A country place which affords tennis courts, golf links, cricket and polo grounds or has made arrangements for the exercise of any sports, usually makes special provision for the comfort of those engaging in them, more or less as a country club does. There is a large porch for lounging and tea, and a kitchenette where tea, cooling drinks and sandwiches are easily and quickly prepared, without interfering with the routine of the kitchens. There are hot and cold plunge baths, showers, a swimming pool, dressing rooms with every convenience known to man or woman, and a room given over to racks which hold implements used in the various sports, as well as lockers for sweaters, change of linen, socks, etc., belonging to those stopping in the house.
Where sports are a main issue, an entire building is often devoted to the comfort of the participants. We have in mind the commodious and exceptionally delightful arrangements made for the comfort and pleasure of those playing court tennis in a large and architecturally fine building erected for the purpose on the estate of the Neville Lyttons, Crabber Park, Poundhill, England.
If sport balconies overlook tennis courts or golf links, they are fitted out with light-weight, easily moved, stiff chairs for the audience, and easy, cushioned arm-chairs and sofas of upholstered wicker, for the participants to lounge in between matches.
Card tables are provided, as well as small tea tables, to seat two, three or four, while there is always one oblong table at which a sociable crowd of young people may gather for chatter and tea!
If you use rail-boxes, or window-boxes, holding growing plants, be sure that the flowers are harmonious in colour when seen from the lawn, road or street, against their background of house and the awnings and chintzes, used on the porch.
The flowers in window-boxes and on porch-rails must first of all decorate the outside of your house. Therefore, before you buy your chintz for porches, decide as to whether the colour of your house, and its awnings, demands red, pink, white, blue, yellow or mauve flowers, and then choose your chintz and porch rugs as well as porch table-linen, to harmonise.
In selecting porch chairs remember that women want the backs of most of the chairs only as high as their shoulders, on account of wearing hats.
There are countless fascinating schemes for arranging sun-rooms. One which we have recently seen near Philadelphia, was the result of enclosing a large piazza, projecting from an immense house situated in the midst of lawns and groves.
The walls are painted orange and striped with pale yellow; the floors are covered with the new variety of matting which imitates tiles, and shows large squares of colour, blocked off by black. The chintzes used are in vivid orange, yellow and green, in a stunning design; the wicker chairs are painted orange and black, and from the immense iridescent globes of electric light hang long, orange silk tassels.
Shows how to utilise and make really very attractive an extension roof, by converting it into a balcony.
An awning of broad green and white stripes protect this one in winter as well as summer, and by using artificial ivy, made of tin and painted to exactly imitate nature, one gets, as you see, a charming effect.
Iron fountains, wonderful designs in black and gold, throw water over gold and silver fish, or gay water plants; while, in black and gold cages, vivid parrots and orange-coloured canaries gleam through the bars. Iron vases of black and gold on tall pedestals, are filled with trailing ivy and bright coloured plants. Along the walls are wicker sofas, painted orange and black, luxuriously comfortable with down cushions covered, as are some of the chair cushions, in soft lemon, sun-proofed twills.
Here one finds card-tables, tea-tables and smoking-tables, a writing-desk fully equipped, and at one end, a wardrobe of black and gold, hung with an assortment of silk wraps and "wooleys"—for an unprovided and chilly guest, in early spring, when the steam heat is off and the glass front open.
Even on a grey, winter day, this orange and gold room seems flooded with sun, and gives one a distinctly cheerful sensation when entering it from the house.
Of course, if your porch-room is mainly for mid-summer use and your house in a warm region, then we commend instead of sun-producing colours, cool tones of green, grey or blue. If your porch floor is bad, cover it with dark-red linoleum and wax it. The effect is like a cool, tiled floor. On this you can use a few porch rugs.
Black and white awnings or awnings in broad, green-and-white stripes, or plain green awnings, are deliciously cool-looking, and rail-boxes filled with green and white or blue and pale pink flowers are refreshing on a summer day.
By the sea, where the air is bracing, and it is not necessary to trick the senses with a pretence at coolness, nothing is more satisfactory or gay than scarlet geraniums; but if they are used, care must be taken that they harmonise with the colour of the awnings and the chintz on the porch.
Speaking of rail-boxes reminds us that in making over a small summer house and converting a cheap affair into one of some pretensions, remember that one of the most telling points is the character of your porch railing. So at once remove the cheap one with its small, upright slats and the insignificant and frail top rail, and have a solid porch railing (or porch fence) built with broad, top rail. Then place all around porch, resting on iron brackets, rail-flower boxes, the tops of these level with the top of the rail, and paint the boxes the colour of the house trimmings. Filled with running vines and gay flowers, nothing could be more charming.
Window-boxes make any house lovely and are a large part of that charm which appeals to us, whether the house be a mansion in Mayfair or a Bavarian farm house. Americans are learning this.
The window and rail-boxes of a house look best when all are planted with the same variety of flowers.
Having given a certain air of distinction to your porch-railing, add another touch to the appearance of your small, remodelled house by having the shutters hung from the top of the windows, instead of from the sides. A charming variety of awning or sun-shades, to keep the sun and glare out of rooms, is the old English idea of a straw-thatching, woven in and out until it makes a broad, long mat which is suspended from the top of windows, on the outside of the house, being held out and permanently in place, at the customary angle of awnings. We first saw this picturesque kind of rustic awnings used on little cottages of a large estate in Vermont, cottages once owned and lived in by labourers, but bought and put in comfortable condition to be used as overflow rooms for guests, in connection with the large family mansion (once the picturesque village inn).
The art of making these straw awnings is not generally understood in America. In the case to which we refer, one of the gardeners employed on the estate, chanced to be an old Englishman who had woven the straw window awnings for farm houses in his own country.
The straw awnings, with window-boxes planted with bright geraniums and vines, make an inland cottage delightfully picturesque and are practical, although by the sea the straw awnings might be destroyed by high winds.
