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Title: Furnishing the Home of Good Taste - A Brief Sketch of the Period Styles in Interior Decoration with Suggestions as to Their Employment in the Homes of Today
Author: Throop, Lucy Abbot
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Furnishing the Home of Good Taste - A Brief Sketch of the Period Styles in Interior Decoration with Suggestions as to Their Employment in the Homes of Today" ***

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       *       *       *       *       *


1911, 1912,   MCBRIDE, NAST & CO.

1920,         ROBERT M. MCBRIDE & CO.


Published, September, 1920

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: _Trowbridge & Livingston, architects._

A principle which can be applied to both large and small
houses is shown in the beauty of the panel spacing and the adequate
support of the cornice by the pilasters.]


PREFACE                                                                i

EGYPT AND GREECE                                                       1

THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY                                               7

THE DEVELOPMENT OF DECORATION IN FRANCE                               17

LOUIS XIV                                                             29

THE REGENCY AND LOUIS XV                                              87

LOUIS XVI                                                             47

THE EMPIRE                                                            58


QUEEN ANNE                                                            78


ROBERT ADAM                                                           91

HEPPLEWHITE                                                           97

SHERATON                                                             103

A GENERAL TALK                                                       111

GEORGIAN FURNITURE                                                   135

FURNISHING WITH FRENCH FURNITURE                                     149

COUNTRY HOUSES                                                       159

THE NURSERY AND PLAY-ROOM                                            169

CURTAINS                                                             175

FLOORS AND FLOOR COVERINGS                                           185

THE TREATMENT OF WALLS                                               195

ARTIFICIAL LIGHTING                                                  209

PAINTED FURNITURE                                                    221


_The Illustrations_

A modern dining-room                                     _Frontispiece_

                                                              FACING PAGE
Italian Renaissance fireplace and overmantel, modern                   8

Doorways and pilaster details, Italian Renaissance                     9

Two Louis XIII chairs                                                 22

A Gothic chair of the fifteenth century                               23

A Louis XIV chair                                                     32

Louis XIV inlaid desk-table                                           33

Louis XIV chair with underbracing                                     33

A modern French drawing-room                                          40

A drawing-room, old French furniture and tapestry                     41

Early Louis XIV chair                                                 44

Louis XV _bergère_                                                    44

Louis XVI bench                                                       45

Louis XVI from Fontainebleau                                          50

American Empire bed                                                   51

An Apostles bed of the Tudor period                                   60

Adaptation of the style of William and Mary to dressing table         61

Reproduction of Charles II chair                                      61

Living-room with reproductions of different periods                   64

Original Jacobean sofa                                                65

Reproductions of Charles II chairs                                    65

Reproductions of Queen Anne period                                    72

Reproduction of James II chair                                        73

Reproduction of William and Mary chair                                73

Gothic and Ribbonback types of Chippendale chairs                     78

Chippendale mantel mirror showing French influence                    79

Chippendale fretwork tea-table                                        79

Chippendale china cupboard                                            82

Typical chairs of the eighteenth century                              83

Chippendale and Hepplewhite sofas                                     86

Adam mirror, block-front chest of drawers, and Hepplewhite chair      87

Two Adam mantels                                                      92

A group of old mirrors                                                93

Dining-room furnished with Hepplewhite furniture                      96

Old Hepplewhite sideboard                                             97

Reproduction of Hepplewhite settee                                    97

Sheraton chest of drawers                                            104

Sheraton desk and sewing-table                                       105

Dining-room in simple country house                                  112

Dining-room furnished with fine old furniture                        113

Dorothy Quincy's bed-room                                            124

Two valuable old desks                                               125

Pembroke inlaid table                                                144

Sheraton sideboard                                                   144

Four post bed                                                        145

Doorway detail, Compiègne                                            152

Reproduction of a bed owned by Marie Antoinette                      153

Reproduction of Louis XVI bed                                        153

A Georgian hallway                                                   162

Rare block-front chest of drawers                                    163

A modern living-room                                                 178

Curtain treatment for a summer home                                  179

Hallway showing rugs                                                 188

Hallway showing rugs                                                 189

Colonial bed-room                                                    189

Dining-room with paneled walls                                       196

Four post bed owned by Lafayette                                     197

Modern dining-room                                                   204

Four post bed                                                        205

Reproductions of Adam painted furniture                              222

Three-chair Sheraton settee                                          223

Reproduction of a Sheraton wing-chair                                223

Slat-backed chair                                                    223

Group of chairs and pie-crust table                                  232

Groups of chairs                                                     233

Reproduction of Jacobean buffet                                      236

Group of mirrors                                                     237

Reproduction of William and Mary settee                              240

Adaptation of Georgian ideas to William and Mary dressing table      240

Two Adam chairs                                                      241

Jacobean day-bed                                                     241

Reproductions of Chippendale table and Hepplewhite desk              244

Reproduction of Sheraton chest of drawers                            245

Reproduction of William and Mary chest of drawers                    245

A modern sun-room                                                    246

Sheraton sofa                                                        247

Hepplewhite chair and nest of tables                                 247

Chippendale wing-chair                                               247

Modern paneled living-room                                           248

Empire bed                                                           248

Hancock desk, and fine old highboy                                   249


To try to write a history of furniture in a fairly short space is almost
as hard as the square peg and round hole problem. No matter how one
tries, it will not fit. One has to leave out so much of importance, so
much of historic and artistic interest, so much of the life of the
people that helps to make the subject vivid, and has to take so much for
granted, that the task seems almost impossible. In spite of this I shall
try to give in the following pages a general but necessarily short
review of the field, hoping that it may help those wishing to furnish
their homes in some special period style. The average person cannot
study all the subject thoroughly, but it certainly adds interest to the
problems of one's own home to know something of how the great periods of
decoration grew one from another, how the influence of art in one
country made itself felt in the next, molding and changing taste and
educating the people to a higher sense of beauty.

It is the lack of general knowledge which makes it possible for
furniture built on amazingly bad lines to be sold masquerading under the
name of some great period. The customer soon becomes bewildered, and,
unless he has a decided taste of his own, is apt to get something which
will prove a white elephant on his hands. One must have some standard
of comparison, and the best and simplest way is to study the great work
of the past. To study its rise and climax rather than the decline; to
know the laws of its perfection so that one can recognize the
exaggeration which leads to degeneracy. This ebb and flow is most
interesting: the feeling the way at the beginning, ever growing surer
and surer until the high level of perfection is reached; and then the
desire to "gild the lily" leading to over-ornamentation, and so to
decline. However, the germ of good taste and the sense of truth and
beauty is never dead, and asserts itself slowly in a transition period,
and then once more one of the great periods of decoration is born.

There are several ways to study the subject, one of the pleasantest
naturally being travel, as the great museums, palaces, and private
collections of Europe offer the widest field. In this country, also, the
museums and many private collections are rich in treasures, and there
are many proud possessors of beautiful isolated pieces of furniture. If
one cannot see originals the libraries will come to the rescue with many
books showing research and a thorough knowledge and appreciation of the
beauty and importance of the subject in all its branches.

I have tried to give an outline, (which I hope the reader will care to
enlarge for himself), not from a collector's standpoint, but from the
standpoint of the modern home-maker, to help him furnish his house
consistently,--to try to spread the good word that period furnishing
does not necessitate great wealth, and that it is as easy and far more
interesting to furnish a house after good models, as to have it banal
and commonplace.

The first part of this little book is devoted to a short review of the
great periods, and the second part is an effort to help adapt them to
modern needs, with a few chapters added of general interest to the

A short bibliography is also added, both to express my thanks and
indebtedness to many learned and delightful writers on this subject of
house furnishing in all its branches, and also as a help to others who
may wish to go more deeply into its different divisions than is possible
within the covers of a book.

I wish to thank the Editors of _House and Garden_ and _The Woman's Home
Companion_ for kindly allowing me to reprint articles and portions of
articles which have appeared in their magazines.

I wish also to thank the owners of the different houses illustrated, and
Messrs. Trowbridge and Livingston, architects, for their kindness in
allowing me to use photographs.

Thanks are also due Messrs. Bergen & Orsenigo, Nahon & Company, Tiffany
Studios, Joseph Wild & Co. and the John Somma Co. for the use of
photographs to illustrate the reproduction of period furniture and rugs
of different types.

_Egypt and Greece_

The early history of art in all countries is naturally connected more
closely with architecture than with decoration, for architecture had to
be developed before the demand for decoration could come. But the two
have much in common. Noble architecture calls for noble decoration.
Decoration is one of the natural instincts of man, and from the earliest
records of his existence we find him striving to give expression to it,
we see it in the scratched pieces of bone and stone of the cave
dwellers, in the designs of savage tribes, and in Druidical and Celtic
remains, and in the great ruins of Yucatan. The meaning of these
monuments may be lost to us, but we understand the spirit of trying to
express the sense of beauty in the highest way possible, for it is the
spirit which is still moving the world, and is the foundation of all
worthy achievement.

Egypt and Assyria stand out against the almost impenetrable curtain of
pre-historic days in all the majesty of their so-called civilization.
Huge, massive, aloof from the world, their temples and tombs and ruins
remain. Research has given us the key to their religion, so we
understand much of the meaning of their wall-paintings and the buildings
themselves. The belief of the Egyptian that life was a short passage and
his house a mere stopping-place on the way to the tomb, which was to be
his permanent dwelling-place, explains the great care and labor spent on
the pyramids, chapels, and rock sepulchers. They embalmed the dead for
all eternity and put statues and images in the tombs to keep the mummy
company. Colossal figures of their gods and goddesses guarded the tombs
and temples, and still remain looking out over the desert with their
strange, inscrutable Egyptian eyes. The people had technical skill which
has never been surpassed, but the great size of the pyramids and temples
and sphinxes gives one the feeling of despotism rather than
civilization; of mass and permanency and the wonder of man's achievement
rather than beauty, but they personify the mystery and power of ancient

The columns of the temples were massive, those of Karnak being seventy
feet high, with capitals of lotus flowers and buds strictly
conventionalized. The walls were covered with hieroglyphics and
paintings. Perspective was never used, and figures were painted side
view except for the eye and shoulder. In the tombs have been found many
household belongings, beautiful gold and silver work, beside the
offerings put there to appease the gods. Chairs have been found, which,
humorous as it may sound, are certainly the ancestors of Empire chairs
made thousands of years later. This is explained by the influence of
Napoleon's Egyptian campaign, but there is something in common between
the two times so far apart, of ambition and pride, of grandeur and
colossal enterprise.

Greece may well be called the Mother of Beauty, for with the Greeks came
the dawn of a higher civilization, a striving for harmony of line and
proportion, an ideal clear, high and persistent. When the Dorians from
the northern part of Greece built their simple, beautiful temples to
their gods and goddesses they gave the impetus to the movement which
brought forth the highest art the world has known. Traces of Egyptian
influence are to be found in the earliest temples, but the Greeks soon
rose to their own great heights. The Doric column was thick, about six
diameters in height, fluted, growing smaller toward the top, with a
simple capital, and supported the entablature. The horizontal lines of
the architrave and cornice were more marked than the vertical lines of
the columns. The portico with its row of columns supported the pediment.
The Parthenon is the most perfect example of the Doric order, and
shattered as it is by time and man it is still one of the most beautiful
buildings in the world. It was built in the time of Pericles, from about
460 to 435 B.C., and the work was superintended by Phidias, who did much
of the work himself and left the mark of his genius on the whole.

The Ionic order of architecture was a development of the Doric, but was
lighter and more graceful. The columns were more slender and had a
greater number of flutes and the capitals formed of scrolls or volutes
were more ornamental.

The Corinthian order was more elaborate than the Ionic as the capitals
were foliated (the acanthus being used), the columns higher, and the
entablature more richly decorated. This order was copied by the Romans
more than the other two as it suited their more florid taste. All the
orders have the horizontal feeling in common (as Gothic architecture has
the vertical), and the simple plan with its perfect harmony of
proportion leaves no sense of lack of variety.

The perfection attained in architecture was also attained in sculpture,
and we see the same aspiration toward the ideal, the same wonderful
achievement. This purity of taste of the Greeks has formed a standard to
which the world has returned again and again and whose influence will
continue to be felt as long as the world lasts.

The minor arts were carried to the same state of perfection as their
greater sisters, for the artists and artisans had the same noble ideal
of beauty and the same unerring taste. We have carved gems and coins,
and wonderful gold ornaments, painted and silver vases, and terra-cotta
figurines, to show what a high point the household arts reached. No work
of the great Grecian painters remains; Apelles, Zeuxis, are only names
to us, but from the wall paintings at Pompeii where late Greek influence
was strongly felt we can imagine how charming the decorations must have
been. Egypt and Greece were the torch bearers of civilization.

_The Renaissance in Italy_

The Gothic period has been treated in later chapters on France and
England, as it is its development in these countries which most affects
us, but the Renaissance in Italy stands alone. So great was its strength
that it could supply both inspiration and leaders to other countries,
and still remain preëminent.

It was in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that this great
classical revival in Italy came, this re-birth of a true sense of beauty
which is called the Renaissance. It was an age of wonders, of great
artistic creations, and was one of the great epochs of the world, one of
the turning points of human existence. It covered so large a field and
was so many-sided that only careful study can give a full realization of
the giants of intellect and power who made its greatness, and who left
behind them work that shows the very quintessence of genius.

Italy, stirring slightly in the fourteenth century, woke and rose to her
greatest heights in the fifteenth and sixteenth. The whole people
responded to the new joy of life, the love of learning, the expression
of beauty in all its forms. All notes were struck,--gay, graceful,
beautiful, grave, cruel, dignified, reverential, magnificent, but all
with an exuberance of life and power that gave to Italian art its great
place in human culture. The great names of the period speak for
themselves,--Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Titian, Leonardo da
Vinci, Andrea del Sarto, Machiavelli, Benvenuto Cellini, and a host of

The inspiration of the Renaissance came largely from the later Greek
schools of art and literature, Alexandria and Rhodes and the colonies in
Sicily and Italy, rather than ancient Greece. It was also the influence
which came to ancient Rome at its most luxurious period. The importance
of the taking of Alexandria and Constantinople in 1453 must not be
underestimated, as it drove scholars from the great libraries of the
East carrying their manuscripts to the nobles and priests and merchant
princes of Italy who thus became enthusiastic patrons of learning and
art. This later type of Greek art lacked the austerity of the ancient
type, and to the models full of joy and beauty and suffering, the
Italians of the Renaissance added the touch of their own temperament and
made them theirs in the glowing, rich and astounding way which has never
been equaled and probably never will be. Perfection of line and beauty
was not sufficient, the soul with its capacity for joy and suffering,
"the soul with all its maladies" as Pater says, had become a factor. The
impression made upon Michelangelo by seeing the Laocoön disinterred is
vividly described by Longfellow--

[Illustration: An exquisite and true Renaissance feeling is shown in
the pilasters.]

[Illustration: The Italian Renaissance is still inspiring the world. In
the two doorways the use of pilasters and frieze, and the pedimented and
round over-door motifs are typical of the period.]

                "Long, long years ago,
    Standing one morning near the Baths of Titus,
    I saw the statue of Laocöon
    Rise from its grave of centuries like a ghost
    Writhing in pain; and as it tore away
    The knotted serpents from its limbs, I heard,
    Or seemed to hear, the cry of agony
    From its white parted lips. And still I marvel
    At the three Rhodian artists, by whose hands
    This miracle was wrought. Yet he beholds
    Far nobler works who looks upon the ruins
    Of temples in the Forum here in Rome.
    If God should give me power in my old age
    To build for him a temple half as grand
    As those were in their glory, I should count
    My age more excellent than youth itself,
    And all that I have hitherto accomplished
    As only vanity."

"It was an age productive in personalities, many-sided, centralized,
complete. Artists and philosophers and those whom the action of the
world had elevated and made keen, breathed a common air and caught light
and heat from each other's thoughts. It is this unity of spirit which
gives unity to all the various products of the Renaissance, and it is to
this intimate alliance with mind, this participation in the best
thoughts which that age produced, that the art of Italy in the fifteenth
century owes much of its grave dignity and influence."[A]

[A] Walter Pater: "Studies in the Renaissance."

It is to this unity of the arts we owe the fact that the art of
beautifying the home took its proper place. During the Middle Ages the
Church had absorbed the greater part of the best man had to give, and
home life was rather a hit or miss affair, the house was a fortress, the
family possessions so few that they could be packed into chests and
easily moved. During the Renaissance the home ideal grew, and, although
the Church still claimed the best, home life began to have comforts and
beauties never dreamed of before. The walls glowed with color,
tapestries and velvets added their beauties, and the noble proportions
of the marble halls made a rich background for the elaborately carved

The doors of Italian palaces were usually inlaid with woods of light
shade, and the soft, golden tone given by the process was in beautiful,
but not too strong, contrast with the marble architrave of the doorway,
which in the fifteenth century was carved in low relief combined with
disks of colored marble, sliced, by the way, from Roman temple pillars.
Later as the classic taste became stronger the carving gave place to a
plain architrave and the over-door took the form of a pediment.

Mantels were of marble, large, beautifully carved, with the fireplace
sunk into the thickness of the wall. The overmantel usually had a carved
panel, but later, during the sixteenth century, this was sometimes
replaced by a picture. The windows of the Renaissance were a part of the
decoration of the room, and curtains were not used in our modern
manner, but served only to keep out the draughts. In those days the
better the house the simpler the curtains. There were many kinds of
ceilings used, marble, carved wood, stucco, and painting. They were
elaborate and beautiful, and always gave the impression of being
perfectly supported on the well-proportioned cornice and walls. The
floors were usually of marble. Many of the houses kept to the plan of
mediæval exteriors, great expanses of plain walls with few openings on
the outsides, but as they were built around open courts, the interiors
with their colonnades and open spaces showed the change the Renaissance
had brought. The Riccardi Palace in Florence and the Palazzo della
Cancelleria in Rome, are examples of this early type. The second phase
was represented by the great Bramante, whose theory of restraining
decoration and emphasizing the structure of the building has had such
important influence. One of his successors was Andrea Palladio, whose
work made such a deep impression on Inigo Jones. The Library of St.
Mark's at Venice is a beautiful example of this part. The third phase
was entirely dominated by Michelangelo.

The furniture, to be in keeping with buildings of this kind, was large
and richly carved. Chairs, seats, chests, cabinets, tables, and beds,
were the chief pieces used, but they were not plentiful at all in our
sense of the word. The chairs and benches had cushions to soften the
hard wooden seats. The stuffs of the time were most beautiful Genoese
velvet, cloth of gold, tapestries, and wonderful embroideries, all
lending their color to the gorgeous picture. The carved marriage chest,
or cassone, is one of the pieces of Renaissance furniture which has most
often descended to our own day, for such chests formed a very important
part of the furnishing in every household, and being large and heavy,
were not so easily broken as chairs and tables. Beds were huge, and were
architectural in form, a base and roof supported on four columns. The
classical orders were used, touched with the spirit of the time, and the
fluted columns rose from acanthus leaves set in an urn supported on
lion's feet. The tester and cornice gave scope for carving and the
panels of the tester usually had the lovely scrolls so characteristic of
the period. The headboard was often carved with a coat-of-arms and the
curtains hung from inside the cornice.

Grotesques were largely used in ornament. The name is derived from
grottoes, as the Roman tombs being excavated at the time were called,
and were in imitation of the paintings found on their walls, and while
they were fantastic, the word then had no unkindly humorous meaning as
now. Scrolls, dolphins, birds, beasts, the human figure, flowers,
everything was called into use for carving and painting by genius of the
artisans of the Renaissance. They loved their work and felt the beauty
and meaning of every line they made, and so it came about that when, in
the course of years, they traveled to neighboring countries, they spread
the influence of this great period, and it is most interesting to see
how on the Italian foundation each country built her own distinctive

Like all great movements the Renaissance had its beginning, its splendid
climax, and its decline.

_The Development of Decoration in France._

When Caesar came to Gaul he did more than see and conquer; he absorbed
so thoroughly that we have almost no knowledge of how the Gauls lived,
so far as household effects were concerned. The character which
descended from this Gallo-Roman race to the later French nation was
optimistic and beauty-loving, with a strength which has carried it
through many dark days. It might be said to be responsible for the
French sense of proportion and their freedom of judgment which has
enabled them to hold their important place in the history of art and
decoration. They have always assimilated ideas freely but have worked
them over until they bore the stamp of their own individuality, often
gaining greatly in the process.

One of the first authentic pieces of furniture is a _bahut_ or chest
dating from sometime in the twelfth century and belonging to the Church
of Obazine. It shows how furniture followed the lines of architecture,
and also shows that there was no carving used on it. Large spaces were
probably covered with painted canvas, glued on. Later, when panels
became smaller and the furniture designs were modified, moldings, etc.,
began to be used. These _bahuts_ or _huches_, from which the term
_huchiers_ came (meaning the Corporation of Carpenters), were nothing
more than chests standing on four feet. From all sources of information
on the subject it has been decided that they were probably the chief
pieces of furniture the people had. They served as a seat by day and,
with cushions spread upon them, as a bed by night. They were also used
as tables with large pieces of silver _dressé_ or arranged upon them in
the daytime. From this comes our word "dresser" for the kitchen shelves.
In those days of brigands and wars and sudden death, the household
belongings were as few as possible so that the trouble of speedy
transportation would be small, and everything was packed into the
chests. As the idea of comfort grew a little stronger, the number of
chests grew, and when a traveling party arrived at a stopping-place, out
came the tapestries and hangings and cushions and silver dishes, which
were arranged to make the rooms seem as cheerful as possible. The germ
of the home ideal was there, at least, but it was hard work for the
arras and the "ciel" to keep out the cold and cover the bare walls. When
life became a little more secure and people learned something of the
beauty of proportion, the rooms showed more harmony in regard to the
relation of open spaces and walls, and became a decoration in
themselves, with the tapestries and hangings enhancing their beauty of
line. It was not until some time in the fifteenth century that the
habit of traveling with all one's belongings ceased.

The year 1000 was looked forward to with abject terror, for it was
firmly believed by all that the world was then coming to an end. It cast
a gloom over all the people and paralyzed all ambition. When, however,
the fatal year was safely passed, there was a great religious
thanksgiving and everyone joined in the praise of a merciful God. The
semi-circular arch of the Romanesque style gave way to the pointed arch
of the Gothic, and wonderful cathedrals slowly lifted their beautiful
spires to the sky. The ideal was to build for the glory of God and not
only for the eyes of man, so that exquisite carving was lavished upon
all parts of the work. This deeply reverent feeling lasted through the
best period of Gothic architecture, and while household furniture was at
a standstill church furniture became more and more beautiful, for in the
midst of the religious fervor nothing seemed too much to do for the
Church. Slowly it died out, and a secular attitude crept into
decoration. One finds grotesque carvings appearing on the choir stalls
and other parts of churches and cathedrals and the standard of
excellence was lowered.

The chest, table, wooden arm-chair, bed, and bench, were as far as the
imagination had gone in domestic furniture, and although we read of
wonderful tapestries and leather hangings and clothes embroidered in
gold and jewels, there was no comfort in our sense of the word, and
those brave knights and fair ladies had need to be strong to stand the
hardships of life. Glitter and show was the ideal and it was many more
years before the standard of comfort and refinement gained a firm

Gothic architecture and decoration declined from the perfection of the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries to the over-decorated, flamboyant
Gothic of the fifteenth century, and it was in the latter period that
the transition began between the Gothic and the Renaissance epochs.

The Renaissance was at its height in Italy in the fifteenth century, and
its influence began to make itself felt a little in France at that time.

When the French under Louis XII seized Milan, the magnificence of the
court of Ludovico Sforza, the great duke of Milan, made such an
impression on them that they could not rest content with the old order,
and took home many beautiful things. Italian artisans were also
imported, and as France was ready for the change, their lessons were
learned and the French Renaissance came slowly into existence. This
transition is well shown by the Chateau de Gaillon, built by Cardinal
d'Amboise. Gothic and Renaissance decoration were placed side by side in
panels and furniture, and we also find some pure Gothic decoration as
late as the early part of the sixteenth century, but they were in parts
of France where tradition changed slowly. Styles overlap in every
transition period, so it is often difficult to place the exact date on a
piece of furniture; but the old dies out at last and gives way to the

With the accession of Frances I in 1515 the Renaissance came into its
own in France. He was a great patron of art and letters, and under his
fostering care the people knew new luxuries, new beauties, and new
comforts. He invited Andrea del Sarto and Leonardo da Vinci to come to
France. The word Renaissance means simply revival and it is not
correctly used when we mean a distinct style led or inspired by one
person. It was a great epoch, with individuality as its leading spirit,
led by the inspiration of the Italian artists brought from Italy and
molded by the genius of France. This renewal of classic feeling came at
the psychological moment, for the true spirit of the great Gothic period
had died. The Renaissance movements in Italy, France, England and
Germany all drew their inspiration from the same source, but in each
case the national characteristics entered into the treatment. The
Italians and Germans both used the grotesque a great deal, but the
Germans used it in a coarser and heavier way than the Italians, who used
it esthetically. The French used more especially conventional and
beautiful floral forms, and the inborn French sense of the fitness of
things gave the treatment a wonderful charm and beauty. If one studies
the French chateaux one will feel the true beauty and spirit of the
times--Blois with its history of many centuries, and then some of the
purely Renaissance chateaux, like Chambord. Although great numbers of
Italian artists came to France, one must not think they did all the
beautiful work of the time. The French learned quickly and adapted what
they learned to their own needs, so that the delicate and graceful
decorations brought from Italy became more and more individualized until
in the reign of Henry II the Renaissance reached its high-water mark.

The furniture of the time did not show much change or become more varied
or comfortable. It was large and solid and the chairs had the
satisfactory effect of good proportion, while the general squareness of
outline added to the feeling of solidity. Oak was used, and later
walnut. The chair legs were straight, and often elaborately turned, and
usually had strainers or under framing. Cushions were simply tied on at
first, but the knowledge of upholstering was gaining ground, and by the
time of Louis XIII was well understood. Cabinets had an architectural
effect in their design. The style of the decorative motive changed, but
it is chiefly in architecture and the decorative treatment of it that
one sees the true spirit of the Renaissance. Two men who had great
influence on the style of furniture of the time were Androuet du Cerceau
and Hugues Sambin. They published books of plates that were eagerly
copied in all parts of France. Sambin's influence can be traced in the
later style of Louis XIV.

[Illustration: Louis XIII chair now in the Cluny Museum showing the
Flemish influence.]

[Illustration: A typical Louis XIII chair, many of which were covered
with velvet or tapestry.]

