Friday, March 9, 2007
excerpts from PLANNING AND FURNISHING THE HOME 1914
This book illustrates a sharp divide from the tastes of just a few short years before. It has only a few pictures, most of them having been reproduced rather poorly. I've fixed up a couple and included them here. There is a great deal of information, however.
GENERAL NOTES ON “MODERN” HOUSES
The types of house styles in vogue included, New England Colonial, Durch Colonial, and Southern Colonial, English half-timbered, Renaissance, which showed an Italian influence with tile roofs and stucco, and the bungalow.
The yellow varnished woodwork and elaborate cabinet-mantels which are put into many of the houses of cheap construction are always ugly in color, and almost impossible to combine harmoniously with any furnishings. The tops of cabinet mantels can easily be removed. The varnish can be taken off, and the mantel and woodwork painted.
If a room has good woodwork, fine windows and door-spaces it is well to keep the walls and window spacings definite and clear. A slight contrast in color between walls and woodwork will emphasize the spacing. For instance, the woodwork may be of ivory or dull gray, in contrast to a medium dark neutral color of walls, or the woodwork dark in contrast to light-colored walls. The windows should be curtained to cover as little as possible of the woodwork.
Unfortunately, the increased cost of lumber and labor has resulted in many houses and apartments having woodwork which invites oblivion. Badly put together and ugly in proportions and detail, it must be made unobtrusive. Then it is well to have woodwork and walls almost similar in color and to subordinate the woodwork ……
A room should have a predominating color, and adjoining rooms should be of the same or of similar color. For instance, tan and green stripe may be used in a hall which adjoins a room of plain tan paper. It is wise to keep walls of neutral and unobtrusive color. The more neutral the large masses of color are in a room, the more varied and brilliant the details of decoration may be. The brighter the color of the large masses, the less variety of color may be used in the room. A little bright color goes a long way. If a room has gray walls, woodwork, and furniture, the upholstery, curtains, and rugs may introduce various other colors. If the room has blue walls, and mahogany furniture, only one other color can be used to any extent in curtains and upholstery materials. It is always safe to use soft, dull colors. It is much more difficult to successfully combine bright colors.
Rooms which have little or no sunlight should have yellow the predominating color. Tan, old gold, dull orange, or soft yellow-green should be predominant in the larger masses of color. The details of pattern and accessories of furnishing may introduce other colors in small quantities. In rooms which have plenty of sunlight, almost any color scheme may be used. Only where there is plenty of sunlight throughout the day should blue, gray, violet, or green be used as the predominant color.
Light colors make the room seem brighter and larger. Aside from making a room seem smaller, dark colors have a serious disadvantage. Dark green, blue, brown, or red walls absorb so much light that twice as much gas or electricity is necessary for illumination as if light walls were used. Dark walls materially increase the gas and electric-light bills.
The finish given to walls in modern houses is either a rough plaster, which may be painted, or a smooth plaster finish which may be painted or papered. Rough plaster walls are an effective background. Frequently the color is mixed with the wet plaster. The walls may also be painted in water or oil colors. Painted walls have some advantage over papered ones. If painted with oil the color will last for years, and may be easily cleaned by careful washing with warm water and soap.
Yellow ocher added to white paint or enamel will give a satisfactory ivory color for woodwork.
The growing interest in house decoration has created a demand for wall-papers of good quality, design, and color. Tans and grays are good colors for backgrounds, and a simple pattern, or a stripe in the same or similar color, is more interesting than the plain color. Patterns should be unobtrusive. Large color patterns are seldom suitable for any room, and, although it is possible to use a pattern or striped paper in a hall, it must be similar in color to the paper used in adjoining rooms. Flower patterns are effective in very simple bedrooms, especially in country houses. Pictures should not be hung on patterned wall-papers, for the effect of pictures and wall design is at cross-purposes, and results in restless confusion.
When gas and electricity supplanted the meager candle and kerosene lights there was a natural desire to burst forth in effulgence, and in consequence much more light than is necessary is used in the average house, and much is wasted, by lack of concentration at necessary points. To-day attention is being paid both to the scientific and artistic aspects of lighting.
As has been said, dark rooms absorb light, and deep shadows are cast by the furniture, which involves a large waste of electricity or gas. Light rooms, unless there are proper shades on the lights, may have a glare which is injurious to the eyes, and very tiresome.
There are two methods of artificial lighting the indirect and the direct. In indirect lighting the source of light is concealed. Lights are placed behind a cornice molding and their light is reflected from the ceiling in a diffused light throughout the room. Or the lights may be concealed in inverted holders suspended from the ceiling. This light is very even and is suitable for large halls or for public buildings. It is at least a third more expensive than direct lighting.
Direct lighting, with sources of light obvious, is much more suitable for lighting the average house. A hall or kitchen may be successfully lighted by indirect method, but in a living-room or bedroom a completely and evenly lighted room is as tiresome to the eyes as it is unattractive. The chandelier that hangs down from the center of the ceiling into the room is always ugly and reduces the apparent size of the room.
Side-lights are generally more useful and attractive than ceiling lights. If a room is low, ceiling lights close to the ceiling will add an impression of height; if the ceiling is high, sidelights placed just above the eye-level will make the room seem less high.
There are always some parts of a room more in use than others. There are always some parts of a room more attractive than others. An open fire, the soft light from a reading-lamp with a sidelight near the desk when necessary, gives all the light that is needed and makes a room much more interesting and restful, with its concentration of light and its half-lights and shadows, than a room which is garishly lighted throughout. There is something aggressively bare about an unshaded light, and a visit to the shops for lamp-shades and shades for side-lights will disclose so many monstrosities of glass-bead fringe and passementerie and artificial-flower trimmings at large prices that it is well to know that any one can with patience make a good lamp, candle, or side-light shade and that the simple ones are the best.
