The Daily Mail

Daily Mail Ideal Labour-Saving Home. London: Associated Newspapers, 1920.  Bungalow Book: Reproductions of the Best Designs Entered for the Daily Mail Architects Competition for Labour-Saving Bungalows, 1922. London: Associated Newspapers, 1922.  Ideal Houses Book: Reproductions of the Best Designs Entered in the Daily Mail Architects’ Competition, 1927. London: Associated Newspapers, 1927.

Today I discovered three publications issued by the Daily Mail between 1920-1927 that reflect the ideal standards for modern homes, focusing on efficiency, convenience, and comfort. The introductions/prefaces suggest that the middle class and homeowners of post-World War I Britain needed guidance to establish cost efficient and well planned homes. The Daily Mail thus offered a competition for architects to submit their designs for the modern house and additionally held exhibitions in 1922 and 1927 in order to educate their reading public.

The 1920 catalog is markedly different from the later two. In addition to the house plans from the competition, the catalog also offers advice to the modern homemaker. The essays include the cost saving benefits of a well designed and  well equipped house with all the modern conveniences; the ideal equipment needed to set up a home; instructions to interpret the architectural drawings printed within the publication; and lastly postcards that offer tips and tricks from their readers. The Household Appliances Committee of the Design and Industries Association offers this advice in their essay, “The Equipment of the Ideal Labour-Saving Home”:

The decoration of a small room should be its cleanliness, the colouring of the walls and necessary textiles, the paint or stain of the woodwork, and the brightness of the everyday crockery on the dresser. Lessened and cheered by such surroundings, housework becomes more a pleasure than a drudgery. Every superfluous article should be looked upon as a dangerous nuisance, the cause of unnecessary irritation. (The Equipment of the Ideal Labour-Saving Home. A Report by the Household Appliances Committee of the Design and Industries Association. pg.43)

The essays largely disappear in the 1922 and 1927 publications to focus on the competition drawings and advertisements. One of the significant changes between 1920 and 1927 entries is that the spaces for the live-in maids and staff largely disappear, with a stronger focus instead on cost and necessity. The judges of the 1927 restricted the architects to design houses for either  1,500 (Class A) or 850 (Class B). According to the 1927 Introduction:

The object of the competition is two-fold. First to obtain the best possible plans combining beauty and utility. Secondly, to obtain plans which would give the best possible value for money commensurate, with good materials and workmanship. Experience with previous competitions showed that architects as a rule, were prone to attempt to provide more in the plans of house than was practically possible for the expenditure to which they limited. It was for this reason that the cost n both sections were definitely laid down. (Introduction, pg. 27).

While the plans and elevations provide insight into the ideal layout of middle class houses in Britain during the twenties and the essays provide guidance in establishing a modern household, the advertisements are equalling enlightening. Many of the ads address women, stressing modern conveniences and comforts.