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Ornaments Lend Charm And Grace
Grandfather called them knick-knacks. Grandmother had a friendlier word and spoke of them as bric-a-brac. Today they are known as ornaments. and the change of name is an indication of the honor they now hold in the scheme of interior decoration. Ornaments at present are used not merely as accessories but as the finishing touches to a home. It is recognized that they add to a room a a charm which nothing else will lend.
You may have the nicest furniture in the neighborhood; your rugs and curtains and upholstery may be the finest that money can buy; but unless you have attractive ornaments your place is likely to seem bleak and cold. Many housekeepers know this fact instinctively and are on the lookout for just the appropriate article to improve the appearance of this or that part of their home. But not everybody happens to be aware that the prevailing mode has changed.
The new mode is eclectic - it gathers together in each room graceful ornaments from several, related periods. The change has come gradually, by degrees, but the difference is now quite evident. The room that is strictly of a single period has gone out. No matter how delightful the period may be, the new preference is to bring in things front other periods. It is still considered excellent taste to have a certain style dominant throughout the house or in any one of its rooms. This dominant note may be whatever yon wish: early American, eighteenth century English or French, Regency. Victorian or anything else, but as soon as the note has been established it is wise to vary around a bit. The ideal arrangement is to have a home look as if several generations had contributed to its furnishings.
Suppose that the general tone is eighteenth century English. The perfect ornaments for the mantel would be a garniture of Chinese porcelains. Should these prove too expensive, a decoration of blue-andwhite Dutch Delftware is highly suitable, or blueand-white French china, such as the Tournai bowl reproduced with this article. If something more colorful is wanted, there is a large variety of English porcelain vases from which to choose, such as the pair of Crown Derby urns, and an equally large variety of Staffordshire figurines.
Elsewhere in this "eighteenth century" room introduce a few ornamertts front related periods and other countries-a Regency silver box for cigarettes or one of the richly embellished boxes of Russian enamels, a Napoleonic potpourri vase, a fine old American candlestick or beaker and a vase or two of good glass, crystal or colored according to the effect desired. Provided the choice is harmonious and the size of the piece appropriate to the size of the room, the variety will do wonders in the way of giving the room a personality of its own.
In gathering the right adornments, bear in mind that there is today a distinct avoidance of objects in pairs. The old-fashioned balanced array of things by twos has largely disappeared. An easier informality is now desired. A pair of vases or figures on the mantel continues to remain in favor but should there'be in the room a pair of something else - for example, lamps be cautious about adding any more twins. You can get balance enough and a far more pleasing rhythm of arrangement by less conventional means.
Certain person have a special fondness for ornaments. They can hardly resist buying an interesting item when they come across it. The result is that their rooms are crowded with odds and ends. The attractive thing for them to do is to pierce one of the walls and have niches or shells, put in that will serve its charming setting for the best pieces. If there is still an overflow, it is wise to treat the fondness as a hobby by drawing attention to it. Re-arrange the wall furniture so as to hring in a shallow, glass cabinet or two for displaying the collection. Or, if the collection runs to small pieces, bring in hanging cabinets or shelves or a corner what not, thus clearing the room of disorder and decoratively justifying the hobby at the same time.
The eclectic use of ornaments has proved its worth at every level of interior decoration, from the inexpensive to the most costly. Only a few years ago we used to see stately homes filled with period rooms in which the several different styles were so dissimilar as to be almost startling. The idea was to have different rooms for different occasions or to offer a change of mood in going from one room to another. Nearly every large town in the United States had a house like that. In New York there was one on every block in the fashionable districts. What was discovered was that the family and guests tended to foregather in but one of these rooms because they found it more agreeable than the others; they had to be dragged into another room when a change of mood was prescribed.
Naturally that state of decoration did not last long. By discreet changes of lighting, by discarding in the unfavored rooms the most formidable piece or two of furniture for quiet examples that linked the style of one room to another, a more livable series of atmospheres was obtained. The eclectic use of ornaments was of great help. They were shifted around until they were made to serve not only as links but as binding ties between the several rooms. Harmony in diversity was the result, and that is about as good a definition of beauty as any.
No two home-makers are alike. Some want a handsome effect, others an air of culture and refinement, others a cordial informality and others (when the children are beyond the. roustabout age) aim at daintiness. Whatever the atmosphere, it must never be cluttered. Like a woman, a room is lovelier when not overdressed. But be careful not to underdress it. Even if a room has fine proportions, no one but architects will admire it continually bare.