Making lamp shades
A wire frame may be ordered in any size to fit any lamp, or to be attached to any side-wall fixture. This frame should be covered by winding it with tape or ribbon. The outside of the shade should then be sewn to this tape first at top, then the bottom, and perhaps at the sides, according to the design. Plain silk may be used for the outside, stretched tight across and sewn to the frame, or the silk may be plaited, sticking pins into the plaits all around the top, and afterward stretching and running it in similar plaits at the bottom. Pinning it at both top and bottom before sewing allows for corrections being easily made.
Stencil designs in heavy paper, pasted over silk or paper, make very attractive shades. All shades should be lined with plain silk in color. The lining should cover the turned-in raw edges of silk which has been used for the outside of the shade.
For finishing the top and bottom edges, a fine guimpe braid, lace, edge, or silk fringe may be effectively used. Shades for lamps may be circular, hexagonal, or octagonal. Shades for sidelights are usually semicircular..
Floor darkest, walls lighter, ceiling lightest. This gradation should be included in the first planning of the furnishing. A dark oak floor, neutral gray walls and woodwork, and light ceiling offer an example of gradation, from dark through medium to light color values.
A light maple floor in a room with dark woodwork or walls is as strikingly unsuitable as a light ruffle would be on a dark skirt. Floors are usually of oak or maple, both of which darken with age and constant oiling and waxing. Often it is advisable to use a wood-stain to darken a new floor. Frequent waxing and rubbing will soon produce a beautiful surface quality on the wood.
It is always economical in the long run to put in a good hard-wood or a parquet floor, for a poor floor demands a discouraging waste of time and labor.
In European countries where wood has become
very scarce, linoleums in beautiful dull colors and small patterns are used very effectively. In Holland, where hard-wood floors would be an absurdly expensive luxury, clean dark linoleum is the usual background for the rugs. One firm in this country has recently put on the market linoleums of good quality, which are beautiful both in color and design, and have guarantee of long wear. Carpets which cover the entire floor harbor dust, and are difficult to clean. Our hard-wood floors with rugs that can be easily cleaned are more sanitary as well as more beautiful.
There had arisen a great, apparently new, interest in antiques. The author devoted a segment to spotting fake antique rugs.
If these new rugs are well made they are as desirable as the old ones, but unfortunately the demand for antiques has stimulated a production of bad imitations which have neither the endurance, nor the beauty and distinction of the old rugs. Dealers sell, and even guarantee as antiques, rugs which have been recently woven, bleached to soft colors, and rubbed with glycerine or a chemical composition to give a silky sheen…..
The present fashion of using plain-color velvet rugs without pattern is a welcome one indeed! These rugs are lovely in color and texture, and range from light shades to dull, effective blacks. Frequently in our small houses the pattern and color of Oriental rugs makes it difficult to combine them with other furnishings, but the rug of plain color, harmonizing with the dominant color of draperies and upholstery materials, keeps a restful unity of color and pattern in the room.
Oriental rugs are seldom available in sizes large enough to cover the center of the floor. Several small rugs are difficult to place well and make too many spots. They are likely to interfere with the flat effect that the floor should have.
Ugly-patterned rugs and carpets may be successfully dyed to soft, plain colors. The results in such cases are often surprisingly attractive. The original pattern shows as a darker shade of the ground color. …. . Jute rugs are very inexpensive and are made in beautiful colorings. They are only suitable for the very simplest of furnishing, and will not stand heavy wear. …..The old-fashioned rag rug has possibilities which are not realized by the average person. The rags are dyed before weaving to suit any color scheme, and it is possible to make rugs of very beautiful colors. ... One disadvantage of rag rugs is that they gather dirt in the folds. They should be beaten thoroughly every week, and at least twice a year either steam-cleaned or washed.
Vacuum cleaners do not add to the longevity of rugs and upholstery. One firm refuses to guarantee tapestries or rugs that are to be cleaned with vacuum cleaner. Oriental rugs should never be steam-cleaned, but washed in soap and water. When they show signs of wear it is well to have them mended by an Oriental who makes a business of doing this. The cost is slight and the life of the rug much lengthened. These men also wash the rugs well and cheaply.
After wall-paper and rugs are chosen, it is well to consider next the curtaining of a room. Curtains wear out, they fade, they change with fashions. "I am looking for curtain materials" is frequently heard in spring and autumn, and the multitudes of different curtain materials in every shop may well keep one long a-search for the. right
texture, color, and perhaps patterns. Lace curtains with their elaborate patterns and staring white stiffness have fortunately come to a well-deserved end. Figured madras with its large patterns and crude colors has also passed even the department store's approval. But we are still buying simple nets and scrims and lawns and Swisses, and good reproductions of old damasks and figured velvets and gay chintzes.
All the shades should be of one color and a coior suitable to the window-casing and the outside of the house. This will give the outside of the house an impression of unity and orderliness. If it is desirable to have another color for the inside of the shades, double-faced shades are only slightly more expensive than those of one color. Incidentally, shades should be kept rolled to the same level, and not only all shades but all curtains which show from the outside should be somewhat similar in color, texture, and method of hanging.