TREATMENT OF A WOMAN'S DRESSING-ROOM
Every house, or flat, which is at all pretentious, should arrange a Vanity Room for the use of guests, in which there are full-length mirrors, a completely equipped dressing-table with every conceivable article to assist a lady in making her toilet, slipper-chairs and chairs to rest in, and a completely equipped lavatory adjoining.
The woman who takes her personal appearance seriously, just as any artist takes her art (and when dressing is not an art it is not worth discussion) can have her dressing-room so arranged with mirrors, black walls and strong, cleverly reflected, electric lights, that she stands out with a cleancut outline, like a cameo, the minutest detail of her toilet disclosed. With such a dressing-room, it is quite impossible to suffer at the hands of a careless maid, and one can use the black walls as a background for vivid chair covers, sofa cushions and lamp shades.
Off this dressing-room should be another, given over to clothes, with closets equipped with hooks and shelves, glass cabinets for shoes and slippers, and the "show-case" for jewels to be placed in by the maid that the owner may make her selection.
At the time of the Louis, knights and courtiers had large rooms devoted to the care and display of their wardrobes, and even to-day there are men who are serious connoisseurs in the art of clothes.
Interior decoration not infrequently leads to a desire to chic the appearance of one's "out-of-doors." We give an example of a perfectly commonplace barn made interesting by adding green latticework, a small iron balcony, ornamental gate and setting out a few decorative evergreens. Behold a transformation!
The dressing-table should be constructed of material in harmony with the rest of your furniture. It may be of mahogany, walnut, rose wood, satin wood, or some painted variety, or, as is the fashion now, made of silk,—a seventeenth and eighteenth century style (in vogue during the time of the Louis). These are made of taffeta with lace covers on top, and in outline are exactly like the simple dotted-swiss dressing-tables with which every one is familiar,—the usual variety, so easily made by placing a wooden packing box on its side. In this case have your carpenter put shelves inside for boots, shoes and slippers. The entire top is covered with felt or flannel, over which is stretched silk or sateen, in any colour which may harmonise with the room. A flounce, as deep as the box is high, is made of the same material as the top, and tacked to the edges of the table-top. Cover the whole with dotted or plain swiss. A piece of glass, cut to exactly fit the top of the table, is a practical precaution. A large mirror, hung above yet resting on the table, is canopied in the old style, with the same material with which you cover your dressing-table.
If the table is made of the beautiful taffeta, now so popular for this purpose, as well as for curtains, it is, of course, not covered with swiss or lace, except the top, on which is used a fine, hand-made cover, of real lace and hand embroidery, in soft creams,—cream from age, or a judicious bath in weak tea. The glass top laid over this cover protects the lace.
If the table has drawers, each can be neatly covered with the taffeta, as can the frame of any table. A good, up-to-date cabinet-maker understands this work as so much of it is now done.
THE TREATMENT OF CLOSETS
The modern architect turns out his closets so complete as to comfort and convenience, that he leaves but little to be done by the professional or amateur decorator. Each perfectly equipped bedroom suite calls for, at least, two closets: one supplied with hooks, padded hangers for coats, and covered hangers for skirts, if the closet is for a woman; or, if it is for a man, with such special requirements as he may desire. In the case of a woman's suite, one closet should consist entirely of shelves. Paint all the closets to harmonise with the suite, and let the paint on the shelves have a second coat of enamel, so that they may be easily wiped off. Supply your shelves with large and small boxes for hats, blouses, laces, veils, etc., neatly covered with paper, or chintz, to harmonise with the room.
Those who dislike too many mirrors in a room may have full length mirrors on the inside of the closet doors.
Either devote certain shelves to your boots, shoes and slippers, or have a separate shallow closet for these-shallow because it is most convenient to have but one row on a shelf.
Where economy is not an item of importance, see that electric lights are placed in all the closets, which are turned on with the action of opening the door.
The elaboration of closets, those with drawers of all sizes and depths, cedar closets for furs, etc., is merely a matter of the architect's planning to meet the specific needs of the occupants of any house.
TREATMENT OF A NARROW HALL
A long, narrow hall in a house, or apartment, is difficult to arrange, but there are methods of treating them which partially corrects their defects. One method is shown on Plate XIV.
The best furnishing is a very narrow console (table) with a stiff, high-backed chair on either side of it, and on the wall, over console, a tapestry, an architectural picture or a family portrait. On the console is placed merely a silver card tray.
Have a closet for wraps if possible, or arrange hooks and a table, out of right, for this purpose. Keep your walls and woodwork light in colour and in the same tone.
An idea for treatment of a narrow hall, where the practical and beautiful are combined. The hall table and candlesticks are an example of the renaissance of iron, elaborately wrought after classic designs.
The mirror over table is framed in green glass, the ornaments are of dull gold (iron gilded).
The Venetian glass jar is in opalescent green, made to hold dried rose leaves, and used here purely as an ornament which catches and reflects the light, important, as the hall is dark.
The iron of table is black touched with gold, and the marble slab dark-green veined with white.
An interesting treatment of a long narrow hall is to break its length with lattice work, which has an open arch, wide enough for one or two people to pass through, the arch surmounted by an urn in which ivy is planted. The lattice work has lines running up and down—not crossed, as is the usual way. It is on hinges so that trunks or furniture may be carried through the hall, if necessary. The whole is kept in the same colour scheme as the hall.
TREATMENT OF A VERY SHADED LIVING-ROOM
By introducing plenty of yellow and orange you can bring sunshine into a dark living-room. If your house is in a part of the country where the heat is great, a dark living-room in summer is sometimes a distinct advantage, so keep the colourings subdued in tone, and, therefore, cool looking. If, on the contrary, the living-room is in a cool house on the ocean, or a shaded mountainside, and the sun is cut off by broad porches, you will cheer up your room, and immensely improve it, by using sun-producing colours in chintzes and silks; while cut flowers or growing plants, which reproduce the same colouring, will intensify the illusion of sunshine.
Sash curtains of thin silk, in bright yellows, are always sun-producing, but if you intend using yellows in a room, be careful to do so in combination with browns, greens, greys, or carefully chosen blues, not with reds or magentas.