[Illustration: _By courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art_

This Gothic chair of the 16th century shows the beautiful linen-fold
design in the carving on the lower panels, and also the keyhole which
made the chest safe when traveling.]

The marriage of Henry II and Catherine de Medici naturally continued the
strong Italian influence. The portion of the Renaissance called after
Henry II lasted about seventy-five years, and corresponds with the
Elizabethan period in England.

During the regency of Marie de Medici, Flemish influence became very
strong, as she invited Rubens to Paris to decorate the Luxembourg. There
were also many Italians called to do the work, and as Rubens had studied
in Italy, Italian influence was not lacking.

Degeneracy began during the reign of Henry IV, as ornament became
meaningless and consistency of decoration was lost in a maze of
superfluous design.

It was in the reign of Louis XIII that furniture for the first time
became really comfortable, and if one examines the engravings of Abraham
Bosse one will see that the rooms have an air of homelikeness as well as
richness. The characteristic chair of the period was short in the back
and square in shape--it was usually covered with leather or tapestry,
fastened to the chair with large brass nails, and the back and seat
often had a fringe. A set of chairs usually consisted of arm-chairs,
plain chairs, folding stools and a _lit-de-repos_. Many of the
arm-chairs were entirely covered with velvet or tapestry, or, if the
woodwork showed, it was stained to harmonize with the covering on the
seat and back.

The twisted columns used in chairs, bedposts, etc., were borrowed from
Italy and were very popular. Another shape often used for chair legs was
the X that shows Flemish influence. The _lit-de-repos_, or
_chaise-longue_, was a seat about six feet long, sometimes with arms and
sometimes not, and with a mattress and bolster. The beds were very
elaborate and very important in the scheme of decoration, as the ladies
of the time held receptions in their bedrooms and the king and nobles
gave audiences to their subjects while in bed. These latter were
therefore necessarily furnished with splendor. The woodwork was usually
covered with the same material as the curtains, or stained to harmonize.
The canopy never reached to the ceiling but was, from floor to top,
about 7 ft. 3 in. high, and the bed was 6-1/2 ft. square. The curtains
were arranged on rods and pulleys, and when closed this "_lit en
housse_" looked like a huge square box. The counterpane, or "_coverture
de parade_," was of the curtain material. The four corners of the canopy
were decorated with bunches of plumes or panache, or with a carved
wooden ornament called pomme, or with a "_bouquet_" of silk. The beds
were covered with rich stuffs, like tapestry, silk, satin, velvet,
cloth-of-gold and silver, etc., all of which were embroidered or trimmed
with gold or silver lace. One of the features of a Louis XIII room was
the tapestry and hangings. A certain look of dignity was given to the
rooms by the general square and heavy outlines of the furniture and the
huge chimney-pieces.

The taste for cabinets kept up and the cabinets and presses were large,
sometimes divided into two parts, sometimes with doors, sometimes with
open frame underneath. The tables were richly carved and gilded, often
ornamented with bronze and copper. The cartouche was used a great deal
in decoration, with a curved surface. This rounded form appears in the
posts used in various kinds of furniture. When rectangles were used they
were always broader than high. The garlands of fruit were heavy, the
cornucopias were slender, with an astonishing amount of fruit pouring
from them, and the work was done in rather low relief. Carved and gilded
mirrors were introduced by the Italians as were also sconces and glass
chandeliers. It was a time of great magnificence, and shadowed forth the
coming glory of Louis XIV. It seems a style well suited to large
dining-rooms and libraries in modern houses of importance.

_Louis XIV_

It is often a really difficult matter to decide the exact boundary lines
between one period and another, for the new style shows its beginnings
before the old one is passed, and the old style still appears during the
early years of the new one. It is an overlapping process and the years
of transition are ones of great interest. As one period follows another
it usually shows a reaction from the previous one; a somber period is
followed by a gay one; the excess of ornament in one is followed by
restraint in the next. It is the same law that makes us want cake when
we have had too much bread and butter.

The world has changed so much since the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries that it seems almost impossible that we should ever again have
great periods of decoration like those of Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis
XVI. Then the monarch was supreme. "_L'état c'est moi_," said Louis XIV,
and it was true. He established the great Gobelin works on a basis that
made France the authority of the world and firmly imposed his taste and
his will on the country. Now that this absolute power of one man is a
thing of the past, we have the influence of many men forming and molding
something that may turn into a beautiful epoch of decoration, one that
will have in it some of the feeling that brought the French Renaissance
to its height, though not like it, for we have the same respect for
individuality working within the laws of beauty that they had.

The style that takes its name from Louis XIV was one of great
magnificence and beauty with dignity and a certain solidity in its
splendor. It was really the foundation of the styles that followed, and
a great many people look upon the periods of Louis XIV, the Regency,
Louis XV and Louis XVI as one great period with variations, or ups and
downs--the complete swing and return of the pendulum.

Louis XIV was a man with a will of iron and made it absolute law during
his long reign of seventy-two years. His ideal was splendor, and he
encouraged great men in the intellectual and artistic world to do their
work, and shed their glory on the time. Condé, Turenne, Colbert,
Molière, Corneille, La Fontaine, Racine, Fénélon, Boulle, Le Brun, are a
few among the long and wonderful list. He was indeed Louis the
Magnificent, the Sun King.

One of the great elements toward achieving the stupendous results of
this reign was the establishment of the "Manufacture des Meubles de la
Couronne," or, as it is usually called, "Manufacture des Gobelins."
Artists of all kinds were gathered together and given apartments in the
Louvre and the wonderfully gifted and versatile Le Brun was put at the
head. Tapestry, goldsmiths' work, furniture, jewelry, etc., were made,
and with the royal protection and interest France rose to the position
of world-wide supremacy in the arts. Le Brun had the same taste and love
of magnificence as Louis, and had also extraordinary executive ability
and an almost unlimited capacity for work, combined with the power of
gathering about him the most eminent artists of the time. André Charles
Boulle was one, and his beautiful cabinets, commodes, tables, clocks,
etc., are now almost priceless. He carried the inlay of metals,
tortoise-shell, ivory and beautiful woods to its highest expression, and
the mingling of colors with the exquisite workmanship gave most
wonderful effects. Sheets of white metal or brass were glued together
and the pattern was then cut out. When taken apart the brass scrolls
could be fitted exactly into the shell background, and the shell scrolls
into the brass background, thus making two decorations. The shell
background was the more highly prized. The designs usually had a
Renaissance feeling. The metal was softened in outline by engraving, and
then ormolu mounts were added. Ormolu or gilt bronze mounts, formed one
of the great decorations of furniture. The most exquisite workmanship
was lavished on them, and after they had been cast they were cut and
carved and polished until they became worthy ornaments for beautiful
inlaid tables and cabinets. The taste for elaborately carved and gilded
frames to chairs, tables, mirrors, etc., developed rapidly. Mirrors
were made by the Gobelins works and were much less expensive than the
Venetian ones of the previous reign. Walls were painted and covered with
gold with a lavish hand. Tapestries were truly magnificent with gold and
silver threads adding richness to their beauty of color, and were used
purely as a decoration as well as in the old utilitarian way of keeping
out the cold. The Gobelins works made at this time some of the most
beautiful tapestries the world has known. The massive chimney-pieces
were superseded by the "_petite-cheminée_" and had great mirrors over
them or elaborate over-mantels. The whole air of furnishing and
decoration changed to one of greater lightness and brilliancy. The ideal
was that everything, no matter how small, must be beautiful, and we find
the most exquisite workmanship lavished on window-locks and door-knobs.

[Illustration: One of a set of three rare Louis XIV chairs, beautifully
carved and gilded, and said to have belonged to the great Louis himself.]

In the early style of Louis XIV, we find many trophies of war and
mythological subjects used in the decorative schemes. The second style
of this period was a softening and refining of the earlier one, becoming
more and more delicate until it merged into the time of the Regency. It
was during the reign of Louis XIV that the craze for Chinese decoration
first appeared. _La Chinoiserie_ it was called, and it has daintiness
and a curious fascination about it, but many inappropriate things were
done in its name. The furniture of the time was firmly placed upon the
ground, the arm-chairs had strong straining-rails, square or curved
backs, scroll arms carved and partly upholstered and stuffed seats
and backs. The legs of chairs were usually tapering in form and
ornamented with gilding, or marquetry, or richly carved, and later the
feet ended in a carved leaf design. Some of the straining-rails were in
the shape of the letter X, with an ornament at the intersection, and
often there was a wooden molding below the seat in place of fringe. Many
carved and gilded chairs had gold fringe and braid and were covered with
velvet, tapestry or damask.

[Illustration: _By courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art_

Inlaid desk with beautifully chiselled ormolu mounts.]

[Illustration: Rare Louis XIV chair, showing the characteristic

There were many new and elaborate styles of beds that came into fashion
at this time. There was the _lit d'ange_, which had a canopy that did
not extend over the entire bed, and had no pillars at the foot, the
curtains were drawn back at the head and the counterpane went over the
foot of the bed. There was the _lit d'alcove_, the _lit de bout_, _lit
clos_, _lit de glace_, with a mirror framed in the ceiling, and many
others. A _lit de parade_ was like the great bed of Louis XIV at

Both the tall and bracket clocks showed this same love of ornament and
they were carved and gilded and enriched with chased brass and wonderful
inlay by Boulle. The dials also were beautifully designed. Consoles,
tables, cabinets, etc., were all treated in this elaborate way. Many of
the ceilings were painted by great artists, and those at Versailles,
painted by Le Brun and others, are good examples. There was always a
combination of the straight line and the curve, a strong feeling of
balance, and a profusion of ornament in the way of scrolls, garlands,
shells, the acanthus, anthemion, etc. The moldings were wide and
sometimes a torus of laurel leaves was used, but in spite of the great
amount of ornament lavished on everything, there is the feeling of
balance and symmetry and strength that gives dignity and beauty.

Louis was indeed fortunate in having the great Colbert for one of his
ministers. He was a man of gigantic intellect, capable of originating
and executing vast schemes. It was to his policy of state patronage,
wisely directed, and energetically and lavishly carried out, that we owe
the magnificent achievements of this period.

Everywhere the impression is given of brilliancy and splendor--gold on
the walls, gold on the furniture, rich velvets and damasks and
tapestries, marbles and marquetry and painting, furniture worth a king's
ransom. It all formed a beautiful and fitting background for the proud
king, who could do no wrong, and the dazzling, care-free people who
played their brilliant, selfish parts in the midst of its splendor. They
never gave a thought to the great mass of the common people who were
over-burdened with taxation; they never heard the first faint mutterings
of discontent which were to grow, ever louder and louder, until the
blood and horror of the Revolution paid the debt.

_The Regency and Louis XV_

When Louis XIV died in 1715, his great-grandson, Louis XV, was but five
years old, so Philippe, Duc d'Orleans, became Regent. During the last
years of Louis XIV's life the court had resented more or less the gloom
cast over it by the influence of Madame de Maintenon, and turned with
avidity to the new ruler. He was a vain and selfish man, feeling none of
the responsibilities of his position, and living chiefly for pleasure.
The change in decoration had been foreshadowed in the closing years of
the previous reign, and it is often hard to say whether a piece of
furniture is late Louis XIV or Regency.

The new gained rapidly over the old, and the magnificent and stately
extravagance of Louis XIV turned into the daintier but no less
extravagant and rich decoration of the Regency and Louis XV. One of the
noticeable changes was that rooms were smaller, and the reign of the
boudoir began. It has been truly said that after the death of Louis XIV
"came the substitution of the finery of coquetry for the worship of the
great in style." There was greater variety in the designs of furniture
and a greater use of carved metal ornament and gilt bronze, beautifully
chased. The ornaments took many shapes, such as shells, shaped foliage,
roses, seaweed, strings of pearls, etc., and at its best there was
great beauty in the treatment.

It was during the Regency that the great artist and sculptor in metal,
Charles Cressant, flourished. He was made _ébeniste_ of the Regent, and
his influence was always to keep up the traditions when the reaction
against the severe might easily have led to degeneration. There are
beautiful examples of his work in many of the great collections of
furniture, notably the wonderful commode in the Wallace collection. The
dragon mounts of ormolu on it show the strong influence the Orient had
at the time. He often used the figures of women with great delicacy on
the corners of his furniture, and he also used tortoise-shell and many
colored woods in marquetry, but his most wonderful work was done in
brass and gilded bronze.

In 1723, when Louis was thirteen years old, he was declared of age and
became king. The influence of the Regent was, naturally, still strong,
and unfortunately did much to form the character of the young king.
Selfishness, pleasure, and low ideals, were the order of court life, and
paved the way for the debased taste for rococo ornament which was one
marked phase of the style of Louis XV.

The great influence of the Orient at this time is very noticeable. There
had been a beginning of it in the previous reign, but during the Regency
and the reign of Louis XV it became very marked. "_Singerie_" and
"_Chinoiserie_" were the rage, and gay little monkeys clambered and
climbed over walls and furniture with a careless abandon that had a
certain fascination and charm in spite of their being monkeys. The
"_Salon des Singes_" in the Chateau de Chantilly gives one a good idea
of this. The style was easily overdone and did not last a great while.

During this time of Oriental influence lacquer was much used and
beautiful lacquer panels became one of the great features of French
furniture. Pieces of furniture were sent to China and Japan to be
lacquered and this, combined with the expense of importing it, led many
men in France to try to find out the Oriental secret. Le Sieur Dagly was
supposed to have imported the secret and was established at the Gobelins
works where he made what was called "_vernis de Gobelins_."

The Martin family evolved a most characteristically French style of
decoration from the Chinese and Japanese lacquers. The varnish they
made, called "_vernis Martin_," gave its name to the furniture decorated
by them, which was well suited to the dainty boudoirs of the day. All
kinds of furniture were decorated in this way--sedan chairs and even
snuff-boxes, until at last the supply became so great that the fashion
died. There are many charming examples of it to be seen in museums and
private collections, but the modern garish copies of it in many shops
give no idea of the charm of the original. Watteau's delightful
decorations also give the true spirit of the time, with their gayety
and frivolity showing the Arcadian affectations--the fad of the moment.

As the time passed decoration grew more and more ornate, and the
followers of Cressant exaggerated his traits. One of these was Jules
Aurèle Meissonier, an Italian by birth, who brought with him to France
the decadent Italian taste. He had a most marvelous power of invention
and lavished ornament on everything, carrying the rocaille style to its
utmost limit. He broke up all straight lines, put curves and
convolutions everywhere, and rarely had two sides alike, for symmetry
had no charms for him. The curved endive decoration was used in
architraves, in the panels of overdoors and panel moldings, everywhere
it possibly could be used, in fact. His work was in great demand by the
king and nobility. He designed furniture of all kinds, altars, sledges,
candelabra and a great amount of silversmith's work, and also published
a book of designs. Unfortunately it is this rococo style which is meant
by many people when they speak of the style of Louis XV.

Louis XV furniture and decoration at its best period is extremely
beautiful, and the foremost architects of the day were undisturbed by
the demand for rococo, knowing it was a vulgarism of taste which would
pass. In France, bad as it was, it never went to such lengths as it did
in Italy and Spain.

[Illustration: The mantel with its great glass reaching to the cornice,
the wall panels, paintings over the doors, and beautiful furniture, all
show the spirit of the best Louis XV period. The fur rug is an
anachronism and detracts from the effect of the room.]

[Illustration: The rare console tables and chairs and the Gobelin
tapestry, "Games of Children," show to great advantage in this
beautifully proportioned room of soft dull gold. The side-and
centre-lights, reflected in the mirror, light the room correctly.]

The easy generalization of the girl who said the difference between the
styles of Louis XV and Louis XVI was like the difference in hair, one
was curly and one was straight, has more than a grain of truth in it.
The curved line was used persistently until the last years of Louis XV's
time, but it was a beautiful, gracious curve, elaborate, and in
furniture, richly carved, which was used during the best period. The
decline came when good taste was lost in the craze for rococo.

Chairs were carved and gilded, or painted, or lacquered, and also
beautiful natural woods were used. The sofas and chairs had a general
square appearance, but the framework was much curved and carved and
gilded. They were upholstered in silks, brocades, velvets, damasks in
flowered designs, edged with braid. Gobelin, Aubusson and Beauvais
tapestry, with Watteau designs, were also used. Nothing more dainty or
charming could be found than the tapestry seats and chair backs and
screens which were woven especially to fit certain pieces of furniture.
The tapestry weavers now used thousands of colors in place of the
nineteen used in the early days, and this enabled them to copy with
great exactness the charming pictures of Watteau and Boucher. The idea
of sitting on beautiful ladies and gentlemen airily playing at country
life, does not appeal to our modern taste, but it seems to be in accord
with those days.

Desks were much used and were conveniently arranged with drawers,
pigeon-holes and shelves, and roll-top desks were made at this time.
Commodes were painted, or richly ornamented with lacquer panels, or
panels of rosewood or violet wood, and all were embellished with
wonderful bronze or ormolu. Many pieces of furniture were inlaid with
lovely Sèvres plaques, a manner which is not always pleasing in effect.
There were many different and elaborate kinds of beds, taking their
names from their form and draping. "_Lit d'anglaise_" had a back,
head-board and foot-board, and could be used as a sofa. "_Lit a
Romaine_" had a canopy and four festooned curtains, and so on.

The most common form of salon was rectangular, with proportions of 4 to
3, or 2 to 1. There were also many square, round, octagonal and oval
salons, these last being among the most beautiful. They all were
decorated with great richness, the walls being paneled with carved and
gilded--or partially gilded--wood. Tapestry and brocade and painted
panels were used. Large mirrors with elaborate frames were placed over
the mantels, with panels above reaching to the cornice or cove of the
ceiling, and large mirrors were also used over console tables and as
panels. The paneled overdoors reached to the cornice, and windows were
also treated in this way. Windows and doors were not looked upon merely
as openings to admit air and light and human beings, but formed a part
of the scheme of decoration of the room. There were beautiful brackets
and candelabra of ormolu to light the rooms, and the boudoirs and
salons, with their white and gold and beautifully decorated walls and
gilded furniture, gave an air of gayety and richness, extravagance and

An apartment in the time of Louis XV usually had a vestibule, rather
severely decorated with columns or pilasters and often statues in
niches. The first ante-room was a waiting-room for servants and was
plainly treated, the woodwork being the chief decoration. The second
ante-room had mirrors, console tables, carved and gilded woodwork, and
sometimes tapestry was used above a wainscot. Dining-rooms were
elaborate, often having fountains and plants in the niches near the
buffet. Bedrooms usually had an alcove, and the room, not counting the
alcove, was an exact square. The bed faced the windows and a large
mirror over a console table was just opposite it. The chimney faced the
principal entrance.

A "_chambre en niche_" was a room where the bed space was not so large
as an alcove. The designs for sides of rooms by Meissonier, Blondel,
Briseux Cuilles and others give a good idea of the arrangement and
proportions of the different rooms. The cabinets or studies, and the
_garde robes_, were entered usually from doors near the alcove. The
ceilings were painted by Boucher and others in soft and charming colors,
with cupids playing in the clouds, and other subjects of the kind. Great
attention was given to clocks and they formed an important and
beautiful part of the decoration.

The natural consequence of the period of excessive rococo with its
superabundance of curves and ornament, was that, during the last years
of Louis's reign, the reaction slowly began to make itself felt. There
was no sudden change to the use of the straight line, but people were
tired of so much lavishness and motion in their decoration. There were
other influences also at work, for Robert Adam had, in England,
established the classic taste, and the excavations at Pompeii were
causing widespread interest and admiration. The fact is proved that what
we call Louis XVI decoration was well known before the death of Louis
XV, by his furnishing Luciennes for Madam Du Barri in almost pure Louis
XVI style.

[Illustration: A chair from Fontainebleau, typical of the early Louis
XIV epoch before the development of its full grandeur.]

[Illustration: This Louis XV bergère is especially interesting as it
shows the broad seat made to accommodate the full dresses of the

[Illustration: There is a special charm about this old Louis XVI bench
with its Gobelin tapestry cover.]

_Louis XVI_

Louis XVI came to the throne in 1774, and reigned for nineteen years,
until that fatal year of '93. He was kind, benign, and simple, and had
no sympathy with the life of the court during the preceding reign. Marie
Antoinette disliked the great pomp of court functions and liked to play
at the simple life, so shepherdesses, shepherd's crooks, hats, wreaths
of roses, watering-pots and many other rustic symbols became the

Marie Antoinette was but fifteen years old when in 1770 she came to
France as a bride, and it is hardly reasonable to think that the taste
of a young girl would have originated a great period of decoration,
although the idea is firmly fixed in many minds. It is known that the
transition period was well advanced before she became queen, but there
is no doubt that her simpler taste and that of Louis led them to accept
with joy the classical ideas of beauty which were slowly gaining ground.
As dauphin and dauphiness they naturally had a great following, and as
king and queen their taste was paramount, and the style became

Architecture became more simple and interior decoration followed suit.
The restfulness and beauty of the straight line appeared again, and
ornament took its proper place as a decoration of the construction, and
was subordinate to its design. During the period of Louis XVI the rooms
had rectangular panels formed by simpler moldings than in the previous
reign, with pilasters of delicate design between the panels. The
overdoors and mantels were carried to the cornice and the paneling was
usually of oak, painted in soft colors or white and gilded. Walls were
also covered with tapestry and brocade. Some of the most characteristic
marks of the style are the straight tapering legs of the furniture,
usually fluted, with some carving. Fluted columns and pilasters often
had metal quills filling them for a part of the distance at top and
bottom, leaving a plain channel between. The laurel leaf was used in
wreath form, and bell flowers were used on the legs of furniture. Oval
medallions, surmounted by a wreath of flowers and a bow-knot, appear
very often, and in about 1780 round medallions were used. Furniture was
covered with brocade or tapestry, with shepherds and shepherdesses or
pastoral scenes for the design. The gayest kinds of designs were used in
the silks and brocades; ribbons and bow-knots and interlacing stripes
with flowers and rustic symbols scattered over them. Curtains were less
festooned and cut with great exactness. The canopies of beds became
smaller, until often only a ring or crown held the draperies, and it
became the fashion to place the bed sideways, "_vu de face_."

There was a great deal of beautiful ornament in gilded bronze and ormolu
on the furniture, and many colored woods were used in marquetry. The
fashion of using Sèvres plaques in inlay was continued. There was a
great deal of white and colored marble used and very fine ironwork was
made. Riesener, Roentgen, Gouthiére, Fragonard and Boucher are some of
the names that stand out most distinctly as authors of the beautiful
decorations of the time. Marie Antoinette's boudoir at Fontainebleau is
a perfect example of the style and many of the other rooms both there
and at the Petit Trianon show its great beauty, gayety and dignity
combined with its richness and magnificence.

The influence of Pompeii must not be overlooked in studying the style of
Louis XVI, for it appeared in much of the decoration of the time. The
beautiful little boudoir of the Marquise de Sérilly is a charming
example of its adaptation. The problem of bad proportion is also most
interestingly overcome. The room was too high for its size, so it was
divided into four arched openings separated by carved pilasters, and the
walls covered with paintings. The ceiling was darker than the walls,
which made it seem lower, and the whole color scheme was so arranged
that the feeling of extreme height was lessened. The mantel is a
beautiful example of the period. This room was furnished about 1780-82.

Compared to the lavish curves of the style of Louis XV, the fine
outlines and the beautiful ornament of Louis XVI appear to some people
cold, but if they look carefully at the matter, they will find them not
really so. The warmth of the Gallic temperament still shows through the
new garb, giving life and beauty to the dainty but strong furniture.

If one studies the examples of the styles of Louis XIV, Louis XV and
Louis XVI that one finds in the great palaces, collections, museums and
books of prints and photographs, one will see that the wonderful
foundation laid by Louis XIV was still there in the other two reigns.
During the time of Louis XVI the pose of rustic simplicity was a very
sophisticated pose indeed, but the reaction from the rocaille style of
Louis XV led to one of the most beautiful styles of decoration that the
world has seen. It had dignity, true beauty and the joy of life
expressed in it.

[Illustration: Rare Louis XVI chair--an original from Fontainebleau.]

[Illustration: The American Empire sofa, when not too elaborate, is a
very beautiful article of furniture.]

_The Empire_

The French Revolution made a tremendous change in the production of
beautiful furniture, as royalty and the nobility could no longer
encourage it. Many of the great artists died in poverty and many of them
went to other countries where life was more secure.

After the Revolution there was wholesale destruction of the wonderful
works of art which had cost such vast sums to collect. Nothing was to
remain that would remind the people of departed kings and queens, and a
committee on art was appointed to make selections of what was to be
saved and what was to be destroyed. That committee of "tragic comedians"
set up a new standard of art criticism; it was not the artistic merits
of a piece of tapestry, for instance, that interested them, but whether
a king or queen dared show their heads upon it. If so, into the flames
it went. Thousands of priceless things were destroyed before they
finished their dreadful work.

When Napoleon came into power he turned to ancient Rome for inspiration.
The Imperial Cæsars became his ideal and gave him a wide field in which
to display his love for splendor, uncontrolled by any true artistic
sense. It gave decoration a blow from which it was hard to recover.
Massive furniture without real beauty of line, loaded with ormolu, took
the place of the old. The furniture was simple in construction with
little carving, until later when all kinds of animal heads and claws,
and animals never seen by man, and horns of plenty, were used to support
tables and chairs and sofas. Everywhere one turned the feeling of
martial grandeur was in the air. Ormolu mounts of bay wreaths, torches,
eagles, military emblems and trophies, winged figures, the sphinx, the
bee, and the initial N, were used on furniture; and these same motives
were used in wall decoration. The furniture was left the natural color
of the wood, and mahogany, rosewood, and ebony, were used. Veneer was
also extensively used. The front legs of chairs were usually straight,
and the back legs slightly curved. Beds were massive, with head and
foot-board of even height, and the tops rolled over into a scroll. Swans
were used on the arms of chairs and sofas and the sides of beds. Tables
were often round, with tripod legs; in fact, the tripod was a great
favorite. There was a great deal of inlay of the favorite emblems but
little carving. Plain columns with Doric caps and metal ornaments were
used. The change in the use of color was very marked, for deep brown,
blue and other dark colors were used instead of the light and gay ones
of the previous period. The materials used were usually of solid colors
with a design in golden yellow, a wreath, or a torch, or the bee, or one
of the other favorite emblems being used in a spot design, or powdered
on. Some of the color combinations in the rooms we read of sound quite

Since the time of the Empire, France has done as the rest of the world
has, gone without any special style.

