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Homemaker As Interior Decorator
( Originally Published 1918 )
There is an especial meaning attached to the term "home" which is entirely distinctive. The humblest cottage may be a home - the most beautiful mansion may be merely a work of decorative art. Almost every one interested in home furnishing has walked through the model apartments of some large furnishing house and has had the inevitable experience of disappointment. The rooms may be well planned, the windows properly placed, the walls and floors satisfactorily finished, and the furniture of the most correct and graceful lines, but still there remained a feeling of emptiness of meaning, a lack of the home atmosphere. It was impossible to forget that the rooms were exhibition rooms only.
A series of such model rooms could never be mistaken for a home for the reason that the personal, the human element, is lacking. A house, to be a home, must be adapted to some individual or individuals composing a family group. It must contain only that which is useful and suitable to its daily occupants and should reflect their physical, mental, and spiritual activities. If the man of the family is fond of books and of study, there should be a well-chosen library in the house, but if he is more interested in games and outof-door sports, that room which might have been admirable as a library might better be put to other uses more suited to an athletic taste. An unused music room is the most dismal of places and is reminiscent of ancestral parlors opened only upon the state occasion of funeral or wedding.
So, in furnishing a home, there should be nothing placed within the four walls Which is not useful and suitable to the people who shall live there. That is of the first importance. But at the same time there should be a constant thought and a constant care to keep a feeling of harmony between each and all of the features of the home. The interior of a cottage or a mansion may be useful and may be suitable, and may have a true home atmosphere, but it may still be very unbeautiful.
Many home builders of more than moderate means secure the services of an expert interior decorator who works with the master and mistress of the house, advising, correcting, and often taking complete charge of the finishing of the walls and floors and the buying of the furniture, hangings, and rugs. To the people possessed of more slender purses, however, the services of such an artist are out of the question, and in some cases this may be a blessing. There is a joy in the proper assembling of those household furnishings, usually for a lifetime, which is unique. If each chair and table is carefully selected to fill some especial need, if it is repeatedly considered in relation to its harmony with neighboring pieces of furniture in the particular room where it shall be placed, if it is wished for, saved for, and finally purchased, there is a joy in possession through effort which makes that table or chair, in its new setting, at once a comfortable friend. The employer of an interior decorator may admire the harmonious interior of his new home immensely, but it is some months before he can really love the individual pieces of furniture. They may be beautiful and adapted to his personality and use, but there is no way to buy their friendship. The daily association, alone, can bring that.
The man who wishes to act as his own interior decorator must first is study the general rules of art and apply them to his problem. The principles of balance, harmony, and rhythm are as applicable to the plans of a room or a house as they are to the plan of a picture.