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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 4 (July 1, 1938.)

Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition

Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition

I Want to come straight back to New Zealand to plan the perfect house! I've just spent a long and absorbing day at the Ideal Home Exhibition and I'm bursting with ideas. My young Canadian friend and I went on an exciting tour during which we collected loads of “literature,” snatched time for a buckrabbit (poached egg on welsh rabbit) and coffee at a snack bar, collected more literature and still more ideas, had a free make-up (which wasn't so free, as I was induced to buy new skin tonic, foundation cream and face powder- “Peach flatters your skin, Madame”), saw more stalls and demonstrations, somehow escaping minus the vacuum cleaners, water-softeners, etc., and finally tore home just in time to prepare a snack dinner for our respective husbands. It was just as breathless as that last sentence!

Here are a few of my impressions: As we entered the exhibition, we were faced with a street of houses, life-size. Even so early in the day we had to queue up outside each garden entrance (yes, proper gardens with lawns, rock- eries, flowers), but by perseverance we managed to see through each of the model houses. Planning, on the whole, was excellent-large living-rooms, well-fitted kitchens, luxurious bathrooms and charming bed-rooms. We adored the “thatched” house, wavered in our allegiance when we studied the Tudor house, sighed for the cleanliness of the all-electric house, considered how the bungalow would just about suit us, gazed with awe at the “glass” house- and fell in love with the bride's house! Why? In my case, because of the living-room. It wasn't heavily carpeted and fatly upholstered! It cried out to be lived in, to have ping-pong played in it to have cushions cast on the floor and sat on at informal parties. It was that kind of a room.

The bride's bedroom was white and luxurious, especially in its cupboard fittings. In most houses the chief bed-room was spacious, and the single rooms “built to fit.” One single room, planned for a young man, had a divan bed, and built-in shelving and drawer-space-a room any sister would envy. Other single rooms were charmingly chintz or pastel. The main bedrooms were spoilt for me by their over-elaborate furnishings. The spreads, for instance, one of quilted cream satin, were fit only for wrapping in cellophane and exhibiting to favoured guests. But I did approve of fitted basins in bedrooms. Perhaps some day civilization will demand a bathroom for every bedroom.

Entrance halls are no longer treated casually. In the larger house they are worthy of the name “lounge-hall.” Staircases do not shoot up suddenly as an afterthought, but are part of the house design, as in the delightful circular oak staircase leading to a gallery above. The hall in most houses has one or two hanging cupboards and its own cloakroom with wash basin.

Bathrooms, as I remarked, are luxurious. The walls are faced with tiles, glass or vitrolite. Bath and basin are matched to the colour scheme. Mirrors are placed right. An adjustable shaving mirror I saw was affixed to an extending bracket and had its glass rim illuminated-perfect lighting for shaving or “make-up.” Shower-sprays are fitted over the bath or, better still, in an adjoining alcove. Water-proof curtains continue the colour scheme, or the shower end of the bath may be enclosed in plate glass. Towel rails are heated.

The floor is covered with soft-toned rubber.

Kitchens! They roused more interest than any other rooms. Kitchen cabinets were luxuriously fitted. Some had an enamel-topped slide for use as extra table space or for pastry making. In some, a pull-out table and fitted or folding seats were easily accessible for meals. The ironing board folded up into a cupboard. There was a well-ven-tilated larder and ample cupboard space for china and stores. Even the broom cupboard was well thought-out; shelves had slots so that brooms could hang up and the rest of the shelving be left for dusters, etc. Stove and refrigerator were built in.

Sinks require a paragraph to themselves. The sink and draining boards were, in most cases, built all in one of stainless steel, which gives the following advantages:

Easy cleaning with a damp soapy cloth-scouring powder if necessary.

There is no “surface” to wear off.

No awkward corners where dirt can collect.

Resilient metal surface to reduce crockery breakages.

An excellent idea is to have a double sink, the smaller one being specially useful for the cleaning of vegetables, or the dipping of washed dishes in clean hot water. Over a double sink can be fixed a “mixing-tap.” One turns on “hot” or “cold” or both together and the pipe attachment swivels to deliver the water into whichever sink is to be used.

Special fitments have been planned for utlizing the spaces under sinks. Suggestions are drawers and cupboards, storage cabinet with space for wash- page 58 boiler, storage cabinet and refrigerator.

A space-saving sink was set across a corner, with a narrower bench extending to the right. A plate rack of stainless steel was rubbercoated where chipping might occur. A kitchen stool, convertible into steps, is a useful unit.

One most interesting kitchen, that in the glass house, was of corridor type, long and narrow, with one end fitted as a working kitchen and the other end as pantry and china section. A specially wide window gave plenty of light. Walls and table-tops were covered with easily cleaned vitrolite. The kitchen cabinet had an extra-large pull-out work-table just below the roller front food stores section-no walking backwards and forwards for flour, sugar, nutmegs, etc.!

As befitted a glass house, oven glassware was the choice; I saw also a beautiful dinner service of glass.

Furnishings! I am so overflowing with ideas that I will need a new article for them. Furnishing ideas in the August Magazine will help those who plan to set up house in the near future.

Towards the end of the afternoon we wandered into the garden section. The air was cool and overhead there was a blueness which was almost the sky. Here, inside a building, were gardens with lawns, rockeries, pergolas, fountains. Famous landscape gardeners had reproduced here, on a smaller scale, gardens they had planned for well-known literary people. There was Beverley Nicholls's garden at Allways, with the facade of the thatched cottage showing at the end of it; there were charming gardens, each in a distinctive style, planned for Sir Hugh Walpole, Clemence Dane, Gilbert Frankau, Francis Brett-Young, Rebecca West, Agatha Christie, Dr. Cronin, Lady Eleanor Smith, A. E. W. Mason, Rafael Sabatini. A terrace, a flagged pathway, a pergola in Grecian style, a tulip bed, a flowering creeper-each in turn took the eye. We were loath to return to the comparative noise and warmth of the exhibition proper.

A wonderful exhibition! So varied, and so interesting was it that, even at 4.30 p.m. I felt able to go on looking- a marvellous testimonial from one who usually tires of such things in an hour. My only regret is that I did not return another day to see the many items I missed on my first visit.