_English Furniture from Gothic Days to the Period of Queen Anne._

The early history of furniture in all countries is very much the
same--there is not any. We know about kings and queens, and war and
sudden death, and fortresses and pyramids, but of that which the people
used for furniture we know very little. Research has revealed the
mention in old manuscripts once in a while of benches and chests, and
the Bayeux tapestry and old seals show us that William the Conquerer and
Richard Coeur de Lion sat on chairs, even if they were not very
promising ones, but at best it is all very vague. It is natural to
suppose that the early Saxons had furniture of some kind, for, as the
remains of Saxon metalwork show great skill, it is probable they had
skill also in woodworking.

In England, as in France, the first pieces of furniture that we can be
sure of are chests and benches. They served all purposes apparently, for
the family slept on them by night and used them for seats and tables by
day. The bedding was kept in the chests, and when traveling had to be
done all the family possessions were packed in them. There is an old
chest at Stoke d'Abernon church, dating from the thirteenth century,
that has a little carving on it, and another at Brampton church of the
twelfth or thirteenth century that has iron decorations. Some chests
show great freedom in the carving, St. George and the Dragon and other
stories being carved in high relief.

[Illustration: An Apostles bed of the Tudor period, so-called from the
carved panels of the back. The over elaboration of the late Tudor work
corresponded in time with France's deterioration in the reign of Henry

Nearly all the existing specimens of Gothic furniture are
ecclesiastical, but there are a few that were evidently for household
use. These show distinctly the architectural treatment of design in the
furniture. Chairs were not commonly used until the sixteenth century.
Our distinguished ancestors decided that one chair in a house was
enough, and that was for the master, while his family and friends sat on
benches and chests. It is a long step in comfort and manners from the
fifteenth to the twentieth century. Later the guest of honor was given
the chair, and from that may come the saying that a speaker "takes the
chair." Gothic tables were probably supported by trestles, and beds were
probably very much like the early sixteenth century beds in general
shape. There were cupboards and armoires also, but examples are very
rare. From an old historical document we learn that Henry III, in 1233,
ordered the sheriff to attend to the painting of the wainscoted chamber
in Winchester Castle and to see that "the pictures and histories were
the same as before." Another order is for having the wall of the king's
chamber at Westminster "painted a good green color in imitation of a
curtain." These painted walls and stained glass that we know they had,
and the tapestry, must have given a cheerful color scheme to the
houses of the wealthy class even if there was not much comfort.

[Illustration: In this walnut dressing-table the period of William and
Mary has been adapted to modern needs.]

[Illustration: This reproduction of a Charles II chair shows cherubs
supporting crowns.]

The history of the great houses of England, and also the smaller
manor-houses, is full of interest in connection with the study of
furniture. There are many manor-houses that show all the characteristics
of the Gothic, Renaissance, Tudor and Jacobean periods, and from them we
can learn much of the life of the times. The early ones show absolute
simplicity in the arrangement, one large hall for everything, and later
a small room or two added. The fire was on the floor and the smoke
wandered around until it found its way out at the opening, or louvre, in
the roof. Then a chimney was built at the dais end of the hall, and the
mantelpiece became an important part of the decoration. The hall was
divided by "screens" into smaller rooms, leaving the remainder for
retainers, and causing the clergy to inveigh against the new custom of
the lord of the manor "eating in secret places." The staircase developed
from the early winding stair about a newel or post to the beautiful
broad stairs of the Tudor period. These were usually six or seven feet
broad, with about six wide easy steps and then a landing, and the
carving on the balusters was often very elaborate and sometimes very
beautiful--a ladder raised to the _n_th power.

Slowly the Gothic period died in England and slowly the Renaissance took
its place. There was never the gayety of decorative treatment that we
find in France, but the English workmen, while keeping their own
individuality, learned a tremendous amount from the Italians who came to
the country. Their influence is shown in the Henry VIIth Chapel in
Westminster Abbey, and in the old part of Hampton Court Palace, built by
Cardinal Wolsey.

The religious troubles between Henry VIII and the Pope and the change of
religion helped to drive the Italians from the country, so the
Renaissance did not get such a firm foothold in England as it did in
France. The mingling of Gothic and Renaissance forms what we call the
Tudor period. During the time of Elizabeth all trace of Gothic
disappeared, and the influence of the Germans and Flemings who came to
the country in great numbers, helped to shorten the influence of the
Renaissance. The over-elaboration of the late Tudor time corresponded
with the deterioration shown in France in the time of Henry IV. The Hall
of Gray's Inn, the Halls of Oxford, the Charterhouse and the Hall of the
Middle Temple are all fine examples of the Tudor period.

We find very few names of furniture makers of those days; in fact, there
are very few names known in connection with the buildings themselves.
The word architect was little used until after the Renaissance. The
owner and the "surveyor" were the people responsible, and the plans,
directions and details given to the workmen were astonishingly meager.

The great charm that we all feel in the Tudor and Jacobean periods is
largely due to the beautiful paneled walls. Their woodwork has a color
that only age can give and that no stain can copy. The first panels were
longer than the later ones. Wide use was made of the beautiful
"linen-fold" design in the wainscoting, and there was also much
elaborate carving and strapwork. Scenes like the temptation of Adam and
Eve were represented, heads in circular medallions, and simply
decorative designs were used. In the days of Elizabeth it became the
fashion to have the carving at the top of the paneling with plain panels
below. Tudor and Jacobean mantelpieces were most elaborate and were of
wood, stone, or marble richly carved, to say nothing of the beautiful
plaster ones, and there are many fine examples in existence. They were
fond of figure decoration, and many subjects were taken from the Bible.
The overmantels were decorated with coats-of-arms and other carving, and
the entablature over the fireplace often had Latin mottoes. The earliest
firebacks date from the fifteenth century. Coats-of-arms and many
curious designs were used upon them.

The furniture of the Tudor period was much carved, and was made chiefly
of oak. Cornices of beds and cabinets often had the egg-and-dart molding
used on them, and the S-curve is often seen opposed on the backs of
settees and chairs. It has a suggestion of a dolphin and is reminiscent
of the dolphins of the Renaissance. The beds were very large, the
"great bed of Ware" being twelve feet square. The cornice, the bed-head,
the pedestals and pillars supporting the cornice were all richly carved.
Frequently the pillars at the foot of the bed were not connected with
it, but supported the cornice which was longer than the bed. The
"Courtney bedstead," dated 1593, showing many of the characteristics of
the ornament of the time, is 103-1/2 inches high, 94 inches long, 68
inches wide. The majority of the beds were smaller and lower, however,
and the pillars usually rose out of drum-like members, huge acorn-like
bulbs that were often so large as to be ugly. They appeared also on
other articles of furniture. When in good proportion, with pillars
tapering from them, they were very effective, and gradually they grew
smaller. Some of the beds had the four apostles, Matthew, Mark, Luke and
John, carved on the posts. They were probably the origin of the nursery

    "Four corners to my bed,
    Four angels round my head,
    Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
    Bless the bed that I lie on."

[Illustration: In this living-room, Italian, Jacobean, and modern
stuffed furniture, give a satisfactory effect because each piece is good
of its kind and is in a certain relationship to each other. The huge
clock with chimes and the animal casts are out of keeping.]

Bed hanging were of silk, velvet, damask, wool damask, tapestry, etc.,
and there were fine linen sheets and blankets and counterpanes of wool
work. The chairs were high-backed of solid oak with cushions. There
were also jointed stools, folding screens, chests, cabinets, tables with
carpets (table covers) tapestry hangings, curtains, cushions, silver
sconces, etc.

[Illustration: Original Jacobean settle with tapestry covering. These
pieces of furniture range in price between $900 and $1,400.]

[Illustration: Fine reproductions of Jacobean chairs of the time of
Charles II. The carved front rail balances the carving on the back

The Jacobean period began with James I, and lasted until the time of
William and Mary, or from 1603 to about 1689. In the early part there
was still a strong Tudor feeling, and toward the end foreign influence
made itself felt until the Dutch under William became paramount. Inigo
Jones did his great work at this time in the Palladian style of
architecture. His simpler taste did much to reduce the exaggeration of
the late Tudor days.

Chests of various kinds still remained of importance. Their growth is
interesting: first the plain ones of very early days, then panels
appeared, then the pointed arch with its architectural effect, then the
low-pointed arch of Tudor and early Jacobian times, and the geometrical
ornament. Then came a change in the general shape, a drawer being added
at the bottom, and at last it turned into a complete chest of drawers.

Cabinets or cupboards were also used a great deal, and the most
interesting are the court-and livery-cupboards. The derivation of the
names is a bit obscure, but the court cupboard probably comes from the
French _court_, short. The first ones were high and unwieldy and the
later ones were lower with some enclosed shelves. They were used for a
display of plate, much as the modern sideboard is used. The number of
shelves was limited by rank; the wife of a baronet could have two, a
countess three, a princess four, a queen five. They were beautifully
carved, very often, the doors to the enclosed portions having heads,
Tudor roses, arches, spindle ornaments and many other designs common to
the Tudor and Jacobean periods. They had a silk "carpet" put on the
shelves with the fringe hanging over the ends, but not the front, and on
this was placed the silver.

The livery-cupboard was used for food, and the word probably comes from
the French _livrer_, to deliver. It had several shelves enclosed by
rails, not panels, so the air could circulate, and some of them had open
shelves and a drawer for linen. They were used much as we use a
serving-table, or as the kitchen dresser was used in old New England
days. In them were kept food and drink for people to take to their
bedrooms to keep starvation at bay until breakfast.

Drawing-tables were very popular during Jacobean times. They were
described as having two ends that were drawn out and supported by
sliders, while the center, previously held by them, fell into place by
its own weight. Another characteristic table was the gate-legged or
thousand-legged table, that was used so much in our own Colonial times.
There were also round, oval and square tables which had flaps supported
by legs that were drawn out. Tables were almost invariably covered with
a table cloth.

Some of the chairs of the time of James I were much like those of Louis
XIII, having the short back covered with leather, damask, or tapestry,
put on with brass or silver nails and fringe around the edge of the
seat. The chief characteristic of the chairs of this time was solidity,
with the ornament chiefly on the upper parts, which were molded oftener
than carved, with the backs usually high. A plain leather chair called
the "Cromwell chair," was imported from Holland. The solid oak back gave
way at last to the half solid back, then came the open back with rails,
and then the Charles II chair, with its carved or turned uprights, its
high back of cane, and an ornamental stretcher like the top of the chair
back, between the front legs. This is a very attractive feature, as it
serves to give balance of decoration and also partly hides the plain
stretcher from sight. A typical detail of Charles II furniture is the
crown supported by cherubs or opposed S-curves. James II used a crown
and palm leaves.

Grinling Gibbons did his wonderful work in carving at this time, using
chiefly pear and lime wood. The greater part of his work was wall
decoration, but he made tables, mirrors and other furniture as well. The
carving was often in lighter wood than the background, and was in such
high relief that portions of it had often to be "pinned" together, for
it seemed almost in the round. Evelyn discovered Gibbons in a little
shop working away at such a wonderful piece of carving that he could
not rest until he had taken him to Sir Christopher Wrenn. From this
introduction came the great amount of work they did together. The
influence of his work was still seen in the early eighteenth century.

The room at Knole House that was furnished for James I is of great
interest, as it is the same to-day as when first furnished. The bed is
said to have cost £8,000. As it is one of the show places of England one
should not miss a chance of seeing it.

Until the time of the Restoration the furniture of England could not
compare in sumptuousness with that of the Continental countries.
England, besides having a simpler point of view, was in a perpetual
state of unrest. The honest and hard-working English joiners and
carpenters adapted in a plain and often clumsy way the styles of the
different foreigners who came to the country. Through it all, however,
they kept the touch of national character that makes the furniture so
interesting, and they often did work of great beauty and worth. When
Charles II came to the throne he brought with him the ideas of France,
where he had spent so many years, and the change became very marked. The
natural Stuart extravagance also helped to form his taste, and soon we
hear of much more elaborate decoration throughout the land.

Many of the country towns were far behind London in the style of
furniture, and this explains why some furniture that is dated 1670, for
instance, seems to belong to an earlier time. The famous silver
furniture of Knole House, Seven-oaks, belongs to this time. Evelyn
mentions in his diary that the rooms of the Duchess of Portsmouth were
full of "Japan cabinets and screens, pendule clocks, greate vases of
wrought plate, tables, stands, chimney furniture, sconces, branches,
baseras, etc., all of massive silver," and later he mentions again her
"massy pieces of plate, whole tables and stands of incredible value."

In the reign of William and Mary, Dutch influence was naturally very
pronounced, as William disliked everything English. The English, being
now well grounded in the knowledge of construction, took the Dutch ideas
as a foundation and developed them along their own lines, until we have
the late Queen Anne type made by Chippendale.

The change in the style of chairs was most marked and noticeable. They
were more open backed than in Charles's time and had two uprights and a
spoon-or fiddle-shaped splat to support the sitter's back. The chair
backs took more the curve of the human figure, and the seats were
broader in front than in the back; the cabriole legs were broad at the
top and ended in claw or pad feet, and there were no straining-rails.
The shell was a common form of ornament, and all crowns and cherubs had
disappeared. Inlay and marquetry came to be generously used, but there
had been many cabinets of Dutch marquetry brought to England even
before the time of William and Mary. Flower designs in dyed woods,
shell, mother-of-pearl, and ivory were used.

The marquetry clocks made at this time are wonderful and characteristic
examples of the work, and are among the finest clocks ever made for
beauty of line and finish, and proportion.

Although marquetry and inlay have much in common there is one great
difference between them, and they should not be used as synonymous
terms. In marquetry the entire surface of the article is covered with
pieces of different colored woods cut very thin and glued on. It is like
a modern picture puzzle done with regard to the design. In inlay, the
design only is inlaid in the wood, leaving a much larger plain
background. Veneering is a thin layer of beautiful and often rare wood
glued to a foundation of some cheaper kind. The tall clocks and cabinets
of William and Mary's time and the wonderful work of Boulle in France
are examples of marquetry, the fine furniture of Hepplewhite and
Sheraton are masterly examples of inlay.

[Illustration: Examples of line reproductions. The lacquer chairs carry
out the true feeling of the old with great skill.]

[Illustration: A reproduction of a walnut chair with cane seat and
back, of the William and Mary period.]

[Illustration: Reproduction of chair showing the transition between the
time of Charles II and William and Mary. The carved strut remains but
the back is lower and simpler.]

_Queen Anne_

"Queen Anne" furniture is a very elastic term, for it is often used to
cover the reigns of William and Mary, Queen Anne, George I, and a part
of the reign of George II, or, in other words, all the time of Dutch
influence. The more usual method is to leave out William and Mary, but
at best the classification of furniture is more or less arbitrary, for
in England, as well as other countries, the different styles overlap
each other. Chippendale's early work was distinctly influenced by the

Walnut superseded oak in popularity, and after 1720 mahogany gradually
became the favorite. There was a good deal of walnut veneering done, and
the best logs were saved for the purpose. Marquetry died out and gave
place to carving, and the cabriole leg, one of the chief marks of Dutch
influence, became a firmly fixed style. The carving was put on the knees
and the legs ended in claw and ball and pad feet. Some chairs were
simply carved with a shell or leaf or scroll on top rail and knees of
the legs. In the more elaborately carved chairs the arms, legs, splat,
and top rail were all carved with acanthus leaves, or designs from
Gibbons's decoration. Chairs were broad in the seat and high of back
with wide splats, often decorated with inlay, in the early part of the
period. The top rail curved into the side uprights, and the seat was set
into a rebate or box-seat. The chair backs slowly changed in shape,
becoming broader and lower, the splat ceased to be inlaid and was
pierced and carved, and the whole chair assumed the shape made so
familiar to us by Chippendale.

Tables usually had cabriole legs, although there were some gate-or
thousand-legged, tables, and card tables, writing-tables, and
flap-tables, were all used. It was in the Queen Anne period that
highboys and lowboys made their first appearance.

In the short reign of Anne it also became the fashion to have great
displays of Chinese porcelain, and over-mantels, cupboards, shelves and
tables were covered with wonderful pieces of it. Addison, in Sir Roger
de Coverley, humorously describes a lady's library of the time.

"... And as it was some time before the lady came to me I had an
opportunity of turning over a great many of her books, which were ranged
in a very beautiful order. At the end of the folios (which were finely
bound and gilt) were great jars of china placed one above another in a
very noble piece of architecture. The quartos were separated from the
octavos by a pile of smaller vessels, which rose in a delightful
pyramid. The octavos were bounded by tea-dishes of all shapes, colors,
and sizes, which were so disposed on a wooden frame that they looked
like one continued pillar indented with the finest strokes of sculpture
and stained with the greatest variety of dyes. Part of the library was
enclosed in a kind of square, consisting of one of the prettiest
grotesque works that ever I saw, and made up of scaramouches, lions,
monkeys, mandarins, trees, shells, and a thousand other odd figures in
china ware. In the midst of the room was a little Japan table."

Between 1710 and 1730 lacquer ware became very fashionable, and many
experiments were made to imitate the beautiful Oriental articles brought
home by Dutch traders. In Holland a fair amount of success was attained
and a good deal of lacquered furniture was sent from there to England
where the brass and silver mounts were added. English and French were
experimenting, the French with the greatest success in their Vernis
Martin, mentioned elsewhere, which really stood quite in a class by
itself, but the imitations of Chinese and Japanese lacquer were inferior
to the originals. Pine, oak, lime, and many other woods, were used as a
base, and the fashion was so decided that nearly all kinds of furniture
were covered with it. This lacquer ware of William and Mary's and Queen
Anne's time must not be confounded with the Japanned furniture of
Hepplewhite's and Sheraton's time, which was quite different and of much
lower grade.

It was in the reign of Queen Anne that the sun began to rise on English
cabinet work; it shone gloriously through the eighteenth century, and
sank in early Victorian clouds.

[Illustration: Two important phases of Chippendale's work--an elaborate
ribbon-back chair, and one of the more staid Gothic type.]

[Illustration: An elaborately carved and gilded Chippendale mantel
mirror, showing French influence.]

[Illustration: One of the most beautiful examples of Chippendale's
fretwork tea-tables in existence.]

_Chippendale and the Eighteenth Century in England._

The classification of furniture in England is on a different basis from
that of France, as the rulers of England were not such patrons of art as
were the French kings. Flemish, Dutch and French influences all helped
to form the taste of the people. The Jacobean period lasted from the
time of James I to the time of William and Mary. William brought with
him from Holland the strong Dutch feeling that had a tremendous
influence on the history of English furniture, and during Anne's short
reign the Dutch feeling still lasted.

It was not until the early years of the reign of George II that the
Georgian period came into its own with Chippendale at its head. Some
authorities include William and Mary and Queen Anne in the Georgian
period, but the more usual idea is to divide it into several parts,
better known as the times of Chippendale, Adam, Hepplewhite and
Sheraton. French influence is marked throughout and is divided into
parts. The period of Chippendale was contemporaneous with that of Louis
XV, and the second part included the other three men and corresponded
with the last years of Louis XV, when the transition to Louis XVI was
beginning, and the time of Louis XVI.

It was not until the latter part of Chippendale's life that he gave up
his love of rococo curves and scrolls, dripping water effects, and his
Chinese and Gothic styles. His early chairs had a Dutch feeling, and it
is often only by ornamentation that one can date them.

The top of the Dutch chair had a flowing curve, the splat was first
solid and plain, then carved, and later pierced in geometrical designs;
then came the curves that were used so much by Chippendale. The carving
consisted of swags and pendants of fruit and flowers, shells, acanthus
leaves, scrolls, eagle's heads, carved in relief on the surface.

Dutch chairs were usually of walnut and some of the late ones were of
mahogany. Mahogany was not used to any extent before 1720, but at that
time it began to be imported in large quantities, and its lightness and
the ease with which it could be worked made it appropriate for the
lighter style of furniture then coming into vogue.

Chippendale began to make chairs with the curved top that is so
characteristic of his work. The splat back was always used, in spite of
the French, and its treatment is one of the most interesting things in
the history of English furniture. It gave scope for great originality.
Although, as I have said before, foreign influence was strong, the ideas
were adapted and worked out by the great cabinet-makers of the Georgian
period with a vigor and beauty that made a distinct English style, and
often went far, far ahead of the originals.

There were, so far as we know, three Thomas Chippendales: the second was
the great one. He was born in Worcester, England, about 1710, and died
in 1779. He and his father, who was also a carver, came to London before
1727. Very little is known about his life, but we may feel sure he was
that rare combination: a man of genius with decided business ability. He
not only designed the furniture which was made in his shop, but executed
a large part of it also, and superintended all the work done there by
others. That he was a man of originality shows distinctly through his
work, for although he adapted and copied freely and was strongly
influenced by the Dutch, French, and "Chinese taste," there is always
his own distinctive touch. The furniture of his best period, and those
belonging to his school, has great beauty of line and proportion, and
the exquisite carving shows a true feeling for ornament in relation to
plain surfaces. There are a few examples in existence of carving in
almost as high relief as that of Grinling Gibbons, swags, etc., and in
his most rococo period his carving was very elaborate. It always had
great clearness of edge and cut, and a wonderful feeling for light and
shade. In what is called "Irish Chippendale," which was furniture made
in Ireland after the style of Chippendale, the carving was in low relief
and the edges fairly smoothed off, which made it much less interesting.

Chippendale looked upon his work as one of the arts and placed his ideal
of achievement very high, and that he received the recognition of the
best people of the time as an artist of merit is proved by his election
to the Society of Arts with such men as Sir Joshua Reynolds, Horace
Walpole, Samuel Johnson, David Garrick, and others.

The genius of Chippendale justly puts him in the front rank of
cabinet-makers and his influence was the foundation of much of the fine
work done by many others during the eighteenth century. He is often
criticized for his excessive rococo taste as displayed in the plates of
the "Gentleman's and Cabinet-maker's Director," and in some of his
finished work. Many of the designs in the "Director" were probably never
carried out, and some of them were probably added to by the soaring
imaginations of the engraver. This is true of all the books published by
the great cabinet-makers, and it always seems more fair to have their
reputations rest on their finished work which has come down to us.

[Illustration: The dripping-water effect, of which Chippendale was so
fond at one time, is plainly shown on the doors of this particularly
fine example of his work.]

Chippendale, of course, must bear the chief part of the charge of
over-elaboration, and he frankly says that he thinks "much enrichment is
necessary." He copied Meissonier's designs and had a great love for
gilding, but the display of rococo taste is not in all his work by any
means, nor was it so excessive as that of the French. The more
self-restrained temperament of the Anglo-Saxon race makes a deal of
difference. He early used the ogee curve and cabriole leg, the knees of
which he carved with cartouches and leaves or other designs. The front
rail of the chair also was often carved. There were several styles of
curved leg, the cabriole leg of Dutch influence, and the curved style of
Louis XV. There were also several variations on the claw and ball foot.
Many Chippendale chairs were without stretchers, but the straight legged
style usually had four. The seats were sometimes in a box frame or
rebate, and sometimes the covering was drawn over the frame and fastened
with brass headed nails. Chippendale in the "Director" speaks of red
morocco, Spanish leather, damask, tapestry and other needlework as being
appropriate for the covering of his chairs.

[Illustration: A chair from early in the 18th century of the Dutch type.]

[Illustration: One of the Chippendale patterns, dating from about 1750.]

[Illustration: Hepplewhite's characteristic shield-shaped back.]

[Illustration: Thomas Sheraton's rectangular type of chair-back.]

In about 1760 or 1765 he began to use the straight leg for his chairs.
The different shapes of splats will often help in deciding the dates of
their making, and its development is of great interest. The curves shown
in the diagram on page 84 are the merest suggestions of the outline of
the splat, and they were carved most beautifully in many different
designs. Ribbon-back chairs are dated about 1755 and show the adapted
French influence. His Gothic and Chinese designs were made about
1760-1770. Ladder-back chairs nearly always had straight legs, either
plain or with double ogee curve and bead moldings, but there are a few
examples of ladder-back and cabriole legs combined, although these are
very rare. The chair settees of the Dutch time, with backs having the
appearance of chairs side by side, were also made by Chippendale. "Love
seats" were small settees. It was naïvely said that "they were too large
for one and too small for two." A large armchair that shows a decided
difference in the manners of the early eighteenth century and the
present day was called the "drunkard's chair."


When the craze for "Indian work" was at its height, there were many
pieces of old oak and walnut furniture covered with lacquer to bring it
up to the fashionable standard, but their forms were not suitable, and
oak especially, with its coarse grain did not lend itself to the
process. The stands for lacquer cabinets vary in style, but were often
gilded in late Louis XIV and Louis XV style. The difference between true
lacquer and its imitations is hard to explain. The true was made by
repeated coats of a special varnish, each rubbed down and allowed to
become hard before the next was put on. This gave a hard, cool, smooth
surface with no stickiness. Modern work, done with paint and French
varnish, has not this delightful feeling, but is nearly always clammy to
the touch, and the colors are hurt by the process of polishing.
Chippendale did not use much lacquer, but in the "Director" he often
says such and such designs would be suitable for it.

Much of the furniture that Chippendale made was heavy, but the best of
it had much beauty. His delicate fretwork tea-tables are a delight, with
their fretwork cupboards and carving. He seemed to combine many sides in
his artistic temperament, a fact that many people lay to his power of
assimilating the work of others. He did not make sideboards in our sense
of the word. His were large side-tables, sometimes with a drawer for
silver and sometimes not. Pier-tables were very much like them in shape,
but smaller, and were often gilded to match the mirrors which were
placed above them.

The larger pieces of Chippendale furniture have the same characteristic
of perfect workmanship and detail which the chairs possess.
Dining-tables were made in sections consisting of two semi-circular ends
and two center pieces with flaps which could all be joined together and
make a very large table. The beds he made had four posts and cornice
tops elaborately carved and often gilded, with a strong Louis XV
feeling. The curtains hung from the inside of the cornice. He also made
many other styles of beds, such as canopy beds, tent beds, flat tester
beds, Chinese beds, Gothic beds: there was almost nothing he did not
make for the house from wall brackets to the largest wardrobes.

To many people used to the simple Chippendale furniture which is
commonly seen, the idea of rich and beautiful carving and gilding comes
as a surprise, and even in the "Director" there are no plates which show
his most beautiful work. His elaborate furniture was naturally chiefly
order work, and so was not pictured, and much of it that is left is
still in the possession of the descendants of the original owners. The
small number of authentic pieces which have reached public sales have
been eagerly snapped up by private collectors and museums at large

[Illustration: It is interesting to compare the generous curves of the
Chippendale sofa with the greater severity of Hepplewhite's taste..]