Once and three-quarters the width of the window for net curtains and once and one-half the width for heavier materials will give the necessary fullness. The construction of the window-frame and the general style of furnishing of the room largely determines the length of curtains. If the walls are thick and the frame of the window extends into the depth of wall, making a recess of the window inclosure, long curtains of chintz, silk, or velvet may extend to the floor, and emphasize the structural inclosure of the window. In a simply furnished room, and where the window-frame extends neither in nor out, but is fairly flush with the wall, the curtains should extend to the bottom of the window - frame. Sash - curtains should be short enough to clear the window-sill. The length of curtains should always coincide with some structural line and emphasize either .the length of window inclosure or the length of the window-frame.
There are many inexpensive nets which may be used for the outside curtains. They should be edged with a narrow braid or lace edging and hung on a separate rod close to the window-frame. A more formal arrangement is one where the net is made into a panel, with medallions and insertions of real lace, and hung straight and fastened close to the glass.
For the inside curtains a heavier material should be used, of quality, design, and color suitable to the furnishing of the room. Soft silks and heavier damasks may be used, hung straight at either side of the window. The many charming chintzes now on the market add design and color and give a cheerful, gay effect to an informal room.
One must be very careful to have the curtains repeat the colors used in rugs and upholstery materials, otherwise the windows stand out in vivid contrast and make unpleasant breaks in the background of the walls.
Where there is a group of two or more windows the net curtains should be hung at each window, the inside curtains hung only at each end of the group. A valance of the heavier material may be hung across the entire group, connecting the two inside curtains.
Casement-windows with small panels of leaded glass require but one curtain to each window. Casement-windows with clear glass may have net curtains next the glass fastened to rods at top and bottom and curtains of silk, chintz, or outside material, either at each end or hung at each window.
For semicircular and half-semicircular windows, net with an insertion pattern of lace or
medallion repeating the shape of the window may be fastened straight to the window. Plain net or scrim may be arranged in plaits radiating from the center of semicircular window or from the corner angle of the half-semicircular window. Semicircular lunettes over windows should be similarly curtained. Very high windows will appear shorter if two sets of half-length curtains are used, one hung on the lower window-sash, the upper one hung from a rod across the top of the window-frame, extending over the lower curtain, just enough to cover the rod of the lower sash-curtain.
Valances may be used on all windows, but they are especially necessary across groups of two or more windows and over very broad single windows. By carrying the materials of the side-curtains across they frame in the window and keep an architectural unity. A simple ruffled valance may be gathered on the rod with the side-curtains. If the window is a large one, the valance should be hung on a separate rod and extend across over the entire curtain arrangement. These simple valances are suitable for light-weight materials and in informal rooms.
In a formal room, where the curtains are of silk or velvet, the shaped valance may be used. It is fastened on a special box-like arrangement, which extends out from the window-frame. The side-curtains should hang straight at either side. In all cases care must be taken that the curtains are hung so that they may be easily drawn together and open again without interfering with valance or other curtains.
If the walls are plain in color and flat in tone, pattern curtain materials may be ,used. If the walls are patterned plain curtain materials should be used. Many shops carry chintzes and wallpapers of similar patterns, but these are difficult to use in combination, requiring, as they do, the utmost simplicity in furniture, rugs, and upholstery materials. Chintz is more effective when used with plain walls.
For windows where but one curtain is to be used, there are many attractive materials in scrim, swiss, dotted and figured muslins and dimities. One country house of dark-wood interior and rough plaster walls was very effective with curtains of yellow checked gingham on either side of the low, broad windows. And a low-ceiling dining-room of gray walls and blue woodwork, and blue and white china, had curtains of wide blue-and-white-striped muslin.
There are many inexpensive materials possible for curtains, and one need not be restricted to the curtain-furnishing department of shops. Often most attractive colors and patterns may be found among the cotton dress fabrics.
The author discussed furniture styles, followed by chapters on old English, old French and American colonial furniture.
……. the average home-maker has vague ideas about the history of furniture. She knows that a style of furniture is often identified with the name of a king or a queen. She usually takes it for granted that all French furniture is gilded. And, although she may share in the popular scornful dismissal of the Victorian horsehair furniture, she usually selects and buys her chairs and tables without knowledge of their family history.
The bad taste and lack of discrimination of Americans was contemporary with the bad taste of the English. The decline of taste in America was contemporary with the decline of good taste in England, just as the good Colonial furniture of the preceding century was contemporary with the best English, Dutch, and French cabinet work of that century.
In America in the eighties there was no William Morris or Walter Crane to lead a reaction against the ugliness of the average home. The most concrete example of this reaction in America was in the form of the Mission or Craftsman furniture, The straight lines and solid simple construction were a reaction from over-elaborate decoration and poor construction. How these two always go together! '' Mission,' meaning ' missionary,'' explains the reason for the existence of this type of furniture better than it is explained by any relation it bears to the old missions of California.
The Mission and Craftsman furniture was an effective protest against bric-a-brac gewgaw ugliness; but, although it has strength and often is comfortable, it does not fill the new needs of the house whose doors it opened. It will always be suitable for bungalow, beamed living-room, and halls or porch, but it lacks the finer line and the adaptability necessary for the average city house or apartment. It is often too large, too heavy,
and too clumsy. There is a lack of grace and beauty. It represents the simple beginnings of furniture-making, but only the a b c's of the craft.
Fifteen years ago, so-called golden oak, with its ugly yellow varnish insistent in shine, ugly in line and sham carving was practically the only available furniture. To-day most shops keep at least a small stock of the better grade of reproductions, in response to this increasing demand for simpler, better furniture.
In many shops, particularly in the smaller cities, there are rows and rows of pieces of so-called golden oak. This furniture is usually ugly, clumsy in design, and over - decorated. The many coats of varnish have, given it an objectionable color and surface polish. The only way to make this furniture attractive is to remove all the varnish and then stain and wax and rub it until it has the legitimate finish of oak. Or it can be painted or enameled in color to go with the color scheme of the room. There are usually some pieces that are good in line and can be used in the average house. This furniture is usually inexpensive.
