Decorating the early 1900’s home (Part Two - Kitchens, Bathrooms & Porches)

Here are some highlights from Domestic Architecture, written by architect L. Eugene Robinson, published in 1917. PART ONE of this post contained excerpts regarding living room and bedroom finishes. The excerpts below address kitchen, bathroom, and porch finishes:


  • “...cleanliness is of first importance, the treatment of materials should suggest it, and decoration need not be neglected.” 
  • “have all surfaces so treated that dust and dirt will show, but will be easy to remove. Here glazed or glossy finishes, or semi-glazed, ...are desirable.” 
  • “Plaster may be given a slick, steam-proof varnish or paint, and the wood given an enamel finish.”
  • “Wallpapers having a glazed surface are in common use...” 
  • “...should be no crevices or angles not easily reached with ordinary cleaning apparatus.” 
  • “Severity of design is becoming to the nature of the kitchen. Simple wainscotingsare very serviceable and attractive, and may be counter height, thereby forming a continuous line around the room.” 
  • “...counters...should not be treated with paint, varnish or any other material except oil. However, such working surfaces may be covered with a matting of rubber or oilcloth.” 
  • “Tile highly serviceable, wainscotings, counters, facings for built-in ranges and floors being the chief parts constructed of this material.” 
  • “...main objection to tile floors is their coldness...” 
  • “A hardwood floor of oak or maple is best, if tile cannot be afforded. A cheap wood floor may be made very serviceable by laying upon it oilcloth orlinoleum.” 
  • “Color...should...suggest perfect sanitation. The best colors are white and blue, but with white or cream may be used green, brown, gray or other color.” 
  • “Colors may appear in tile borders, linoleum, wallpaper, painted surfaces and in simple hangings.” 
  • “...should be bright and pleasant but not cluttered.” 
  • “Extra large kitchens...should have more color than small ones.” 
  • Fabulous and fun vintage kitchen photos can be found at For a direct link, click HERE


  • “Surface treatments...much the same as those for kitchens. Waterproof materials are practically essential, where water and steam are so prevalent.” 


  • “Porches are really exterior features, and should be treated much the same as other parts of the exterior.” 
  • “Light-colored paints and stains generally look better than dark.” 
  • “Masonry should not be painted under any circumstances...” 
  • “Porch floors of wood should receive several coats of exterior floor paint of neutral color, while the ceilings should be painted white or buff.” 
  • “...more than two colors of paint on a frame house should not be used, except perhaps in very limited quantities.” 
  • “The main color should cover the body of the house, while the other should serve only as a trim color. Alternate color effects should never be used.”