Try not to mix warm and cold colours when planning your walls. Grey walls call for dull blue or green curtains; white walls for red or green curtains; cream walls for yellow, brown buff or apple green curtains. If your room is too cold, warm it up by making your accessories, such as lamp shades, and sofa pillows, of rose or yellow material.
Whether you expect to arrange for one servant or a dozen, keep in mind the fact that efficiency is dependent upon the conditions under which your manor maid-servant rests as well as works, and that it is as important that the bedroom be attractive as that it be comfortable.
For servants' rooms it is advised that the matter of furnishing and decorating be a scheme which includes comfort, daintiness and effectiveness on the simplest, least expensive basis, no matter how elaborate the house. There is a moral principle involved here. In the case of more than one servant the colour scheme alone needs to be varied, for similar furniture will prevent jealousy among the servants, while at the same time the task of inventing is reduced to the mere multiplying of one room; even the wall paper and chintz being alike in pattern, if different in colour.
The simplest iron beds, or wooden furniture can be painted white or any colour which may be considered more durable.
In maids' rooms for summer use, a vase provided for flowers is sometimes an incentive to personally contribute a touch of beauty. That sense of beauty once awakened in a maid does far more than any words on the subject of order and daintiness in her own room or in those of her employer.
For the young and inexperienced we state a few rules for table decoration. If you have furnished your dining-room to accord not only with your taste, but the scale upon which you intend living, be careful that the dining-table never strikes a false note, never "gets out of the picture" by becoming too important as to setting or menu. You may live very formally in your town house and very simply, without any ostentation, in the country, but be sure that in all of your experimenting with table decoration you observe above all the law of appropriateness.
Your decoration, flowers, fruit, character of bowl or dish which holds them, or objet d'art used in place of either; linen or lace, china, glass and silver,—each and all must be in keeping. The money value has nothing whatever to do with this question of appropriateness, when considered by an artist decorator. Remember that in decorating, things are classified according to their colour value, their lines and the purpose for which they are intended. The dining-table is to eat at, therefore it should primarily hold only such things as are required for the serving of the meal. So your real decoration should be your silver, glass and china, with its background of linen or lace. The central decoration, if of flowers or fruit, must be in a bowl or dish decorative in the same sense that the rest of the tableware is.
Flowers should be kept in the same key as your room. One may do this and yet have infinite variety. Tall stately lilies, American Beauty roses, great bowls of gardenias and orchids are for stately rooms. Your small house, flat or bungalow require modest garden flowers such as daffodils, jonquils, tulips, lilies-of-the-valley, snapdragons, one long-stemmed rose in a vase, or a cluster of shy moss-buds or nodding tea-roses.
A table set with art in the key of a small menage and on a scale of simple living, often strikes the note of perfection from the expert's point of view because perfect of its kind and suitable for the occasion. This appropriateness is what makes your "smart" table quite as it makes your "smart" woman.
Wedgwood cream colour ware "C.C." is beautiful and always good form. For those wanting colour, the same famous makers of England have an infinite variety, showing lovely designs.
Unless you are a collector in the museum sense, press into service all of your beautiful possessions. If you have to go without them, let it be when you no longer own them, and not because they are hoarded out of sight. You know the story of the man who bought a barrel of apples and each day carefully selected and ate those that were rotten, feeling the necessity of not being wasteful. When the barrel was empty he realised that be had deliberately wasted all his good apples by not eating one! Let this be a warning to him who would save his treasures. If you love antiques and have joyously hunted them down and, perhaps, denied yourself other things to obtain them, you are the person to use them, even though the joy be transient and they perish at the hand of a careless man or maid-servant. Remember, posterity will have its own "fads" and prefer adding the pleasure of pursuit to that of mere ownership. So bring out your treasures and use them!
As there are many kinds of dining-rooms, each good if planned and worked out with an art instinct, so there are many kinds of tables. The usual sort is the round, or square, extension table, laid with fine damask and set with conventional china, glass and silver, rare in quality and distinguished in design. For those who prefer the unusual there are oblong, squarely built Jacobean and Italian refectory tables. With these one makes a point of showing the rich colour of the time-worn wood and carving, for the old Italian tables often have the bevelled edge and legs carved. When this style of table is used, the wood instead of a cloth, is our background, and a "runner" with doilies of old Italian lace takes the place of linen.
In Feudal Days, when an entire household, master and retainers, sat in the baronial hall "above and below the salt," tables were made of great length. When used out of their original setting, they must be cut down to suit modern conditions. In Krakau, Poland, the writer often dined at one of these feudal boards which had been in our hostess's family for several hundred years. To get it into her dining-room a large piece had been cut out at the centre and the two ends pushed together.
* * * * *
For those who live informally, delightfully decorative china can be had at low prices. It was once made only for the peasants, and comes to us from Italy, France, Germany and England. This fact reminds us that when we were travelling in Southern Hungary and were asked to dine with a Magyar farmer, out on the windy Pasta, instead of their usual highly coloured pottery, gay with crude, but decorative flowers, they honoured us by covering the table with American ironstone china! The Hungarian crockery resembles the Brittany and Italian ware, and some of it is most attractive when rightly set.
When once the passion to depart from beaten paths seizes us it is very easy to make mistakes. Therefore to the housekeeper, accustomed to conventional china, but weary of it, we would commend as a safe departure, modern Wedgwood and Italian reproductions of classic models, which come in exquisite shapes and in a delicious soft cream tone. If one prefers, it is possible to get these varieties decorated with charming designs in artistic colourings, as previously stated.
For eating meals out of doors, or in "sun-rooms," where the light is strong, the dark peasant pottery, like Brittany, Italian and Hungarian, is very effective on dull-blue linen, heavy cream linen or coarse lace, such as the peasants make.
Copper lustre, with its dark metallic surface; is enchanting on dark wood or coloured linen of the right tone.
