Long and serious discourses upon happiness have ended without a word for the value of gardening as one of the very simplest means to that end. The truly wise, however, know full well this happy secret, and rejoice accordingly in the best of all the fruits of garden labor.
To Emerson’s, “Give me health and a day,” let us add a little garden. “The pomp of emperors” is indeed “ridiculous” compared with the bliss that comes from “a few and cheap elements”‘ within reach of almost all of us. One condition only is to be met if we would grow this fruit called happiness to perfection, and pluck it with unmingled joy. It must flourish in a garden not too large to be under its fortunate owner’s personal care. No factotum, be he ever so well disposed really to help should be allowed to invade the little garden after the turning of the earth accomplished in the spring, lest opportunities for happiness escape us. The sowing of the seed, the tucking comfortably away of the wonderful bulbs in the fresh earth, the staking and training of plants, even the weeding of borders and the sweeping of walks, are all so many means of grace to the garden-lover.
“IS A FIT OF BLUES IMPENDING?”
Then sally forth well armed with trowel, rake, hoe—all the needful weapons—and the demons will fly before you, quite dismayed by the variety of fresh interests to be found even in a garden reduced to its simplest terms.
A neighbor, transplanted from her maiden home into new and somewhat uncongenial surroundings, found unfailing relief from homesickness, in her garden, through the summer, among her window-plants, in winter. Resolutely would she turn to Mother Earth for the comfort denied her elsewhere.
Equal to its efficacy as a mind cure, is its effect for good on physical ills. Yet gardening as a remedial proposition is, unfortunately, not half so popular among us as patent medicines.
“In half an hour,” says Charles Dudley Warner in “My Summer in a Garden.” “I can hoe myself right away from this world as we commonly see it, into a large place where there are no obstacles.”
That “large place” should be the inheritance of all who can compass the use of a bit of earth, and to this end a taste for gardening should be encouraged among children. Whoever succeeds in planting in a child’s mind a love for ‘”the green things growing,” deep enough to reach a willingness to work for them, makes for the greater happiness of one life throughout all its stages. Gifts of seeds, roots and tools will help the little Adams and the Eves to realize the delights of a Paradise which may lie, perchance, in some neglected corner of the back yard, and as the little folk cultivate, at the same time, their gardens and their tastes, they are providing themselves with a pleasant resource for their declining years.
“THE LITTLE ARTS OF HAPPINESS”
Lady Mary Wortley Montague tells us “Gardening is certainly the next amusement to reading, and as my sight will now permit me little of that, I am glad to form a taste that can give me so much employment, and be the plaything of my age, now that my pen and needle are almost useless to me.”
In a garden, if anywhere, “the little arts of happiness” do certainly abound. As one goes out of a morning, the opening of a long-watched-for blossom may change the aspect of a whole day, and it is precisely this simple, natural coming of the garden pleasures that makes them never ending, while the happy garden hours last. Nowhere, however, does staid old Father Time allow himself to take on such flighty ways as in a garden—the pleasant hours are gone before one knows—and this trick of his is the nearest approach to a flaw in the joy of the summer-time.
Our good old Henry—factotum, philosopher and friend in one—summed up this question of the best fruit of a garden in his own wise way : “You don’t want a garden too large,” said he, “just large enough to make you happy. It’ll do that. I’ve tried it many a time. It makes you feel good when you feel bad.”
“Who loves his garden, still keeps his Eden.”
To learn more about Gustav Stickley, the publisher of The Craftsman magazine which featured this eloquent article, click here.
MORE ON CRAFTSMAN GARDENS
Please read my article on Native gardens, which I consider to be a perfect complement to any bungalow, as well as being very user & Earth friendly.
Treat yourself to more wonderful garden images on my Pinterest page.
This childhood ditty expresses the origin of the architectural term, dormer- late 16th century (denoting the window of a dormitory or bedroom): from Old French dormeor ‘dormitory’, from dormir ‘to sleep’.
Let’s talk about this architectural, bungalow feature that is as charming as the little song. Perched atop a sloping roof, a dormer has 2 parts. The first part is a vertical window, usually sash or casement, bringing light & air into the room. The second is a roof which may be gabled, hipped, eyebrow or shed.
Typically, the type of roofing material on the larger, main roof is duplicated on the smaller dormer roof. Dormers are generally finished with the same architectural elements as the rest of the roof line.
Like chimneys, the base of the dormer penetrates the main roof. Flashing is a flat, thin piece of metal (most popularly steel) that is used in the construction of the roof to help waterproof any intersections or protrusions, such as a chimney or a dormer. It helps to direct water away from the seams & joints, & down, off the roof, preventing it from entering the structure. Unfortunately, even with flashing, a roof with a dormer protruding through it is more susceptible to leaking.
