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How To Be A Decorator:
Principles Of Decoration
Colonial Living Rooms
The English Room
Spanish-Italian Living Rooms
The Living Room Without A Mantel
Living Room Points
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
Colorful, Comfortable Nurseries
New Fashions In Draperies
How To Make Curtains And Draperies
Slip Cover Points
How To Make Slip Covers
How To Paint Furniture
Finishes For Natural Wood Furniture
( Originally Published 1930's )
Creating a Hospitable Atmosphere-The New Use of Color
Neither halls nor porches are exactly rooms. But nevertheless if they are to be attractive, they should be furnished with as much care. Porches and terraces today are becoming outdoor living-rooms, and with their greater use, greater attention is being paid them. But a hall, often because it is small, is rather neglected.
Halls, like everything else, fall into a given type, or the last type of which I have spoken a number of times-nondescript. Naturally in a Colonial house, the hall partakes of its quality-white paint, mahogany hand rail; in an English house-the heavier furniture and darker woodwork is put in it; in a French house-the formal placing of French table, chairs and mirrors, and possibly a marble floor bespeak its type; in an Italian house-spaciousness, bare wall spaces, long table, rich coloring are fitting. But the nondescript house, of which there are many, should have our special attention, as here the hall has no distinction whatsoever unless it is put into it by the decorator. Since we are not dealing especially with periods, but with the average house, let us first make attractive the nondescript hall. In small apartments and in small town houses throughout the country, a group of French furniture against correctly paneled walls is frequently being used.
In Colonial houses, or houses with this feeling, a Colonial hall, is easy to achieve. But for the small square hall of the average apartment or small suburban house, which might come under the term nondescript, The Studio carried out the following plan: A wallpaper with a green ground and a soft all-over pattern was used on the walls, with the woodwork and stair risers painted to match the green background. The treads, the spindles and the hand rail were painted black. This gave a distinct note of contrast which arrested attention pleasantly.
There was but little space far furniture, but in that space, in the niche formed by the turn of the stairs, a butterfly table of maple was placed, with one leaf dropped. On it could be a lamp, a bowl of flowers and a card tray.
To the right of the front doorway as you entered, was a poudreuse on a small scale, also of maple. This gave a place for the incoming guest to arrange the hair. On the side opposite the stairs was a red painted cabinet in which small things like veils, rubbers and gloves-a hundred and one things a family needs-could be put if there was no proper clothes closet. And by the way, if possible, have a clothes closet. Opposite the front door was the door to the living-room which was papered with the same paper as the hall, making the hall seem an ante-room to the living-room, and adding spaciousness to both rooms. There was space for one chair-a ladder, back of maple with a rush seat-against the wall space on the other side of the door to the living-room. An attractive hooked rug, gay in color, added its note to a pleasing and hospitable entrance. The hall was lighted in two ways-the lamp on the table, and a light from the ceiling inside an attractive black iron lantern.
In a small hall with figured paper the stairway was painted apple-green and the treads and hand-rail black.
The Colonial Hall
To return to a narrow hall, which may be treated in the Colonial manner, an arrangement of furniture is suggested in the sketch, but coloring and lighting has as much to do with making such a hall interesting, as the furniture itself. An oldfashioned wallpaper, with a small figure in it between stripes, was used for the walls. The ground color was the softest imaginable apricot tint, rather than shade. The woodwork, therefore, instead of being painted white was painted this tone of the paper. This gave a warmth and interesting color note to the hall as you entered it. What this was might not be instantly defined by the person entering the hall, but its effect was that of something a little out of the usual. The stair treads, the hand rail and the floor were stained a mahogany tone, and the latter waxed. It is better not to wax the stair treads to avoid the possibility of falling. Today there are excellent stain preparations on the market which give a dull finish. In the furnishing, the center of interest was the clock at the far end. Though there was but little space on the side wall, a shallow table of the Duncan Pbyfe era was placed there with a ladder-back mahogany chair on each side. A mirror, both for convenience and to give a feeling of space, was hung above the table with an excellent print on each side. In choosing prints for this use, if the house is Colonial, select a good print of one of our early generals, or Fighting Paul Jones, which will lend a note of interest. Colorful hooked rugs are placed where convenience suggests, at the foot of the stairs, in front of the mirror, and in the doorway to the dining-room which is on one side, and to the living-room which is on the other. Do not place rugs cater-cornered. Do not put a clock cater-cornered. It is a bad principle. Put it fiat against the wall. Put a rug in line with the surbase.
The lighting in a hall of this sort is most attractive when one of the Colonial fixtures which are being reproduced extensively today is used. They frequently have etched glass globes set in metal frames-in the old days to shield a candle and later an oil lamp; today, of course, they are electrified, but the quaint square, oval and round shapes in which they come are attractive and suit this period style.
New Colorings in Sun-Rooms
The great majority of American houses today have a sunroom or porch, or both. Although they are furnished in much the same manner, a sun-room, which is entirely enclosed, and which is heated and lighted in the winter, is more completely furnished. But the same principle of decoration may be applied to both.
In sun-rooms the floors are frequently of cement, tile or brick, but of course may be of wood stained brown or painted green, gray, or black, according to a given color scheme. The walls, to put it in quite an Irish way, are chiefly windows. What wall space there is, is frequently rough in texture, rough plaster, or stone white-washed.