Your table must be a picture composed on artistic lines. That is, it must combine harmony of line and colour and above all, appropriateness. Gradually one acquires skill in inventing unusual effects; but only the adept can go against established rules of art and yet produce a pleasing ensemble. We can all recall exceptions to this rule for simplicity, beautiful, artistic tables, covered with rare and entrancing objects,—irrelevant, but delighting the eye. Some will instantly recall Clyde Fitch's dinners in this connection, but here let us emphasise the dictum that for a great master of the art of decoration there need be no laws.
A careful study of the Japanese principles of decoration is an ideal way of learning the art of simplicity. It is impossible to deny the immense decorative value of a single objet d'art, as one flower in a simple vase, provided it is given the correct background.
Background in decoration is like a pedal-point in music; it must support the whole fabric, whether you are planning a house, a room or a table.
Shows how a too pronounced rug which is out of character, though a valuable Chinese antique, can destroy the harmony of a composition even where the stage is set with treasures; Louis XV chairs, antique fount with growing plants, candelabra, rare tapestry, reflected by mirror, and a graceful console and a settee with grey-green brocade cushions.
WHAT TO AVOID IN INTERIOR DECORATION: RULES FOR BEGINNERS
We all know the saying that it is only those who have mastered the steps in dancing who can afford to forget them. It is the same in every art. Therefore let us state at once, that all rules may be broken by the educated—the masters of their respective arts. For beginners we give the following rules as a guide, until they get their bearings in this fascinating game of making pictures by manipulating lines and colours, as expressed in necessary furnishings.
* * * * *
Avoid crowding your rooms, walls or tables, for in creating a home one must produce the quality of restfulness by order and space.
As to walls, do not use a cold colour in a north or shaded room. Make your ceilings lighter in tone than the side walls, using a very pale shade of the same colour as the side walls.
Do not put a spotted (figured) surface on other spotted (figured) surfaces. A plain wall paper is the proper, because most effective, background for pictures.
Avoid the mistake of forgetting that table decoration includes all china, glass, silver and linen used in serving any meal.
In attempting the decoration of your dining-room table avoid anything inappropriate to the particular meal to be served and the scale of service. Do not have too many flowers on your table, or flowers not in harmony with the rest of the setting, in variety or colour.
Do not use peasant china, no matter how decorative in itself, on fine damask or rare lace. By so doing you strike a false note. The background it demands is crash or peasant laces.
Avoid crowding your dining-table or giving it an air of confusion by the number of things on it, thus destroying the laws of simplicity, line and balance in decoration.
Avoid using on your walls as mere decorations articles such as rugs or priests' vestments primarily intended for other purposes.
Avoid the misuse of anything in furnishing. It needs only knowledge and patience to find the correct thing for each need. Better do without than employ a makeshift in decorating.
Inappropriateness and elaboration can defeat artistic beauty—but intelligent elimination never can.
Beware of having about too many vases, or china meant for domestic use. The proper place for table china, no matter how rare it is, is in the dining-room. If very valuable, one can keep it in cabinets.
Useless bric-a-brac in a dining-room looks worse than it does anywhere else.
Your dining-room is the best place for any brasses, copper or pewter you may own.
If sitting-room and dining-room connect by a wide opening, keep the same colour scheme in both, or, in any case, the same depth of colour. This gives an effect of space. It is not uncommon when a house is very small, to keep all of the walls and woodwork, and all of the carpets, in exactly the same colour and tone. If variety in the colour-scheme is desired, it may be introduced by means of cretonnes or silks used for hangings and furniture covers.
Avoid the use of thin, old silks on sofas or chair seats.
Avoid too cheap materials for curtains or chair covers, as they will surely fade.
Avoid too many small rugs in a room. This gives an impression of restless disorder and interferes with the architect's lines. Do not place your rugs at strange angles; but let them follow the lines of the walls.
Avoid placing ornaments or photographs on a piano which is in sufficiently good condition to be used.
Avoid the chance of ludicrous effects. For example, keep a plain background behind your piano. Make sure that, when listening to music you are not distracted by seeing a bewildering section of a picture above the pianist's head, or a silly little vase dodging, as he moves, in front of, above, or below his nose!
Avoid placing vases, or a clock, against a chimney piece already elaborately decorated by the architect, as a part of his scheme in using the moulding of panel to frame a painting over the mantel. In the old palaces one sees that a bit of undecorated background is provided between mantel and the architect's decoration.
If your room has a long wall space, furnish it with a large cabinet or console, or a sofa and two chairs.
Avoid blotting out your architect's cleverest points by thoughtlessly misplacing hangings. Whoever decorates should always keep the architect's intention in mind.
Avoid having an antique clock which does not go, and is used merely as an ornament. Make your rooms alive by having all the clocks running. This is one of the subtleties which marks the difference between an antique shop, or museum, and a home.
Avoid the desecration of the few good antiques you own, by the use of a too modern colour scheme. Have the necessary modern pieces you have bought to supplement your treasures, stained or painted a dull dark colour in harmony with the antiques, and then use dull colours in the floor coverings, curtains and cushions. If you have no good old ornaments, try to get a few good shapes and colours in inexpensive reproductions of the period to which your antiques belong. Avoid the mistake of forgetting that every room is a "stage setting," and must be a becoming and harmonious background for its occupants.
Avoid arranging a Louis XVI bedroom, with fragile antiques and delicate tones, for your husband of athletic proportions and elemental tastes. He will not only feel, but look out of place. If he happens to be fond of artistic things, give him these in durable shades and shapes.
Avoid the omission of a thoroughly masculine sitting-room, library, smoking-room or billiard-room for the man, or men, of the house.
Avoid the use of white linen when eating out of doors. Saxe-blue, red or taupe linen are restful to the eyes. In fact, after one has used coloured linen, white seems glaring and unsympathetic even indoors, and one instinctively chooses the old deep-cream laces. Granting this to be a bit precieuse, we must admit that the traditional white damask, under crystal and silver, or gold plate with rare porcelains, has its place and its distinction in certain houses, and with certain people.
Shows a man's library, masculine gender written all over it-strength, comfort, usefulness and simplicity.