Another very common and inexpensive type of furniture is the Mission or Craftsman furniture, Some of it is very good in line and construction; frequently, however, for all its appearance of strength, much of it is clumsy and poorly made. It goes very well in large rooms of rough plaster, or wood wall and brick or concrete fireplace. It cannot be used so well in small rooms; neither does it go well with other types of furniture. A living-room or a whole floor, a bungalow or country house furnished throughout with this furniture may be very restful and attractive, but its possibilities are more limited than some of the less-heavy types of chairs and tables. In the average apartment it is quite out of place.
Perhaps no furniture carried by the average furniture store and department store offers so many possibilities as the simple painted furniture. There are many pieces of good lines, in inexpensive woods, which can be painted a color to suit the color scheme of the general furnishing of the room. In a city apartment where sunshine is at a premium, a room with painted woodwork and furniture can be very gay and cheerful. This furniture is generally inexpensive. The stores frequently carry sample stock in a dead-white enamel, but the same pieces can be ordered painted in any color of sample.
Wicker or willow furniture is inexpensive, durable, and comes in many good designs of chairs and tables.
This furniture can be stained any color. The arm-chairs are suitable for almost any room ,in an informal house. They are particularly attractive with cushions of gay chintz or in soft dull colors, according to the color scheme of the rest of the room. It is possible to buy this furniture unstained at a little less cost than when stained…….A few shops carry the Chinese and Ceylon cane chairs, which are frequently very beautiful in workmanship and are suitable in a living-room or porch.
The Austrian furniture made of bent wood is very strong and sometimes quite attractive. It is expensive, and its durability recommends it for hotels, restaurants, and for clubs and rooms.
In a hall the walls should be kept very simple. They may be painted or papered or paneled wainscot. It is one of the few rooms where gay patterned or striped paper can be used, for there should be no pictures on the walls. Good reproductions of landscape paper of the eighteenth century are now on the market, and, although rather expensive, they are very attractive. A striped paper is also good and in a hall with a stairway it emphasizes the stairs and the rise to the second floor. In a small hall a plain paper or one with a small unobtrusive pattern is best. Painted walls have the advantage of being easily cleaned.
A mirror of good design may be hung over a table. If one possesses a piece of tapestry or a fine rug or an interesting piece of weaving, something decorative and purely formal in character, this may be hung in a central balanced space. A banjo clock is often very suitable, and is both useful and decorative in a narrow oblong space or panel. A tall grandfather's clock is a dignified addition to the furnishing of a hall.
The floor should be uncarpeted, for it is necessary that the hall be easily and thoroughly cleaned. Large square tiles in soft colors make an attractive hall floor which can be washed daily.
These are, however, quite expensive. One large rug covering the main part of the floor or a small strong rug near the door is a good arrangement if rugs are used; or there may be a broad strip of plain carpet extending through the center of the hall and carpeting the stairs, if desirable.
Stairs are more easily cleaned and quite as attractive without the strip of carpet, yet many people prefer the carpeting because there is less noise and the stairs are protected from small boys' toes. Also there is less danger of falling down a carpeted stairway.
Furnishing a hall is not an expensive matter, as very little furniture is necessary. A small side-table with a drawer or two in which to keep timetables, pad and pencil, and post-cards, one or two straight-backed chairs placed against the wall in symmetrical balance are quite enough furniture. A mirror which has a decorative framered or black lacquer is interestingmay be hung directly over the table or in the center of one wall division.
There should be some provision in a hall for the coats and hats and umbrellas of guests. Members of the family should keep hats and coats in their rooms or in a special closet, and not leave them untidily accumulated in a hall-stand. But it is difficult to find a hat-rack which is not clumsy and ugly.
There are very few of the combination hall and living-rooms which are satisfactory. They allow no assurance of privacy, and the draughts from opening the outside door and from the stairs-space make it a difficult room to keep comfortable in winter weather.
THE LIVING ROOM
That very modern part of the house, the living-room, …….is the place where the family will spend their leisure, in companionship or study, where guests are hospitably received. It must be attractive to youth and comfortable for grown-ups. It is a place for study as well as for talk. It should be all that its name implies a cheerful and beautiful room, worthy to be the center of the family life, worthy to be lived in, in the finest sense of the word.
There should be large comfortable chairs, perhaps a sofa, and a footstool or two grouped about the open fire for there should be a fireplace in every living-room! Then a table is needed for lamp, books, and magazines, standing neither in the center of the room nor yet against the wall, with near by a chair or two, for reading.
For afternoon tea or evening coffee or cards, a place for a plant or bowl of flowers, a smaller table standing against the wall or between windows, will be useful. A tall secretary, desk, or a simple table well supplied with writing-materials should be placed to have good light both day and evening, for writing, and should not stand too near t he conversation at the fireplace. Before it should stand a straight chair, of comfortable height, for writing.
With all this more or less necessary furniture, and with desk, table, and .fireplace, each a center of interest, it is essential to keep a unity in the room. Woodwork, walls, curtains, and rugs should carry out a color scheme, including not more than two colors, and all the large pieces of furniture should be somewhat similar in type.
If the walls, woodwork, mantel, and fireplace are of lovely gray or tan, the rugs of plain velvet, warm green -in color, the curtains may be of chintz patterned with green foliage, or of soft-green silk hung straight at the side of the windows, and the upholstery materials should have green the predominating color. These are the beginnings of a restful, harmonious room. There may be a blue vase or an orange one on the mantel, a few cushions of the same orange or blue, another plain vase with flowers in it, a growing plant, a bowl of goldfish; any one or two of these will give all the variety and accent that is necessary.