In America much of the furniture called Chippendale was not made by
Chippendale himself, but was made after his designs and copied from
imported pieces by clever cabinet-makers here in the, then, colonies.
The average American of the eighteenth century was a simple and not over
rich person of good breeding and refined taste who appreciated the
fact that the elaborate furniture of England and France would not be
in keeping with life in America, and so either imported the simpler
kinds, or demanded that the home cabinet-maker choose good models for
his work. This partly explains why we have so much really good Colonial
furniture, and not so much of the elaborately carved and gilded variety.

[Illustration: A valuable collection of an Adam mirror, a block-front,
knee-hole chest of drawers, and a Hepplewhite chair.]

_Robert Adam_

Robert Adam was the second of the four sons of William Adam, and was
born in 1728. The Adam family was Scotch of good social position. Robert
early showed a talent for drawing. He was ambitious, and, as old Roman
architecture interested him above all other subjects, he decided that he
could attain his ideals only by study and travel in Italy. He returned
to England in 1758 after four years of hard work with the results of his
labors, the chief treasure being his careful drawings of Diocletian's
villa. His classical taste was firmly established, and was to be one of
the important influences of the eighteenth century.

Robert and James Adam went into partnership and became the most noted
architects of their day in England. The list of their buildings is long
and interesting, and much of their architectural and decorative work is
still in existence.

To many people it will seem like putting the cart before the horse to
say that Robert Adam had in any way influenced the style we call Louis
XVI, but it is a plausible theory and certainly an interesting one. Mr.
G. Owen Wheeler in his interesting book on "Old English Furniture" makes
a strong case in favor of the Adam Brothers. Classical taste was well
established in England by 1765, before the transition from Louis XV to
Louis XVI began, and Robert Adam published his book in parallel columns
of French and English, which shows it must have been in some demand in
France. The great influence of the excavations at Pompeii must naturally
not be underestimated, as it was far reaching, but with the beautiful
Adam style well developed, just across the Channel, it seems probable
that it may have had its share in forming French taste. The foundation
being there, the French put their characteristic touch to it and
developed a much richer style than that of the Adam Brothers, but the
two have so much in common that Louis XVI furniture may be put into an
Adam room with perfect fitness, and vice versa. As the Adams cared only
to design furniture some one else had to carry out the designs, and
Chippendale was master carver and cabinet-maker under them at Harewood
House, Yorkshire, and probably was also in many other instances.

[Illustration: A mantel of marble and steel in the drawing-room, Rushton
Hall, Northamptonshire--the work of the brothers Adam.]

[Illustration: Another Adam mantel. It is interesting to note how
clearly these mantels are the inspiration of our own Colonial work.]

The early furniture of Adam was plain, and the walls were treated with
much decoration that was classic in feeling. He possessed the secret of
a composition of which his exquisite decorations on walls and ceilings
were made. After 1770 he simplified his walls and elaborated his
furniture designs until they met in a beautiful and graceful harmony. He
designed furniture to suit the room it was in, and with the dainty and
charming coloring, the beauty of proportion and the charm of the wall
decoration, the scheme had great beauty.

[Illustration: This group of old mirrors indicates the extent to which
refinement of design was carried during the Georgian period in
England--the time of the great cabinet-makers.]

He used the ram's head, wreaths, honeysuckle, mythological subjects,
lozenge-shaped, oval and octagonal panels, and many other designs. He
was one of the first to use the French idea of decorating furniture with
painting and porcelain plaques, and the furniture itself was simple and
beautiful in line. The stucco ceilings designed by the brothers were
picked out with delicate colors and have much beauty of line.

A great deal of the most beautiful Adam decoration was the painting on
walls and ceilings and furniture by Angelica Kaufmann, Zucchi,
Pergolesi, Cipriani, and Columbani. The standard of work was so high
that only the best was satisfactory.

Adam usually designed his furniture for the room in which it was to
stand, and he often planned the house and all its contents, even to the
table silver, to say nothing of the door-locks. The chairs were of
mahogany, or painted, or gilded, wood. Some had oval upholstered backs,
with the covering specially designed for the room, and some had lyre
backs, later used so much by Sheraton, and others had small painted
panels placed in the top rail, with beautiful carving. Mirrors were
among the most charming articles designed by Adam, and had composition
wreaths and cupids and medallions for ornament. They were usually made
in pairs in both large and small sizes. A pair of antique mirrors
should be kept together, as they are very much more valuable than when

Adam was one of the first to assemble the pieces that later grew into
the sideboard--a table, two pedestals, and a cellaret. There is a
sideboard designed by him for Gillows, in which the parts are connected,
and it is at least one of the ancestors of the beautiful Shearer and
Hepplewhite ones and our modern useful, though not always beautiful,
article. When, late in his career, Adam attempted to copy the French, he
was not so successful, as he did not have their flexibility of
temperament, and was unable to give the warmer touch to the classic,
which they did so well. His paneled walls, however, have great dignity
and purity of line and feeling, and the applied ornament was really an
ornament, and not a disfigurement as too often happens in our day. With
Adam one feels the surety of knowledge and the refinement of good taste
led by a high ideal.

[Illustration: There are many details worthy of notice in this room, the
mahogany doors, the paneled walls with the old picture paper, the
over-mantel, the knife boxes on the sideboard, the Hepplewhite
furniture, and the side-lights. The chandelier is badly chosen.]

[Illustration: A fine old Hepplewhite sideboard, with old glass and
silver, but the modern wallpaper is not in harmony.]

[Illustration: A modern Hepplewhite settee, showing the draped scarf
carving he used so much.]


The work of Hepplewhite and his school lasted from about 1760 to 1795;
the last nine years of the time the business was carried on by his
widow, Alice, under the name of A. Hepplewhite & Co. For five years
after that some work was done after his manner, but it was distinctly
inferior. In the early seventies Hepplewhite's work was so well known
and so much admired that its influence was shown in the work of his
contemporaries. There was a great difference between his style and that
of Chippendale, his being much lighter in construction and effect,
besides the many differences of design. Hepplewhite was strongly
influenced by the French style of Louis XVI, and also the pure taste of
Robert Adam at its height. Hepplewhite, however, like all the great
cabinet-makers, both French and English, was a great genius himself and
stamped the impress of his own personality upon his work.

Many people date Hepplewhite's fame from the time of the publication of
his book, "The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer's Guide," in 1788, not
realizing that he had been dead for two years when it appeared. Its
publication was justified by the well established popularity of his
furniture and the success with which his designs were carried out by A.
Hepplewhite & Co.

It is interesting to notice the difference in the size of chairs which
became apparent during Hepplewhite's time. Hoop-skirts and stiffened
coats went out of fashion, and with them went the need of large chair
seats. The transition chairs made by Hepplewhite were not very
attractive in proportion, as the backs were too low for the width. The
transition from Chippendale to Hepplewhite was not sudden, as the last
style of Chippendale was simpler and had more of the classic feeling in
it. Hepplewhite says, in the preface to his book: "To unite elegance and
utility, and blend the useful with the agreeable, has ever been
considered a difficult, but an honorable task." He sometimes failed and
sometimes succeeded. His knowledge of construction enabled him to make
his chairs with shield, oval, and heart-shaped backs. The tops were
slightly curved, also the tops of the splats, and at the lower edge
where the back and the splat join, a half rosette was carved. He often
used the three feathers of the Prince of Wales, sheaves of wheat,
anthemion, urns, and festoons of drapery, all beautifully carved, and
forming the splat. The backs of his chairs were supported at the sides
by uprights running into the shield-shaped back and did not touch the
seat frame in any other way. With this apparent weakness of construction
it is wonderful how many of his chairs have come down to us in perfect
condition, but it was his knowledge of combining lightness with strength
which made it possible.

Hepplewhite used straight or tapering legs with spade feet for his
furniture, often inlaid with bellflowers in satinwood. The legs were
sometimes carved with a double ogee curve and bead molding. He did not
use carving in the lavish manner of Chippendale, but it was always
beautifully done, and he used a great deal of inlay of satinwood, etc.,
oval panels, lines, urns, and many other motives common to the other
cabinet-makers of the day, and also painted some of his furniture. His
Japan work was inferior in every way to that of the early part of the
eighteenth century. The upholstery was fastened to the chairs with
brass-headed tacks, often in a festoon pattern. Oval-shaped brass
handles were used on his bureaus, desks, and other furniture. He made
many sideboards, some, in fact, going back to the side table and
pedestal idea, and bottle-cases and knife-boxes were put on the ends of
the sideboards. His regular sideboards were founded on Shearer's design.

Shearer's furniture was simple and dainty in design, and he has the
honor of making the first real serpentine sideboard, about 1780, which
was not a more or less disconnected collection of tables and pedestals.
It was the forerunner of the Hepplewhite and Sheraton sideboards that we
know so well. Shearer is now hardly known even by name to the general
world, but without doubt his ideal of lightness and strength in
construction had a good deal of influence on his contemporaries and

Hepplewhite was very fond of oval and semi-circular shapes, and many of
his tables are made in either one way or the other. His sideboards,
founded on Shearer's designs, are very elegant, as he liked to say, in
their simplicity of line, their inlay, and their general beauty of wood.
He was most successful in his chairs, sideboards, tables, and small
household articles, for his larger pieces of furniture were often too
heavy. Some of the worst, however, were made by other cabinet-makers
after his designs, and not by Hepplewhite himself.


Thomas Sheraton was born in 1750, and was a journeyman cabinet-maker
when he went to London. His great genius for furniture design was
combined with a love of writing tracts and sermons. Unfortunately for
his success in life, he had a most disagreeable personality, being
conceited, jealous, and perfectly willing to pour scorn on his brother
cabinet-makers. This impression he quite frankly gives about himself in
his books. The name of Robert Adam is not mentioned, and this seems
particularly unpleasant when one thinks of the latter's undoubted
influence on Sheraton's work. Sheraton's unfortunate disposition
probably helped to make his life a failure.

It is very sad to see such possibilities as his not reaping their true
reward, for poverty dogged his steps all through life, and he was always
struggling for a bare livelihood. His books were not financially
successful, and at last he gave up his workshop and ceased to make the
furniture he designed. He was an expert draughtsman and his designs were
carried out by the skillful cabinet-makers of the day. Adam Black gives
a very pitiful account of the poverty in which Sheraton lived, and says:
"That by attempting to do everything he does nothing." His "nothing,"
however, has proved a very big something in the years which have
followed, for Sheraton is responsible for one of the most beautiful
types of furniture the world has known, and although his life was hard
and bitter, his fame is great.

Sheraton took the style of Louis XVI as his standard, and some of his
best work is quite equal to that of the French workmen. He felt the lack
of the exquisite brass and ormolu work done in France, and said if it
were only possible to get as fine in England, the superior
cabinet-making of the English would put them far ahead in the ranks. To
many of us this loss is not so great, for the beauty of the wood counts
for more, and is not detracted from by an oversupply of metal ornament,
as sometimes happened in France. "Enough is as good as a feast."
Sheraton, at his best, had beauty, grace, and refinement of line without
weakness, lightness and yet perfect construction, combined with balance,
and the ornament just sufficient to enhance the beauty of the article
without overpowering it. It is this fine work which the world remembers
and which gave him his fame, and so it is far better to forget his later
period when nearly all trace of his former greatness was lost.

[Illustration: A Sheraton bureau with a delightful little

Sheraton profited by the work of Chippendale, Adam, and Hepplewhite, for
these great men blazed the trail for him, so to speak, in raising the
art of cabinet-making to so high a plane that England was full of
skilled workmen. The influence of Adam, Shearer, and Hepplewhite, was
very great on his work, and it is often difficult to tell whether he
or Hepplewhite or Shearer made some pieces. He evidently did not have
business ability and his bitter nature hampered him at every turn. The
Sheraton school lasted from about 1790 to 1806. He died in 1806, fairly
worn out with his struggle for existence. Poor Sheraton, it certainly is
a pitiful story.

[Illustration: One of Sheraton's charming desks, with sliding doors made
of thin strips of wood glued on cloth.]

[Illustration: A sewing-table having the spirit of both Hepplewhite and

Sheraton's chair backs are rectangular in type, with urn splats, and
splats divided into seven radiates, and also many other designs. The
chairs were made of mahogany and satinwood, some carved, some inlaid,
and some painted. The splat never ran into the seat, but was supported
on a cross rail running from side to side a few inches above the seat.
The material used for upholstery was nailed over the frame with
brass-headed tacks.

Bookcases were of mahogany and satinwood veneer, and the large ones were
often in three sections, the center section standing farther out than
the two sides. The glass was covered with a graceful design in moldings,
and the pediments were of various shapes, the swan-neck being a

Sideboards were built on very much the lines of those made by Shearer
and Hepplewhite. There were drawers and cupboards for various uses. The
knife-boxes to put on the top came in sets of two, and sometimes there
was a third box. The legs were light and tapering with inlay of
satinwood, and sometimes they were reeded. There was inlay also on the
doors and drawers. There were also sideboards without inlay. The legs
for his furniture were at first plain, and then tapering and reeded. He
used some carving, and a great deal of satinwood and tulip-wood were
inlaid in the mahogany; he also used rosewood. The bellflower, urn,
festoons, and acanthus were all favorites of his for decoration.

He made some elaborate and startling designs for beds, but the best
known ones are charming with slender turned posts or reeded posts, and
often the plain ones were made of painted satinwood.

The satinwood from the East Indies was fine and of a beautiful yellow
color, while that from the West Indies was coarser in grain and darker
in color. It is a slow growing tree, and that used nowadays cannot
compare with the old, in spite of the gallant efforts of the hard
working fakirs to copy its beautiful golden tone.

All the cabinet-makers of the eighteenth century made ingenious
contrivances in the way of furniture, washstands concealed in what
appear to be corner cupboards, a table that looks as simple as a table
possibly can, but has a small step-ladder and book rest hidden away in
its useful inside, and many others. Sheraton was especially clever in
making these conveniences, as these two examples show, and his books
have many others pictured in them. Sheraton's list of articles of
furniture is long, for he made almost everything from knife-boxes to
"chamber-horses," which were contrivances of a saddle and springs for
people to take exercise upon at home.

Sheraton's "Drawing Book" was the best of those he published. It was
sold chiefly to other cabinet-makers and did not bring in many orders,
as Chippendale's and Hepplewhite's did. His other books showed his
decline, and his "Encyclopedia," on which he was working at the time of
his death, had many subjects in it beside furniture and cabinet-making.
His sideboards, card-tables, sewing-tables, tables of every kind,
chairs--in fact, everything he made during his best period--have a
sureness and beauty of line that makes it doubly sad that through the
stress of circumstances he should have deserted it for the style of the
Empire that was then the fashion in France. One or two of his Empire
designs have beauty, but most of them are too dreadful, but it was the
beginning of the end, and the eighteenth century saw the beautiful
principles of the eighteenth century lost in a bog of ugliness.

There were many other cabinet-makers of merit that space does not allow
me to mention, but the great four who stood head and shoulders above
them all were Chippendale, Adam, Hepplewhite and Sheraton. They, being
human, did much work that is best forgotten, but the heights to which
they all rose have set a standard for English furniture in beauty and
construction that it would be well to keep in mind.

The nineteenth century passed away without any especial genius, and in
fact, with a very black mark against its name in the hideous early
Victorian era. The twentieth century is moving along without anything we
can really call a beautiful and worthy style being born. There are many
working their way towards it, but there is apt to be too much of the
bizarre in the attempts to make them satisfactory, and so we turn to the
past for our models and are thankful for the legacy of beauty it has
left to the world.

_A General Talk_

When one faces the momentous question of furnishing a house, there are
numerous things which must be looked into and thoroughly understood if
success is to be assured. If one is building in the country the first
question is the placing of the house in regard to the view, but in town
there is not much choice. The architect being chosen with due regard to
the style of house one wishes, the planning can go merrily on. The
architect should be told if there are any especially large and beautiful
pieces of furniture or tapestry to be planned for, so they shall receive
their rightful setting. After all, architects are but human, and cannot
tell by intuition what furniture is in storage.

It is sad to see how often architecture and decoration are looked upon
as two entirely disconnected subjects, instead of being closely allied,
playing into each other's hands, as it were, to make a perfect whole. To
many people, a room is simply a room to be treated as they wish; whereas
many rooms are absolute laws unto themselves, and demand a certain kind
of treatment, or disaster follows. In America this kind of house is not
found so often as in Europe, but the number is growing rapidly as
architects and their clients realize more and more the beauties and
possibilities of the great periods as applied to the modern house. It is
only to the well-trained architect and decorator with correct taste that
one may safely turn, for the ill-trained and commonplace still continue
to make their astounding errors, and so to have the decoration of a room
truly successful one must begin with the architect, for he knows the
correct proportions of the different styles and appreciates their
importance. He will plan the rooms so that they, when decorated, may
complete his work and form a beautiful and convincing whole. This will
give the restfulness and beauty that absolute appropriateness always

[Illustration: This room shows how fresh and charming white paint and
simplicity can be.]

This matter of appropriateness must not be overlooked, and the whole
house should express the spirit of the owner; it should be in absolute
keeping with his circumstances. There are few houses which naturally
demand the treatment of palaces, but there are many which correspond
with the smaller chateaux of France and the manor-houses of England. It
is to these we must turn for our inspiration, for they have the beauty
of good taste and high standards without the lavishness of royalty; but
even royalty did not always live in rooms of state, for at Versailles,
and Petit Trianon, there is much simple exquisite furniture. The
wonderful and elaborate furniture of the past must be studied of course,
but to the majority of people, then as now, the simpler expression of
its fundamental lines of beauty are more satisfactory. The trouble
with many houses is that their furnishings are copied from too grand
models, and the effect in an average modern house is unsuitable in every
way. They cannot give the large vistas and appropriate background in
color and proportion which are necessary. Beauty does not depend upon

[Illustration: The warm tones of a brown Chinese wallpaper are
attractive with the mahogany furniture, and the pattern is prevented
from becoming monotonous by the strong rectangular lines of the ivory
woodwork which frames it. The corner cupboard and the exceptionally fine
dining-table and the variety of chairs are interesting.]

If one has to live in a house planned and built by others one often has
to give up some long cherished scheme and adopt something else more
suited to the surroundings. For instance, the rooms of the great French
periods were high, and often the modern house has very low ceilings,
that would not allow space for the cornice, over-doors and correctly
proportioned paneling, that are marked features of those times. Mrs.
Wharton has aptly said: "Proportion is the good breeding of
architecture," and one might add that proportion is good breeding
itself. One little slip from the narrow path into false proportion in
line or color or mass and the perfection of effect is gone.

Proportion is another word for the fitness of things, and that little
phrase, "the fitness of things," is what Alice in Wonderland calls a
"portmanteau" phrase, for it holds so much, and one must feel it
strongly to escape the pitfalls of period furnishing. Most amazing
things are done with perfect complacency, but although the French and
English kings who gave their names to the various periods were far from
models of virtue, they certainly deserved no such cruel punishment as
to have some of the modern rooms, such as we have all seen, called after

The best decorators refuse to mix styles in one room and they thus save
people from many mistakes, but a decorator without a thorough
understanding of the subject, often leads one to disaster. A case in
point is an apartment where a small Louis XV room opens on a narrow hall
of nondescript modern style, with a wide archway opening into a Mission
dining-room. As one sits in the midst of pink brocade and gilding and
looks across to the dining-room, fitted out in all the heavy
paraphernalia of Mission furniture, one's head fairly reels. No contrast
could be more marked or more unsuitable, and yet this is by no means an
uncommon case.

If one intends to adopt a style in decorating one's house, there should
be a uniformity of treatment in all connecting rooms, and there must be
harmony in the furniture and architecture and ornament, as well as
harmony in the color scheme. The foundation must be right before the
decoration is added. The proportion of doors and windows, for instance,
is very important, with the decorated over-door reaching to the ceiling.
The over-doors and mantels were architectural features of the rooms, and
it was not until wallpapers came into common use, in the early part of
the nineteenth century, that these decorative features slowly died out.

The mantel and fireplace should be a center of interest and should be
balanced with something of importance on the other side of the room,
either architectural or decorative. It was this regard for symmetry,
balance, proportion, and harmony, which made the old rooms so
satisfying; there was no magic about it, it was artistic common sense.

The use for which a room is intended must be kept in view and carried
out with real understanding of its needs. The individuality of the owner
is of course a factor. Unfortunately the word individuality is often
confounded with eccentricity and to many people it means putting
perfectly worthy and unassuming articles to startling uses. By
individuality one should really mean the best expression of one's sense
of beauty and the fitness of things, and when it is guided by the laws
of harmony and proportion the result is usually one of great charm,
convenience, and comfort. These qualities must be in every successful

In furnishing any house, whether in some special period or not, there
are certain things which must be taken into account. One of these is the
general color scheme. Arranging a color scheme for a house is not such a
difficult matter as many people suppose, nor is it the simple thing that
many others seem to think. There is a happy land between the two
extremes, and the guide posts pointing to it are a good color sense, a
true feeling for the proportion and harmony of color, and an
understanding of the laws of light. The trouble is that people often do
not use their eyes; red is red to them, blue is blue, and green is
green. They have never appeared to notice that there are dozens of
tones in these colors. Nature is one of the greatest teachers of color
harmony if we would but learn from her. Look at a salt marsh on an
autumn day and notice the wonderful browns and yellows and golds in it,
the reds and russets and touches of green in the woods on its edge, and
the clear blue sky over all with the reflections in the little pools. It
is a picture of such splendor of color that one fairly gasps. Then look
at the same marsh under gray skies and see the change; there is just as
much beauty as before, the same russets and golds and reds, but
exquisitely softened. One is sparkling, gay, a harmony of brilliancy;
the other is more gentle, sweet and appealing, a harmony of softened

Again, Nature makes a thousand and one shades of green leaves to
harmonize with her flowers; the yellow green of the golden rod, the
silver green of the milkweed, the bright green of the nasturtium. Notice
the woods in wintertime with the wonderful purple browns and grays of
the tree trunks and branches, the bronze and russet of the dead leaves,
and the deep shadows in the snow. Everywhere one turns there are lessons
to learn if one will only use seeing eyes and a thinking mind.

A house should be looked at as a whole, not as so many units to be
treated in a care-free manner. A room is affected by all the rooms
opening from it, as they, in turn, are affected by it. There can be
variety of color with harmony of contrast, or there can be the same
color used throughout, with the variety gained by the use of its
different tones. The plan of each floor should be carefully studied to
get the vistas in all directions so that harmony may reign and there
will be no danger of a clashing color discord when a door is opened. The
connecting rooms need not be all in one color, of course, but they
should form a perfect color harmony one with another, with deft touches
of contrast to accent and bring out the beauty of the whole scheme: This
matter of harmony in contrast is an important one. The idea of using a
predominant color is a restful one, and adds dignity and apparent size
to a house. The walls, for instance, could be paneled in white enameled
wood, or plaster, and the necessary color and variety could be supplied
by the rugs, hangings, furniture, and pictures.

Another charming plan is to have different tones of one color used--a
scheme running from cream or old ivory through soft yellow and tan to a
russet brown would be lovely, especially if the house did not have an
over supply of light. Greens may be used with discretion, and a cool and
attractive scheme is from white to soft blue through gray. If different
colors are to be used in the different rooms the number of combinations
is almost unlimited, but there must always be the restraining influence
of a good color sense in forming the scheme or the result will be
disappointing, to say the least.

A very important matter in the use of color is in its relation to the
amount and quality of the light. Dreary rooms can be made cheerful, and
too bright and dazzling rooms can be softened in effect, by the skillful
use of color. The warm colors,--cream white, yellows--but not lemon
yellow--orange, warm tans, russet, pinks, yellow greens, yellowish reds
are to be used on the north or shady side of the house. The cool
colors,--white, cream white, blues, grays, greens, and violet, are for
the sunny side. Endless combinations may be made of these colors, and if
a gray room, for example, is wished on the north side of the house, it
can be used by first choosing a warm tone of gray and combining with it
one of the warm colors, such as certain shades of soft pink or yellow.
We can stand more brilliancy of color out-of-doors than we can in the
house, where it is shut in with us. It is too exciting and we become
restless and nervous. No matter on what scale a house is furnished one
of its aims should be to be restful.

There is one great mistake which many people make of thinking of red as
a cheerful color, and one which is good to use in a dark room. The
average red used in large quantities absorbs the light in a most
disheartening manner, making a room seem smaller than it really is; it
makes ugly gloomy shadows in the corners, for at night it seems to turn
to a dingy black, and increases the electric light bill. Red is also a
severe strain on the eyes, and many a red living-room is the cause of
seemingly unaccountable headaches. I do not mean to say that red should
never be used, for it is often a very necessary color, but it must be
used with the greatest discretion, and one must remember that a little
of it goes a long way. A room, for instance, paneled with oak, with an
oriental rug with soft red in it, red hangings, and a touch of red in an
old stained glass panel in the window, and red velvet cushions on the
window seat, would have much more warmth and charm than if the walls
were covered entirely with red. One red cushion is often enough to give
the required note. The effect of color is very strong upon people,
although a great many do not realize it, but nearly everyone will
remember a sudden and apparently unexplained change of mood in going
into some room. One can learn a deal by analyzing one's own sensations.
Figured wall-papers should also be chosen with the greatest care for
this same reason. Papers which have perpetual motion in their design, or
eyes which seem to peer, or an unstable pattern of gold running over it,
must all be ignored. People who choose this kind of paper are blest, or
cursed, whichever way one looks at it, by an utter lack of imagination.

A room is divided into three parts, the floor, the walls, and the
ceiling, and the color of the room naturally follows the law of nature;
the heaviest or darkest at the bottom, or floor; the medium tone in the
center, or walls; and the lightest at the top, or ceiling. It is only
when one has to artificially correct the architectural proportions of a
room that the ceiling should be as dark, or darker, than the walls. A
ceiling can also be seemingly lowered by bringing the ceiling color down
on the side walls. A low room should never have a dark ceiling, as it
makes the room seem lower.

Walls should be treated as a background or as a decoration in
themselves. In the latter case any pictures should be set in specially
arranged panels and should be pictures of importance, or fresco
painting. The walls of the great periods were of this decorative order.
They were treated architecturally and the feeling of absolute support
which they gave was most satisfactory. The pilasters ran from base or
dado to the cornice and the over-doors made the doors a dignified part
of the scheme, rather than mere useful holes in the wall as they too
often are nowadays.

Paneling is one of the most beautiful methods of wall decoration. There
are many styles of paneling, stone, marble, stucco, plaster, and wood,
and each period has its own distinctive way of using them, and should be
the correct type for the style chosen. The paneling of a Tudor room is
quite different from a Louis XVI room. In the course of a long period
like that of Louis XV the paneling slowly changed its character and the
rococo style was followed by the more dignified one that later became
the style of Louis XVI.

