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How To Be A Decorator:
Principles Of Decoration
Painting Points
Wallpaper Points
Wall Points
Floor Points
Colonial Living Rooms
Veneered Paneling
The English Room
Spanish-Italian Living Rooms
The Living Room Without A Mantel
Living Room Points
Dining Rooms
Dining Rooms Points
Combination Living Room - Dining Room
Living Room - Dining Room Points
Halls, Sun Rooms And Porches
Points For Halls, Sun Rooms And Porches
Colonial And Modern Bedrooms
Bedroom Points
Colorful, Comfortable Nurseries
Nursery Points
New Fashions In Draperies
How To Make Curtains And Draperies
Drapery Points
Slip Covers
Slip Cover Points
How To Make Slip Covers
How To Paint Furniture
Finishes For Natural Wood Furniture

How To Decorate Dining Rooms

( Originally Published 1930's )

Asserting Individuality-In Color and Furniture

The dining-room, of all rooms in the house, should have a spirit of friendliness. It may be dignified or it may be gay, but it should be a room which is conducive to the brighter, more sparkling side of life. Here the family meets three times a day. A sunny room in the morning will do much to make breakfast a pleasanter meal. A room brightly lighted at night, with a colorful background, may make dinner a happy as well as a necessary function. Just as a living-room should be a place of comfort, so the dining-room should be a place of cheer. The happiest families are those who taboo all the serious, annoying topics and reserve meal times for the lighter gayer sort of conversation.

By reason of its definitely described use, the dining-room and the arrangement of the furniture can be varied but little, but this does not limit the choice of interesting backgroundin wall color and floor covering. The dining-room is in many houses the stepchild of the house, where color and design have been forgotten in an altogether utilitarian arrangement, whereas everything may be chosen to give color, ease of living and charm, as well as comfort to a room, whether large or small. There are, of course, many types of dining-rooms-Colonial, English, French, Italian-furnished with the formal or informal furniture of their respective types. There is also today some attractive painted furniture, modern, perhaps, in type, which is suitable for small rooms in apartments or suburban houses.

First, however, let us plan a dining-room of a somewhat formal Colonial type, then some simpler rooms.

The Colonial Dining-Room

A colonial dining room shows the salient characteristics of a Colonial dining-room. It is entered through a door at one end of the wall opposite the fireplace. The architect's elevations above and on the next page show this in relation to the fireplace and the door to the kitchen or pantry.

The side of the room which includes the fireplace is entirely wood-paneled, while a low wainscot or dado is used on the other three walls. The joints of such a low wainscot are usually horizontal and the height determined by the height of the sill of the windows, so that the chair rail or cap is found by a continuation of the sill. Pine is an excellent wood to use. Should you wish to make a room of exactly this sort, any good carpenter could duplicate this woodwork for you with the assistance of these elevations, at a small outlay, except for the cupboard, which would probably have to be made by a mill, When The Studio made this room, we put ourselves in the spirit of evolutionary days and endeavored to produce at moderate cost an effect of that time, with everyday modern materials without slavishly following archeology.

Materials Used for Dining-Room Paneling

Materials of the following character can be obtained from any near-by mill worker.

5/8°' x 5" boards and Y2" quarter round moldings for panels.

7/8" random width beaded boards,

1 1/8' x 1 3/16" picture molding.

7/8" x 3 3/4' crown molding.

This paneling gives the effect, shown in the illustration, of the fireplace opening, with the china cupboard on one side and a paneled door of the same size on the other side. On the other three walls, above the three-foot painted dado is a scenic paper very gay in color. The paper used by The Studio shows pictures of West Point, with cadets parading, the beauties of Virginia, a stage-coach filled with passengers, Indians in the distance, and New York harbor with its many sailing ships.

Color in the Dining-Roam

When a scenic paper of this type is used on a wall it, in itself, gives sufficient color and pattern to the room. In Colonial rooms the woodwork, paneling and mantel, if there is one, should be white enamel paint. The fireplace facing may be of brick, old blue and white tiles, or black and white marble. In remodeling a room, an inexpensive way to obtain a nice result is to paint the facing dull black, or if an expert can be obtained to do it, give it a marbleized effect. The inside of the fire opening may be of brick or cement. Should the surface not be in good condition, it may also be painted black or be whitewashed. Brass andirons, brass fender, log basket and fire tools complete this setting. Above the fire opening hangs a girandole which is an excellent Colonial reproduction, showing the eagle at the top which is characteristic of the period. You will note that there is no mantel or shelf over this fire opening. This is also characteristic of the early Colonial period, and is particularly nice to follow in a dining-room where there is no need of a mantel shelf. A mirror or a picture and some attractive side lights give the necessary decorative note.

The curtains should be of a plain-colored sunfast fabric to give contrast to the decorative wallpaper. In the room, built and furnished by The Studio, we used a honey-colored yellow strie taffeta, made full length, which was a pleasant relief from the walls, and suited the plain blue velvet rug used over the stained and waxed floor.

Choose Furniture Carefully

Dining-room furniture has usually been sold in suites, and quite logically so. But today the interest in antique furniture, which has made collectors combine pieces which harmonize but do not exactly match, has caused a reaction which is being felt by manufacturers. In consequence, fewer pieces are being included in a suite or group, and there is more variety in design.

