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Posts Tagged ‘built in nooks’

Permanent Furniture: Fireplace Nooks

December 2nd, 2013 Sears Homes 4 comments

In this continuing series of “Images From The Awesome Old Architecture Books of Awesome Historian Bill Inge,” the next fun topic is “Permanent Furniture.”

While browsing through Bill’s “Builders’ Woodwork” catalog (1927), I was intrigued by this phrase, and found that it was a reference to built-in bookcases, nooks, and fireplace seats.

And my oh my, they are beautiful!

“Permanent Furniture” is also a jarring reminder that, despite our so-called progressive views on recycling, our not-so-distant ancestors did far better in preserving and respecting our country’s resources. I suspect they’d be scandalized if they saw a modern HGTV program, which seems to advocate disposing of anything in a house that’s more than 20 years old.

I shudder to think how much early 20th Century “Permanent Furniture” is sitting in a landfill somewhere, having been tossed into the waste stream for no other reason than the fact that it looked “dated,” or “old-fashioned.” And the modern home improvement shows fuel the fire, encouraging folks to rip out and replace anything that isn’t “up-to-date.” It takes “keeping up with the Joneses’” to a whole new level of insanity (and debt).

But don’t get me stated on HGTV. If I were queen of the world (and it shouldn’t be long now), I’d have that show and its ilk banned from the airwaves.

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Bill loaned me this book on one condition. "Don't drool on the pages," he said with a degree of gravitas, "because trust me, you're going to love these 1920s images."

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"The various items...have been designed for service and simple dignity." I not only loved the photos, I loved the accompanying descriptions, too. Beautifully said.

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Looks like a "Hospitality Seat" made it into the living room. I'm not sure how practical this one is, but it sure is lovely to look at. The woodwork is stunning.

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Simple, but dignified, as promised. This set-up was very common in so many early 20th Century houses and it creates such an inviting look. What could possibly be better than streaming sunlight, a warm fire and a good book?

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For those who don't own a lot of books, and like really big pillows...

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Apparently, Spanish homeowners prefer their guests to stand. Maybe it inspires them to leave faster.

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Room for lots and lots of books! I do love the look of this. The oak wainscoting would be dark, but dignified.

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Most of these fireplaces have the lights over the mantel, whereas this has sconces on the side walls. The original caption says that this fireplace "is very artistic with its Tudor Gothic arch."

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Despite the fact that this arrangement may be a little too toasty, I think it's my favorite. I love how the wainscoting blends right in with the seat backs. Looks like there's storage within those benches.

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A classic look for early 20th Century Colonial Revivals.

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Another Colonial-esque mantel with flanking bookcases. The original caption says that the “sliding curtain is very practical.” I guess it’s a good idea for when your illiterate friends visit and you don’t want them to know you’re a bibliophile. The mirror looks like it’s draped with black crepe, but I don’t think that’s what it really is.

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I love how they have a picture of a Spanish mission house over the mantel. Just in case you were wondering which style of mantel this house is designed for...

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This image is from the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. It's the fireplace nook for the Sears Ashmore. Pretty fancy for a "simple little kit house."

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Last but not least, here's some "permanent furniture" in a Sears Osborne in Illinois.

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The Breakfast Nook: Practical, Useful and Just Darn Cute!

May 21st, 2012 Sears Homes 2 comments

The other day, my husband told me that he’d like a nook for Christmas.

“I’ve always wanted one too,” I told him excitedly, “but I don’t think there’s room in our kitchen! They sure are cute, aren’t they? And I could pick out some 1950s fabric for the seat cushions.”

Turns out, he was talking about the eReader sold by Barnes and  Noble.

Drat.

Built-in breakfast nooks became wildly popular in the early 1920s and ever moreso in kit homes.  After Dr. Lister’s Germ Theory went mainstream, people couldn’t get out of their massive manses fast enough. The grand Victorian home fell from favor with a resounding thud.

The Bungalow - due to its simple design and germ-killing ease - became America’s Favorite House.

Downsizing a house from 2,500+ square feet to 1100 square feet isn’t easy, and it was the dining room that took one for the team.

Architects dealt with the small spaces by making the best use of every square foot, and no room was designed more efficiently than the kitchen.

The morning meal could now be taken at a built-in table, nestled neatly away in a corner or a specially designed nook. It was an idea whose time had come, and it was also practical and “step saving” (a popular concept at the time). It was easier for the lady of the house to set up and clean off a small table in the kitchen than fiddling with the big fancy wooden table in the dining room.

To read the next fascinating blog, click here.

To read about the exhumation of Addie Hoyt, click here.

My favorite image is from the 1923 Gordon Van Tine catalog. Gordon Van Tine also sold kit homes, and their kitchen nooks were shown in the catalogs - in COLOR!

My favorite image is from the 1923 Gordon Van Tine catalog. Gordon Van Tine also sold kit homes, and their kitchen nooks were shown in the catalogs - in COLOR!

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Not surprisingly, the built-in breakfast table in the grandiose Sears Magnolia was also pretty fancy!  (1921 catalog).

Not surprisingly, the built-in breakfast table in the grandiose Sears Magnolia was also pretty fancy! (1921 catalog). Check out that floor!

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The Sears Ashmore had

The Sears Ashmore was also a pretty fancy house, but this built-in breakfast table is downright pedestrian.

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This floorplan for the Sears Ashmore shows the placement of their nook.

This floorplan for the Sears Ashmore shows the placement of their nook.

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Montgomery Wards offered nooks in their kit homes, too. This photo came from the Montgomery Wards Building Materials catalog.