Tapestry and paintings of importance should have panels especially
planned for them. If one does not wish to have the paneling cover the
entire wall, a wainscot or dado with the wall above it covered with
tapestry, silk, painting, or paper, will make a beautiful and
appropriate room for many of the different styles of furniture. A
wainscot should not be too high; about thirty-six inches is a good
height, but should form a background for the chairs, sofas, and tables,
placed around the room.

A wainscot six or more feet high is not as architecturally correct as a
lower one, because a wall is, in a way, like an order in its divisions,
and if the base, or wainscot, is too high it does not allow the wall,
which corresponds to the column, to have its fair proportion. This
feeling is very strong in many apartment houses where small rooms are
overburdened by this kind of wainscot, and to make matters worse, the
top is used as a plate-rail. A high wainscot should be used only in a
large room, and if there are pilasters arranged to connect it with the
cornice, and the wall covering is put on in panel effect between, the
result is much better than if the wall were left plain, as it seems to
give more of a _raison d'être_.

Tapestry is another of the beautiful and important wall coverings, and
the happy possessor of Flemish or Gobelin, or Beauvais, tapestries, is
indeed to be envied. A rare old tapestry should be paneled or hung so it
will serve as a background. Used as portières, tapestry does not show
the full beauty of its wonderful time-worn colors and its fascination
of texture. It is not everyone, however, who is able to own these almost
priceless treasures of the past, and so modern machinery has been called
to the aid of those who wish to cover their walls and furniture with
tapestry. Many of these modern manufactures are really beautiful, thick
in texture, soft in color, and often have the little imperfections and
unevennesses of hand weaving reproduced, so that we feel the charm of
the old in the new. Many do not realize that in New York there are looms
making wonderful hand-woven tapestries with the true decorative feeling
of the best days of the past. On the top floor of a large modern
building stand the looms of various sizes, the dyeing tubs, the dripping
skeins of wool and silk, the spindles and bobbins, and the weavers hard
at work carrying out the beautiful designs of the artist owner. There
are few colors used, as in mediæval days, but wonderful effects are
produced by a method of winding the threads together which gives a
vibrating quality to the color. When the warp in some of the coarser
fabrics is not entirely covered it is sometimes dyed, which gives an
indescribable charm. Tapestries of all sizes have been made on these
looms, from the important decoration of a great hall, to sofa and chair
coverings. Special rugs are also made. It is a pleasure to think that an
art which many considered dead is being practiced with the highest
artistic aim and knowledge and skill in the midst of our modern rush.
This hand-woven tapestry is made to fit special spaces and rooms, and
there is nothing more beautiful and suitable for rooms of importance to
be found in all the long list of possibilities.

The effect of modern tapestry, like the old, is enhanced if the walls
are planned to receive it, for it was never intended to be used as
wall-paper. It is sometimes used as a free hanging frieze, so to speak,
and sometimes a great piece of it is hung flat against the wall, but as
a general thing to panel it is the better way.

Another beautiful wall covering is leather. It should be used much more
than it is, and is especially well adapted for halls, libraries,
dining-rooms, smoking-and billiard-rooms, and dens. Its wonderful
possibilities for rooms which are to be furnished in a dignified and
beautiful manner are unsurpassed. It may be used in connection with
paneling or cover the wall above a wainscot.

Fresco painting is another of the noble army of wall treatments which
lends itself beautifully to all kinds and styles of rooms.

Amidst all the grandeur of tapestry and painting one must not lose sight
of the simpler methods, for they are not to be distained. Wall-papers
are growing more and more beautiful in color, design, and texture, and
one can find among them papers suited to all needs. Fabrics of all kinds
have become possibilities since their dust-collecting capacity is now no
longer a source of terror, as vacuum cleaners are one of the
commonplaces of existence. Painting or tinting the walls, when done
correctly, is very satisfactory in many rooms.

There is no doubt that in many houses are wonderful collections of
furniture, tapestries and treasures of many kinds, that are placed
without regard to the absolute harmony of period, although the general
feeling of French or Italian or English is kept. They are usually great
houses where the sense of space keeps one from feeling discrepancies
that would be too marked in a smaller one, and the interest and beauty
of the rare originals against the old tapestries have an atmosphere all
their own that no modern reproduction can have. There are few of us,
however, who can live in this semi-museum kind of house, and so one
would better stick to the highway of good usage, or there is danger of
making the house look like an antique shop.

[Illustration: Dorothy Quincy's bedroom contains a fine old mahogany
field bed, which is appropriately covered with the flowered chintz
popular at the end of the Eighteenth Century. The chairs are fitting for
all bedrooms decorated in Colonial style. Notice the woodwork in the
room and hall.]

To carry out a style perfectly, all the small details should be attended
to--the door-locks, the framework of the doors and windows, the carving.
All these must be taken into account if one wishes success. It is better
not to attempt a style throughout if it is to be a makeshift affair and
show the effects of inadequate knowledge. The elaborate side of any
style carried out to the last detail is really only possible and also
only appropriate for those who have houses to correspond, but one can
choose the simpler side and have beautiful and charming rooms that are
perfectly suited to the average home. For instance, if one does not
wish elaborate gilded Louis XVI furniture, upholstered in brocade, one
can choose beautiful cane furniture of the time and have it either in
the natural French walnut or enameled a soft gray or white to match the
woodwork, with cushion of cretonne or silk in an appropriate design.
Period furnishing does not necessarily mean a greater outlay than the
nondescript and miscellaneous method so often seen.

[Illustration: A very solid but not especially pleasing desk that was
used by Washington while he was President. The railing is interesting.
The idea was used by Chippendale in his gallery tables.]

[Illustration: The tambour work doors in the upper part of this Sheraton
secretary roll back; also notice the handles and inlay and tapering

Whatever the plan for furnishing a house may be, the balance of
decoration must be kept; the same general feeling throughout all
connecting parts. If a drawing-room is too fine for the hall through
which one has to pass to reach it, the balance is upset. If too simple
chairs are used in a grand dining-room the balance is upset, the fitness
of things is not observed. When the happy medium is struck throughout
the house one feels the delightful well-bred charm which a regard for
the unities always gives. It is not only in the quality of the
decorations that this feeling of balance must be kept, but in the style
also. If one chooses a period style for the drawing-room it is better to
keep to it through the house, using it in its different expressions
according to the needs of the different rooms. If one style throughout
should seem a bit monotonous at least one nationality should be kept,
such as French, or English. If several styles of French furniture are
used do not have them in the same room; for instance, Louis XV and
Empire have absolutely nothing in common, but very late Louis XVI and
early Empire have to a certain extent. It does not give the average
person a severe shock to walk from a Louis XVI hall into a Louis XV
drawing-room, but the two mixed in one room do not give a pleasing
effect. The oak furniture of Jacobean days does not harmonize with the
delicate mahogany furniture of the eighteenth century in England. The
delicate beauty of Adam furniture would be lost in the greatness of a
Renaissance salon. A lady whose dining-room was furnished in Sheraton
furniture one day saw two elaborate rococo Louis XV console tables which
she instantly bought to add to it. The shopman luckily had more sense of
the fitness of things than a mere desire to sell his wares, and was so
appalled when he saw the room that he absolutely refused to have them
placed in it. She saw the point, and learned a valuable lesson. One
could go on indefinitely, giving examples to warn people against
startling and inappropriate mixtures which put the whole scheme out of

I am taking it for granted that reproductions are to be chosen, as
originals are not only very rare, but also almost prohibitive in price.
Good reproductions are carefully made and finished to harmonize with the
color scheme. The styles most used at present are, Louis XIV, XV, XVI,
Jacobean, William and Mary, and Georgian. Gothic, Italian and French
Renaissance, Louis XIII, and Tudor styles are not so commonly used. We
naturally associate dignity and grandeur with the Renaissance, and it
is rather difficult to make it seem appropriate for the average American
house, so it is usually used only for important houses and buildings.
Some of the Tudor manor houses can be copied with delightful effect. The
styles of Henri II and Louis XIII can both be used in libraries and
dining-rooms with most effective and dignified results.

The best period of the style of Louis XV is very beautiful and is
delightfully suited to ball-rooms, small reception-rooms, boudoirs, and
some bedrooms. In regard to these last, one must use discretion, for one
would not expect one's aged grandmother to take real comfort in one. Nor
does this style appeal to one for use in a library, as its gayety and
curves would not harmonize with the necessarily straight lines of the
bookcases and rows of books. Any one of the other styles may be chosen
for a library.

The English developed the dining-room in our modern sense of the word,
while the French used small ante-chambers, or rooms that were used for
other purposes between meals, and I suppose this is partly the reason we
so often turn to an English ideal for one. There are many beautiful
dining-rooms done in the styles of Louis XV and XVI, but they seem more
like gala rooms and are usually distinctly formal in treatment. Georgian
furniture, or as we so often say, Colonial, is especially well suited to
our American life, as one can have a very simple room, or one carried
out in the most delightful detail. In either case the true feeling must
be kept and no startling anachronisms should be allowed; radiators, for
instance, should be hidden in window-seats. This same style may be used
for any room in the house, and there are beautiful reproductions of
Chippendale, Adam, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton furniture that are
appropriate for any need.

In choosing new "old" furniture, do not buy any that has a bright and
hideous finish. The great cabinet-makers and their followers used wax,
or oil, and rubbed, rubbed, rubbed. This dull finish is imitated, but
not equaled, by all good furniture makers, and the bright finish simply
proclaims the cheap department store.

In parts of the country Georgian furniture has been used and served as a
standard from the first, and it is a happy thing for the beauty of our
homes that once more it has come into its own. It is the high grade of
reproduction which has made it possible.

The mahogany used by Chippendale, and in fact by all the eighteenth
century cabinet-makers, was much more beautiful than is possible to get
to-day, for the logs were old and well seasoned wood, allowed to dry by
the true process of time, which leaves a wonderful depth of color quite
impossible to find in young kiln-dried wood. The best furniture makers
nowadays, those who have a high standard and pride in their work, have
by careful and artistic staining and beautiful finish, achieved very
fine results, but the factory article with its dreadful "mahogany"
stain, its coarse carving, and its brilliant finish, shows a sad
difference in ideal. The best reproductions are well worth buying, and,
as they are made with regard to the laws of construction, they stand a
very good chance of becoming valued heirlooms. There are certain
characteristics of all the eighteenth century cabinet-makers, both
English and French, which are picked out and overdone by ill-informed
manufacturers. The rococo of Chippendale is coarsened, his Chinese style
loses its fine, if eccentric, distinction, and the inlay of Hepplewhite
and Sheraton is another example of spoiling a beautiful thing.
Thickening a line here and there, or curving a curve a bit more or less,
or enlarging the amount of inlay, achieves a vulgarity of appearance
quite different from the beautiful proportions of the originals, and it
is this which one must guard against in buying reproductions. The lack
of knowledge of correct proportion is not confined to the cheaper
grades, where necessary simplicity is often a protection, but is apt to
be found in all. The best makers, as I have said, take a pride in their
work and one can rely on them for fine workmanship and being true to the
spirit of the originals.

There is one matter of great importance to be kept in mind and practiced
with the sternest self-control, and that is, to eliminate, eliminate,
eliminate. Walk into the center of a room and look about with seeing,
but impersonal eyes, and you will be astonished to find how many things
there are which are unnecessary, in fact, how much the room would be
improved without them. In every house the useless things which go under
the generic name of "trash" accumulate with alarming swiftness, and one
must be up with the lark to keep ahead of the supply. If something is
ugly and spoils a room, and there is no hope of bringing it into
harmony, discard it; turn your eyes aside if you must while the deed is
being done, but screw your courage to the sticking point, and do it. She
is, indeed, a lucky woman who can start from the beginning or has only
beautiful heritages from the past, for the majority of people have some
distressingly strong pieces of ugly furniture which, for one reason or
another, must be kept. One sensible woman furnished a room with all her
pieces of this kind, called it the Chamber of Horrors, and used it only
under great stress and strain, which was much better than letting her
house be spoiled.

A home should not be a museum, where one grows exhausted going from one
room to another looking at wonderful things. Rather should it have as
many beautiful things in it as can be done full justice to, where the
feeling of simplicity and restfulness and charm adds to their beauty,
and the whole is convincingly right. The fussy house is, luckily, a
thing of the past, or fast getting to be so, but we should all help the
good cause of true simplicity. It does not debar one from the most
beautiful things in the world, but adds dignity and worth to them. It
does not make rooms stiff and solemn, but makes it possible to have the
true gayety and joy of life expressed in the best periods.

_Georgian Furniture_

A delightful renaissance of the Georgian period in house decoration is
being felt more and more, and every day we see new evidence that people
are turning with thanksgiving to the light and graceful designs of the
eighteenth century English cabinet-makers. There is a charm and
distinction about their work which appeals very strongly to us, and its
beauty and simplicity of line makes delightful schemes possible.

The Georgian period seems especially fitted for use in our homes, for it
was the inspiration of our Colonial houses and furniture, which we
adapted and made our own in many ways. The best examples of Colonial
architecture are found in the thirteen original states. In many of these
houses we find an almost perfect sense of proportion, of harmony and
balance, of dignity, and a spaciousness and sense of hospitality, which
few of our modern houses achieve. The halls were broad and often went
directly through the house, giving a glimpse of the garden beyond; the
stairs with their carefully thought-out curve and sweep and well placed
landings, gave at once an air of importance to the house, while the
large rooms opening from the hall, with their white woodwork, their
large fireplaces, and comfortable window-seats, confirmed the

It is to this ideal of simple and beautiful elegance that many people
are turning. By simplicity I do not mean poverty of line and decoration,
but the simplicity given by the fundamental lines being simple and
beautiful with decoration which enhances their charms, but does not
overload them. Even the most elaborate Adam room with its exquisite
painted furniture, its beautifully designed mantel and ceiling and
paneled walls, gave the feeling of delightful and beautiful simplicity.
This same feeling is expressed in the furniture of Louis XVI, for no
matter how elaborate it may be, it is fundamentally simple, but with a
warmer touch than is found in the English furniture of the same time.

The question of period furnishing has two sides, and by far the more
delightful side is the one of having originals. There is a glamor about
old furniture, a certain air of fragility, although in reality it is
usually much stronger than most of our modern factory output, which adds
to the charm. With furniture, as with people, breeding will out. When
one has inherited the furniture, the charm is still greater, for it is
pleasant to think of one's own ancestors as having used the chairs and
tables, and danced the stately minuet, with soft candle-light falling
from the candelabra, and the great logs burning on the old brass
andirons. But if one cannot have one's own family traditions, the next
best thing is to have furniture with some other family's traditions,
and the third choice is to have the best modern reproductions, and build
up one's own traditions oneself.

The feeling which many people have that Georgian furniture was stiff and
uncomfortable is not borne out by the facts. The sofas were large and
roomy, the settees delightful, the arm-chairs and wing chairs regular
havens of rest, and when one adds the comfort which modern upholstery
gives, there is little left to desire. Even the regulation side-chair of
the period, which some think was the only chair in very common use, is
absolutely comfortable for its purpose. Lounging was much less in vogue
then than nowadays and the old cabinet-makers realized that one must be
comfortable when sitting up as well as when taking one's ease. One must
not be deterred by this unfounded bugaboo of discomfort if one wishes a
room or house done after the great period styles of the eighteenth
century. With care and knowledge, the result is sure to be delightful
and beautiful.

This little book, as I have said before, is not intended to be a guide
for collectors, for that is a very big subject in itself, but is meant
to try to help a little about the modern side of the question. There are
many grades of furniture made, and one should buy with circumspection,
and the best grade which is possible for one to afford. The very best
reproductions are made with as much care and knowledge and skill as the
originals, and will last as long, and become treasured heirlooms like
those handed down to us. They are works of art like their eighteenth
century models. The wood is chosen with regard to its beauty of grain,
and is treated and finished so the beauty and depth of color is brought
out, and the surface is rubbed until there is a soft glow to it. If one
could have the ages-old mahogany which Chippendale and his
contemporaries used, there would be little to choose between the
originals and our best reproductions, so far as soundness of
construction and beauty of detail go. But the fact that they were the
originals of a great style, that no one since then has been able to
design any furniture of greater beauty than that of England and France
in the eighteenth century, and that we are still copying it, gives an
added charm to a rare old chair or sideboard or mirror. The modern
workman in the best workshops is obliged to know the different styles so
well that he cannot make mistakes, and if he ventures to take a little
flight of fancy on his own account, it will be done with such
correctness of feeling that one is glad he flew; but few attempt it. In
the lower grade of reproductions one must have an eagle eye when buying.
I saw a rather astounding looking Chippendale chair in a shop one day,
with a touch of Gothic--a suspicion of his early Dutch manner--and, to
give a final touch, tapering legs with carved bellflowers! "What
authority have you for that chair?" I asked, for I really wanted to know
what they would call the wonder.

"That," the shopman answered, the pride of knowledge shining in his
eyes, "is Chinese Chippendale."

Another anachronism which has appeared lately, and sad to say in some of
the shops that should know better, is painted Adam furniture with
pictures on it of the famous actresses of the eighteenth century. The
painting of Angelica Kauffman, Cipriani, Pergolesi and the others, was
charming and delightful. Nymphs and cupids, flowers, wreaths, musical
instruments, and poetical little scenes, but never the head of a living
woman! The bad taste of it would have been as apparent to them as
putting the picture of Miss Marlowe, or Lillian Russell on a chair back
would be to us.

The finish is another matter to bear in mind. There is a thick red
stain, which for some mysterious reason is called mahogany, which is put
on cheaper grades of furniture and finished with a high polish.
Fortunately, it is chiefly used on furniture of vulgar design, but it
sometimes creeps in on better models. Shun it whenever seen. The handles
must be correct also, and a glance at the different illustrations will
be of help in this matter.

The pieces of furniture used throughout a house, no matter what the
period may be, are more or less the same, so many chairs, tables, beds,
mirrors, etc., and when one has decided what one's needs are, the matter
of selection is much simplified. Of course one's needs are influenced by
the size of the house, one's circumstances, and one's manner of life.
To be successful, a house must be furnished in absolute harmony with the
life within its walls. A small house does not need an elaborate
drawing-room, which could only be had at the expense of family comfort;
a simple drawing-room would be far better, really more of a living-room.
In a large house one may have as many as one wishes.

A house could be furnished throughout with Chippendale furniture and
show no sign of monotony of treatment. The walls could be paneled in
some rooms, wainscoted in others, and papered in others. This question
of paper is one we have taken in our own hands nowadays, and although it
was not used much before the late eighteenth and early nineteenth
centuries, there are so many lovely designs copied from old-time stuffs
and landscape papers, which are in harmony with the furniture, that they
are used with perfect propriety. One must be careful not to choose
anything with a too modern air, and a plain wall is always safe.

The average hall will probably need a pair of console tables and
mirrors, some chairs, Oriental rugs, a tall clock if one wishes, and, if
the hall is very large and calls for more furniture, there are many
other interesting pieces to choose from. A hall should be treated with a
certain amount of formality, and the greater the house, the greater the
amount; but it also should have an air of hospitality, of impersonal
welcome, which makes one wish to enter the rooms beyond where the real
welcome waits.

The window frames of Colonial and Georgian houses were often of such
good design that no curtains were used, and the wooden inside shutters
were shut at night. Nowadays the average house has what might be called
utility woodwork at its windows and so we cover them with curtains.
These curtains may be of linen, cretonne, damask, or brocade, according
to the house, and may either fall straight at the side with a slight
drapery or shaped or plain valance at the top, or be drawn back from the
center. A carved cornice or the regular box frame may be used.

The stairs were often of beautifully polished hardwood, and they were
sometimes covered with rugs. Large Chinese porcelain jars on the console
tables are suitable, and other beautiful ornaments.

As the drawing-room usually opens from the hall, it is better to keep
both rooms in the same general scale of furnishing. The average sized
drawing-room will need sofas, a small settee, two or three tables, one
of them a gallery table if desired, chairs of different shapes and size,
mirrors, a cabinet if one has rare pieces of old porcelain, and
candelabra. Oriental rugs, a fire screen, ornaments, and pictures, but
these last should not be of the modern impressionistic school. The
woodwork should be white, or light, and the furniture covered with
damask, needlework, brocade or tapestry.

The dining-room can be made most charming with corner cupboards and
cabinet, a large mahogany table and side table and beautiful morocco
covered chairs. Chippendale did not make sideboards in our sense of the
word, but used large side tables. One of the modern designs which many
like to use, for to them it seems a necessity, is a sideboard made in
the style of Chippendale. The screen may be leather painted after "the
Chinese taste," or it may be damask. The chairs may be covered with
tapestry or damask if one does not care for morocco. Portraits are
interesting in a dining-room, or old prints, or paintings, and if you
can get the old dull gold carved frames, so much the better. They may
also be set in panels.

The bedrooms may have either four-post canopy beds or low-posts beds.
Chippendale's canopy beds had usually a carved cornice with the curtains
hung from the inside. The other furniture should consist of a
dressing-table, a chest of drawers to correspond with a chiffonier, a
highboy, a sewing table, a bedside table, a comfortable sofa, a fireside
or wing chair and other chairs according to one's need. The walls may be
covered with either an old-fashioned or plain paper,--or paneled, with
hangings and chair coverings of chintz or cretonne. The bed hangings may
be of cretonne also, for it makes a very charming room, but if one
objects to colored bed hangings, white dimity, or muslin or linen may be

It is the art of keeping the correct feeling which makes or mars a room
of this kind, and no pieces of markedly modern and inharmonious
furniture should be used. In furnishing a house in Georgian or Colonial
manner one need not keep all the rooms in the same division of the
period, for there is a certain general air of harmony and relationship
about them all, and the common bond of mahogany makes it possible to
have a Chippendale library, an Adam drawing-room, a Hepplewhite
dining-room and a Sheraton hall, or any other combination desired. The
spirit of all the eighteenth century cabinet-makers was one of honest
construction and beauty of line and workmanship. When they took ideas
from other sources they made them so distinctly their own, so
essentially English that there is a family resemblance through all their

Adam decoration and furniture makes most delightful rooms. The painted
satinwood furniture for dining-room, drawing-room and bedrooms, lends
itself to lovely schemes with its soft golden tones, its delightfully
woven cane chair backs and panels. A room on the sunny side of the
house, with a soft old ivory colored wall, dull blue silk curtains, and
a yellow and blue Chinese rug, would be most charming with this
satinwood furniture.

Then, as I have said before, there are the many different shades of
enameled and carved furniture and also beautiful natural wood. One can
have more of a sideboard in an Adam than in a Chippendale room, as he
used two pedestals, one at each end of a large serving-table. He often
made tables to fit in niches, which is a charming idea.

An Adam mantel is very distinctive and one should be careful in having
it correct. There are beautiful reproductions made. The lamp and candle
shades should also be designed in the spirit of the time. There are
lovely Adam designs in nearly all materials suitable for hangings and
chair coverings. Oriental rugs or plain colored carpets appeal to us
more than large-figured rugs. Adam sometimes had special rugs made
exactly reproducing the design of the ceiling, but it is an idea that is
better forgotten.

With Hepplewhite and Sheraton the same general ideas hold; keep to the
spirit of the furniture, try to have a central idea in the house
furnishing, so that the restful effect of harmony may be given.

[Illustration: Pembroke tables were made by Hepplewhite. This is a fine
example and shows characteristic inlay and the legs sloping on the
inside edge only. The flaps fold down and make a small oblong table.]

[Illustration: This fine Sheraton sideboard shows curved doors, and
knife boxes with oval inlay of satinwood. The center cupboard is
straight. The legs are reeded.]

The rugs which harmonize best with Georgian furniture are Orientals of
different weaves and colors, or plain domestic carpet rugs. The floor
should be the darkest of the three divisions of a room--the floor, the
walls, the ceiling, but it should be an even gradation of color value,
the walls half-way in tone between the other two. This is a safe general
plan, to be varied when necessity demands. In drawing-rooms light and
soft colors are usually in better harmony than dark ones, and a wide and
beautiful choice can be made among Kermanshah, Kirman, Khorasan, Tabriz,
Chinese, Oman rugs, and many others. It is more restful in effect if the
greater part of the floor is covered with a large rug, but if one has
beautiful small rugs they may be used if they are enough alike in
general tone to escape the appearance of being spotty. One should try
them in different positions until the best arrangement is found.

[Illustration: A pleasing design of the old field bed. The chairs here
are samples of some eighteenth century manufacture that are to-day
reproduced in admirable consistency. The patch work quilt is interesting
and the bed hanging are exceptionally good.]

Living-rooms and libraries are usually more solid in color than
drawing-rooms and so need deeper tones in the rugs. The choice is wide,
and the color scheme can be the deciding note if one is buying new rugs.
If one already has rugs they must be the foundation for the color scheme
of the room.

_Furnishing With French Furniture_

"This is my Louis XVI drawing-room," said a lady, proudly displaying her

"What makes you think so?" asked her well informed friend.

To guard against the possibility of such biting humor one must be ever
on the alert in furnishing a period room. It is not a bow-knot and a
rococo curve or two that will turn a modern room, fresh from the
builder's hands, into a Louis XV drawing-room.

French furniture is not appropriate to all kinds of houses, and it is
often difficult to adapt it to circumstances over which one has no
control. The leisurely and pleasant custom of our ancestors of building
a house as they wished it, and what is more, living in it for
generations, is more or less a thing of the past. Nowadays a house is
built, and is complete and beautiful in every way, but almost before the
house-warming is over, business is sitting on the doorstep, and so the
family moves on. We, as a nation, have not the comfortable point of view
of the English who consider their home, their home, no matter how the
outside world may be behaving. Their front doors are the protection
which insures their cherished privacy, and the feeling that they are as
settled as the everlasting hills gives a calmness to their attitude
toward life which is often missing from ours. How many times have we
heard people say when talking over plans--"Have it thus and so, for it
would be much better in case we ever care to sell." This attitude, to
which of course there are hundreds of exceptions, is an outgrowth of our
busy life and our tremendous country. The larger part of the home ideal
is the one which Americans so firmly believe in and act upon--that it is
the spirit and atmosphere which makes a home, and not only the bricks
and mortar.

It is this point of view which makes it possible for many of us to live
happily in rented houses whose architecture and arrangement often give
us cold shivers. We are not to blame if all the proportions are wrong;
and there is a certain pleasure in getting the better of difficulties.