First, the walls must be papered and the woodwork painted. With the many needs of the living-room, the many different pieces of furniture, it is necessary that the walls be neutral in color, that the background be unobtrusive and restful. Then the rugs are chosen. The home-maker is fortunate who can afford a center rug large enough for the room. If several smaller rugs are chosen they should be tried in various arrangements. One should be placed in front of the fire, one at the bookcase, another near the center of the room, another toward the door. They should be parallel to the sides of the room, for rugs are very obvious and disturbing when placed diagonally across the floor.
The curtains may be one-color silk, or of chintz, or of any of the fascinating patterned fabrics now on the marketbut the color must repeat the color of the rugs!
Then furniture must be selected. A desk, chairs, sofa, and tables should be chosen with careful comparison one to the other and to their placing in the room. There must be various kinds of chairs. Perhaps an old mahogany arm-chair has been found in some antique shop. Without that a fine reproduction of an old arm-chair will be a good investment for the room……. Wicker chairs are always attractive if they carry out the color scheme of the room. They may be stained the color of rugs or curtains and have cushions of patterned chintz adding their gay colors to the detail of the furnishing.
Leather chairs are usually clumsy and offensive in color. Too much upholstery gives a stuffy feeling, and it is also difficult to keep clean. Plain upholstery is much less objectionable than the puffed-and-button variety. …..As for arm-chairs, there are multitudes of good designs from which to select one of good lines, proportions, and comfort. A reproduction of the Martha Washington chair is one of the attractive possibilities, and no chair offers more comfort for an evening chat or paper than a roomy grandfather's chair. ……. The American rocker has had hard words said about it, and, although inelegant for a formal room, there is no denying the distinctive character of an old Shaker or Windsor arm-chair rocker.
Straight chairs of many styles are available. Old ones are less expensive and less difficult to find than arm-chairs. If strict economy is necessary there are simple kitchen chairs that when stained and painted are quite worthy of their place in a living-room.
A sofa is one of the more expensive pieces of furniture, but its length adds a new and interesting proportion, and its capacity and comfort are unquestioned. An old mahogany one of Sheraton design is an invaluable asset. An Empire sofa, while more available and less expensive, is a staid and comfortable acquisition. One ingenious woman had the paint scraped off an old porch bench of good lines, and, behold, a beautiful maple settee evolved, which, when be-cushioned and be-pillowed, was the most attractive feature of her living-room, and it cost $5. A wicker sofa is comparatively inexpensive and is very comfortable. It may be stained to match the color scheme. In modern sofas one must beware of the fantasies of the upholsterer. Fringes and buttons add little comfort and nothing to beauty and cleanliness.
If there be any difficulty about selecting a table it lies in deciding a preference for one out of so many of the attractive tables that are on the market. The gate-leg table is beautiful in design as well as very practical, for it may be used as round table in the center of the room or against the wall with one or both leaves dropped. …. The Dutch bandy-leg table has very good lines and comes in many sizes and proportions of round, square, rectangular, with and without drop-leaves. And there is something to be said for the simple modern table with four straight legs and a drawer or two, for its very unpretentiousness includes its possible use with any type of furniture. Little straight-leg tables are inexpensive, and they are attractive painted or enameled in color to match the color scheme of the rest of the room. Even a kitchen table of good proportions and lines may be glorified by a coat of paint or enamel and is preferable to many of the pretentious and expensive golden-oak monstrosities.
Houses usually have too many pictures. Only one or two very good pictures at the most should be hung on one wall-space. They should be hung at a reasonable eye-level. Picture-wires should be as unobtrusive as possible. It is well to hang wires in vertical lines from two hooks on the molding to each side of the picture. Small light pictures may be fastened by a short invisible wire to a nail driven into the wall. A very slender wire nail will hold a picture of considerable size, and can be removed without leaving a noticeable marking on the paper. It is difficult, how-ever, to drive any kind of nail into an unpapered wall without marking it,
Artificial lighting of the living-room should be planned in the building of the house, so that the side-lights are placed where most necessary, near book-shelves or desk.
A center ceiling-light is not appropriate for the needs of the living-room, and is less restful and attractive than the varying lights from open fire, from a shaded reading-lamp and drop-lights, also shaded, on desk and book-shelves. A kerosene or alcohol lamp for the table, with a green-glass shade or a simple soft-color silk shade, gives a clear, steady light for reading, and adds to the attractiveness of the room. An electric-lighted lamp, requiring as it does connection with a wall or ceiling attachment, is less trouble than a kerosene-lamp, although the necessary tubing is often disturbingly obvious.
Candle-lights on the mantel or at desk are very attractive, and no room and no hour of the day is more restful than the living-room when the candles are lighted and the open fire glows through the twilight.
THE DINING ROOM
….a dining-table in the center of the room, chairs placed at regular intervals against the wall when not in use at table, a sideboard in the center of a clear wall-space, a serving-table not too far from the pantry door this is all the furniture that the dining-room requires.
In many houses the dining-room is looked upon primarily as a place for formal dinners. The dark heavy furniture and the stuffy upholstery are only relieved by the lights, the table linen, and service.
But we are growing more sensible about our dining-rooms. The universal French custom of breakfasting in one's room, the English custom of buffet breakfast, will never supplant that American institution of the family breakfast. So why should not the dining-room be as attractive in the morning light and at high noon as under the artificial light at the evening meal?