The mantel is arranged in accordance with rules already stated. It will be noticed that the ornaments on mantel in a way interfere with design of the large architectural picture.
Avoid in a studio, bungalow or a small flat, where the living-room and dining-room are the same, all evidences of dining-room (china, silver and glass for use). Let the table be covered with a piece of old or modern brocade when not set for use. A lamp and books further emphasises the note of living-room.
Avoid the use of light-absorbing colours in wall papers if you are anxious to create sympathetic cheerfulness in your rooms, and an appearance of winning comfort. Almost all dark colours are light-absorbing; greens, dull reds, dark greys and mahogany browns will make a room dull in character no matter how much sunlight comes in, or how many electric lights you use. Perhaps the only dark colour which is not light-absorbing is a dark yellow.
Avoid the permanent tea-table. We are glad to record that one seldom happens upon one, these days. How the English used to revile them! In the simplest homes it is always possible at the tea hour, to have a table placed before whoever is to "pour" and a tray on which are cups, tea, cream, sugar, lemon, toast, cake or what you will, brought in from the pantry or kitchen. There was a time when in America, one shuddered at the possibility of dusty cups and those countless faults of a seldom-rehearsed tea-table!
Avoid serving a lunch in an artificially lighted room. This, like a permanent tea-table, is an almost extinct fashion. Neither was sensible, because inappropriate, and therefore bad form. The only possible reason for shutting out God's sunlight and using artificial lights, is when the function is to begin by daylight and continue until after nightfall.
If in doubt as to what is good, go often to museums and compare what you own, or have seen and think of owning, with objects in museum collections.
FADS IN COLLECTING
In a New York home one room is devoted to a so-called panier fleuri collection which in this case means that each article shows the design of a basket holding flowers or fruit. The collection is to-day so unique and therefore so valuable, that it has been willed to a museum, but its creation as a collection, was entirely a chance occurrence. The design of a basket trimmed with flowers happened to appeal to the owner, and if we are not mistaken, the now large collection had its beginning in the casual purchase of a little old pendant found in a forgotten corner of Europe. The owner wore it, her friends saw it, and gradually associated the panier fleuri with her, which resulted in many beautiful specimens of this design being sought out for her by wanderers at home and abroad. To-day this collection includes old silks, laces, jewellery, wax pictures, old prints, some pieces of antique furniture, snuffboxes and ornaments in glass, china, silver, etc.
Every museum is the result of fads in collecting, and when one considers all that is meant by this heading, which sounds so trifling and unimportant to the layman, it will not seem strange that we strongly recommend it as a dissipation!
At first, quite naturally, the collector makes mistakes; but it is through his mistakes that he learns, and absolutely nothing gives such a zest to a stroll in the city, a tramp in the country, or an unexpected delay in an out-of-the-way town, as to have this collecting bee in your bonnet. How often when travelling we have rejoiced when the loss of a train or a mistake in time-table, meant an unexpected opportunity to explore for junk in some old shop, or, perhaps, to bargain with a pretty peasant girl who hoarded a beloved heirloom, of entrancing interest to us (and worth a pile of money really), while she lived happily on cider and cheese!
It is doubtless the experience of every lover of the old and the curious, that one never regrets the expenses incurred in this quest of the antique, but one does eternally regret one's economies. The writer suffers now, after years have elapsed, in some cases, at the memory of treasures resisted when chanced upon in Russia, Poland, Hungary, Bohemia—where not! Always one says, "Oh, well, I shall come back again!" But there are so many "pastures green," and it is often difficult to retrace one's steps.
Then, too, these fads open our eyes and ears, so that in passing along a street on foot, in a cab or on a bus, or in glancing through a book, or, perhaps, in an odd corner of an otherwise colourless town, where fate has taken us, we find "grist for our mill"—just the right piece of furniture for the waiting place!
Know what you want, really want it, and you will find it some time, somewhere, somehow!
As a stimulus to beginners in collecting, as well as an illustration of that perseverance required of every keen collector, we cite the case of running down an Empire dressing-table.
It was our desire to complete a small collection of Empire furniture for a suite of rooms, by adding to it as a supplement to the bureau, a certain type of Empire dressing-table. It is no exaggeration to say that Paris was dragged for what we wanted—the large well-known antique shops and the smaller ones of the Latin Quarter being both ransacked. Time was flying, the date of our sailing was approaching, and as yet the coveted piece had not been found. Three days before we left, a fat, red-faced, jolly cabby, after making a vain tour of the junk shops in his quarter, demanded to know exactly what it was we sought. When told, he looked triumphant, bade us get into his cab, lashed his horse and after several rapidly made turns, dashed into an out-of-the-way street and drew up before a sort of junk store-house, full of rickety, dusty odds and ends of furniture, presided over by a stupid old woman who sat outside the door, knitting,—wrapped head and all in a shawl. We entered and, there, to our immense relief, stood the dressing table! It was grey with dust, the original Empire green silk, a rusty grey and hanging in shreds on the back of the original glass. There was a marble top set into the wood and grooved in a curious way. The whole was intact except for a loose back leg, which gave it a swaying, tottering appearance. We passed it in silence—being experienced traders! Then, after buying several little old picture frames, while Madame continued her knitting, we wandered close to the coveted table and asked what was wanted for that broken bit "of no use as it stands."
"Thirty francs" (six dollars) was the answer.
Later a well-known New York dealer offered seventy-five dollars for the table in the condition in which we found it, and repaired as it is to-day it would easily bring a hundred and fifty, anywhere!
As it happened, the money we went out with had been spent on unexpected finds, and neither we nor our good-natured cabby were in possession of thirty francs! In fact, cabby was rather staggered to hear the price, having offered to advance what we needed. He suggested sending it home "collect" but Madame would not even consider such an idea. However, at last our resourceful jehu came to the rescue. If the ladies would seat themselves in the cab, he could place the table in front of them, with the cover of the cab raised, and Madame of the shop could lock her door and mounting the box by the side of our cocher, she might drive with us to our destination and collect the money herself! He promised to bring her home safely again!