If one is building a house, or is living in one planned with a due
regard to some special period, and has a well thought out scheme of
decoration, the work is much simplified; but if one has to live in the
average nondescript house and wishes to use French furniture, the
problem will take time and thought to solve. In this kind of house, if
one cannot change it at all, it is better to keep as simple and
unobtrusive a background as possible, to have the color scheme and
hangings and furniture so beautiful that they are a convincing reason
themselves of the need of their being there, but one should not try to
turn the room itself into a period room, for it would mean failure. The
walls may be covered with a light plain paper, or silk, the woodwork
enameled white or cream or ivory, and then with one's mirrors and
furnishings, the best thing possible has been done, and it ought to be a
charming room, if not a perfect one. If one can make a few changes I
advise new lighting fixtures and a new mantel, for these two important
objects in the room are conspicuous and nearly always wrong.

It is almost impossible to give a list of furniture for each room in a
house, as each house is a law unto itself, but the fundamental
principles of beauty and utility and appropriateness apply to all.

The furniture of the time of Louis XIV, having so much that is
magnificent about it, is especially well suited to large rooms for state
occasions, great ballrooms and state drawing-rooms. These rooms not
being destined for everyday use should be treated as a brilliant
background; paneling, painting, tapestry, and gilding should decorate
the walls, and beautiful lights and mirrors should aid in the effect of
brilliancy. It must be done with such knowledge that there is no
suggestion of an hotel about it. Console tables, and large and dignified
chairs should be used for furniture. Nothing small and fussy in the way
of ornaments should be put in the rooms, for they would be completely
out of scale and ruin the effect.

Every house does not need these rooms for the elaborate side of life,
and the average drawing-room is a much simpler affair. If both kinds are
required the simpler one should be in the same general style as the
great rooms, but not on so grand a scale. If the style of Louis XV is
chosen for all, in the family drawing-and living-rooms the paneling, or
dado, and furniture should be of the simpler kind, and beautiful, gay,
and home-like rooms, evolved with soft colored brocades, Beauvais or
Gobelin tapestry, and either gilded or enameled or natural walnut
furniture. The arm-chairs or _bergères_ of both Louis XV and Louis XVI
are very comfortable, the _chaise-longue_ cannot be surpassed, and the
settees of different shapes and sizes are delightful. There need be no
lack of comfort in any period room, whether French or English.

A music room, to be perfect, should not have heavy draperies to deaden
the sound, and the window and door openings should be treated
architecturally to make this possible. In a French music room the walls
may be either paneled, or have a dado with a soft tint above it. This
space may be treated in several ways: it may have silk panels outlined
with moldings, or dainty pastoral scenes painted and framed with wreaths
and garlands of composition. The style of the Regency with its use of
musical instruments for decorative motifs is also attractive. The chairs
should be comfortable, the lights soft and well shaded side-lights, with
a plentiful supply near the piano.

[Illustration: A beautiful doorway in the bedroom of the Empress,
Compiègne. The fastening shows how much thought was expended on small
matters, so the balance of decoration would be kept. The chairs are
Louis XVI.]

[Illustration: An exquisite reproduction of the bed of Marie

[Illustration: A simple but charming Louis XVI bed in enamel and cane.]

A piano is usually a difficulty, for they are so unwieldy and dark that
they are quite out of key with the rest of the room. We have become so
used to its ugliness, however, that, sad to say, we are not so much
shocked by it as we should be, thinking it a necessary evil. If we walk
through the show rooms of one of the great piano companies we shall see
that this is a mistake, for there are many cases made of light colored
woods, and some have a much more graceful outline than the regulation
piano. Cases can be made to order to suit any scheme, if one has a
competent designer. A music room should not have small and meaningless
ornaments in it; the ideal is a restful and charming room where one may
listen with an undistracted mind.

The modern dining-room with all its comforts is really of English
descent. In France, even in the eighteenth century, only the palaces and
great houses had rooms especially set apart for dining-rooms. Usually a
small ante-chamber was used, which served as a boudoir or reception room
between meals. To our more established point of view it seems a very
casual method. At last, late in the century, the real ideal of a
dining-room began to gain ground, and although they were very different
from ours, we find really charming ones described and pictured. The
walls were usually light in tone, paneled, with graceful ornamentation,
and often there were niches containing wall-fountains of delightful
design. The sideboards were either large side-tables, or a species of
side-table built in niches, with a fountain between them which was used
as a wine cooler. These fountains where cupids and dolphins disported
themselves would be a most attractive feature to copy in some of our
rooms, in country houses especially. The tables were round or square,
but not the extension type which came later from England, and the chairs
were comfortable, with broad upholstered or cane seats, and rather low
backs. There should be a screen to harmonize with the room in front of
the pantry door. We also add hangings, for, as I have said many times,
our window-frames are not a decoration in themselves. Old prints show
most delightfully the manner in which curtains were hung when they were
used; the very elaborate methods, however, were not used by the better

A morning-room should be furnished as a small informal living-room, and
the simpler style of the chosen period used.

The style of Louis XVI is beautifully adapted to libraries, for they do
not have to be dark and solid in style, as many seem to think. In fact a
library may be in any style if carried out with the true feeling and
love of books, but of course some styles are more appropriate than
others. In a Louis XVI library the paneling gives way to the built-in
bookcases which are spaced with due regard to keeping the correct
proportions. There is usually a cupboard space running round the room
about the height of a dado and projecting a little beyond the bookcases
above. The colors of the rugs and hangings may be warm and rich as the
books give the walls a certain strength.

There are also beautiful reproductions of bedroom furniture, chairs and
dressing-tables, desks, chiffoniers and _Chaises-longues,_ and beds.

Andirons, side-lights for the walls and dressing-table, doorknobs and
locks, can all be carried out perfectly. Lamp and candle shades and sofa
cushions should all be in keeping. The walls may be paneled in wood
enameled with white or some light color, or they may be covered with
silk or paper, in a panel design, with curtains to match. There are
lovely designs in French period stuffs.

The rugs most appropriate for French period rooms are light or medium in
tone, and of Persian design. The floral patterns of the Persians seem to
harmonize better with the curves and style of furniture than do the
geometrical designs of the Caucasian rugs. Savonnerie and Aubusson rugs
may also be used, if chosen with care, and the plain carpets and rugs
mentioned later are a far better choice than gaudy Orientals of modern
make, or bad imitations.

_Country Houses_

The Country House is a comparatively modern idea, and one which has
added much to the joy of life. There are all kinds and conditions of
them, great and small, grand and simple, and each is a joy to the proud

Life was such a turbulent affair in the Middle Ages that country life in
the modern sense was an impossibility. The chateaux and castles and
large manor-houses were strongly fortified, and there were inner courts
for exercise. When war became the exception and not the rule, the
inherent love in all human beings for the open began to assert itself,
and the country house idea began to grow.

Italy was the first country where we find this freedom of attitude
exemplified in the beautiful Renaissance villas near Rome and Florence.
The best were built during the sixteenth century, and were owned by the
great Italian families, like the de Medici and d'Este. They seem more
like places built for the parade and show of life than homes, but the
home ideal with all its conveniences was another outgrowth of peace.

The plan of an Italian villa is very interesting to study, to see how
every advantage was taken of the land, how the residence, or casino, was
placed in regard to the formal garden and the view over the valley, for
they were usually on a hillside and the slope was terraced, how the
statues and fountains, the beautiful ilex and cypress and orange trees,
the box-edged flower-beds and gravel paths, all formed a wonderful
setting for the house, and together made a perfect whole. The Italian
villa was not necessarily large, in fact the Villa Lante contains only
six acres, which are divided into four terraces, the house being on the
second and built in two parts, one on each side. Each terrace has a
beautiful fountain, with a cascade connecting those on the fourth and
third. This villa is indeed, an example of taking advantage of a fairly
small space. It was built by the great Vignola in 1547, and although
slightly showing the wear of time, has all the beauty and charm and
romance which only centuries can give.

The Italian villa can be adapted to the American climate and scenery and
point of view, but it must be done by one of the architects who have
made a deep study of the Italian Renaissance so the true feeling will be
kept. There are some beautiful examples already in the country.

In France, the chateaux which have most influenced country house
building are those which were built during the sixteenth century, many
of them during the reign of Francis 1st. Among the number are Azay le
Rideau, Chenonceaux, and Chaumont. Blois and Amboise are also
absorbingly interesting, but belong partly to an earlier time. The
chateau region in Touraine is a treasure land of architectural beauty.
In the time of Louis XIV Le Nôtre changed many of these old chateaux
from their fortified state to the more open form made possible by a
peaceful life.

We turn to England for the most perfect examples of country houses, for
the theory of country living is so thoroughly understood there, one
might really say it is a national institution. Many of the manor-houses,
both great and small, are beautiful examples of Tudor architecture,
which seems especially suited to their setting of lovely green parks.
The smaller country house, which has no pretention to being a show
place, is as perfect in its way. The English love for out-of-doors makes
them achieve wonders with even small gardens, and the climate, being
gentle, helps matters immensely.

In America we are taking up the English country house ideal more and
more and adapting it to our own needs. The question of architecture is a
question of personal choice influenced by climate, and there are now
numberless charming houses scattered over the length and breadth of the
land which have been built with the purpose of being country homes. They
are not for summer use only, but all the year round keep their
hospitable doors open, or else the season begins so early and ends so
late, that, with the holiday time between, the house hardly seems
closed at all. It is this attitude which is changing country house
architecture to a great extent. The terraces and porches and gardens and
glasshouses are all there, but the house itself is more solidly built
and is prepared to stand cold weather.

For the average American the best types of country house to choose from
are the smaller Tudor manor-houses, Italian villas, Georgian
architecture in England, and our own Colonial style which of course was
founded on the Georgian. In the south and southwestern parts of this
country a modified Spanish type may be used in place of Tudor, which
does not give the feeling of cool spaces so necessary in hot climates.
The bungalow type is also popular in the South.

There are many architects in this country who understand thoroughly the
plan and spirit of Colonial times, and who succeed in giving to the
comforts of modern days the true stamp of the eighteenth century. The
style makes most delightful houses, and with the great supply of
appropriate furniture from which to choose, it would be hard to fail in
having a charming whole.

The house and garden should be planned together to have the best effect.
Each can be added to as time goes on, but when a plan is followed there
is a look of belonging together which adds greatly to the charm.

[Illustration: A hall to conjure with--although a Hepplewhite or
Sheraton chair would be more in keeping.]

In an all-the-year country house a vestibule is a necessity as much as
in a town house, and the hall should be treated with the dignity a
hall deserves, and not as a second living-room. In many English houses
of Tudor days the stairs were behind a carved screen, or concealed in
some manner, which made it possible to use the hall as a gathering
place. Our modern hall is not a descendant of this old hall of a past
day (the living-room is much more so), but is really only a passage,
often raised to the _n_th power, connecting the different rooms of the
house, and should be treated as such. The stairs and landing and vista
should be beautiful, and the furnishing should be dignified and in
perfect scale with the rest of the house. Marble stairs and tapestry and
old carved furniture and beautiful rugs, or the simplest possible
furniture, may be used, but the hall should have an impersonally
hospitable air, one which gives the keynote of the house, but reserves
its full expression until the privacy of the living-rooms is reached.

[Illustration: A very rare block-front chest of drawers with the
original brasses.]

The average country house is neither very magnificent nor very simple,
but strikes the happy medium and achieves a most delightful home-like
charm, which at the very outset makes life seem well worth living. It is
rarely furnished in a period style throughout, but has the modern air of
comfort which good taste and correct feeling give. For instance, the
hall may have paneling and Chippendale mirror, a table, and chairs; the
living-room furnished in a general Colonial manner mixed with some
comfortable stuffed furniture, but not over-stuffed, lovely chintz or
silk hangings, and a wide fireplace; the morning-room on something the
same plan, but a little less formal; and the drawing-room a little more
so, say in Adam or simple Louis XVI furniture. The library should have
plenty of comfortable sofas and chairs, and a large table (it is hard to
get one too large), some of the bookcases should be built in to form
part of the architectural plan of the room, and personally I think it is
a better idea to have all the space intended for bookcases built in in
the first place, as this insures harmony of plan. Another important
thing in a library is to have the lights precisely right, and the
window-seats and the fireplace should be all that their names imply in
the way of added charm and comfort to the room. The dining-room should
be bright and cheerful and in harmony with the near-by rooms. A
breakfast-room done in lacquer is very charming.

The bedrooms should be light and airy, and so planned that the beds can
be properly placed. They may be furnished in old mahogany, French walnut
in either Louis XV or XVI style, or in carefully chosen Empire; painted
Adam furniture is also lovely, and willow furniture makes a fresh and
attractive room. The curtains should be hung so they can be drawn at
night if desired, and the material should be chosen to harmonize in
design with the room.

The children's rooms should be sunny and bright and furnished according
to their special tastes, which if too astounding, as sometimes happens,
can be tactfully guided into safe channels.

The servants should be given separate bedrooms, a bathroom, and a
comfortable sitting-room beside their dining-room. Making them
comfortable seems a simple way of solving the servant question.

The bungalow type of small country house is usually very simply
furnished, and the best type of Mission furniture or willow is
especially well suited to it. Bungalows are growing more and more in
favor, and, although they originated in America in the West, we find
delightful ones everywhere, on the Maine coast and in the woods and
mountains. They are a tremendous advance over the small and elaborate
house of a few years ago.

Cretonne and chintz can be used in all the rooms of a country house with
perfect propriety, and is a really lovely method of furnishing, as it is
fresh and washable, and comes in all gradations of price. Willow
furniture with cretonne cushions makes a pleasant variety with mahogany
in simple rooms.

Fresh air and sunlight, lovely vistas through doors and windows of the
garden beyond, cool and comfortable rooms furnished appropriately, and
with an atmosphere about them which expresses a hospitable and charming
home spirit, is the ideal standard for a country house.

_The Nursery and Play-room_

We should be thankful that the old idea of a nursery has passed away and
instead of the dreary and rather shabby room has come the charming
modern nursery with its special furniture and papers, its common sense
and sanitary wisdom and its regard for the childish point of view. The
influence of surroundings during the formative years of childhood has a
deal to do with the child's future attitude toward life, and now that
parents realize this more, the ideal nursery has simplicity, charm and
artistic merit, all suited to the needs of its romping inhabitants.

The wall-papers for nurseries are especially attractive with their gay
friezes of wonderful fairy-tale people, Mother Goose, Noah's Ark and
happy little children playing among the flowers. Some of the designs
come in sets of four panels that can be framed if desired. A Noah's Ark
frieze with the animals marching two by two under the watchful eyes of
the Noah family, with an ark and stiff little Noah's Ark trees, will
give endless pleasure if placed about three feet from the floor where
small tots can take in its charm. If placed too high, it is very often
not noticed at all. Some of the most attractive nurseries have painted
walls with special designs stenciled on them.

If any one of these friezes is placed above a simple wainscot, the
effect is charming. The paper for nurseries is usually waterproof, for a
nursery must be absolutely spick and span. Another thing that gives much
pleasure in a nursery is to build on one side of the room a platform
about a yard wide and six inches high, and cover it with cushions.

The furniture in a day nursery should consist of a toy cupboard stained
to match the color scheme of the room and large enough for each child to
have his own special compartment in it. If the children's initials are
painted or burned on the doors, it gives an added feeling of pride in
keeping the toys in order. There are many designs of small tables and
chairs made with good lines, and the wicker ones with gay cretonne
cushions are very attractive. The tables and chairs should not have
sharp corners and should be heavy enough not to tip over easily. There
should be a bookcase for favorite picture-books. Besides the special
china for the children's own meals there should be a set of play china
for doll's parties. A sand table, with a lump of clay for modeling, a
blackboard and, in the spring, window-boxes where the children can plant
seeds, will all add vastly to the joy of life.

And do not forget a comfortable chair for the nurse-maid. White muslin
curtains with side hangings of washable chintz or linen or some special
nursery design in cretonne should hang to the sill.

The colors in both day and night nurseries should be soft and cheerful,
and the color scheme as carefully thought out as for the rest of the
house. Both rooms should be on the sunny side of the house, and far
enough away from the family living-room to avoid any one's being
disturbed when armies charge up and down the play-room battle-ground or
Indians start out on the warpath.

The best floor covering for a day nursery is plain linoleum, as it is
not dangerously slippery and is easily kept clean. If the floor is hard
wood, it must not have a slippery wax finish. It will also save tumbles
if the day nursery has no rugs, but the night nursery ought to have one
large one or several small ones by the beds and in front of the open
fire. Washable cotton rugs are best to use for this purpose.

When children are very small, it is necessary to have sides to the beds
to keep them from falling out. The beds should be placed so that the
light does not shine directly in the children's eyes in the morning, and
there should be plenty of fresh air. The rest of the night nursery
furniture should consist of a dressing-table, a chest of drawers, a
night table and some chairs. There should be a few pictures on the walls
hung low, and beautiful and interesting in subjects and treatment. The
fire should be well screened.

Pictures like the "Songs of Childhood," for instance, would be charming
simply framed. If there is only one nursery for both day and night use,
the room should be decorated as a day nursery and the bed-cover made of
white dimity with a border of the curtain stuff or made entirely of it.


The modern window, with its huge panes of glass and simple framework,
makes an insistent demand for curtains. Without curtains windows of this
kind give a blank, staring appearance to the room and also a sense of
insecurity in having so many holes in the walls. The beautiful windows
of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Italy, England and
France, give no such feeling of incompleteness, for their well-carved
frames, and over-windows, and their small panes of glass, were important
parts of the decorative scheme. Windows and doors were more than mere
openings in those days, but things have changed, and the hard lines of
our perfectly useful windows get on our nerves if we do not soften them
with drapery. In that hopeless time in the last century called "Early
Victorian," when black walnut reigned supreme, the curtains were as
terrifying as the curves of the furniture and the colors of the carpets.
Luckily most of us know only from pictures what that time was, but we
all have seen enough remnants of its past glories to be thankful for
modern ways and days. The over-draped, stuffy, upholstered nightmares
have entirely disappeared, and in their place have come curtains of a
high standard of beauty and practicality--simple, appropriate, and
serving the ends they were intended for.

The effect of curtains must be taken into account from both the outside
and the inside of the house. The outside view should show a general
similarity of appearance in the windows of each story, in the manner of
hanging the curtains and also of material. The shades throughout the
house should be of the same color, and if a different color is needed
inside for the sake of the color scheme, either two shades should be
used or they should be the double-faced kind. Shades should also be kept
drawn down to the same line, or else be rolled up out of sight, for
there is nothing that gives a more ill-kept look to a house than having
the shades and curtains at any haphazard height or angle.

And now to "return to our muttons." The average window needs two sets of
curtains and a shade. Sometimes a thin net or lace curtain, a _"bonne
femme"_ is hung close to the glass, but this is usual only in cities
where privacy has to be maintained by main force, or where the curtains
of a floor differ greatly. Thin curtains in combination with side
curtains of some thicker material are most often used.

Curtains either make or mar a room, and they should be carefully planned
to make it a perfect whole. They must be so convincingly right that one
only thinks at first how restful and pleasant and charming the whole
room is; the details come later. When curtains stand out and astound
one, they are wrong. It is not upholstery one is trying to display, but
to make a perfect background for one's furniture, one's pictures and
one's friends.

There are so many materials to choose from that all tastes and purses
can be suited; nets, thin silk and gauzes; scrims and batistes; cotton
and silk crepes, muslin or dotted Swiss, cheesecloth, soleil cloth,
madras, and a host of other fascinating fabrics which may be used in any
room of the house. The ready-made curtains are also charming. There are
muslin curtains with appliqué borders cut from flowered cretonne;
sometimes the cretonne is appliqué on net which is let into the curtain
with a four-inch hem at the bottom and sides. A simpler style has a band
of flowered muslin sewed on the white muslin, or used as a ruffle. It is
also added to the valance. There are many kinds of net and lace curtains
ready for use that will harmonize with any kind of room. Some of the
expensive ones are really beautiful examples of needlecraft, with lace
medallions and insertions and embroidery stitches.

When it comes to the question of side curtains the supply to choose from
is almost unlimited, and this great supply forms the bog in which so
many are lost. A thing may be beautiful in itself and yet cause woe and
havoc in an otherwise charming room. There are linens of all prices, and
cretonnes, both the inexpensive kind and the wonderful shadow ones;
there are silks and velvets and velours, aurora cloth, cotton crêpe and
arras cloth, and a thousand other beautiful stuffs that are cheap or
medium-priced or expensive, whose names only the shopman knows, but
which win our admiration from afar. The curtains for a country house are
usually of less valuable materials than those for a town house, and this
is as it should be, for winter life is usually more formal than summer
life. Nothing can be prettier, however, for a country house than
cretonne. It is fresh and dainty and gives a cool and delightful
appearance to a room. Among the many designs there are some for every
style of decoration.

[Illustration: The arrangement of sofa and table are excellent, but
there should be other centers of interest in the room. As it is, this
room just misses its aim, and is neither a strict period room nor a
really comfortable modern one.]

The height and size of a room must be taken into account in hanging
curtains, for with their aid, and also that of wallpaper, we can often
change a room of bad proportions to one of seemingly good ones. If a
room is very low, a stripe more or less marked in the design, and the
curtains straight to the floor, will make it seem higher. A high room
may have the curtains reach only to the sills with a valance across the
top. This style may be used in a fairly low room if the curtain material
is chosen with discretion and is not of a marked design. If the windows
are narrow they can be made to seem wider by having the rod for the side
curtains extend about eight inches on each side of the window, and the
curtain cover the frame and a part of the wall. This leaves all the
window for light and air. A valance connecting the side curtains and
covering the top of the net curtains will also make the window seem
broader. A group of three windows can be treated as one by using only
one pair of side curtains with a connecting ruffle, and a pair of net
curtains at each window. Curtains may hang in straight lines or be
simply looped back, but fancy festooning is not permissible. There is
another attractive method of dividing the curtains in halves, the upper
sections to hang so they just cover the brass rod for the lower
sections, which are pushed back at the sides. These lower sections may
have the rod on which they are run fastened to the window-sash if one
wishes. They will then go up with the window and of course keep clean
much longer, but to my mind it is not so alluring as a gently blowing
curtain on a hot day. I have seen a whole house curtained most
charmingly in this manner, with curtains of unbleached muslin edged with
a narrow little ruffle. They hung close to the glass and reached just to
the sill with the lower part pushed back at the sides. The outside view
was most attractive, and the inside curtains varied according to the
needs of each room.

[Illustration: A charming window treatment, in a room whose color scheme
is carried out in the garden, giving a unique and delightful touch.]

Casement windows should have the muslin curtains drawn back with a cord
or a muslin band, and the side curtains should hang straight, with a
little top ruffle; if the windows open into the room the curtains may be
hung on the frames. The muslin curtains may be left out entirely if one
wishes. Net curtains on French doors should be run on small brass rods
at top and bottom, and the heavy curtains that are drawn together at
night for privacy's sake should be so hung that they will not interfere
with the opening of the door. There should be plenty of room under all
ruffles or shaped valances where the curtains are to be drawn to allow
for easy working of the cords, otherwise tempers are liable to be
suddenly lost.

All windows over eighteen inches wide need two curtains, and the average
allowance of fullness is at least twice the width of the window for net
and any very soft material, while once and a half is usually enough for
material with more body. Great care must be taken to measure curtains
correctly and have them cut evenly. It is also a good plan to allow for
extra length, which can be folded into the top hem and will not show,
but will allow for shrinking.

Stenciling can be very attractively used for curtains and portières for
country houses. Cheesecloth, scrim, aurora cloth, pongee, linen, and
velours, are a few of the materials that can be used. The design and
kind used in a room should be chosen with due regard to its suitability.
A Louis XVI room could not possibly have arras cloth used in it, while
it would be charming and appropriate in a modern bungalow. Arras cloth
with an appliqué design of linen couched on it makes beautiful curtains
and portières to go with the Mission or Craftsman furniture.

There is an old farmhouse on Long Island that has been made over into a
most delightful country house, and the furnishing throughout is
consistent and charming. The curtains are reproductions of old designs
in chintz and cretonne. The living-room, with its white paneling to the
ceiling, its wide fireplace, old mahogany furniture, and curtains gay
with parrots and flowers, hanging over cool white muslin, is a room to
conjure with.

In town houses the curtains and hangings must also harmonize with the
style of furnishing. When the windows are hung with soft colored
brocade, the portières are usually beautiful tapestry or rich toned
velvets, and care is always taken to have the balance of color kept and
the color values correct. There are silks and damasks and velvets, and
many lesser stuffs, made for all the period styles, whether carried out
simply or elaborately, and it is the art of getting the suitable ones
for the different rooms which gives the air of harmony, beauty, and
restfulness, for which the word home stands.

In hanging these more formal curtains the shaped valance is usually used
with the curtains hanging straight at the sides of the window, so they
can be drawn together at night. The cords and pulleys should always be
in perfect working order. Another method is to have the curtains simply
parted in the center, either with a valance or without, and drawn back
at the sides with heavy cords and tassels, or bands of the stuff. If a
draped effect is desired great care must be taken not to have it too

If the walls of a room are plain in color one may have either plain or
figured hangings, but if the wall covering is figured it gives a feeling
of unrest if the curtains are also figured. Sometimes one sees bedrooms
and small boudoirs where the walls and curtains show the same design,
but it must be done with skill, or disaster is sure to follow.

Plain casement cloth or the different "Sunfast" fabrics are attractive
with plain or figured papers, especially in bedrooms of country houses.

If one has to live in the town house through the summer do not make the
fatal mistake of taking down the curtains and living in bare discomfort
during the hot season. If the curtains are too handsome to be kept up,
buy a second set of inexpensive ones that can be washed without injury.
It is better that they should stop the dust, and then go into the tub,
than that one's lungs should collect it all. Curtains are useful as well
as ornamental, and a house without them is as dreary as breakfast
without coffee.

_Floors and Floor Coverings_

In planning a room the color values should be divided into the natural
divisions of the heaviest, or darkest, part at the bottom, which is the
floor; the medium color tone in the middle, which is the wall; and the
lightest at the top, which is the ceiling. This keeps the room from
seeming top-heavy and gives the necessary feeling of support for the
wall and ceiling. The walls and floor serve as a background and should
not be insistant or startling in color; and the size and height of the
room, the amount of wall space, the position of doors, windows and
fireplace, the quantity and quality of the light, and the connecting
rooms will all be factors in the color scheme and materials chosen.

