Farm House 1 Miscellaneous
In regard to the surroundings, and approach to this dwelling, they should be treated under the suggestions already given on these subjects. This is an exceedingly snug tenement, and everything around and about it should be of the same character. No pretension or frippery whatever. A neat garden, usefully, rather than ornamentally and profusely supplied; a moderate court-yard in front; free access to the end door, from the main every-day approach by vehicles—not on the highway, but on the farm
oad or lane—the business entrance, in fact; which should also lead to the barns and sheds beyond, not far distant. Every feature should wear a most domestic look, and breathe an air of repose and content. Trees should be near, but not so near as to cover the house. A few shrubs of simple kind—some standing roses—a few climbing ones; a syringa, a lilac, a snow ball, and a little patch or two of flowers near the front porch, and the whole expression is given; just as one would wish to look upon as a simple, unpretending habitation.
It is not here proposed to give working plans, or estimates, to a nicety; or particular directions for building any design even, that we present. The material for construction best suited to the circumstances and locality of the proprietor must govern all those matters; and as good builders are in most cases at 81 hand, who are competent to give estimates for the cost of any given plan, when the material for construction is once settled, the question of expense is readily fixed. The same sized house, with the same accommodation, may be made to cost fifty to one hundred per cent. over an economical estimate, by the increased style, or manner of its finish; or it may be kept within bounds by a rigid adherence to the plan first adopted.
In western New York this house and attachments complete, the body of stone, the wood-house, wagon-house, &c., of wood, may be built and well finished in a plain way for $1,500. If built altogether of wood, with grooved and matched vertical boarding, and battens, the whole may be finished and painted for $800, to $1,200. For the lowest sum, the lumber and work would be of a rough kind, with a cheap wash to color it; but the latter amount would give good work, and a lasting coat of mineral paint both outside and within.
As a tenant house on a farm of three, four, or even five hundred acres, where all who live in it are laborers in the field or household, this design may be most conveniently adopted. The family inhabiting it in winter may be well accommodated for sleeping under the main roof, while they can at all seasons take their meals, and be made comfortable in the several rooms. In the summer season, when a larger number of laborers are employed, the lofts of the carriage or wagon-house and work-shop may be occupied with beds, and thus a large share of the expense of house building for a very considerable farm be saved. Luxury is a quality more or less consulted by every one who 82 builds for his own occupation on a farm, or elsewhere; and the tendency in building is constantly to expand, to give a higher finish, and in fact, to over-build. Indeed, if we were to draw the balance, on our old farms, between scantily-accommodated houses, and houses with needless room in them, the latter would preponderate. Not that these latter houses either are too good, or too convenient for the purpose for which they were built, but they have too much room, and that room badly appropriated and arranged.
On a farm proper, the whole establishment is a workshop. The shop out of doors, we acknowledge, is not always dry, nor always warm; but it is exceedingly well aired and lighted, and a place where industrious people dearly love to labor. Within doors it is a work-shop too. There is always labor and occupation for the family, in the general business of the farm; therefore but little room is wanted for either luxury or leisure, and the farm house should be fully occupied, with the exception, perhaps, of a single room on the main floor, (and that not a large one,) for some regular business purpose. All these accommodated, and the requirements of the house are ended. Owners of rented farms should reflect, too, that expensive houses on their estates entail expensive repairs, and that continually. Many tenants are careless of highly-finished houses. Not early accustomed to them, they misappropriate, perhaps, the best rooms in the house, and pay little attention to the purposes for which the owner designed them, or to the manner of using them. It is therefore a total waste of money to build a house on a tenant 83 estate anything beyond the mere comfortable wants of the family occupying it, and to furnish the room necessary for the accommodation of the crops, stock, and farm furniture, in the barns and other out-buildings—all in a cheap, tidy, yet substantial way.
So, too, with the grounds for domestic purposes around the house. A kitchen garden, sufficient to grow the family vegetables—a few plain fruits—a posey bed or two for the girls—and the story is told. Give a larger space for these things—anything indeed, for elegance—and ten to one, the plow is introduced, a corn or potato patch is set out, field culture is adopted, and your choice grounds are torn up, defaced, and sacrificed to the commonest uses.
Notwithstanding these drawbacks, a cheerful, home-expression may be given, and should be given to the homestead, in the character and construction of the buildings, be they ever so rough and homely. We can call to mind many instances of primitive houses-log cabins even—built when none better could be had, that presented a most comfortable and life-enjoying picture—residences once, indeed, of those who swayed the applause of listening senates, but under the hands of taste, and a trifle of labor, made to look comfortable, happy, and sufficient. We confess, therefore, to a profound veneration, if not affection, for the humble farm house, as truly American in character; and which, with a moderate display of skill, may be made equal to the main purposes of life and enjoyment for all such as do not aspire to a high display, and who are content to make the most of moderate means.