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Peeking through the Keyhole

Peeking through the Keyhole: The Evolution of North American Homes

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Peeking through the Keyhole
    Book Description:

    With today's instant communication, the way we observe other people, other cultures, and other times has altered, and been altered by, the homes we live in. Avi Friedman and David Krawitz guide the reader through the trends and changes that have influenced residential design and construction over the last fifty years. From kitchens to home offices to entire neighbourhoods, they unravel the effect of technology and consumerism on the way we perceive and use domestic space, arguing that the home is no longer a product of pure design but a response to factors and forces beyond the control of designers, builders, and users. Each chapter approaches the theme of home from a different vantage point: the first three chapters focus on food and kitchens, communication, construction and renovation; the middle chapters deal with childhood and aging; and the final chapters examine our ideas of home in the context of the broader community and as an object of commerce. The authors demonstrate how much life has changed in the years following the Second World War, showing how transformations in society, the economy, and lifestyles are reflected in our homes.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7060-3
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-2)
  5. Introduction: The Accelerated Present
    (pp. 3-17)

    When the first members of the generation born after the Second World War turned fifty in 1996‚ North America was bombarded with stories on the baby boomers. The first great outpouring of attention paid to the boomers had already occurred in the late 1980s‚ with articles and books devoted to the suddenly vital issue of demographics. For a business to succeed or a new product to take off‚ we were told‚ the boomers had to be the prime target market. A backlash of disgruntled murmuring was inevitable‚ the young protesting that the boomers had grabbed all the good jobs‚ the...

  6. 1 What We Eat, Where We Eat
    (pp. 18-41)

    For the average middle-aged shopper born and raised in North America, a visit to a massive suburban supermarket would not cause anything like the shock that would be experienced by, say, a person used to buying food at outdoor stalls in China, or even an older person, born in Cleveland or Toronto, who has managed to spend her life inside the suburban belt, picking up her groceries at a neighbourhood store with three aisles and two check-out counters. Our younger shopper, accustomed to supermarkets and shopping malls that have expanded in size over the years, is unfazed by megastores and...

  7. 2 Webs and Wires
    (pp. 42-70)

    Fifty years ago the only electric devices which brought information from the outside world into the North American home were the radio and telephone. An after-dinner evening of family entertainment could easily have been an hour or two of radio‚ the household members sitting on overstuffed chairs and sofas in the living room‚ all of them listening to the same show. Father would make the selection‚ and no one dared to object. If he smoked or rustled his newspaper too much‚ again‚ no one complained. Mother sat silently and listened‚ relishing these moments of relaxation‚ this welcome break between a...

  8. 3 Buy New or Renovate?
    (pp. 71-94)

    The homebuilding industry in North America is very big business. Over one million new homes are sold every year in the United States‚ while over four million existing homes change ownership. The construction of detached houses‚ rowhouses‚ and condominiums involves over one hundred thousand building firms who employ over four hundred thousand workers and generates $50 billion of business a year. Building homes creates jobs and stimulates the economy; the construction of one thousand detached houses‚ for example‚ produces two and a half thousand jobs and provides $75 million in wages and $37 million in taxes and fees. Every single...

  9. 4 Living with Kids
    (pp. 95-117)

    Not all of us have children in our homes; some never will‚ and many have children who have grown up and left for homes of their own. But every person was once a child and that child was raised somewhere and that place was home. More than any other type of household which will undergo changes as its members move through various stages in their life cycles‚ families face an accelerated process of change and adaptation - a process which must be accommodated by their physical surroundings. The first two decades in a person’s life present a multiplicity of challenges...

  10. 5 Growing Old at Home
    (pp. 118-142)

    Researchers into the subject of aging use a chart called the age loss continuum to present the milestone events which correspond with the stages of life from fifty years onward. Displayed as a figure in an article or a book‚ the simple chart readily captures the reader’s attention: one is surprised‚ perhaps shocked‚ to see the latter part of the life cycle reduced so efficiently to the basics. The age-loss continuum reveals that‚ on average‚ we are separated from our children during our fifties; we lose our regular incomes and jobs‚ suffer a diminishment of sensory sharpness‚ and endure the...

  11. 6 Where Exactly Do We Live?
    (pp. 143-163)

    Most people have opinions about which buildings or public spaces they like or dislike‚ although‚ if questioned on their taste‚ they may be hard pressed to give hard reasons for their preferences. Even if only at a subconscious level‚ people are generally aware of the numerous components which make up their built environment‚ of the design elements which form the houses and towers and streets which surround them. Everyone responds in some manner to the shapes and lines‚ the forms and figures‚ the spaces and absences that comprise their urban‚ suburban‚ or rural landscapes. Natural objects very easily occupy our...

  12. 7 Home as a Consumer Product
    (pp. 164-187)

    “Buying a house is the biggest investment that most people will ever make in their lives.” This statement is easily one of the most common made with regard to homeownership‚ particularly for first-time owners. Without doubt‚ buying a home is a very serious transaction. When you commit yourself to paying off a mortgage over the course of some twenty-five years‚ you make a decision with long-term implications that will influence all of your other important decisions. You will have to work harder‚ worry more about keeping your job‚ perhaps even change your lifestyle now that you have signed on the...

  13. Afterword: Where Do We Go from Here?
    (pp. 188-194)

    Recent decades have been a time of cascading changes that have left their mark on homes and the urban fabric. Sometimes it is impossible to know which issues and trends are important and which will turn out to be insignificant. At the turn of the twenty-first century‚ certain issues are more noticeable than others. They command more play in the media‚ they attract corporate and government notice‚ they affect public and personal agendas. Listing the big topics is risky‚ but we can venture to say that the make-up of our society‚ economic wellbeing‚ and lifestyle choices are subjects worth examining...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 195-208)
  15. Index
    (pp. 209-212)