The floor of a room must be right or all the character of the
furnishings will be lost. One should first see that it is in perfect
condition. If it is a hardwood or parquetry floor it should not be
finished the bright and glaring yellow which is sometimes seen, but
should be slightly toned down before the finish is put on. Samples of
different tones should be submitted to be tried with samples of the rug
and stuffs to be used before the decision is made. A wax finish is
better than the usual coats of shellac, for the wax has a soft and
beautiful glow, while shellac has a hard commercial glare. A waxed
floor, if properly taken care of, which is not difficult, wears
extremely well and does not have the distressingly shabby appearance of
a partly worn shellaced floor. If the floor is old and worn and is to be
painted or stained all cracks should be filled, and the color chosen
should be a neutral color-in harmony with the rest of the room, the wood
shades usually being the best, with the exception of cherry and the red
tones of mahogany. Teak is a good tone for hard wood. Soft wood floors
of such woods as pine, fir, and cypress can be made to have the
appearance of hardwood if first scraped or sandpapered and then stained
with an oil stain and finished with a thin coat of shellac and two coats
of prepared floor wax.

The usual ways of using floor covering are: one large rug which leaves a
border of hard wood floor of about a foot all around it; several small
rugs placed with a well balanced plan upon the floor; and carpet, either
seamless or of strips sewed together, made into one rug or entirely
covering the floor.

In the majority of cases the use of a single large plain rug is by far
the best plan, for it gives the feeling of an unobtrusive background
whose beauty of color serves to bind the room in the unity of a well
planned scheme; and this sense of dignity and solidity goes a long way
on the road to success. It is one of the most satisfactory methods of
covering a floor imaginable. These plain carpets come in several grades
and many colors and are woven in widths from nine to thirty feet which
can be cut in any desired length. This makes it possible to have a rug
which will be a suitable size for a room. The colors are very good,
especially the soft grays, tans, putty color, and taupe. There are also
some good blues and greens, a very beautiful dark blue having great
possibilities. There are also, besides these wide carpets, narrow
carpets from twenty-seven inches to four feet wide which can be sewed
together and made into rugs, or the carpet can cover the entire floor.
In some cases this is the most attractive thing to do, for it will make
a room seem larger by carrying the vision all the way to the wall
without the break of a border; and it also covers a multitude of sins in
the way of a rough floor. In these days of vacuum cleaners the old
terrors of dust have lost their sting.

A plain carpet or rug may be used with propriety in any room in the
house, provided the right color is chosen for the surroundings. Some
people, however, prefer a figured carpet in the dining-room on account
of the wear and tear around the table. This risk is not very great if
the rug is of good quality in the first place. A two-toned all-over
design is often chosen for halls and stairs because of the special wear
which they receive, and a Chinese rug is a good selection to make with a
stair carpet of soft blue and yellow Chinese design to match. A small,
figured, all-over design is a good choice for a nursery.

Bedrooms may have either one large rug or be covered entirely with
carpet, or have several rugs so placed that the floor is practically
covered but is easily kept clean. Plain rugs are more restful in effect
in bedrooms than figured rugs, and with plain walls and chintz are fresh
and charming. These carpet rugs should be made with a flat binding which
turns under and is sewed down, as this looks far better and lies flatter
on the floor than the usual over-and-over finish, which is apt to
stretch. All rugs should be thoroughly stretched before they are
delivered as otherwise they will not lie flat.

There is a kind of plain woven linen rug, with a different colored
border if desired, which is very good to use in many country houses.
These rugs come in a large assortment of colors and sizes, and, when
sufficient time is allowed, they can be made in special sizes.
Old-fashioned woven and hooked rag rugs are not appropriate in all kinds
of rooms, even in the country. They should only be used in the simple
farm house type and in some bungalows, and should be used with the
simple styles of old furniture and never with fine examples, whether
copies or originals.

[Illustration: This attractive Colonial hallway shows a good arrangement
of rugs. The border on the portières spoils the effect, but the lamp is
well chosen.]

The light in a room must be taken into account in choosing a rug, and
cold colors should not be used in north or cheerless rooms. The theory
of color in regard to light has been explained in other chapters, very
fully in the chapter on wallpapers, and its principles should be applied
to all questions of furnishing, or disappointment will be the result.

[Illustration: The Oriental rug used on the stairs harmonizes with those
used on the floor.]

[Illustration: This bed-room is a good example of a simple Colonial
bed-room, and the rag rugs are in keeping with it. The repeat design of
the wallpaper ties the room into a unified whole.]

The question of whether to use Oriental rugs or plain rugs is one which
many people find hard to solve. One of the deciding factors is often
finding just what is right for the room, for really beautiful Oriental
rugs in large or carpet size are rare and also expensive, but soft-toned
Persian rugs with their interesting floral designs, and Chinese rugs
with their wonderful tones of blue and yellow are works of art and well
worth the trouble necessary to discover them and the price asked. They
are best adapted to some libraries and halls and some dining-rooms, but
they should not be startling in either design or color. To my mind
Oriental rugs are not well suited to the majority of living-rooms and
bedrooms because of the constant and varied use of these rooms. When
Oriental rugs are used there should be plenty of plain effect in the
room; the walls, for instance, should be plain. I have never seen a room
which was successful if both walls and rug were figured. A fine tapestry
may be used with Oriental rugs, but that is quite different from a
figured wall. If several rugs are to be used in one room they must be of
the same color value and the same general color tone or the floor will
appear uneven. One does not wish to have a room give the uncomfortable
effect of "the rocky road to Dublin." A rug with a general blue tone
must not be put with other rugs of many colors or an overpowering amount
of red, but should be matched in color by having blue the chief color of
the other rugs also. The color value, too, must be even, for a light
rug next to a dark has the same disagreeable effect. It is impossible to
have a beautiful room if the rug seems to rise up and smite you as you
enter. Persian rugs with their conventional floral designs should not be
used with the marked color and geometrical designs of Caucasian rugs.
These points are important to remember and follow, for otherwise unity
of scheme for the room will be impossible.

If one has several fine rugs well matched in color value and design they
should be placed with a due regard to the shape of the room and the
position of the furniture. A rug placed cat-a-cornered breaks up the
structural plan of the room and makes it appear smaller than it really
is. The new lines formed are at odds with the lines of the walls and
interfere with the sense of space by stopping the eye in its instinctive
journey to the boundary of things. Oriental rugs should be tried if
possible in the rooms in which they are to be used before the final
choice is made, and one must always try the rug with the light falling
across the nap and also with the nap, for one way makes the rug lighter
and the other darker, and one of the two may be just what is wanted.

If one owns a rug which seems far too bright to use it can be toned
down, but the owner must take the risk of its being spoiled in the
process. To me it does not seem a great risk, because if the rug is so
bright that it is absolutely nerve-destroying and useless, and there is
a chance that for a small sum it can be made charming, why not take it?
I have never heard of one failing, but I suppose some of them must or
the stipulation would not be made.

If an Oriental rug is used it should give the keynote for the color
scheme, and the design of the rug will decide whether there can be any
figured material used in the room. It is far easier to build up a scheme
from a satisfactory rug than it is to try to fit one into a room which
is otherwise finished. One's field of choice is much wider. Samples of
wallpaper, curtain material and furniture coverings should always be
tried with the rugs, whether Oriental or plain in color, for the scheme
of a room must be worked out as a whole, not piece-meal. Each room must
be considered in relation to the other rooms near it, because, although
it may be beautiful in itself, if it does not harmonize with the
connecting rooms the whole effect will be a failure. Vistas from one
room to another should be alluring and charming; there should be no
violent and clashing contrasts of color or styles of furniture or sudden
change in the scale of furnishings. One room cannot shake off its
relationship to the rest of the house and be a success, and floor
coverings must bear their full share of responsibility in making the
whole house beautiful.

_The Treatment of Walls_

The walls of a house hold a most important place in the order of things
and their treatment requires much thought. The floor is the darkest
color value in a room, as it is the foundation, and the walls come next
in color value and consideration. What I have said in other chapters
about the necessity of connecting rooms being harmonious applies of
course to the selection of wall coverings.

The first question to be settled is: shall paint or paper be used?

If a house is new the walls are apt to settle a little making the
plaster crack, and it is far better in such a case to allow the walls to
remain white for a year. If the effect of plain white plaster strikes
one as too cold one of the many water tints may be used as this will not
interfere with any later scheme. In houses that have been built for a
number of years the walls are often so badly cracked and marred that to
put them into condition for painting would be more expensive than
preparing them for paper. Estimates should be given for both paint and

When the plaster has done its worst and settled down to a quiet life the
work of covering the walls appropriately begun.

Plain walls, whether painted, tinted, or papered, are more restful in
effect and form better backgrounds than figured walls. This is not a
question of the beauty of the design or the expense of the material, but
simply the fact that a plain surface is quiet, while a figured wall,
even if only two-toned, will at once assert itself more, and so be less
of a background. If many pictures and mirrors are to be used, or a
figured rug and much furniture, by all means have plain walls. If one
has some special object of great beauty and interest, it should be
treated with the dignity and honor it deserves and given a plain
background. A miscellaneous collection of lares and penates can be made
to hold together better by having a plain wall of some soft neutral
color rather than a figured paper, which would only make the confusion
more pronounced. Small rooms should have plain and light colored walls,
as they then appear larger. Plain walls give a wider scope in the matter
of decoration, for, beside the possibilities of plain stuffs, chintz and
various striped silks and linen may be used which would be quite out of
the question with figured walls, more flowers may be used, and
lampshades, always a bit assertive, take their proper place in the
scheme, instead of making another distracting note.

[Illustration: A built-in corner cupboard has an architecturally
decorative value for it supplies a spot of color in the paneled walls.
The modern china closet is bad, and the chairs have the failing of many
reproductions, the backs are a little too high for the width.]

The question of paint or paper has often to be decided by circumstances,
such as the condition of the walls or the climate. With paint one can
have the exact shade desired and either a "glossy" or eggshell finish.
With paper it is often a matter of taking the nearest thing to the color
wanted and changing the other colors to harmonize. Paint is better to
use in a damp or foggy climate, as paper may peel from the walls in the
course of time.

[Illustration: This fine well-curtained four poster, once the property
of Lafayette, the trundle-bed, cradle, chairs and table, are all
interesting, but the wallpaper appears to be of the ugly time of about
1880. Something more appropriate should be chosen.]

Walls may be tinted or painted, and paneled with strips of molding which
are painted the wall color or a tone lighter or darker as the scheme
requires. Also, the wall inside the moulding may be a tone lighter than
the wall outside, or vice versa, but the contrast must not be strong or
the wall at once becomes uneven in effect and ceases to be a good
background. Paintings may be paneled on the walls. If one has only one
suitable picture for the room it should be placed over the mantel, or in
some other position of importance, making a centre of interest in the
room. Using pictures and pieces of tapestry in this way is quite
different from having the walls painted in two sharply contrasting
colors, because the paint gives the feeling of permanence while the
picture is obviously an added decoration requiring a correct background.
I am speaking of the average house, not of houses and palaces where the
walls have been painted by great artists.

Painted walls are appropriate for all manner of homes, from the
elaborate country or city house all through the list to the farm house
or small bungalow, but if, for any reason, one cannot have painted
walls, or prefers paper, one need not forego the restful pleasure of
plain backgrounds, for there are many beautiful plain papers to be had.

Personal taste usually decides whether paint or paper is to be used.
Paint is thought by some to be too cold or hard in appearance (it is
only so when badly done or when disagreeable colors are chosen,) or it
is considered too formal, or, with the memory of New England farm houses
in mind, too informal. For those who wish paper, the possibilities are
very great if the paper is properly chosen. The reason why so many
people are disappointed with the effect of their newly papered rooms is
that they judged the paper at the shop from one piece, and did not
realize that a design which appealed to them there might be overpowering
when repeated again and again and again on the wall. When choosing a
figured paper several strips should be placed side by side to enable one
to judge whether the horizontal repeat is as satisfactory and pleasant
as the perpendicular. When an acceptable one is found a large sample
should be taken home to pin on the wall to show the effect in its future
environment. Samples of the curtains and furniture coverings should also
be tried with the sample of paper before the final choice is made. If a
paper with a decided figure is chosen pictures should be banished, for
their beauty will be killed by the repeated design. The scale of the
design in relation to the size of the room must also be taken into
account. A small room will be overpowered by a large figure, but often
the repeat of a small figure is quite correct in a large room as it
gives an all-over, unobtrusive effect. If the wall space is much cut by
doors and windows one should select a plain, neutral toned paper. It
would be a fatal error to use a figured paper, for the room would look
restless and chaotic and probably out of balance. If the windows are in
groups and the doors balance each other the danger is lessened, but not
done away with. One of the beautiful features in fine old Colonial
houses is this ordered position of doors, but in many a modern house the
doors have a trying way of appearing in a corner, as if they were a bit
ashamed of themselves; and they have good cause to be, for a badly
placed door is a calamity. If one is fortunate enough to plan one's own
house, this matter can be taken care of properly, but in the average
ready made house one has to try to make the doors less conspicuous by
having them painted in very much the tone of the wall. With a gray wall,
for instance, there should have a slightly lighter tone of gray for the
woodwork, with a white and gray striped paper white paint may be used,
with a soft tan a deep old ivory, and so on.

If a room is badly proportioned it can often be improved by the simple
expedient of using a correct paper. If the room is too high for its size
the ceiling color may be brought down on the side wall for eighteen
inches or so and finished with a moulding. This stops the eye before it
reaches the ceiling and so makes the room seem lower. If the room is too
low a striped paper may be used which will make the room seem higher by
carrying the eye up to the ceiling where the paper is finished with a
moulding. Vertical lines give the appearance of height, horizontal
lines of width. Striped paper should not be used in narrow halls, for it
makes them seem narrower and gives one the feeling of being in a cage.
Two-toned striped papers of nearly the same color value, such as gray
and white, yellow and cream-white, and white and cream color, are better
to use than those of more marked contrast, although some of the green
and white and blue and white are charming and fresh looking for
bedrooms. Black and white is too eccentric for the average house; one
should beware of all eccentric papers. There are a few kinds of paper
which should be left severely alone, for they will spoil any room. One
of them has a plain general tone but a suggestion of other colors which
give it a blurred and mottled appearance which is singularly
disagreeable. Another is plain in color but has a lumpy effect like a
toad's back, and is really quite awful. Others are metallic papers, and
there is a heavy paper embossed in self color with a conventional design
which is apt to have a shining surface. Papers with dashes and little
flecks of gold should be avoided, for the gold gives the wall an
unstable and cheap appearance. Papers with small single figures repeated
all over the surface are apt to look as if a plague of flies or beetles
had arrived and are quite impossible to live with. Borders and cut out
borders have a commonplace appearance and are not in the best of taste.
And then there are papers with vulgarity of design. This quality is hard
to define clearly, for it may be only a slightly redundant curve or
other lack of true feeling for the beauty of line, or a bit too much, or
too little, color, or a bad combination of color, or a lack of knowledge
of the laws of balance and harmony and ornament, or a wrong surface of
texture to the paper. But whatever the cause, a vulgar paper will
vulgarize any room, no matter what is done in the way of furniture. It
will assert itself like an ill-bred person. Luckily both are easily

But the picture is not all dark by any means, for some of the American
made papers, as well as the imported papers, are very beautiful. The
makers are taking great pains to have fine designs and beautiful colors
which will appeal to people of knowledge and taste. The situation is
much better than it was a few years ago. Some of the copies of old
figured and scenic papers are exceptionally fine, and can be used with
great distinction in dining-rooms or halls with ivory or cream-white
woodwork and wainscoting, and Georgian or Colonial furniture. One should
not use pictures with these papers, but mirrors are permissable and will
have the best effect if placed on a wood-paneled over-mantel. These
papers come in tones of gray and white and also sepia. Oriental rugs, if
not of too conspicuous a design, may be used with them, but plain rugs
are better with plain hangings and striped silk chair seats. These
papers are very attractive in country houses. There are also colored
scenic papers, an especially fascinating one having a Chinese design
which could be used as a connected scene or in panels, and would be
lovely in a country house drawing-room or dining-room or hall. It could
also be used in a city house with beautiful effect if due thought be
given to the question of hangings, woodwork, rug, and furniture.
Introduce a false note, and a room of this kind is ruined. These scenic
papers come in sets, but the copies of the other old papers come in the
regular rolls. Some of the lovely old "_Toile de Jouy_" designs have
been used for wall paper, and these with other chintz designs, can be
softened in effect by a special method of glazing which makes them very
harmonious and charming with antique furniture or reproductions of fine
old models. These old chintz papers are lovely for bedrooms or
morning-rooms, with fresh crisp muslin curtains and plain silk or linen
or chambray side-curtains. Either painted or mahogany furniture could be
employed. A motif from the paper can be used for the furniture or it can
simply be striped with the color chosen for the plain curtains. Some of
the good and rather stunning bird design papers treated with this
special glazing make beautiful halls with plain rugs and hangings and
chair covers.

Papers cost from about forty cents to several dollars a roll, but the
choice is large and attractive between one and three dollars a roll, and
there are also excellent ones for eighty-five cents. It is almost
impossible, however, to give a satisfactory list of prices as they vary
in different parts of the country. The reproductions of old scenic
papers of which I have spoken are expensive, costing about one hundred
dollars a set, but they may go down again now that the war is over. The
difference in expense between paint and paper is not very great, in
fact, with the average paper at a dollar or a dollar and a half a roll,
paint is about the same, or perhaps a bit cheaper if the walls are in
fairly good condition. It is a mistake to use inferior paper, and there
should never be more than a lining paper and the paper itself on the
wall. In some cases where there is only one paper of soft color on the
wall, with no lining paper, this paper may be used as a lining paper if
it is absolutely tight and firm. The risk is that the new paste may
loosen the old a bit and so let all come down. Old paper must be
entirely removed if there are any marred places as they will show
through the new and ruin the effect.

The amount of wall space and the quality and the quantity of the light
are important factors in deciding the color scheme because by using them
correctly we can brighten a cheerless, dark room or soften the blaze in
a too sunny one.

If the light is a cold dreary one from the north, the room will be
vastly improved if warm, cheerful colors are used: warm ivory, deep
cream color, soft or bright yellow without any greenish tinge in it,
soft yellow pinks (there is a hard pink which is very ugly), yellow
green (but not olive), and tones of golden tan. It is the dash of yellow
in these colors which makes them cheerful and gives the impression of
sunlight. Tans should never come too close to brown for a dark room, for
nothing is more dreary or hopeless than a room done in that depressing
color. The beautiful tones of old oak, or properly treated modern oak
paneling, are quite a different matter. Small amounts of red or orange
will do wonders, if used with discretion, in brightening a dull room,
and are often just what are needed to bring out the beauty of the rest
of the scheme; but it is a great mistake to think that red walls and a
great deal of red in the hangings and furniture covering will make a
cheerful or pleasant room. Red absorbs light and is also an irritant to
the eyes and nerves, and, unless it is used with great skill, it is apt
to look extremely commonplace and ugly or like an ostentatious hotel or
public building. Few of us have large enough houses to make it possible
to use red in great amounts, and it is well for the average person to
shun it and remember that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred a red
wall will spoil a room.

[Illustration: There are few treatments for walls in a Colonial
dining-room that can compare with paneled walls, or wainscoting with a
decorative paper above. The subject, however, must be in keeping. This
paper is extremely inappropriate, and the center light is also badly
chosen and could be eliminated.]

Cool colors should be used in bright and sunny rooms--blues, greens,
grays, grayish tans, and those delightful colors, old ivory, and soft
deep cream color and linen color. Colors with a tone of yellow in them
are easier to use than cold blues and greens and violets, for the yellow
tinge, be it ever so little, brings them into relation with the majority
of woods used in floors and furniture frames. Light colors make a
room seem larger by apparently making the walls recede, and dark
colors make it seem smaller, as they make us conscious of the walls and
so seem to bring them nearer. Any very bright room may have dark walls
to soften the glare, but if it has to be used by artificial light it
will then be heavy and cheerless in effect; and so a better choice would
be some soft neutral color of medium or lighter color values, such as
gray green, and use awnings and dark shades. This matter of color in
relation to light is important to remember when planning one's house.
There is also another question which has great influence on one's choice
of paper, and that is the amount and kind of furniture to be used in the
room. Georgian furniture calls for plain or paneled walls, or if a
figured paper is used it should be one of the old-fashioned designs or
one of the striped papers. Old-fashioned chintz designs are also
appropriate for bedrooms with mahogany or painted furniture. Plain or
paneled walls, striped paper, and some of the fine floral designs, which
can also be used as panels, and the charming _Toile de Jouy_ designs,
are all appropriate when used with French furniture. Heavily made
furniture like Craftsman or Mission needs the support of strong walls
which may be rough-finished natural-colored or painted plaster, or grass
cloth, or one of the many good plain papers of heavy texture. There are
also figured papers which are appropriate. Wicker furniture will go with
almost any kind of attractive paper which is correct for the room, but
when there is much figure the cushions should be covered with plain
stuff. All-over stuffed furniture when covered with chintz looks best
with plain walls. Painted furniture looks well with plain walls and
chintz. A motif from the chintz can be used on the furniture for the
decoration, but if the wall paper is figured the effect will be more
restful if the furniture is only striped.

[Illustration: This room is unattractive because of the poor arrangement
of the furniture and the inappropriate bed-hangings. The bed, Sheraton
chair, and card-table, are all very good examples.]

In summing up: the important points which govern the choice and color of
wall covering are the connecting rooms, the amount and quality of light,
the size and shape of the room, its use, the furnishings which are to be
used, the condition of the walls, and personal preference as to paint or
paper. Do not be afraid of the idea that plain walls, whether paint or
paper, may become tiresome, for one can stand well planned monotony year
in and year out with a cheerful heart. If some rooms are to be papered
with figured paper be sure the selection is made with care and with the
idea in mind that a figured wall is in itself a decoration and should
not have pictures crowded upon it.

_Artificial Lighting_

To light a room successfully appropriate lights must be placed where
they are needed to keep the feeling of balance and proportion and bring
out the charm of the room by their relation to its furnishing. They
should also be so placed that the life of the household can go on as
cheerfully and smoothly in the evening as in the day time.

The position and style of lighting fixtures is decided by the type of
house, the size and height of the rooms, the amount of wall space, the
use for which the rooms are intended, their style of furnishing, the
chief centers of interest, such as mantels, doors, furniture, and
pictures of importance, and also the manner in which the walls are
treated, whether paneled or papered. If one is building a house one
should give all possible data to the architect in regard to any special
pieces of furniture or pictures which one may wish to use in certain
places. By doing this the tragedy of a slightly too small wall space
will be escaped, and the lights will be properly placed in the

One must always remember in planning the position of the lights for a
room that the eye naturally seeks the brightest spot, and badly placed
lamps and sidelights will upset the balance of a room. The room must not
be glaringly bright, but there should be a feeling of a certain
evenness in the distribution of light. A top light makes the light come
from the wrong direction. Artificial light in a room should take its
general idea from the lighting of the room in the day time. The daylight
comes from the windows, the sides of the room, and the decoration of the
room is built up with that in mind; so when we are planning the lighting
scheme we should remember this and realize that the light should come
from lamps placed advantageously on tables, and wall lights placed
slightly above eye level.

Living-rooms should have a sufficient number of well placed sidelights
to enhance the beauty of the room, and they should be placed near
centers of importance such as each side of the fireplace, or wide door,
or on each side of some important picture or mirror. If there is a group
of two or three windows which need to be more convincingly drawn
together to form a unit, lights may be placed on each side of the group.
Sidelights can be placed in the center of panels, thus forming a
decoration for the panel, and, flanking paintings or mirrors or
tapestries, make beautiful and formal rooms, especially for the
different periods of French, English, or Italian decoration. This
treatment with simpler forms of fixtures may also be used in our
charming, but more or less nondescript, chintz living-rooms and country
house drawing-rooms or dining-rooms. With a sufficient number of lamps
in the room the side-or wall-lights need not be lighted during the
average stay-at-home evenings but are ready if there is some special
occasion for brilliancy. There are some rooms which are much improved by
having no side-lights at all, all the light coming from lamps. There
should be plenty of floor sockets so placed that lamps may be used on
tables near sofas and armchairs and on the writing table or large
living-room table. It is this proper placing of lamps which has so much
to do with the charm and comfort of a room when evening comes.

In the average home there is no greater mistake in the matter of
lighting than having a room lighted by chandelier or ceiling lights.
Lights at the top of the room, or a foot or two from the ceiling, break
up completely the artistic balance of the room by drawing attention to
them as the brightest spot. They make the room seem smaller both by day
and night, they cast ugly shadows, they do not give sufficient or
correct light for reading or writing, and the glare above one's head is
nerve destroying. When the sun is directly overhead we hasten to put up
sunshades, so why should we deliberately reproduce in our homes the most
trying position of light? The fixtures also are usually extremely ugly.
One sees sometimes in private houses what is called the indirect method
of lighting, which is usually an alabaster bowl suspended by chains from
the ceiling in which the lights are concealed. The reflected light on
the ceiling is supposed to give a suffused and bright light. To my mind
there is something extremely obnoxious about this method used in homes,
for it smacks of department stores and banks and public buildings
generally. And then, too, the light is unpleasant. If I were the
unfortunate possessor of such a light I should have it taken down and
use the bowl on a high wrought iron tripod for growing ivy and ferns,
and thus try to get a little good from the ill wind that blew it there.

There are a few cases, however, where top lights may be used, such as
large drawing-or music-rooms, rooms in which formal entertaining is to
be done. Crystal ceiling lights are then best to use, or chandeliers
with crystal drops or pendants. If these rooms are Italian Renaissance
in style, the center lights must naturally harmonize in period. Large
halls with marble stairs and wrought-iron balustrade can have this
elaborate kind of light, but the average hall demands a simpler
chandelier. If one is to be used there are some very good copies of old
Colonial lights and lanterns, but personally I prefer wall brackets and
a dignified lamp, or a floor lamp. Torchères or lacquered floor lamps
may be used in pairs if the hall is large enough to have them placed
properly. In a long, narrow hall they would look a bit like lamp posts.
Rather close fitting round shades, nearly the same size at top and
bottom, made of painted parchment give a decorative touch and sufficient
light. As one does not need an especially bright light in a hall, a
beautiful lamp can be made of one of the fine old alabaster vases which
many people have by dropping an electric bulb in it. Placed on a consol
table before a mirror it makes a delightful spot in the hall. These
lamps may also be used in other rooms where a light is needed for effect
and not for use. In placing lamps the charm and utility of a reflection
in a mirror must not be overlooked.

A vestibule may have a lantern of some attractive design in harmony with
the house, or side lights, if they can be so placed as not to be struck
by the door.

