From Kirkus Reviews
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 porchesuntil after WWII an integral part of every home, a place where people shared news and gossiphave 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 ``neighborhoods 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 inhabitants personality. Kitchens, ironically, have expanded, as homeowners find the work done therefrom preparing food to eatinga necessary relief from technology and mechanization. This cozy book provides provocative and intelligent insights that land close to home. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Akiko Busch doesn't so much look at houses as cock her head and listen to them. What she hears is the rustle of humanity within their all-too-mortal frames. House and Garden, June 1999
With her light touch, Busch--at once learned and unpretentious--takes you through a tour of homes and homemaking that is rich in history and sumptuously detailed. 'Dining Room' tells, among other things, of how table knives lost their pointed ends when Louis XIV decided that the table was no place for dueling. Henceforth all knife-ends were to be rounded and a great leap was made, if not for mankind, then for manners...No corner of the home or habit of the mind goes neglected here; reading this, you will look on your house--from its public face, the front door, to the inner sanctum of the well-appointed bathroom--with new eyes. Dana Goodyear, Pool & Spa Living, August 1999