The walls of a dining-room should be of neutral tone, similar in color to adjoining rooms. It is well to keep them clear of pictures and decorations, for there are few dining-rooms and pictures which belong together. The stenciled frieze and the elaborately patterned wall-paper add nothing to the beauty of the walls. One frequently sees a dining-room which has a chair-rail dividing the wall horizontally, with plain wall-paper or burlap below the chair-rail and a fruit, flower, or grape patterned wall-paper above the chair-rail. Unless these papers are very similar in color and the pattern dull and unobvious this breaking up of wall-space is very disturbing.
A plate-rail with a procession of plates, mugs, and bowls catching the dust is another mistaken idea of decoration. A small plate-rail over a side-table or in the center of a wall-space at a height within easy reach may be very useful and also may make an interesting panel of decoration.
A rug of plain color or unobvious pattern, dark enough so that it will not readily show markings, and not too heavy to be frequently taken up and aired, one that is easily cleaned and large enough to cover the center of the room, meets the practical needs of the dining-room floor. It should be of color harmonious with the rest of the room. Curtains should be comparatively light in texture and in harmony with the general color scheme of the room. Heavy curtains will absorb and hold odors of food. It is interesting to have the one or two predominant colors of the room repeated in the rug, curtains, and china.
The table in the dining-room should be kept entirely clear between service of meals except for a vase of flowers, a plant, or a large bowl of fruit in the center of the table as decoration. It is very little trouble to clear the table, and leaving it with the cloth on gives an unpleasant impression of lack of care. Fresh flowers or a growing plant add immeasurably to the beauty of the dining-table. A clear, light dining-room with a bowl of yellow daffodils and morning sunlight is a joyous background for the beginning of a new day.
A sideboard should not try to rival a jeweler's window. A few pieces of china or silver, carefully balanced on either side, the candlesticks arranged in a symmetrical, prim row, will add necessary decoration and relieve the plainness without glitter and vulgar display.
A facetious hostess characterized the large lighting-fixture that hung suspended by a heavy iron chain in the center of the dining-room in her rented apartment, as her "social error." …….Such a chandelier should be removed at once. It can be stored and guarded for the next tenant if ever that tenant has the bad taste to want it.
Candle-lights are in all regards the most suitable and beautiful lighting for the table. Candles give a soft light, make an interesting balanced decoration on the table, and when not in use can be placed out of the way in an orderly and decorative arrangement on table or sideboard. There may also be additional light from candles placed on sideboard or mantels……There should be one or two electric or gas side-lights, which may be used before or after dinner, when light is necessary elsewhere than at table.
The place mat of today was apparently originally referred to as a doily.
Table linen has long been the pride and ambition of the housewife. But the original expense and the labor and care of laundry has made the use of doilies and center-piece a welcome innovation. So much expense and labor of laundry and mending is eliminated by the use of doilies that their popularity has extended almost to the exclusion of the table-cloth. Doilies may be used for dinner service as well as for breakfast and luncheon. They are a boon to the woman who does her own work. One charming luncheon-table was set with blue-and-white willow-ware, purchased at a five-and-ten-cent store. The doilies were of white linen with an edge embroidered in blue.
Japanese blue-and-white toweling laid across the table, a place at the end of each strip, makes an attractive informal arrangement. Doilies are usually of white linen, with lace-embroidered or hemstitched edges, but they are attractive in color to match the china or color scheme of the room.
Another boon to the woman who does her own work is the servette, a circular revolving heavy glass plate on a center pivot standard. This is large enough to hold bread and butter, salt, pepper, sugar, cream, jam, and many of the things needed by every one in the course of the meal.
Each person at table can reach, turn the servette, and serve himself without the confusion of passing dishes about.
The servette is now commonly known as a Lazy Susan.
But there are fundamental necessities which should be included in every bedroom. A comfortable bed and a small table beside the bed for reading-light, clock, and perhaps telephone, a well-lighted and mirrored dressing-table, a long mirror, chairs and a footstool, plenty of cupboard and drawer space these are necessary for the bedroom. A writing-desk or table is an additional convenience and is especially fitting for a guest-room. A stand for pitcher and wash-bowl is also necessary in a house with no bath-room, or where a large family must all use the one bathroom.
Plain wall-paper, or simple figured wall-paper with light background and small gay pattern of flowers in soft coloring, may be used in a bedroom. Chintz is particularly attractive for curtains, but should be used with plain walls. Dimities, scrim, muslins are more suitable than silk and velvet curtains. They also have the advantage of being easily washed and add a fresh light effect to the room.
….Two single beds are better than one double bed.
In the reaction from the ugly and heavy black walnut and golden oak bedroom suites the brass bed came into fashion. It had the advantage of being light and clean, but the insistent shine of the metal and its dissimilarity to anything else in the room offered no improvement in beauty over its predecessors. A simple white enameled bed of good lines is preferable to the most expensive of brass beds. There are inexpensive beds in simple straight - line designs in wood which may be painted or enameled in color to suit the color scheme of the room. Very good reproductions of four - poster beds are on the market, some of which are small enough for the average size bedroom and are comparatively inexpensive.
The good housewife is wary of elaborate lace and silk bed covering. A simple cover of chintz or linen, in color and pattern to suit the furnishings of the room, folded in trimly at the sides and ends of bed, involves much less care and helps to give an impression of groomed tidiness to the room. The pillows, of course, are not in evidence during the day except in formal arrangement under covers made of the same material as the bed itself.
The old-fashioned knitted or crocheted bedspread with knotted fringe is quaint and attractive in a room which is colonial in character. One very attractive bedroom has simple, straight-line furniture enameled in a soft gray. One wicker chair is stained a deep silver-gray. The cushions are of a gay chintz of many colored roses and green foliage. The rug is a large plain green woven rag rug. The two beds are covered with old-fashioned quilts of tiny triangular flock-of-birds pattern pieced in white and rose color, with a deep border of the rose color matching the rose of the curtains.