TYPES OF BUNGALOW DORMERS
On a hipped dormer, the roof slants back as it rises, and this occurs on the front as well as on the sides. This means that the hip roof of the dormer slopes upward on all 3 sides of its structure.
One good thing about this dormer is that it has eaves all around it, so its walls & windows are protected from severe weather conditions. The eaves also provide shade in the summer, a good feature in an upper story, & an energy saving feature.
Another big advantage is its wind resistance. I live in Florida. We love wind resistance!
Hipped dormers, not surprisingly, are often found on houses where the main roof is hipped as well, such as this one.
A gable is the triangular area of a wall under two intersecting roof pitches. Not surprisingly, a gable dormer is the same triangular peaked shape & its steep sides are very good at shedding water & snow.
It is the type most usually seen on any style of house & are often used on bungalows. They add the greatest amount of headroom & can be used effectively in multiples, marching across a roof. A single gable dormer can hold one or several windows, depending on its size.
A gable dormer can even be a clipped or jerkinhead gable.
Meanwhile, here’s a good example of a gable dormer with multiple windows.
In contrast to a peaked gable, shed dormers are often horizontally proportioned & do not draw attention to themselves like the more showy gable dormers. They are easy to recognize by their single-slope, or monopitch, roofs.
A shed dormer can cover extensive portions of the roof, sometimes almost the full expanse of the house, creating a large, usable space. The larger ones can hold several windows but they can be smaller, holding only a single window.
Visually, a shed former breaks up a tall, sloping roof line, drawing attention to the door & windows. It’s an opportunity to add color on a house with a deep porch which might have windows that are obscured by shade. The highly visible dormer windows of this house clearly display the beautiful palette chosen by the owner of this meticulously restored bungalow in Mexico, Missouri.
This charming detail, not surprisingly, harkens back to the Middle Ages, before glass was used in windows, when metal or wooden posts were used, thus allowing light & air into the space while providing some protection from the elements.
The dormer appears to roll up from the roof, requiring shingles that are flexible such as cedar shingles, slate, clay tiles & even small-diameter split logs.
You see eyebrows not just in dormers, but also over entries where they provide shelter, & above windows on upper stories of buildings.
In the hundreds of miles of bungalow gazing I have done, I have been unable to find & photograph a single eyebrow dormer. Ple-e-e-ase if you have such a photo that you would allow me to use, I would love to hear from you. I am also very curious as to where they might be found in the U.S. They are scarce as hen’s teeth in Tampa Bay.
CHICAGO BUNGALOW DORMERS
You gotta love a Chicago bungalow (You can read more about them here.) & they don’t let us down when it comes to dormers. For the houses there, being built on narrow lots, dormers are the obvious way to add extra space. Many bungalows in Chicago were constructed with them & a number of dormers have been added on over the past 100 years.
These delightful drawings are the work of Wonder City Studio, a pair of talented artists who admire & have a profound understanding of old houses & love Chicago. On the left we have an interrupted front gable dormer or a classical pediment. The triangle on top is visually set apart from the area below by the horizontal beam, forming a pediment. The one in the center is a complete mystery to me & I am hoping that my friend Jo-Anne will help me out. The one on the right is a hipped dormer, sitting on a main roof that is also hipped. It is really cool how this bungalow shows so many angles & shapes.
When you look at a Chicago streetscape, you see a neat row of unique homes with dormers of different shapes.
What to do about your bungalow’s old wood windows can be confusing. I address this & offer several solutions in my article, WHY SHOULD YOU PRESERVE YOUR BUNGALOW WOOD WINDOWS, ANYWAY? which tackle the issue from both a preservation & practical viewpoint. (As well as from a human & a cat viewpoint.)
These videos too address the concerns of both species, & will give you more information to help you in dealing with the damage that has occurred to your windows as a result of decades of neglect due to the lack of education of previous homeowners.
The professionals I have included are at the top of their field & are very interested in helping. A great combination.
My site is not geared toward the DIY’er, but it’s your house so you should have some idea of how it works. I have used material from these fellows to teach a handyman how to restore a window so my fluffy kids could gaze out, & he probably enjoyed the opportunity to learn from somebody else instead of moi. We did 2 houses together & well before the end, I think he might have been weary of the sound of my voice.
5 Great Reasons to Keep Historic Wood Windows (15:32)
Why we should restore our old bungalow wood windows instead of replacing them. It’s all about the $$$! Well not all, but, you know.
How to Restore a Historic Wooden Window- Step by Step (44:39)
Detailed instruction on restoring windows.