As we had only the next day for boxing and shipping, there was no alternative. Before we had even taken in our grotesque appearance, the horse was galloping, as only a Paris cab horse can gallop, toward our abode in Avenue Henri Martin, past carriages and autos returning from the Bois, while inside the cab we sat, elated by our success and in that whirl of triumphant absorbing joy which only the real collector knows.
This same modest little Empire collection had a treasure recently added to it, found by chance, in an antique shop in Pennsylvania. It was a mirror. The dealer, an Italian, said that he had got it from an old house in Bordentown, New Jersey.
"It's genuine English," he said, certain he was playing his winning card.
It has the original glass and a heavy, squarely made, mahogany frame. Strange to say it corresponds exactly with the bed and bureau in the collection, having pilasters surmounted by women's heads of gilded wood with small gilded feet showing at base.
An end of a room containing genuine Empire furniture, Empire ornaments and a rare collection of Empire cups, which appear in a vitrine seen near the dull-blue brocade curtains drawn over windows.
We would especially call attention to the mantelpiece, which was originally the Empire frame of a mirror, and to a book shelf made interesting by having the upper shelf supported by a charming pair of antique bronze cupids.
This plate is reproduced to show as many Empire pieces as possible; it is not an ideal example of arrangement, either as to furniture in room or certain details. There is too much crowding.
As the brother of the great Napoleon, Joseph Bonaparte, king of Spain and Rome, passed many years of his self-imposed exile in Bordentown, in a house made beautiful with furnishings he brought from France, it is possible this old mirror has an interesting story, if only it could talk! Then, too, it was Bordentown that sheltered a Prince Murat, the relative of Joseph Bonaparte. If it was he who conveyed our mirror to these shores, a very different, but as highly romantic a tale might unfold!
For fear the precious ancient glass should be broken or the frame destroyed, we bribed a Pullman-car porter to let us bring its six by four feet of antiquity with us, in the train!
When you see a find always take it with you, or the next man may, and above all, always be on the lookout.
It was from a French novel by one of the living French writers that we first got a clue to a certain obscure Etruscan museum, hidden away in the Carrara Mountains, in Italy. That wonderful little museum and its adjacent potteries, which cover the face of Italy like ant-hills, are to-day contributors to innumerable beautiful interiors in every part of America.
We recall a dining-room in Grosvenor Square, London, where a world-renowned collection of "powder-blue" vases (the property of Mr. J.B. Joel) is made to contribute to a decorative scheme by placing the almost priceless vases of old Chinese blue and white porcelain, in niches made for them, high up on the black oak panelling. There are no pictures nor other decorations on the walls, hence each vase has the distinction it deserves, placed as it were, in a shrine.
In the Peter Hewitt Museum, New York, you may see an antique Italian china cabinet, made of gilded carved wood, which shows on its undulating front, row after row of small niches, lined with red velvet. When each deep niche held its porcelain chef d'oeuvre, the effect must have been that of a gold screen set with gems!
Speaking of red velvet backgrounds, in the same museum, standing near the Italian cabinet, is an ancient Spanish one; its elaborate steel hinges, locks and ornaments have each a bit of red velvet between them and the oak of the cabinet. One sees this on Gothic chests in England and occasionally on the antique furniture of other countries. The red material stretched back of the metal fret-work, is said to be a souvenir of the gruesome custom prevailing in ancient times, of warning off invaders by posting on the doors of public buildings, the skin of prisoners of war, and holding it in place with open-work metal, through which the red skin was plainly seen!
At Cornwall Lodge, in Regents Park, London, the town house of Lady de Bathe (Lily Langtry) the dining-room ceiling is a deep sky-blue, while the sidewalls of black, serve as a background for her valuable collection of old, coloured glass, for the most part English. The collection is the result of the owner's eternal vigilance, when travelling or at home.
A well-known Paris collector, now dead, found in Spain a bust which had been painted black. Its good lines led him to buy it, and, when cleaned, it proved to be a genuine Canova, and was sold by this dealer, a reliable expert, to an American for five thousand dollars! It had been painted during a Revolution, to save it from destruction.
The same dealer on another occasion, when in Spain, found an old silk gown of lovely flowered brocade, but with one breadth missing. Several years later, in an antique shop in Italy, he found that missing gore and had it put back in the gown, thus completing the treasure which some ruthless hand had destroyed.
WEDGWOOD POTTERY, OLD AND MODERN
Many of our museums have interesting collections of old Wedgwood. Altogether the most complete collection we have ever seen is in the museum adjoining the Wedgwood factories in Staffordshire, England. The curator there, an old man of about seventy, loves to tell the story of its founding and growth. He began as a labourer in the potteries and has worked his way up to be guardian of the veterans in perfected types. Many of the rare and beautiful specimens he has himself dug up in the grounds, where from time to time, since 1750, they were thrown out as broken, useless debris. The recovery of these bits, their preservation and classification, together with valuable donations made by English families who have inherited rare specimens, have not only placed at the disposal of those interested, the fascinating history of Wedgwood, in a thrilling object lesson, but has made the modern Wedgwood what it is:—one of the most beautiful varieties of tableware in the market to-day.
Josiah Wedgwood is said to have been the first English potter, counting from the Roman time to the first quarter of the eighteenth century, who made vases to be used for mere decoration. Chelsea, Worcester and Derby were just then beginning to make fine porcelain. In Wedgwood's day it was the rule for young men of title and wealth to go abroad, and the souvenirs which they brought back with them, such as pictures and vases, helped to form a taste for the antique, in England. Then, too, books on Greek art were being written by English travellers. Josiah Wedgwood had a natural bent for the pure line and classic subjects, but he was, also, possessed with the keen businessman's intuition as to what his particular market demanded. So he sat about copying the line and decorations of the antique Greek vases. He reproduced lines and designs in decoration, but invented the "bodies," that is to say, the materials from which the potters moulded his wares. He is said to have invented in all, twenty varieties. We say that he reproduced Greek designs, and so he did, but John Flaxman, his chief decorator, who lived in Rome, where he had a studio and clever assistants, studied the classics, imbibed their spirit and originated the large majority of Wedgwood's so-called "Greek" designs, —those exquisite cameo-like compositions in white, on backgrounds of pastel colours, which appeared as miniatures mounted for jewellery, medallions let into wall panels, and on furniture and Carrara marble mantelpieces, wonderful works of art wrought of his "Jasper" paste, which make Josiah Wedgwood outrank any producer of ceramics who has ever lived in any age.
