Is for niche. A recess built into a wall to house a statue, trophy, or work of art. Often niches are capped with a semi-dome. The domes were sometimes carved to mimic the inside of a seashell. Found in Roman buildings from antiquity, niches were exploited by joiners and cabinetmakers for interior architectural work. The interior space for built in corner cupboards often included the graceful carved domes with dramatic effect. Sort of sheds light on the saying “Carved out a niche for oneself”.
This is one of those architectural elements that shares DNA with other bits and pieces often found in traditional design. Did this semi-dome from a niche inspire the fanlights capping a doorway (also found in some glazed furniture doors)? If you have any examples of niches to share, e-mail me at georgewalkerdesign.com and I’ll add them to this post.
George R. Walker
Here’s another pic for you from The Walnut Calamity. The fireplace is recessed under a flight of stairs, which ascend from the right. Niche Overmantel. “Particularly quaint, really,” said the unusually vain woodworker, Xavier. Yep, zany!