DIY Window Screens (9:02)
The Craftsman Blog
Great instructions, but I recommend slowing down the playback speed!
I hope that these videos explain what you need to know to resolve your window problems!
I promote the use of Benjamin Moore paint for old houses based on my experience & based on the recommendation of the best painter I have ever known. We both swear by their quality. Just brushing it on is luxurious. Its creamy texture beautifully covers & application marks just melt away.
Ben Moore offers great durability & while I might use another brand inside, outside, it’s my first choice. The colors are yummy & their support is unsurpassed. My favorite Customer Service rep, Earl, I have on speed dial. He’s a genius who is great at dumbing it down for science-challenged me.
Very important to me is their environmental responsibility. They offer a green interior paint with zero VOC’s & zero emissions. The R&D required to formulate such a product is ridiculous! And as importantly, they contribute to the preservation community. Altogether, the company has a wonderful, well-deserved reputation in the industry.
This is not a DIY site, but, if you are hiring a painter, it’s good to know about the materials that they will use. My preference, especially for exterior work, is always Ben Moore & my preference in painters is for guys who recommend & use that my favorite products.
They have created an abundance of valuable videos. I have curated the ones most pertinent to old houses. Because of the quantity of them, I’m going to skip descriptions. The titles pretty much let you know what they’re about. I thought I knew everything about paint, but I have learned plenty from these videos.
How To Fix 5 Common Painting Mistakes (3:18)
How to Choose the Best Paintbrush for Interior Projects (2:55)
How to Touch Up Paint (2:32)
Choosing the Right Paint for your Walls (3:03)
How to Clean & Store Paint Rollers (2:22)
I also suggest reading the series of articles that I wrote on appropriate paint colors.
I’m not sure who loved our bungalow screen doors more, me or the pussycats. I was always ready to add or remove a layer of clothing for the opportunity to throw open the front door & get a whiff of my garden outside.
Having a deep porch protects you from the elements. In Florida, this meant being able to have the house open even when it was raining, letting in the breeze, the pitter patter & the rumbles. There were a few times that the wind would blow the mist in, but it was worth it to be able to hear & feel the storm.
Neither the Hare House nor my Tampa bungalow came equipped with screen doors but I wanted my kitties to be able to enjoy the world without having to experience it. When the doors were installed, both kits instantly found their places, shoulder to shoulder, tiny noses to screen, a pair of furry, sniffing sentries quivering with excitement as the occasional lizard scittered by.
I encourage you to experience the world outside, through your own screen door!
While this is not a DIY site, I occasionally slip in some how-to’s. Though I’m not a woman who enjoys getting her hands dirty, I trained my handy-man on many aspects of old house restoration with such videos. He enjoyed the education.
WATCH SOME VIDEOS ABOUT BUILDING SCREEN DOORS!
How to Make a DIY Screen Door (7:27)
A lesson in making a simple screen door.
How to Build and Hang a Custom Screen Door (11:58)
This Old House
Some fine points of building & installing.
That Old Screen Door (3:50)
“Back when life was simple, just like that old screen door.”
You can read more about my doors & my kitties here!
Chimneys in old houses can be problematic. When you are buying a house, generally, your home inspector will frequently suggest that you have a chimney inspection performed by a specialist.
Why would you want to fork out more money on a house that you don’t own, to do this?
Fireplaces & chimneys are complex systems with many elements to consider. Like most specialists, veteran chimney inspectors can easily spot problems which might be overlooked by a less experienced person. Often, they have done hands-on repairs themselves so they have a greater reality on the anatomy of a fireplace, what problems they can develop, & how to remedy those problems.
Could there be a conflict of interest? Absolutely! So, you want to get referrals, maybe a second opinion. It is very important to have a bit of knowledge of fireplaces & chimneys yourself so that when they’re there inspecting, you can follow the bouncing ball. That’s why I have gathered these videos for you!
I also suggest that you read my article on choosing contractors because they can be very good but some, not so much!
WATCH CHIMNEYS IN OLD HOUSES
Chimneys Explained #01 – Masonry Chimneys (508)
A Step in Time Chimney Sweeps
A great video explaining the parts of a chimney & their functions in keeping your house warm & safe.
Chimney Inspection Michigan | Doctor Flue inspects the inside of a chimney (4:36)
The Flue Doctor
The expert explains some of the problems that can be discovered during a chimney inspection & gives suggestions as to their remedies.
Performing a Fireplace Inspection According to the InterNACHI® SOP (5:22)
International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI®)
This video delineates what your general home inspection will cover in the fireplace & chimney section.
Home Inspection – Chimneys
Another tour of the parts of a chimney & more examples of problems that a chimney can have.