Better Homes and Gardens (Part I)

Better Homes and Gardens

Magazine Cover

The September, 1964 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine contains an extensive photographic record of the three Houses of Good Taste.

The Royal Barry Wills Associates "Traditional" House

The first of the three World's Fair houses, created by Royal Barry Wills Associates, is an outstanding example of an American standard: the traditionally styled home with an efficient interior and plan. Its designers, well-known for their authentically styled Early American houses, wanted it to have the flavor and charm that people would appreciate, along with the flexibility and arrangement of space found in the best new homes.

Wills' Home - Front

As the exterior photograph demonstrates, Wills designer Merton Barrows succeeded in retaining the appeal of the original New England home. Two wings extend from a slightly larger central section, just as they did on the first Cape Cod Homes. Other details also mark this as a Wills creation: small-pane windows, properly proportioned shutters, narrow siding, and large central chimney.


The plan indicates the guiding concept of this house - a room arrangement that is geared to a family of all ages. Since people tend to live around a kitchen, it occupies a central place in the plan; the living and dining rooms are close by, and the family room is just down the hall by the garage. This arrangement helps generate systematic privacy for the family, with space for the children to entertain at one end and room at the other end for a quiet master bedroom suite and a study.

Wills' Home - Patio

The rear exterior of the Wills house displays the functional side to this traditionally oriented home. All three of the rooms facing the terrace - from the living room at left to the dining and family rooms - have large glass panels and sliding doors. For each of the rooms, the glass panels mean more light, an unobstructed view to the yard, and a way outside. In keeping with the leisurely pattern of family life, the terrace plantings are kept to compact, convenient areas. The siding, though authentically scaled, is permanent white plastic.

Inside the Wills House

Ellen Lehman McCluskey, Everett Brown, C. Eugene Stephenson,
all F.A.I.D., for the American Institute of Designers
Wills' Home - Dining Room The dining room of the Wills house is formal, yet doesn't seem studied or forced. Living room colors were carried through to the dining room, from the off-white of the rug and walls to the salmon covers on the Queen Anne chairs. The crystal chandelier and illuminated corner cupboards create an effective, dramatic pattern of light. A walnut-stained plank floor harmonizes with the living room paneling.
TheWill living room displays a graciousness that comes from mixing the traditional forms of several eras. Just as our heritage draws on the influences of England and the continent, the decorating here is a blend, rather than a dry reproduction of any single period. This skillful blending - and the use of modern materials - make the room livable by today's standards. Wills' Home - Living Room

Wills' Home - Study
The study of the Wills house also borrows heavily from the 18th century. The English influence appears in the Queen Anne wing chair, Italian provincial in the desk, and Oriental in the turnings of the occasional chair. Here the salmon accents of the living and dining rooms become the main color scheme. Grooved prefinished paneling combines with the milled fireplace mantel to give the study a subdued but authentic richness.
Wills' Home - Child's Room In some of the other rooms of the Wills house - like the child's room shown at left - the formal decorating gives way to a more informal arrangement. Here the furniture has the whimsical touch of the 19th-century Hitchcock pieces, from rush-seat chairs to the stenciled storage chest and lamp tables. The wall treatment accentuates the light feeling of the room, with striped paper repeating the drapery pattern. Solid squares of accent color on the wall are frames holding small lead soldiers.
Wills' Home - Bath & Laundry Efficiency is the hallmark of this combination laundry-bath. A solid panel of ceiling light illuminates the room, with smaller built-in fixtures in strategic corners. A wide storage counter is divided by the mirror into a laundry-sorting section and a vanity-dressing counter. The white folding door at left slides back to reveal an under-counter washer and dryer, a compact sink, and wall cabinets for linen storage. Exposed surfaces - from walls to floors - are hard-finished, washable.
One end of the Wills kitchen was planned as a sewing center. Even though it is as efficient as the laundry-bath, this room retains the traditional detailing: fruitwood-and-brass chandelier, flowered cafe curtains, diamond floor tile pattern, and wrought-iron chairs with comb backs. Brightly lit, the sewing counter has space for all equipment and materials; above and below it are deep storage cabinets, some of them with accessory racks mounted on the inner side of the doors. Wills' Home - Kitchen
Wills' Home - Kitchen In the main area of the kitchen, the island cooking unit forms the hub of activities, its hanging pans and copper hood adding a plantation-kitchen warmth to the room. Ranged carefully around the island are a double sink, long work counters, and the appliances. On the far side of the room, surrounded by storage, is a built-in planning desk.

SOURCE: Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, September, 1964

Wills' Home - Family Room
A vaulted acoustic ceiling, trimmed with antique beams, establishes the Early American mood of the family room. Elm paneling and dark plank floor set off the greens and browns of the comfortable pieces. Unusual accessories - like the ship's lantern and the coffee table adapted from a trestle table - add realistic notes to the decorating scheme
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