In the room illustrated, for instance, which is of medium size, walnut pieces of the eighteenth century type are successfully grouped. Instead of the conventional sideboard, a lowboy (with nice drawer space to hold flat silver) holds the silver tea-service, or could hold a bowl of flowers and a pair of candlesticks on its spacious top. There is a double-pedestal dining-table of walnut and a side table in the Sheraton feeling. The corner cupboard, which is .a most interesting reproduction of an old Maryland piece, suggests Chippendale lines, very much simplified. The two arm chairs and the four or six side chairs are of walnut and also were inspired by the Chippendale type in its simplest form. All these pieces are moderate in price and are easily procurable in the better shops. With such a dining -room, if you are lucky enough to possess old china and glass, it is right to display it in the built-in cupboard or the china cabinet. If you have to buy china or glass, get that possessing the spirit of the room, which is to be found in modern Wedgwood, ruby glass, and old china, blue and white. The latter is often quite inexpensive.

Some details of such a room which help to give it atmosphere, are the black iron latches on the doors, the L and H hinges, and the use of candles instead of electric bulbs in the side lights.

A Cottage Dining-Room in Colonial Feeling

In a much simpler type of room, inspired by the Colonial feeling, the walls, instead of being paneled and papered, would be painted a solid color throughout-a soft cream, gray or gray-green. The hangings would then be a colorful figured chintz and come to the window sill only instead of to the floor. Dotted swiss or net glass curtains would be used under them. The curtains themselves may be hung from a simple wooden cornice, painted the same color as the woodwork of the room, or made with a French heading and hung from a rod. It is always nice to make curtains so they can be drawn at night, as the fabric, whether plain or figured, gives a decorative spot to the windows which would otherwise be dark.

Black and white checked linoleum could be used for the floor, the border of which would show beyond a small-patterned dark blue rug. In a family where there are children, a plain rug is hard to keep in order. A small-patterned one is more serviceable. If the pattern is chosen wisely, a very nice effect can be obtained, but avoid rugs with glaring patterns.

A gate-leg or extension table with four legs, following a simple Colonial design, may be used with wooden Windsor chairs, made comfortable by cushions covered with the chintz of the curtains. An oval console table for serving and a rather small sideboard are the other necessary pieces. They can now be found in maple or birch to suggest old pine. In such a setting as described, a ship picture on the wall, some pretty Colonial side lights, a gay yellow painted tin tray on the console table, and a Wedgwood bowl of fruit on the sideboard are delightful.

Good taste today demands great restraint and simplicity in what is shown in the way of silver and glass in the dining-room. Overburdening the sideboard with silver is no longer done. Some few pieces may be shown but in a simple room it is far better to have merely a bowl and candlesticks of either silver, china or glass, rather than eight or ten pieces of silver.

Frequently rooms of this type open with French doors into the main hall. If this happens to be the case, it is well to continue the linoleum into the hall. In fact, it is because it is so good in the hall that it is continued into the diningroom. And speaking of French doors, remember that they should have net curtains gathered on rods, from the base of the first glass partition to the bottom of the glass.

Combining Wood and Painted Furniture

The combiantion of a dining-room with painted furniture, combined with a table and chairs stained walnut color. This is often a very sensible thing to do. Good wood pieces usually are more expensive than painted ones. Therefore, in this dining-room The Studio selected a good gateleg table and good ladder-back chairs, finished in a walnut stain, and combined with them console tables and a side board painted to match the walls, with the idea that the tables and sideboard might later on find a place upstairs, the tables in a bedroom, and the sideboard as a hall piece.

For a small dining-room without a mantel it is most important to consider the scale of the furniture. This was done most carefully in this room. Heavy furniture would have made it seem smaller, whereas the ladder-back chairs, the delicately designed extension table, and the small scale of the sideboard and console tables give spaciousness to the room, and yet provide all the necessary accommodation for linen, china, glass and silver. In placing the furniture, the needs of a dining-room were considered. Console tables are placed on either side of the door to the kitchen to act as serving tables; the sideboard is on the opposite wall.

Determine for yourself the color you would like your walls. Parchment color is very satisfactory, as well .as gray-green. In the case of the room sketched, it was gray green with a strip of Chinese wallpaper put in the face of the cabinet. This paper had a bright yellow ground, with a motif (a bridge and some green trees) which showed green, gray, mauve, red and mulberry. The color scheme of the entire room was taken from this motif in the paper. The walls were made the softest gray-green, with some of the furniture matching it; the walnut furniture matched the browns in it; and the curtains were of solid mulberry. The yellow of the ground was repeated in bowls, candlesticks and the lamp shade which hid a metal electric fixture. The Studio does not recommend a central light in preference to side lights for a diningroom, but where it is already in a house, and there are no side lights, the illustration shows an excellent way to treat it. Žn the console table was a black painted tray. On the floor was a rug of tobacco brown, with the floor, stained and waxed, showing beyond it. A detail drawing of the arrangement of the furniture, doors and windows is shown on the opposite page.

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