Photo courtesy FlickrToday’s forecast is for sun and the high fifties. After four months in the study, the walls are closing in, and I look forward to setting up on the sunporch to thrash paper this afternoon. A laptop, WiFi, and cell phone float an office the way the Walkman originally floated personal music.
Futurist Buckminster Fuller taught that the first question one should ask about a thing was, “How much does it weigh?” Eighteenth-century furniture was designed to be portable, to take advantage of natural light. The French and Italian words for furniture translate as “movables”.
This 1890 house is perfectly sited for passive solar gain, with the long axis of the roof running east to west. I doubt that this is accidental. Originally, the place was heated with a fireplace, kitchen stove, and a couple of gas fires in the upper chambers. It’s designed so that the doors valve heat here and there as it is desired.
I learned early on to set up activities wherever was most pleasant, using available heat and natural light rather than central utilities. Field experience, living without electricity for a year, and some privileged senior housekeepers had taught me that free energy is the most congenial. A house cat is a reliable guide to microclimates.
In the nineteenth century, coal, kerosene, and cotton waste from the weaving industry produced the interior dominated by dormant furniture, huge, heavy upholstered pieces that never moved from their final position. Space will work a lot harder if most of the furnishings are light enough to move safely. The smaller the interior, the more valuable it is to choose pieces that are more brain and muscle than mass.
-30- More after the jump.