Montgomery Wards offered nooks in their kit homes, too. This photo came from the Montgomery Wards Building Materials catalog.

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The Sun

In 1921, you could order a built-in breakfast alcove from the Sears catalog for your own home. It was made with quality materials and look at the price!!

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The Sunrise!

"The Dawn" had a unique design, and had to be placed near a window. When the crepuscular rays of the dawn hit the side wall, the table automatically lowered into place.

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Notice the rays striking the wall where the table was located? Pretty neat, huh?

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In 1935, nooks were still offered - and quite popular.

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This nook appeared in Norwood Sash and Doors Building Materials catalog (1924). Norwood Sash and Door (in Norwood Ohio), supplied a lot of millwork for Sears kit homes.

This nook appeared in Norwood Sash and Door's Building Materials catalog (1924). Norwood Sash and Door (in Norwood Ohio), supplied a lot of millwork for Sears kit homes.

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This nook appeared in the Pacific Ready Cut Homes catalog. PRCH was based in Los Angeles, and they sold about 40,000 kit homes during their 30 years in business. They stopped making kit homes in the late 1930s and started making surfboards.

This nook appeared in the Pacific Ready Cut Homes catalog. PRCH was based in Los Angeles, and they sold about 40,000 kit homes during their 30 years in business. They stopped making kit homes in the late 1930s and started making surfboards.

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Aladdin Homes (based in Bay City, MI) also offered a built-in breakfast nook in their houses.

Aladdin Homes (based in Bay City, MI) also offered a built-in breakfast nook in their houses.

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Even Popular Mechanics offered a built-in breakfast table for their handy readers. But this one had an added benefit.  You could sleep on it.

Even "Popular Mechanics" offered a built-in breakfast table for their handy readers. But this one had an added benefit. You could sleep on it.

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But it really does not look too comfortable.

But it really does not look too comfortable. It was probably an effective deterrent for turning away overnight guests: "Sure, we have room for you! Honey, go fold out the BREAKFAST TABLE for Aunt Sally and Uncle Kermit."

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Ladies Home Journal featured this nook in their 1924 magazine.

"Ladies' Home Journal" featured this nook in their 1919 magazine.

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Last but not least, a real live nook in Greenville, Illinois, in the most perfect Lynnhaven that you ever did see. Note, awesome rooster towels do not convey.

Last but not least, a real live nook in Greenville, Illinois, in the most perfect Lynnhaven that you ever did see. Note, awesome rooster towels do not convey.

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And I must confess, I made all that up about the breakfast table that lowers itself when the sun’s rays hit it.  :)

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The Built-in Breakfast Nook: Practical, Easy to Build, and Darn Cute

March 24th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

Henry David Thoreau said, “Simplify, simplify, simplify” (and Ralph Waldo Emerson is purported to have responded, “I think one simplify would have been enough”).

Thoreau would have loved the early 20th Century breakfast nook!

Built-in breakfast nooks became wildly popular in the early 1920s and especially so in kit homes. After the grand Victorian home fell from favor, the bungalow craze took over and suddenly The Little House was the best house to have.

Bungalows were beautiful but a little cramped, especially compared to an Italianate Victorian! Creative builders and architects improvised by creating intimate spaces in small areas, such as a built-in table and matching benches for the morning meal. It was a wonderful idea, and also saved the housewife some work. It was  easier to set up and clean off a small table in the kitchen than dealing with the big fancy wooden table in the dining room.

Below are pictures from catalogs and magazines of the time, showing the breakfast nook of the early 1920s. At the bottom is a picture from a 1919 issue of Popular Mechanics, showing a “convertible” breakfast nook! Table by day, stiff-as-a-tabletop bed by night.

The first is from the February 1911 Ladies’ Home Journal. It appeared in an article titled, “If a Woman Must Work From Home.”

A little scant in terms of detail, but still cute.

A little scant in terms of detail, but still cute.

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This simple breakfast table was offered with the Sears kit home, The Verona.

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Cover of the 1932 Montgomery Ward Building Material catalog, which featured breakfast nooks.

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A close-up of the built-in breakfast nook featured on the cover of the hardware catalog.

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cOn page 34 of the catalog, this "cozy corner dinette" was offered for $14.95. Not a bad deal. And it's made of clear western white pine and needed a small space of 5'6" by 3'8". Nice looking, too.

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Another room? Well, maybe. Good-looking nookie, though.

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This fine looking table was offered in the Sears Preston, a spacious Colonial kit home. Note that the benches don't have backs! Nothing says comfort like a hard-plaster wall!

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This page features the breakfast table offered in the Sears Magnolia. These seats have backs!

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This "breakfast alcove" came with the Sears home, The Honor.

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The "Pullman Breakfast Alcove" came with your Sears Ashmore. More modest than the others, it has simple benches with no seat backs.

And its in color!  From a late 1920s Wardway/Gordon Van Tine catalog, this breakfast nook looks cozy and inviting.

And it's in color! From a late 1920s Wardway/Gordon Van Tine catalog, this breakfast nook looks cozy and inviting.

The image below appeared in the June 1919 issue of Popular Mechanics and provided the ultimate space saver. By day, it was a cute little trestle table with matching benches. By night, it was an extra sleeping space for your overnight guests.

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Easy to make and simple to use, this "convertible" breakfast table provided extra sleeping space for visitors.

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As seen in the 1919 Popular Mechanics, this breakfast nook could be folded out into a bed. Overnight Guests - it's what's for dinner!

And the real deal - in the flesh - a 1930s breakfast nook as seen in the Sears Lynnhaven in southern Illinois.

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Awesome rooster towels not included.

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