Color-A Predominant Characteristic
The growing love and knowledge of color in America today may have full play in this room. It should be bright, and gay, and a mass of colorful sunlight-the sort of colorful sunlight to be found in a garden on a bright summer day. Nature's background is in the softer tones of green, brown, and blue sky, and so the walls of a sun-room should be quieter in tone than its furnishings. But in this one room more liberties may be taken successfully with colors than in any other room. As well as yellows, blues and greens, soft pinks may be put on the walls and the most striking of chintzes, or striped fabrics holding all the colors of the rainbow may be used for curtains. But in planning such a room be very careful not to overdo either pattern or color. Somewhere in the room, in floor, or walls, or curtains, there must be monotone and some deep dark shade to stabilize it. The safe rule is pale-tinted walls, dark floor, and gay curtains over plain silk net of another contrasting soft color.
If there are groups of three or five windows, they are best treated with soft solid-colored net curtains, with a valance of gay color in plain or printed chintz across the top of the group and side curtains at each end.
Or good effects can be made by roller shades of gay-patterned chintz, instead of glass curtains, with over-draperies of a solid color-mulberry perhaps against a green wall, with the shades looking like great bunches of flowers. The reverse of this is to use plain painted Venetian shades, and put the pattern in the over-draperies. In either arrangement both the plain and the patterned fabric may be repeated for cushions for the chairs or as covering for the davenport. Decide for yourself about the distribution of the pattern. In a large space, the larger pieces may be patterned, but in a small room, the reverse is better.
Porch or Sun-Room Furniture
Willow, wood, or iron furniture may be painted a gay color, such as a deeper green or yellow if either tint is used for the walls, with the patterned fabric for cushions, slip covers, etc. But with decorated, painted chairs, a plain fabric should be used for cushions.
The demand for something attractive for the sun-room has produced a great variety of willow chairs, tables and sofas, as well as many in gaily painted wood with rattan seats. The iron furniture--chiefly chairs and tables-long used by the French, Spanish and Italians, is not only being imported, but it is also being made in America today. It is more useful for gardens and unprotected porches as it stands the weather, but an occasional chair with iron frame, and slat seat and back of wood, covered with gay cushions, is suitable in a sun-room, and the tables are most useful and combine nicely with those of wood or willow. Happily, today, we are not matching every thing. With either wood or willow chairs, or even a comfortable upholstered davenport or chair, the iron table, made to harmonize in color, or form a strong contrast such as black, is most attractive. Such a combination gives variety of texture, which is most desirable.
Like every other room, the sun-room should have a center of interest. If there is a fireplace, it naturally becomes one, and the furniture is grouped around it. If there is no fireplace, perhaps there is a fountain niche, or one can be made and water piped to it, to give just a drip or two into its basin. If the room does not admit of it, then perhaps a figure in a niche, with ivy and potted plants around it, give the needed interest. Or simplest of all, ivy may be trained up a trellis as a background for a large or small table with chairs grouped comfortably around it as suggested in the sketch of a porch at the beginning of this chapter.
Lamps, side lights and rugs may be placed as in a room. Either wool or linen or matting rugs are appropriate.
Porches and Terraces
In place of curtains, gay awnings protect us from too much glare on porch and terrace.
It is the use of awnings which makes this outdoor living possible, for if rightly built and placed they will keep out the sun and let in the breezes. And at night, when the breeze is stilled, the awnings may be lifted, as no roof could be, for the full enjoyment of moon and stars. Therefore, your awnings must be practical as well as decorative.
In arranging an outdoor living-room, awnings may be fastened to the house wall above the tops of the windows, and held out by the iron rods with spear heads. The rooms of the house may be further protected by Venetian blinds hung on the outside of the window and therefore in no way interfere with curtains or other interior window treatment.
Choose awnings with bold stripes of blue-green, rose-red, and small bands of black between the broad stripes. The spear heads, a decoration in themselves, are painted to match the green of the awning. The light, cool gray or cream of stucco is a kindly background for gaily painted furniture, and against it the vines climbing on trellises seem greener. Make the trellises part of the background and let the vines do the decorating, for they can be so much more beautiful than the eye-worrying criss-cross trellises that are serviceable only as barriers against the neighbors.
To make the most of porch or terrace, the furniture must be especially adapted to its use. Willow furniture painted a shiny black with touches of yellow, and chair pads of bright red waterproof fabric to match the awning, form a nice combination.
Outside the house as well as in, the grouping of furniture is all-important. A round table should be conveniently placed between two chairs for magazines or work, or for the tray at tea time, and the chairs, though near each other, should not be crowded. Against a side-wall put a two-seated settee and near it a small table to hold books or ash tray. Against the other side-wall invitingly place a desk and a chair for the note that must be written despite the heat. Let your porches be open and uncrowded, for the sense of space adds to the coolness.
At the edge of the porch, large, blue-green pottery jars with trailing vines lure one on to the garden. Growing things, of course, must help to decorate any outdoor room, but where the room has been made a veritable flower garden of color the many tones of green in the growing vines make it restful. If green furniture, floors and awnings are used, then the gayest of flowers might grow up the trellises, and the trailing vines should be flowering ones.
This outdoor living-room does not belong exclusively to the large house. It may be the most livable summer room of a very small bungalow, or it may be a roof garden on top of a tall building in a crowded city. If there is no garden beyond, there may be a vista of some one else's garden, or a shaded street, or a bit of a city park. The creating of such a room need not take much effort nor expense, making the most of what you have at hand. A floor of concrete or wide boards may substitute for tile or the charming irregularity of flagstone. An ugly brick wall may be hidden with vines, or possibly painted as a background for flowers. Awnings and furniture of varying styles and prices are procurable, and if need be, the paint pot may be brought in to make your outdoor room a complete success.