient if located out of sight of living room. This saves labor of cleaning two flights. Two cleaning closets, one on ground floor and one on second floor, are labor savers. Have space for vacuum cleaner and for hanging all brushes, brooms and dusters, and a shelf above or at side for the cleaning compounds. Zinc or other fireproof lining to cupboard and ventilator desirable.

Storage Space—Attic with rows of shelves for storing boxes and small objects is desirable. Wooden chests, trunks, and a cedar lined chest or cupboard useful. Built-in closets or rows of inexpensive chests of drawers with space to pass between are good.

Storage Closets

Every bedroom should have clothes closet with hooks and a rod for hangers, a shelf for hats and a bottom shelf for shoes. A tall closet may have near ceiling an additional rod for hangers for less often used clothes, and long rod lifter to reach hangers. A cupboard for bed linen should be in upstairs hall or in a centrally located room. On ground floor coat closet is desirable; also tool cupboard or chest, large china cupboard, low enough for all china to be within reach. Cold closet with open wire screen cabinets in basement.


If kitchen is well ventilated and stove has hood, pass pantry not necessary. It makes extra steps. If pass pantry is in house, only its narrowest dimension should divide kitchen from dining room. Partitions under sink for trays to stand; a narrow space for table leaves; a china cupboard with reachable shelves, and a sink and drainboards like those described for kitchen are desirable. Drawer on small shelf for cleaning compounds and brushes for cleaning silver, steel, brass and copper.



1.—What You Buy and How to Buy It

In purchasing a home a misstep may be unfortunate, so get the best advice you can, and watch every step. First of all, what you buy is the site and the improvements on it. If a building and loan association, or bank, loans you money on the property, it has a direct financial interest in helping you guard yourself on certain points, such as making sure that there are no old mortgages, no unpaid back taxes, or bills for building materials, or other claims against the property.

Be certain your title is clear, or have it insured or guaranteed. Learn of any easements, such as the right of a telephone company to place its poles upon your lot.

If you make a purchase offer with a cash deposit, include a statement as to whether window shades, stoves, and other movable property are included. Risk from loss by fire or elements should be assumed by the owner until the title passes to you.

Your offer should be dependent on your obtaining a satisfactory loan to finance the proposition, and the ability of the owners to furnish papers to show a good marketable title, free from liens or encumbrances. In other words, do not bind yourself to the purchase until you are sure of what you are paying for, and that you can finance it.

You must be prepared to pay taxes on your property, and special assessments for installation of water, sewerage, electric light, gas or other public utilities, or street paving and sidewalks. Note what improvements are already made, and what additional ones you may have to pay for.

2.—How to Pay for Your Home

In buying a house and lot you must borrow what you cannot pay in cash. Remember that the more risks you assume, the fewer the lender will have to charge you for. Your promise to pay back what you borrow will be secured by a mortgage or trust on the property. A first mortgage loan on not over one-half or two-thirds of the value of a piece of property is a very safe investment, and the rates of interest should be low. The lender on a second mortgage takes more risk, and rates of interest and discounts are higher. If you agree to buy a home without the title passing to you at once, the seller takes less risk, and you may save money.

3.—Where to Get Loans

There are building and loan associations throughout the country, usually organized to serve the needs of people like yourself, who wish to finance a home. Their plan of weekly or monthly payments, both on principal and for interest, has proved sound from the experience of millions of people as an aid to systematic saving. Loans may often be obtained from savings banks, trust companies, state banks, individuals, and trustees for estates.

Obtaining money on a second mortgage is usually not so easy. Remember that when the owner of a house takes a second mortgage in payment he may plan to sell it for four-fifths or less of its face value, and that he probably charges you accordingly.

Above all, when you start to save for a home do not throw your money into glittering schemes that promise big dividends and the chance to borrow money at 3 per cent or less. The concerns behind such schemes cannot be trusted.

4.—How Much Can You Afford?

It is said that a man may own a home worth one and one-half to two and one-half times his annual income but the payments you make during the first few years after purchasing are what you should pay most attention to. Rent ordinarily requires from ten per cent, to twenty-five, or even more, of a family's annual income. In addition to what you ordinarily pay for rent, you can devote your customary savings, or more, to paying off the principal of loans on your home.