Wedgwood's first vases were for use, although they were ornamental, too. Those were the pots he made in which to grow bulbs or roots, and the "bough pots" which were filled with cut flowers and used to ornament the hearth in summer.
Mr. Frederick Rathbone, compiler of the Wedgwood catalogue in 1909, a memorial to Josiah Wedgwood made possible by his great-granddaughter, says that during his thirty-five years' study of Wedgwood's work, he had yet to learn of a single vase which was ever made by him, or sent out from his factory at Etruria, which was lacking in grace or beauty.
The Etrurian Museum, Staffordshire, shows Josiah Wedgwood's life work from the early Whieldon ware to his perfected Jasper paste. Josiah's "trials" or experiments, are the most interesting specimens in the museum, and prove that the effort of his life was "converting a rude and inconsiderable manufactory into an elegant art and an important part of national commerce." Yet, although he is acknowledged by all the world to have been the greatest artist in ceramics of his or any period, remember pottery was only one of his interests. He was by no means a man who concentrated day and night on one line of production. He occupied himself with politics, and planned and carried through great engineering feats and was, also, deeply interested in the education of his children.
When Wedgwood began his work, all tea and coffee pots were "salt-glazed," plain, or, if decorated, copies of Oriental patterns, which were the only available models, imported for the use of the rich. Wedgwood invented in turn his tortoise shell, agate, mottled and other coloured wares, and finally his beautiful pale-cream, known as "Queen's" ware, in honour of Queen Charlotte, his patron. It is the "C.C." (cream colour) which is so popular to-day, either plain or decorated. He invented colours, as well as bodies, for the manufacture of his earthenware, both for use and for decoration, and built up a business employing 15,000 persons in his factories,—and 30,000 in all the branches of his business.
In 1896 the census showed 45,914 persons employed in the factories, and at that time the annual amount paid in wages was over two million pounds (ten million dollars).
We must remember that in 1760, the only way of transporting goods to and from the Wedgwood factory was by means of pack-horses. Therefore Josiah Wedgwood had to turn his attention to the construction of roads and canals. As Mr. Gladstone put it in his address at the opening of the Wedgwood Institute at Burslem, Staffordshire, "Wedgwood made the raw material of his industry abundant and cheap, which supplied a vent for the manufactured article and which opened for it materially a way to what we may term the conquest of the outer world." Yet he never travelled outside his own country; always employed English workmen to carry out his ideas, and succeeded entirely by his own efforts, unaided by the state. His first patroness was Catherine II of Russia, for whom he made a wonderful table service, and his best customers were the court and aristocracy of France, during that country's greatest art periods (Louis XV and XVI). In fact Wedgwood ware became so fashionable in Paris that the Sevres, Royal Porcelain factory, copied the colour and relief of his Jasper plaques and vases. It is claimed by connoisseurs, that the Wedgwood useful decorative pottery is the only ceramic art in which England is supreme and unassailable.
It has been said at the Wedgwood works, and with great pride, that the copying of Wedgwood by the Sevres factories, and the preservation of many rare examples of his work to-day, in French museums, to serve as models for French designers and craftsman, is a neat compliment to the English—"those rude islanders with three hundred religions and only one sauce"!
In the illustration five of the four vases, four with covers and one without, are reproductions of old pharmacy jars, once used by all Italian druggists to keep their drugs in.
The really old ones with artistic worth are vanishing from the open market into knowing dealers' or collectors' hands, or the museums have them, but with true Latin perspicuity, when the supply ceased to meet the demand, the great modern Italian potters turned out lovely reproductions, so lovely that they bring high prices in Italy as well as abroad, and are frequently offered to collectors when in Italy as genuine antiques.
About nine years ago, an American connoisseur, automobiling from Paris to Vienna, the route which lies through Northern Italy, quite by chance, happened to see some statuettes in the window of a hopeful, but unknown, potter's little shop, on a wonderful, ancient, covered bridge. You, too, may have seen that rarely beautiful bridge spanning the River Brenta, and have looked out through broad arches which occur at intervals, on views, so extraordinary that one feels they must be on a Gothic tapestry, or the journey just a dream! One cannot forget the wild, rushing river of purplish-blues, and the pines, in deep greens, which climb up, past ruined castles, perched on jutting rocks, toward snow-capped mountain peaks. The views were beautiful, but so were the statuettes which had caught our collector's eye. He bought some, made inquiries as to facilities for reproduction at these potteries, and exchanged addresses. The result was that to-day, that humble potter directs several large factories, which are busy reviving classic designs, which may be found on sale everywhere in Italy and in many other countries as well as America.
VENETIAN GLASS, OLD AND MODERN
If you have been in Venice then you know the Murano Museum and its beguiling collection of Venetian glass, that old glass so vastly more beautiful in line and decoration than the modern type of, say, fifteen years ago, when colours had become bad mixtures, and decorations meaningless excrescences.
A bit of inside information given out to some one really interested, led to a revival of pure line and lovely, simple colouring, with appropriate decorations or none at all. You may already know that romantic bit of history. It seems that when the museum was first started, about four hundred years ago, the glass blowers agreed to donate specimens of their work, provided their descendants should be allowed access to the museum for models. This contract made it a simple matter for a connoisseur to get reproduced exactly what was wanted, and what was not in the market. Elegance, distinguished simplicity in shapes, done in glass of a single colour, or in one colour with a simple edge in a contrasting shade, or in one colour with a whole nosegay of colours to set it off, appearing literally as flowers or fruit to surmount the stopper of a bottle, the top of a jar, or as decorations on candlesticks.