A small table beside the bed with a shaded , reading-lamp, a place for tray with pitcher or caraffe of water and a glass tumbler, and a drawer for pad and pencil, is a comfort and luxury for those who like to retire early and, propped up with pillows, read before going to sleep. It is also a convenient place for a watch or a small clock. A book-shelf is often a convenient addition to a bedroom.
A dressing-table is another necessity. First of all, it should be placed to have good light both in day and evening. If it stands between windows or in front of a window or group of windows, there will be ample light by day. Side-lights of gas or electricity should be placed on either side of the dressing-table, and a drop-light is often very convenient. The flickering candle-light is rather uncertain to dress by. The dressing-table may be a bureau or a low chest of drawers, with mirror arrangement, or it may be the more convenient dressing-table of one or two necessary drawers, with an open clear space underneath, so that one may sit up close to the table comfortably with knees under the table. A mirror with adjustable wings on either side is very convenient for the fastidious person.
Any table may be transformed into a dressing-table by the addition of mirror-stand. The small mahogany ones with little drawers, of Georgian
style, sometimes called shaving-stands, also known as a Chesterfield mirror, are very attractive and useful, but the mirrors are usually rather small. A cover of clear French glass for top of the dressing-table protects the top of the table, and is easily cleared of dust and powder dustings.
There should be at least one comfortable armchair and one or two straight chairs in a bedroom of average size……..
A fine bureau or chest of drawers is always a dignified and useful piece of furniture for the bedroom.
Pictures, prints, or even photographs of one's family and friends are suitable when hung in groups or in the center of a clear wall-space. Figured wall-paper is decorative in itself, and pictures detract from it. They only belong on plain walls.
A charming bedroom had gray wall-paper, gray painted furniture, curtains of white muslin with yellow polka-dots, a bed-cover of plain yellow linen, a reading-lamp and side-lights with yellow shades, a dark, plain gray rug. Wash-bowl and pitcher, a vase for flowers, and pin-trays were of plain yellow Japanese pottery. It was sunny and cheerful. The same furniture and rug would be attractive in a bedroom with green the predominant color.
The main thing to remember in furnishing a bedroom is to have light and fresh air and to keep the room clear and restful. Upholstery and too many hangings give a 'Stuffy feeling. It should have that impression of freshness which only comes with washable covers and curtains.
Open sanitary plumbing, a porcelain tub and wash-bowl are the necessary equipment of a model bath-room. If there are funds enough a shower-bath and foot-tub should be added. Unfortunately, the bath-tubs that are set solid to the floor are as yet much more expensive than those on legs. They simplify cleaning.
The floor should be of tile or concrete, or if of wood the floor should be covered with linoleum. The walls should be wainscot of the tile or enamel, which can be washed with soap and water.
There should be a small cupboard in which to keep necessary toilet articles, and this may well have a mirror in the door. Side-lights placed near a mirror will provide necessary light for washing and shaving.
A soiled-clothes chute to the basement or laundry is conveniently located near the bath-room. It is inadvisable to keep a hamper for all soiled clothes here, but it is well, however, to have a small covered basket or other receptacle for soiled towels. This should be emptied every morning when the bath-room is given its daily cleaning.
The bath-room should be kept clear of obvious toilet articles. A towel-rack, with fresh towels, and soap-holders may be in evidence with supplies for guest, or family. If each member of the family has a section of the cupboard, and in his or her own bedroom a towel-rack, it will be quite easy to keep the bath-room comparatively clear.
The first and last impression of a bath-room should always for of its immaculate cleanliness. Light tile and enamel will add much to the appearance of freshness as well as minimize labor. But ordinary enamel paint and constant care will make any bath-room an inviting ally of cleanliness.
….. convenience and care of cleaning are essential requirements for the kitchen of the modern housekeeper. The room should be only as large as is necessary for comfortably working there. The size depends on the size of the family and the amount of service required. A kitchen eight by twelve is large enough for a family where only one person at a time works in the kitchen.
The proper position for the kitchen is one which isolates it as much as possible from all other rooms except the dining-room. If space allows, a butler's pantry between kitchen and dining-room gives a convenient storage place for table china, a place for cold foods reasilver. Swinging - doors into both rooms allow easy passage, and the odors of cooking do not penetrate the dining-room. A butler's pantry should have the window over the sink. The name of this room or semi-room is perhaps unfortunate, since it suggests that it is needed or desirable only in houses where there will be elaborate service. Quite the contrary, it is a great help to the housekeeper doing her own work, and should be provided wherever possible. Frequently the space assigned to the kitchen could be profitably divided so as to provide a butler's pantry.
The kitchen should have a direct or vestibule entrance for the delivery of supplies. Where there is a cellar there should be direct or very easy access from the kitchen. It seems hardly necessary to say that the kitchen should be light, airy, cheerful, and easily cleaned. For both light and ventilation there should wherever possible be windows on two sides of the room.
The walls of the model kitchen should perhaps be tiled, but this finish is too expensive for any but the ample purse. Good paint is a satisfactory finish, and is easily cleaned. The color should always be light. White is in many rooms glaring, but the deep-cream or old ivory is satisfactory almost everywhere.
The woodwork is best painted to match the walls, and if enameled is much easier to clean. Everywhere it is important to avoid fancy moldings and turnings in the woodwork; but nowhere more so than in the kitchen. The space where the hand touches a swinging-door should be protected (on both sides of each door) by a piece of plate glass about five by eight, fastened on by screws through holes drilled in each corner. The bottom of such doors is sometimes protected by a strip of brass, but this is not necessary in a house or apartment, as the foot should never be used to open the door.