Following is an example: A man who earns $2,000 a year buys a house and lot costing $4,000. He has $1,000 cash to pay down on it, and obtains a loan of $3,000, or 75 per cent, of the value of the property, from a building and loan association.

Cost per year for a $4,000 house (not including depreciation)

Payments on $3,000 B. & L. Shares at 1/2% a month or 6% a year (savings) $180.00 a year Interest on $3,000 loan at 6% 180.00 " " Interest on $1,000 cash at $% 50.00 " " Taxes (vary locally) 75.00 " " Insurance 5.00 " " Upkeep at 1-1/2% 60.00 " " ———— $550.00

Of the total income of $2,000, the $550 represents 27-1/2% divided as follows: 18-1/2% for rent; 9% for savings. In about twelve years the loan is paid off, and the home owned free and clear.

Zoning and What it Means to the Home



Zoning helps home owners by establishing residential districts from which garages, and business and factory buildings are excluded. Apartments or houses covering more than 30 or 40 per cent. of the area of a lot may be prohibited in some sections. This all means a better and fairer chance for each family to have a home with enough light and air, and healthful, decent surroundings, near to schools, playgrounds and transportation facilities.

It may be added that zoning, when wisely carried out, provides for grouping of neighborhood stores at convenient points, and for guided growth of business and industrial districts, in the directions best suited for them.

In the words of the Advisory Committee on Zoning appointed by Secretary Hoover:

"Zoning is the application of common sense and fairness to the public regulations governing the use of private real estate. It is a painstaking, honest effort to provide each district or neighborhood, as nearly as practicable, with just such protection and just such liberty as are sensible in that particular district. It avoids the error of trying to apply exactly the same building regulations to every part of a city or town regardless of whether it is a suburban residence section or a factory district, or a business and financial center.

"Zoning gives everyone who lives or does business in a community a chance for the reasonable enjoyment of his rights. At the same time it protects him from unreasonable injury by neighbors who would seek private gain at his expense.

"Zoning regulations differ in different districts according to the determined uses of the land for residence, business, or manufacturing, and according to the advisable heights and ground areas.

"But these differing regulations are the same for all districts of the same type. They treat all men alike."

But the benefits of zoning are not confined to safeguarding the home and its surroundings. It can reduce losses due to topsy-turvy growth of cities, and cut the cost of living. Every year millions of dollars are wasted in American cities from the scrapping of buildings in "blighted" districts. For instance, fine residential districts may be threatened by sporadic factories or junk yards, and owners may become panicky and sell at a sacrifice millions of dollars worth of valuable dwellings which will be left to stand practically idle. The public must pay for this loss in one way or another. Frequently money for street, sewers and other utilities need never be spent if it is known in advance that large factories are to occupy new developments. Industry and homes are both more efficient if kept generally separate, though separation need not mean great distances for workers to travel.

"How has zoning worked?" "What has it accomplished?" About 70 cities and towns have adopted zoning ordinances since 1916, and the idea has worked well. Reliable authorities declare that "the New York zoning regulations have prevented vast depreciation in many districts and effected savings in values amounting to millions of dollars in established sections." The highest class residential districts in New York, in which only 30 per cent of the lot area may be used for dwellings, have developed with much greater confidence, due to the knowledge that houses built would be safe from invasion by apartments or industry.

In St. Louis "it was found that residences tended to follow the residence districts, and did not even attempt to seek locations in industrial or unrestricted areas. Except commercial buildings which were built partly in commercial and partly in industrial districts, the development of St. Louis is said to be fitting itself very closely to the zoning plan.

"In New Jersey it has been found that the unzoned suburban town is at a distinct disadvantage as compared with the community protected by a zoning ordinance."

It is sometimes said that zoning is arbitrary and restricts the liberty of the individual to do as he wishes; but when zoning laws have been sensibly and comprehensively drawn, the courts have approved them as a reasonable exercise of the police power "for the public health, safety and general welfare."

Zoning should always be undertaken in close relation to a city plan. It is essentially a neighborly proposition, and there should be neighborhood meetings to explain it and gather suggestions.

The purpose of a zoning ordinance is to insure that growth, instead of taking place sporadically and wastefully, should go on in an orderly way in response to generally recognized needs, and with due notice to all concerned.

Zoning today is giving security and the sense of security to hundreds of thousands of families in America, in the enjoyment of happy homes amid the right kind of surroundings.

Is your city zoned?


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