I just returned from a weekend jaunt to Rhinebeck, NY, a charming village located 100 miles north of New York City that was settled by both English and Dutch settlers in the 1600s. Rhinebeck. My visit to this town brought to mind a book I recently read, “Home, a Short History of an Idea,” by Witold Rybczynski. In it, the author explains where our modern ideas about what makes a “home” come from. For all of us who live in or work on old houses, this book is a must read.
Rybczynski explains how the Dutch design of the home informed our American way of thinking of the idea of “home.” What do we all think of when we think of home? It’s a place for a family unit. The fact that your home’s shape answers your family’s needs is a Dutch invention. It’s more than just shelter. It’s about comfort and ease and privacy — all newly imposed criteria for home.