DWELLING-PLACES. Man's comfort, his happiness, and the health of his family depend to a great extent upon the character of his dwelling place. A dark, narrow, dirty, and noisy house is not conductive to con tentment, and is often the reason why a man instead of finding his centre of attraction in his home and family, seeks it onside of the home—in the drinking-house, or in a place of amusement. The living-place is, therefore, one of the things in life which is most unsuited for the practice of false economy.
When choosing a dwelling-place, the following points should be borne in mind ; An elevated portion of the city is to be preferred, on account of being drier and airier. The upper storeys of a house are generally lighter, and more airy and quiet than the lower ones. The dwelling-place ought not to be too far distant from the place of employment, nor from the school, unless it is in easy and inexpensive connection with these by railway or other means of transit. The vicinity of badly-smelling or noisy factories should be avoided if possible. Regarding the light exposure, see the article on LIGHT. It is possible to take all these things into consideration, even in cases where the pecuniary aspect is an important factor.
The dwelling-place should have a well-lighted entrance, but not a steep one. Houses with dark stairs cannot be kept clean, and, the atmosphere not being pure, such houses are hurtful to live in. The number of available rooms must depend upon the individual means. The sleeping-rooms must be chosen with special care, not so much so the living-rooms or the working rooms. Too much'stress cannot be laid upon the importance of the sleeping room being the largest, sunniest, and airiest room in the house ; for the greater part of one's life is spent in that room. Unfortunately, even among the wealthy classes, the best rooms are chosen for show rooms, and are sacrificed to the comfort of visitors ; whereas the rooms chosen as bedrooms (which are not seen by the visitor) are often the most miserable holes, lacking light and ventilation. But the penalty comes in the shape of doctor's and druggist's
bills. The minimum quantity of air in the bedrooms of children under ten years of age should be 5 cubic metres ; for adults it must be twice as much. The soldier in the barracks is allowed 15 to i6 cubic metres of air space. Where servants are kept, these also should have decent, healthy sleeping-quarters. This is a matter of course, but one which, unfortunately, especially in large cities, is neglected both in regard to the construction of the houses and the disposition made of the rooms by the occupant.
Basement dwellings are often dark, and are damp and gloomy owing to insufficient ventilation. A basement built with substantial, independent walls, with a light-shaft reaching to the foundation, and having large, high windows, is less objectionable. Attics are hot in summer on account of their thin walls, and cold in winter. They cause greater mortality among young children than any other kind of living-place.
The walls of rooms may be covered with paper, or painted. In new buildings the walls should not be covered until at least one year after their erection. If covered sooner, the great quantities of moisture which enter the walls while the building is in construction cannot evaporate ; and the covering greatly retards the drying of the walls, which, in consequence, become damp and mouldy, and contaminate the air with their musty odour. Instead of being papered, the walls of a new building may be painted with water-colours, which do not interfere with the drying and which give the rooms an agreeable appearance.
Arsenic poisoning from wall-coverings was formerly not a rare occur rence, when these were manufactured with arsenic dyes. At present such a possibility exists only in rooms where a new covering has been pasted over an old one containing arsenic. It is advisable every two years to clean wall-papers with bread. This will show how much dust and dirt has accumu lated on the paper.