Furnishing Your Home
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
After the walls, floors, and woodwork, come the furnishings. Here we must choose according to our needs and our pocket-books, never, however, forgetting that beauty is essential.
Furniture. An object must properly fulfill its purpose; for example, an uncomfortable chair is not beautiful. Never buy cheap carved furniture that is poorly made and difficult to keep clean. It is better to use the plainest painted chairs and tables until one is able to buy really good furniture. Wicker furniture is light and attractive, but hard to keep clean and quite expensive in a good grade.
Rugs. Rugs should be used instead of carpets as they may be easily removed for cleaning. Avoid floral designs except in conventional patterns—that is, a design based on the flower, but drawn so that it is only suggested. Do not use too many small rugs in a room, as this gives a patchy appearance. The rug should lie on the floor so that its length is with the long lines of the room. It should never be turned crosswise. As the floor should be the darkest color in a room, choose subdued colors for it. Plain rugs show dust more than figured ones. A simple fiber rug makes a cheap floor covering.
Curtains. A window is made to let in light and air. A curtain is used to shut out the gaze of the passer-by and to soften the lines of the window, but it must not interfere with the purpose of the window. Use scrim, net, or other soft fabric for curtains. A material that does not catch dust and that is easily washed or cleaned should be chosen. The color should be light; a soft cream harmonizes with almost any finishing. Plain curtains are always in good taste. Never use figured curtains with figured wall paper. The curtains should stop at the window sill ; they should be hung straight with the lines of the window, and should never be looped or draped. Use small rods, and attach the curtains by rings so that they may be drawn aside easily.
Pictures and Bric-a-Brat. Only a few pictures should be hung in a room, and these should be chosen to suit the room in which they are used ; family photographs, for instance, are not for display on the walls of the room where strangers are received. To make the picture most effective be sure that the mat, frame, and color of picture harmonize. Gilt frames are used chiefly for oil paintings.
Hang pictures by two hooks with parallel wires. Attach the wire to the top of the picture. In hanging a picture consider the reflection of the light. The light falling on the picture should come in the same direction as the light represented in it. The center of most pictures should be on a line with the eye when one is standing, although in very large pictures it may be below the level of the eye. The shape of the picture should be similar to the shape of the space it is to occupy. Small pictures are more effective if grouped.
Bric-a-brac and statuary must be so artistic that they are worthy of a prominent place if they are to be displayed. Collections of curios should be kept in cabinets. Some good vases are allowable, but a few flowers only are needed in any one room. If a colored vase is chosen it should harmonize with the room and the flowers that go in it; furthermore it should not have a painted design, for the flowers, not a design, are to be the decoration. The form of a vase is important, as one that turns over easily, or looks as though it would, is not attractive.
Lamps. In choosing a lamp, whether for oil, gas, or electricity, study very carefully the form and color. Avoid glaring tones or those that give inharmonious or injurious lights. All artificial light is softened if it comes through neutral shades, especially amber. Elaborate figures and decorations such as jingling crystals are in poor taste. ' If brass is used choose plain designs. Brass in lacquered finish may be kept clean easily.
If oil must be used, a low, broad, metal lamp that will not tip over easily should be selected. The oil reservoir should hold at least a pint. A soft, large mesh wick that fills the burner should be used. If the wick is too small much air will enter and mix with the gas in the lamp and perhaps cause an explosion. For reading or any close work a round burner lamp is best.