It was in the Museo Civico of Venice that we saw and fell victims to an enchanting antique table decoration—a formal Italian garden, in blown glass, once the property of a great Venetian family and redolent of those golden days when Venice was the playground of princes, and feasting their especial joy; days when visiting royalty and the world's greatest folk could have no higher honour bestowed upon them than a gift of Venetian glass, often real marvels mounted in silver and gold.
We never tired of looking at that fairy garden with its delicate copings, balustrades and vases of glass, all abloom with exquisite posies in every conceivable shade, wrought of glass—a veritable dream thing! Finally, nothing would do but we must know if it had ever been copied. The curator said that he believed it had, and an address was given us. How it all comes back! We arose at dawn, as time was precious, took our coffee in haste and then came that gliding trip in the gondola, through countless canals, to a quarter quite unknown to us, where at work in a small room, we came upon our glass blower and the coveted copy of that lovely table-garden. This man had made four, and one was still in his possession. We brought it back to America, a gleaming jewelled cobweb, and what happened was that the very ethereal quality of its beauty made the average taste ignore it! However, a few years have made a vast difference in table, as well as all other decorations, and to-day the same Venetian gardens have their faithful devotees, as is proved by the continuous procession of the dainty wonders, ever moving toward our sturdy shores.
In bringing our book to an end we would reiterate four fundamental principles of Interior Decoration (and all decoration):
Harmonious colour scheme (which includes the question of background) and
Observe these four laws and any house, all interior decoration, and any lawn or garden, will be beautiful and satisfying, regardless of type and choice of colours.
Whether or not you remain content with your achievement depends upon your mental makeup. Really know what you want as a home, want it, and you can work out any scheme, provided you have intelligence, patience and perseverance.
To learn what is meant by good line, one must educate oneself by making a point of seeing beautiful furniture and furnishings. Visit museums, all collections which boast the stamp of approval of experts; buy at the best modern and antique shops, and compare what you get with the finest examples in the museums. This is the way that connaisseurs are made.
Acanthus leaf Accessories Adam, James and Robert Alhambra Amateur Andirons Angelo, Michael (See Michelangelo) Antique "Antiqued" Apelles Applique Appropriate Arabesques Architectural picture Architrave Arras Assyria Athenian Attic rooms Awnings
Background Bakst Balance Barrocco Bathroom Beauvais Behnes Belgium Benares "Bodies" Bohemian glass Boucher Francois Boudoir Boule, Andre Charles Bric-a-brac Bristol glass Brocotello Byzantine
Cabriole Caesar, Augustus Carlovingian Carpets (See Floor) Ceiling Cellini, Benvenuto Charlemagne Charles I Charles II Charles V Chares VIII Charts Chef d'oeuvre Chimney-pieces Chinese "Chinese Craze" Chintz Chippendale Cipriani, Giovanni Battista Classic Clocks Closets Cold Colours Collecting Colonial Colour Commode Composition Connoisseur Console Correggio, Antonio Allegri Cretonne (See Chintz) Cross-stitch
Dado Dark Ages Day-bed Decoration Decorative Dining-tables Directoire Distinction Dressing-room Dressing-table Du Barry, Madame Du Barry rose Duerer, Albrecht Dutch
Egypt Elimination Elizabethan Empire England Ensemble
Fads Feudal Fire-dogs (See Andirons) Fireplace Fixtures Flaxman, John Floors (See Carpets) Flower-pictures Flowers Fontainebleau France Francis I Franklin Stoves French Frieze
Georgian Germany Gibbons, Grinling Gimp Glass Glazed Linen Gobelin Gothic Greek Gubbio
Hallmark Hangings Henry II Henry III Henry IV Henry VIII Heppelwhite Holland Homes Hungarian
Inappropriateness Iron Work Italian Italian Louis XVI Ivy
Jacobean James I James II James VI Japan Japanese
Kauffman, Angelica Key Key Note Knife-boxes
Lacquer Lamp Shades Landscape Paper Library, a Man's Light-absorbing colours Light-producing Lines Living-room Louis XIII Louis XIV Louis XV Louis XVI Lustre copper
Mahogany Period Majolica Man's Room (See Men's Rooms) Mantel Marie Antoinette Marquetry Mediaeval Art Medici Medici, Catherine de Medicine jars Men's Rooms Metal Work Michelangelo Middle Ages Mirrors Mission Furniture Moors Morris, William Mouldings Mounts
Napoleon I Narrow halls New England
Oak Period Objets d'art Oriental Ormolu Outline Over-doors
Painted Furniture Painted Tapestry Palladio, Andrea Panelling Panier fleuri Parchment Paper Shades for Lights Passepartout Peasant China Peasant Lace Pergolese, Michael Angelo Pericles Period Rooms Pesaro Pharmacy Jars (See Medicine Jars) Phidias Photographs Picture Frames Pictures Pietra-dura Pilasters Poitiers, Diane de Poland Pomegranate Pattern Porcelain Porch-room Portuguese "Powder-Blue" Vases Praxiteles Pre-Raphaelites Proportion Pseudo-Classic Puritan
Queen Anne Queen Elizabeth
Rail-boxes Raphael Refectory Tables Renaissance Reproductions Rocaille (See Shell Design) Rococo Rolls, Empire Rome
Sarto, Andrea del Sash-curtains Servants'-rooms Sevres porcelain Shades for Lights Shell Design (See Rocaille) Sheraton Silks Slipper-chairs Sofa cushions Spain Sports Balconies Stained Glass Straw Awnings Stuart Sun-producing Sun-proof Sun-rooms
Table decoration Table-garden Tables Tableware Taffeta Tapestry Tea-tables Textiles Titian Tone-on-tone Tudor Twin beds
Valance Values Van Eyck Vanity-room "Vargueos" "Vase pattern" Vases Venetian Glass Venice Vernis Martin Victorian Period Vinci, Leonardo da Virginia Homes Vitrine
Wainscoting Wall-papers Walls Warm colours Wedgewood Wicker Furniture William and Mary Period Window-boxes Wren, Sir Christopher