The floor may be finished in one of the cements now used for such purposes. This has the disadvantage that it is unpleasant to and hard on the feet, and that it is expensive. The chief advantage is that the edges can be rounded up to the mopboard in one continuous curve, thus facilitating cleaning. An outlet for water in one corner, draining into a sewer (with the proper guard against odors) or directly with the ground, simplifies cleaning such a floor.
The practical covering for the ordinary kitchen is linoleum. This comes in attractive designs those with a good deal of white or cream-white being preferable and is easily washed. Only inlaid linoleum, and that in a good grade, is worth buying. ….. When it is finally tacked into place, a half-round of molding should be put down next the baseboard all around over the edges of the linoleum. Where there is a vestibule it should be treated in the same way. The cost of the linoleum is small compared to the hard work it saves the person who washes the kitchen floor.
The artificial lighting must be good. Electricity is the best light, and if ordinary city gas is used there should be a mantle burner. Far better than a center chandelier with two lights is one wall-light over the table and one between the stove and the sink.
The windows should have strong, washable shades. If there are curtains they should be short ones, perhaps sash-curtains, of white washable material. Scrim is probably the best-wearing material for the money. There should be two sets of curtains, and they should be washed each week as regularly as table or bed linen. Many housekeepers prefer to do without curtains.
The main pieces of equipment are: stove, sink, work-table, cupboards, and shelves for supplies and utensils, refrigerator. The general relationship of these should be such that the supplies and utensils can be brought to work-table, from there to stove, from there to dining-room, back to sink (butler’s pantry better), and so to supply and utensil storage, with the fewest possible steps.
The sink should be of good size20 by 36 is good in most placesand at a height convenient for the woman who is to use it. …..Porcelain sinks are serviceable and very expensive. White enameled sinks are best for the average family. A wooden rack or rubber mat in the bottom of the sink will protect it from scratching. A second smaller sink beside the main sink is an excellent substitute for a dish-pan. There must then be a stopper of the special kind made for sinks for the drainpipe.
A drain-board at each end of the sink is a convenience, but if there is only one, it should be at the right. Dish-pan, sink-brush, and other utensils for sink use should be hung from hooks under the drain-board.
A long shelf at a good height above the sink will hold other much-used utensils on top and hanging from hooks underneath. There should be at least two soap-dishes (besides a soap-shaker), and all should be hung or fastened on wall or woodwork at a convenient height. Vegetable-brushes and similar utensils should be provided with screw-eyes or loops in order that they may by hung up, and nothing of any kind should stand regularly on the drain-board except a covered white enameled can in which refuse can be dropped.
The work-table should have an easily cleaned top. Zinc is probably the most practical and cheapest in the end. The so-called pastry-table, with bin-shaped drawers, sliding pastry-boards, and drawers, is excellent. In the kitchen where cupboard space is lacking it may be well to have a kitchen cabinet which adds to the pastry-table cupboards and more drawers. Good kitchen cabinets are, however, expensive.
There is also a disadvantage in having doors to the cupboards over the work-table. Open shelves over the table, deep enough to hold only one row of jars, enable the housekeeper to have at hand all common dry-food materials and all flavorings and condiments. The lower shelf should be at least a foot from the table, and from the underside the commonest utensils used in preparation should be hung. If the measuring-cup, egg-beater, grater, potato-masher, biscuit-cutter, can - opener, corkscrew, lemon - squeezer, shears, and apple-corer hang here, the housekeeper is saved hundreds of steps or arm movements in the opening of drawers.
A shelf for cook-books and a place for a small card cabinet must be provided. A cook-book holder is an excellent addition to the equipment.
Each housekeeper should plan a place for each utensil, the most convenient possible to the most frequent point of use. Coffee-mill and scales should be fixtures. All shelves are better if. enameled white and washed frequently. By the stove should hang a covered salt-box, a rack for pot-covers, a double match-safe, one half to hold a box of safety matches, the other burnt matches; stove-cloths, and flour-dredge.
The vestibule is frequently the best place for the refrigerator, ( the ice box) and in a house wherever possible the ice-compartment of the refrigerator should be accessible (through a door the size of the side of the compartment) directly from the outside. In an apartment where ice comes up on the dumbwaiter the refrigerator should be as near this as possible. The disadvantage of having the refrigerator in the kitchen is in the space it takes and its awkwardness in the average room. The advantage is that the perishable food materials are constantly at hand.
For the small apartment kitchen there is an excellent rack for drying towels that can be hoisted to the ceiling by a pulley and be kept out of the way. If a roller hand-towel is used it should be convenient to the sink. A roll of paper toweling should be kept in every kitchen, as there are frequent uses for fresh porous paper.
There should be one firm, well-built chair in the kitchen. If space allows, a second low chair is a good addition. Many housekeepers like a stool for some work, but to others it is tiring to sit for long without support for the back.
THE LAUNDRY ROOM
The housekeeper who has room for a separate laundry is fortunate. In a house this is best placed on the first floor near the kitchen. If there is not room on the first floor, the laundry may be in the basement, if proper light and air are available.
In the apartment the laundry tubs must usually be in the kitchen. Frequently it is well to have a table top to lay across these which, with its contents, may be moved away when the tubs are used.
Where there is running water, set tubs are a necessity. These, like sinks, are usually too low.
At the end of the book there is a “handyman’s chapter” with information about staining wood, dyeing fabrics, etc.
There is also an index.
PLANNING AND FURNISHING THE HOME