An appealing, insightful collection of musings on the architecture, psychology, and history of house and home in America. Busch, a contributing editor at Metropolis magazine, has assembled 14 essays originally published there. Analyzing the domestic spaces that compose the American home, she offers fascinating insights into the changing conditions and circumstances of our habitats. The front door, for example, in her view has become almost obsolete, not only because we use the door closest to the driveway, but because "it represents a formality for which we have little use in an age when informality and casualness provide comfort." As we have come to increasingly view our home as a private sanctuary providing respite from a chaotic and menacing world, states Busch, we tend to avoid the door that is closest to the public, though we continue to build houses with front doors. Front porches—until after WWII an integral part of every home, a place where people shared news and gossip—have also become somewhat an anachronism, the author believes. People get their news elsewhere and are wary about exposing themselves to the fumes of passing cars. In urban environments, front stoops that once served as a "neighborhood's outdoor living room" are avoided for fear of aimless violence. But the importance of other architectural spaces has grown. Closet space is now regarded as a priority because, suggests Busch, "as we become a more transient society, we tend to define home by the accumulation of possessions as much as by place." In other words, the more tenuously we view our daily existence, the more fervently we pile up things. Living rooms are now often decorated according to the inhabitant's personality. Kitchens, ironically, have expanded, as homeowners find the work done there—from preparing food to eating—a necessary relief from technology and mechanization. This cozy book provides provocative and intelligent insights that land close to home.
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