When Witold Rybczynski realized that in all his years of architectural training the word “comfort” had only been mentioned once – and then in a mechanical context – he began to cast about for a definition of that elusive term. What he came up with was by no means as simple as we might expect; the way we arrange our homes reflects not only particular taste and current fashion but an idea of the home that is the culmination of several hundred years of development. With humor and insight, Rybczynski discusses such essential issues as privacy, domesticity, efficiency and ease; he examines the variety of social and cultural factors that promoted them and proves these concepts to be as much human inventions as easy chairs and wall-to-wall carpeting. This wide-ranging study takes him in many directions: he provides fascinating historical explanations for such luxuries as sash windows, which came about as a cost-cutting measure in swampy Holland, where nonstructural walls needed to be as light as possible. This highly original and provocative book will change our attitudes and make it impossible for us to think of our homes in the same way again.