Dining-rooms are far more beautiful and also better lighted if
sidelights are used, with candles on the table, rather than a drop
light. Dining-room drop-lights or "domes" have all the disadvantages of
other center lights and are extremely trying to the eyes of the diners,
as well as being unbecoming. Even when screened with thin silk drawn
across the bottom there is something deadening to one's brain in having
a light just over one's head. Side lights with the added charm of
candles will give plenty of light. It is a cause for thanksgiving that
drop-lights over dining-tables are rarely seen now-a-days.

Bedrooms should have a good light over the dressing table, and to my
mind, two movable lights upon it, which may be in the form of wired
candlesticks or small lamps. These are much more convenient than fixed
lights. There should be a light over any long mirror, and one for the
desk and sofa or _chaise longue_, and one for the bedside table. The
dressing-room should be supplied with a light over the chiffonier and
long mirror, and there should also be a table light. Clothes closets
should have simple lights.

And do not forget the kitchen if one wishes properly cooked meals. A
light so placed that it shines into the oven has saved many a burned
dish, and a light over the sink has saved many a broken one. The
servants' sitting-room should have a good reading lamp.

The question of the style of the fixtures is important, for if they are
badly chosen they will quite spoil an otherwise perfect room. They must
harmonize in period with the room, and also with its scale of
furnishing. There is a wide choice in the shops, and some of the designs
are very good indeed, having been carefully studied and adapted from
beautiful museum specimens of old Italian, French, English, and Spanish,
carvings and ornament. Some of our iron workers make very fine metal
fixtures which are beautiful copies of old French and Italian work.
There are graceful and sturdy designs, elaborate and simple, special
period designs, and many which are appropriate for rooms of no
particular period. There are charming lacquer sconces to go with lacquer
furniture, and old-fashioned prism candelabra and sconces, and fixtures
copied from choice old whale oil lamps in both brass and bronze. There
are suitable designs for each and every room. The difficulty lies not in
finding too few to choose from, but too many, and, growing weary,
making a selection not quite so good as it should be. One should take
blue prints to the shop if possible, but necessary measurements without
fail. One must know not only the width of the wall spaces, but the width
of the pictures and furniture to be put in the room, or the calamity may
happen of having the fixtures a bit too wide. When fixtures are meant to
be a special part of the decorative scheme, and support and enhance
pictures and tapestries, they should have an appropriate decorative
value also, but in the average home it is better and safer to choose the
simpler, but still beautiful, designs. It is better to err on the side
of simplicity than to have them too elaborate.

Lamps should be chosen to harmonize with the room, to add their
usefulness and beauty to it as a part of the whole and be convincingly
right both by day and night. There are many possibilities for having
lamps made of different kinds of pottery and porcelain jars; some
crackle-ware jars are very good in color. Chinese porcelain jars, both
single color and figured, make lovely lamps. Old and valuable specimens
should not be used in this way, for they are works of art. Many modern
jars are copies of the old and these should be used. There are lacquer
lamps, bronze, and brass, and carved wood lamps, and lovely Wedgwood and
alabaster vases. There are charming little floor lamps, some of wrought
iron with smart little parchment shades, some in Sheraton design, some
in lacquer or painted wood, which can be easily carried about to stand
by bridge tables or a special chair. There are dozens of different jars
and lamps to use, but the one absolutely necessary question to ask
oneself is: is it right for my purpose?

Lamp shades are a part of the scheme of the room's decoration and should
be chosen or made to order to achieve the desired effect. Special shades
are made by many clever people to harmonize with any room or period and
are apt to be far better than the ready made variety. There are all
manner of beautiful shades, lace, silk, plain and painted parchment and
paper, mounted Japanese prints, embroidery, and any number of other
attractive combinations. To be perfect, beside the fine workmanship,
they must harmonize in line with the lamps on which they are to be used,
and harmonize in color and style with the room, and have an absolute
lack of frills and furbelows. The shade for a reading lamp should spread
enough to allow the light to shine out. Lamp shades simply for
illuminating purposes may be any desired shape if in harmony with the
shape of the lamp. Lacquered painted tin shades are liked by some for
lamps on writing tables. There should be a certain amount of uniformity
in the style of the shades in a room, although they need not be exactly
alike. Too much variety is ruinous to the effect of simple charm in the
room. The chintz which is used for curtains will supply a motif for the
painted shades if one wishes them, but if there is a great deal of
chintz, plain shades will be more attractive. Side lights may have
little screens or shades, as one prefers, or none may be used. In that
case the bulbs may be toned down by using ground glass and painting them
with a thin coat of raw umber water color paint. Bedroom shades follow
the same rule of appropriateness that applies to the other shades in the
house. There should be several sets of candle shades for the

There is really no reason why so many houses should be so badly lighted.
Often simply rearranging the lamps and changing the shape of the shades
will do wonders in the way of improvement. Radical changes in the wiring
should be carefully thought out so there will be no mistakes to

_Painted Furniture_

The love of color which is strong in human nature is shown in the
welcome which has been given to painted furniture. If we turn back to
review the past we find this same feeling cropping out in the different
periods and in the different grades of furniture. The furniture of the
Italian Renaissance was often richly gilded and painted; the carved
swags of fruit, arabesques, and the entwined human figures, were painted
in natural colors, or some of the important lines of the furniture were
picked out with color or gold, or both. As the influence of the
Renaissance spread to France and England, changed by the national
temperament of the different countries, we find their furniture often
blossoming into color--not covered by a solid coat of paint but picked
out here and there by lines and accenting points. During the time of
Louis XIV everything was ablaze with gold and glory, but later, during
the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI, a gentler, more refined love of
color came uppermost, and the lovely painted furniture was made which
has given so much inspiration to our modern work. The simpler forms of
the Louis XV period, and the beautiful furniture of the Louis XVI
period, were often painted soft tones of ivory, blue, green, or yellow,
and decorated with lovely branches of flowers, birds, and scenery where
groups of people by Fragonard and other great painters disported with
all their eighteenth century charm. These decorations were usually
painted on reserves of old ivory with the ground color outside of some
soft tone. Martin, the inventor of famous "vernis Martin," flourished at
this time, and the glow of his beautiful amber-colored finish decorated
many a piece of furniture from sewing boxes to sedan chairs. In England
the vogue of painted furniture was given impetus by the genius of the
Adam Brothers and the beautiful work of Angelica Kaufmann, Cipriani, and
Pergolesi. In both France and England there was at this time the
comprehension and appreciation of beauty and good taste combined with a
carefree gaiety which made the ineffable charm of the eighteenth century
a living thing. There are some of our modern workmen and painters of
furniture who feel this so thoroughly that their work is very fine, but
the majority have no knowledge or understanding of the period, and,
although they may copy the lovely things of that time, the essence, the
true spirit, is lacking. Cabinet making and painting in those days was a
beloved and honored craft; to-day, alas, it is too often a matter of
union rules.

Chinese lacquer, while not strictly coming under the head of painted
furniture, was another branch of decorated furniture which was in great
demand at this time. The design in gold was done on a black or red or
green ground and was beautiful in effect.

[Illustration: The delicacy of the painting and the graceful proportions
of these reproductions are in the true spirit of Adam.]

[Illustration: A three-chair settee of the Sheraton period, lacquered,
and with cane seat. It would be appropriate for a living-room or hall.]

[Illustration: A wing-chair with a painted frame is comfortable and
harmonizes with painted furniture.]

[Illustration: This simple slat-backed chair can be made most attractive
at small expense with paint and a motif from the chintz for decoration.]

While the upper classes were having this beautiful furniture made for
their use, the peasant class was serenely going on its way decorating
its furniture according to its own ideas and getting charming results.
The designs were usually conventionalized field flowers done with great
spirit and charm. From the peasants of Brittany and Flanders and Holland
have come down to us many beautiful marriage chests and other pieces of
furniture which are simple and straightforward and a bit crude in their
design and color, but which have done much to serve as a help and guide
in our modern work.

The supply of painted furniture to-day is inspired by these different
kinds of the great periods of decoration. There are many grades and
kinds in the market, some very fine, keeping up the old traditions of
beauty, some charming and effective in style and color, but with a
modern touch, and some very very bad indeed; "and when they are bad they
are horrid." I have said a great deal in other chapters on this subject,
but I cannot too often urge those of my readers who have the good
fortune to live near one of our great art museums to study for
themselves the precious specimens of the great days of genius. It will
give a standard by which to judge modern work, and it is only by keeping
our ideals and demands high that we can save a very beautiful art from
deteriorating into a commercial affair.

When selecting painted furniture, one can often have some special color
scheme or decoration carried out at a little extra expense; and this is
well worth while, for it takes away the "ready made" feeling and gives
the touch of personality which adds so much to a home. One must see that
the furniture is well made, that the painting and finishing are properly
done, and that the decoration is appropriate. If the furniture is of one
of the French periods, it should be one of the simpler styles and should
be painted one of the soft ground colors used at the time, and the
decoration should have the correct feeling--flowers and birds like those
on old French brocade or _toile de Jouy_ or old prints. The striping
should be done in some contrasting color or in the wonderful brownish
black which they used. The design may be taken from the chintz or
brocade chosen for the room, but the painting must be done in the manner
of the period. This holds true of any English period chosen, such as
Adam furniture or the painted furniture of Sheraton. There are several
firms who make a specialty of this fine grade of furniture, but it is
not made by the car load; in fact it is usually special order work. The
kind one finds most often in the shops is furniture copied from the
simpler Georgian styles or simple modern pieces slightly reminiscent of
Craftsmen furniture, but not heavy or awkward in build. This furniture
is painted in different stock colors and designs, or can be painted
according to the purchaser's wishes as a special order. These "stock"
designs are often stenciled, but some of them have an effective charm
and are suitable to country houses, and also many city ones. When there
is much chintz used, the furniture will often be more attractive if it
is only striped with the chief color used in the room. The designs which
are to be avoided are of the Art Nouveau and Cubist variety, roses that
look like cabbages gone crazy, badly conventionalized flowers, and crude
and revolting color schemes. It sounds as if it should not be necessary
to warn people against these monstrosities, and I have never heard of
any one who buys them, but some one must do so or they would not be in
the shops.

Attractive and inexpensive painted furniture can be made to be used in
simple surroundings by buying slat-backed chairs with splint seats and a
drop-leaf pine table and having them painted the desired ground color
and then striped and decorated with a motif from the chintz to be used
in the room. A country house dining-room or bedroom could be most
charmingly fitted up in this way, chintz cushions could be used on the
chairs, and candle shades could be made to match. One can sometimes find
a bed or chest of drawers or other piece of furniture which is a bit
shopworn and can be had for a bargain. Old bureaus can be made to serve
as chests of drawers by taking the mirror off and using it as a wall
mirror. In many houses there are old sets of ugly furniture which can be
made useful and often attractive by having the jigsaw carving removed
and painting them. In a set of this kind, which I was doing over for a
client, there happened to be two beds with towering headboards, quite
impossible to use, but I combined the two footboards, thus making one
attractive bed. The furniture was painted a soft pumpkin yellow, striped
with blue and with little, old-fashioned nosegays, and a lovely linen
with yellow and cream stripes and baskets of flowers was used and turned
a dark and dreary room into a cheerful and pretty one.

One can find some kind of suitable painted furniture for nearly every
room in the average modern house. People everywhere are turning away
more and more from the heavy, depressing effects of a few years ago; but
unless they know the ground they are walking on they must tread with
care. The style chosen must be appropriate and in scale with the style
of house. The fine examples would look quite out of place in a bungalow
or very simple house, and the simple kind founded on peasant designs
would not be suitable in rooms with paneled walls and lovely taffeta
curtains. In Georgian and simple French designs there are fascinating
examples of chairs, settees and tables, corner cupboards and sideboards,
beds and dressing-tables and chests of drawers, mirrors and footstools
and candlesticks, everything both big and little which can be used in
almost any of our charming rooms in the average house, with their fresh
chintz and taffeta and well planned color schemes.

Lacquered furniture is more formal than the average painted furniture,
and often one or two pieces are sufficient for a room. A beautiful
lacquered cabinet with its fascinating mounts and its soft, wonderful
red or black and gold tones is a thing to conjure with. Lacquered
furniture is lovely for some dining-rooms and morning-rooms. The tables
should always be protected with glass tops, which also applies to other
painted furniture.

One or two pieces of painted furniture may be used in a room with other
furniture if they happen to be just the thing needed to complete the
scheme. A console table, for instance, with a mirror over it and
sidelights, might be just the touch needed between two windows hung with
plain taffeta curtains. Like all good things there must be restraint in
using it, but there are few things that have greater possibilities than
painted furniture when properly used.

_Synopsis of Period Styles as an Aid in Buying Furniture._

When trying to select furniture for the home, people often become
bewildered by the amount and variety to be found in the shops, and, not
knowing exactly what to look for in the different styles, make an
inappropriate or bad selection. One does not have to be so very learned
to have things right, but there are certain anachronisms which cry to
heaven and a little knowledge in advance goes a long way. A purchaser
should also know something about the construction and grade of the
furniture he wishes to buy. There are good designs in all the grades,
which, for the sake of convenience, may be divided into the expensive,
the medium in price, and the cheap. The amount one wishes to spend will
decide the grade, and one naturally must not expect to find all the
beauties and virtues of the first in the last. The differences in these
grades lie chiefly in the matters of the fit and balance of doors and
drawers; the joining of corners where, in the better grade, the interior
blocks used to keep the sides from spreading are screwed as well as
glued; the selection of well seasoned wood of fine grain; careful
matching of figures made by the grain of the wood in veneer; panels
properly made and fitted so they will not shrink or split; careful
finish both inside and out, and the correct color of the stain used;
appropriate hardware; hand or machine or "applied" carving. In the cheap
grades it is best to leave carving out of the question entirely, for it
is sure to be bad. Then there are the matters of the correctness of
design and detail, in which all the knowledge one has collected of
period furniture will be called upon; and in painted furniture the color
of the background and the charm and execution of the design must be
taken into account, whether it is done by hand or stenciled. Nearly all
kinds of woods are used, the difference in cost being caused by the
grade and amount of labor needed, the kind of wood chosen and its
abundance and the fineness of grain and the seasoning. Mahogany costs
more than stained birch, and walnut than gum wood, but there are certain
people who for some strange reason feel that they are getting something
a little smarter and better if it is tagged "birch mahogany" than if it
were simply called birch. Some of the furniture is well stained and some
shockingly done, the would-be mahogany being either a dead and dreary
brown or a most hideous shade of red, a very Bolshevik among woods. One
must remember that the mahogany of the 18th century, the best that there
has ever been, was a beautiful glowing golden brown, and when a red
stain was used it was only a little to enhance the richness of the
natural color of the wood, more of a suggestion than a blazing fact.
The wood was carefully rubbed with oil and pumice, and the shellac
finish was rubbed to a soft glow. Modern furniture, especially in the
medium and cheap grades, is apt to look as if it were encased in a hard
and shining armor of varnish.

[Illustration: This chair with its silk damask covering edged with gimp,
the shape of the underframing and arms, and the dull gold carved
ornaments, shows many characteristics of the Italian Renaissance.]

[Illustration: An elaborately carved Chippendale chair, with late Queen
Anne influence in the shape of the back. Petit point covering which was
so popular in her day is now wonderfully reproduced.]

[Illustration: This Chippendale pie crust tip table shows the tripod
base with claw feet and the carved edge which gives it its name, and
which was carved down to the level, never applied. A genuine antique pie
crust table is very valuable.]

[Illustration: This fine example of a Queen Anne lacquered chair shows
the characteristic splat and top curve, the slip seat narrower at the
back than front with rounded corners, and cabriole legs.]

Beside this practical knowledge one should have a general idea of the
artistic side or the appearance of the different period styles and the
manner in which they were used. To achieve this, one must study the best
examples it is possible to find in originals, pictures, and properly
made reproductions. Many of the plates in this book are from extremely
valuable originals and should be studied carefully as they give a fine
idea of some of the chief points in the different styles. One should
also go to libraries and Art Museums whenever possible and study their
collections. The more knowledge gained the more ease one will have in
furnishing one's home whether there is everything to buy, or one is
planning to add a few articles to complete a charming interior, or, with
an eye to a future plan, is buying good things piece by piece and slowly
eliminating the bad. It is this knowledge which will help you to study
your own possessions and decide what is needed and what will be correct
to buy. That, is one of the most important points, to have a well
thought out plan, and never to be haphazard in your purchases. Very few
of us have houses completely furnished in one period, but we do try to
have a certain unity of spirit kept throughout the whole, whether it be
French, Italian, English, or our own charming Colonial. There can be a
great variety in any one of these divisions, and suitable furniture can
be found for all rooms, from the simplest kind to the most elaborate. It
is easier to find good reproductions in the English periods of Jacobean,
Charles II, William and Mary, Queen Anne, and the Georgian time, and the
French periods of Louis XV and Louis XVI.

[Illustration: The upholstery of this Sheraton chair is fastened on with
brass-headed tacks placed in festoons.]

[Illustration: Notice the curved seat of this Hepplewhite chair.]

[Illustration: The wheel back design was often used by Adam. The arms,
the curve of the seat and carving, the tapering reeded legs, and the
angle of the back legs should all be noticed.]

[Illustration: As Chippendale did not use this style of leg they show
that the chair was probably reconstructed from two old chairs.]

If one wishes a house furnished in the Gothic period it will be
necessary to have nearly all the different pieces made to order, as
there are few reproductions made. As our modern necessities of furniture
were not known in those days, the designs would have to be carried out
more in the spirit of the style than the letter, and one must be certain
to have advice and designs from some person who thoroughly understands
the period and who will see that the whole is properly carried out.
Gothic days were rough and strenuous, and the furniture was strong and
heavy and was made chiefly of oak with no varnish of any kind. The
characteristic lines of the furniture and the designs for carving were
architectural, and a careful study of the Gothic cathedrals of France,
Belgium, and England will give a very satisfactory idea of this
wonderful time. The idea of the pointed arch, rose window, trefoil,
quatrefoil, animal grotesques, and geometric designs, as well as the
beautiful linen-fold design, were all adapted for use as carving in the
panels of the furniture of the day, which consisted of chests that
served as seats, buffets, armoires, screens, trestle tables, as well as
the choir stalls of churches.

This style is appropriate to large and dignified country houses. The
architect must see that the background is correct.

The Renaissance period should not be attempted as a style to furnish
one's house unless it can be carried out properly. The house should be
large and architecturally correct, and there should be at least a near
relation of a Fortunatus purse to draw upon. It is one of the
magnificent and dignified periods, and makeshifts and poor copies have a
pitiful appearance and are really time and money wasted.

Much of the furniture of the Renaissance was architectural in design,
many chests and cupboards and cabinets having the appearance of temple
façades. The carving was in both low and high relief and was extremely
beautiful, but in the later part of the period became too ornate. Walnut
and chestnut were the chief woods used, and there was much inlay of
tortoise shell, ivory, brass, mother-of-pearl, lapis-lazuli, and fine
woods. There was much gilding, and paint was also used, and the metal
mounts were of the finest workmanship. The bronze andirons, knockers,
candlesticks, of this time have never been equalled. There was a strong
feeling of balance in the decorations, and the chief motifs were the
acanthus beautifully carved, conventionalized flowers and fruit, horns
of plenty, swags and wreaths of fruit and flowers, the scroll, dolphin,
human figure, and half figure ending in fanciful designs of foliage.
Beautiful and fascinating arabesques were carved and painted on the
walls and pilasters. The chief pieces of furniture were magnificently
carved chests and coffers which were also sometimes gilded and painted,
oblong tables with elaborately carved supports at each end, usually with
a connecting shelf on which were smaller carved supports. The chairs
were high backed with much carving and gilding, and there were others of
simpler form with leather or tapestry or damask seats and backs. The
Savanarola chair was in the form of a curved X with seat and back of
velvet or leather or sometimes wood on which a cushion was used. Mirror
frames were magnificently carved and gilded and picked out with color.
The rooms were a fitting background for all this splendor, for the
woodwork and walls were paneled and carved and painted, the work often
being done by the greatest painters of the day.

The French Renaissance followed the general line of the Italian but was
lighter and less architectural in its furniture designs and ornament.
Chairs were slowly becoming more common, and rooms began to be more

[Illustration: This Jacobean buffet is finely reproduced with the
exception of the spiral carving of the legs, which is too sharp and
thin, and gives the appearance of inadequate support. The split spindle
ornament was much used on furniture of the period.]

The English Renaissance was of slow growth and was always marked by a
certain English sturdiness, which is one of the reasons why it is more
easily used in our modern houses. It began in the time of Henry VIII
and lasted through the Tudor and Jacobean periods.

[Illustration: A style that harmonizes with Chippendale furniture.]

[Illustration: This style of mirror was popular in the early nineteenth

[Illustration: The painted scene is often an important feature.]

[Illustration: The Empire style has columns at the sides and gilt

The best modern copies of Renaissance furniture are not to be found in
every shop and are usually in the special order class. There are some
makers in America, however, who make extraordinarily fine copies, and
there is the supply from Europe of fine copies and "faked" originals--a
guaranteed original is a very rare and expensive thing.

The period of Louis XIV in France was another "magnificent" period and
should not be used in small or simple houses. Louis XIV furniture was
large and massive, lavish in gilding and carving and ornament, but had
dignity as well as splendor. The Gobelin and Beauvais Tapestry Works
produced their wonderful series of tapestries, and Boulle inlay of brass
and tortoise shell was lavished on furniture, and the ormolu mounts were
beautiful and elaborate. All workmanship was of the highest. During the
early part of the period the legs of chairs and tables were straight and
square in shape, sometimes tapering, and much carved, and had
underframing. Later they were curved and carved, a kind of elaborate
cabriole leg, and had carved underframing. Toward the end of the period
the curved leg and underframing became much simpler, some of the
furniture having no underframing, and slowly the style merged into that
of the Regency and Louis XV. The illustrations for the long chapter on
Louis XIV show some very fine examples of both the grand and simple
form of chair, and also show that comfort was becoming more of a fact.
The materials used for upholstery were brocades of large pattern,
tapestries, and splendid velvets. Tables, chests, armoires, desks,
console tables, mirrors, screens, all were carved or painted or inlaid,
gilded and mounted with wonderful metal mounts.

There is great danger, in buying furniture for both this period and the
Renaissance, that the reproductions chosen may be too florid, the
gilding too bright, the carving too ornate, with an indescribable
vulgarity of line in place of the beauty of line which the best
originals have. Some of the best makers are, however, making some very
fine reproductions of the simpler forms of this time which are beautiful
to use in houses of fair size and importance.

If one wishes to use Louis XV furniture it is better to choose the
simpler and more beautiful designs rather than the over-elaborate
rococo. The period was a long one, sixty-nine years, and began with a
reminiscence of the grandeur and dignity of the time of Louis XIV, which
was soon lost in the orgy of curves and excessive ornament of the rococo
portion; and toward the end came the reaction to simpler and finer taste
which reached its perfection in the next reign of Louis XVI. The legs of
the furniture of Louis XV time were curved and carved, light and
slender, and had no underframes or stretchers. The frames which showed
around the upholstery or cane were carved elaborately and later more
simply (see illustration at end of chapter on Louis XV). Walnut,
chestnut, ebony, and some mahogany were used. Some of the furniture was
veneered, and there was a great deal of gilding used and also much
painted furniture. The ormolu mounts were most elaborate, curved and
ornate like the carving, and were used wherever possible. The brocades
used for furniture coverings were lovely in color and design. Garlands,
flowers, lace and ribbon effects, baskets of flowers, shells, curled
endive, feathers, scrolls, all were used, as well as pastoral scenes by
Boucher and Watteau for tapestry and paintings. Comfort had made a long
step forward.

The period of Louis XVI was much more beautiful in style than the
preceding one, as it was more restrained and exquisite because of the
use of the straight line or a gracious, simple curve. This comparative
simplicity does not come from lack of true feeling for beauty but rather
because of it. The sense of proper proportion was shown in both the
furniture and the room decoration. The backs of chairs and settees were
round or rectangular, and the legs were square, round, or fluted, and
were tapering in all cases. The fluting was sometimes filled with metal
husks at top and bottom, leaving a plain stretch between. Walnut and
mahogany were much used and were beautifully polished, but had no vulgar
and hard varnished glare. There was wonderful inlay and veneer, and much
of the furniture was enamelled in soft colors and picked out with gold
or some harmonizing color. Gilding was also used for the entire frame.
The metal mounts were very fine. Brocades of lovely color and designs of
flowers, bowknots, wreaths, festoons, lace, feathers, etc.; chintz, the
lovely "_toil de Jouy_," which is so well copied nowadays; soft toned
taffeta, Gobelin and Beauvais and Aubusson tapestries, were all used for
hanging and furniture coverings. Cane also became much more popular.
Walls were paneled with moldings, and fluted pilasters divided too large
spaces into good proportions. Tapestry and paintings were paneled on the
walls, and the colors chosen for the backgrounds were light and soft.

The charm and beauty of this style as well as its dignity make it one
which may be used in almost any modern house, as it ranges from
simplicity to a beautiful restrained elaborateness suitable to the
formal rooms.

[Illustration: The modern style of mirror is brought into harmony with
the eighteenth century dressing-table by means of carving.]

[Illustration: This William and Mary settee would be delightful in a
country house. There are chairs to match it.]

The change from Louis XVI to the Empire was a violent one both
politically and artistically. The influence of the great days of the
Roman empire and the mystery of ancient Egypt stirred Napoleon's
imagination and formed his taste. Empire furniture was solid and heavy,
with little or no carving, and much ornamentation of metal mounts.
Mahogany was chiefly used, and some furniture was gilded or bronzed.
Round columns finished with metal capitals and bases appeared on large
desks and other pieces of furniture. Chairs were solid, many of them
throne-like in design, and many with elaborately carved arms in the
form of swans and sphinxes, and metal ornaments. The simpler form of
chair, which was copied and used extensively in America, as a
dining-chair, often had a curved back and graceful lines. Furniture
coverings were very bright satins and velvets brocaded with the
Emperor's favorite emblems, the bee, torch, wreath, anthemion. It is a
heavy and gaudy style and must be used with great discretion. American
Empire furniture was far simpler and is better suited to many American
homes. In buying it, however, one must be careful to select copies from
the earlier part of the time, for it fast deteriorated into heavy and
vulgar curves. This American Empire furniture is often shown in the
shops under the name of Colonial, which is a misnomer, as we had ceased
to be colonies years before it came into existence. It was used during
the first half of the nineteenth century.

[Illustration: These chairs are reproductions of designs by the Adam
Brothers. They are of satinwood, covered with damask. This design was
also used by Hepplewhite.]

[Illustration: The first day beds, or chaise longue, were made during
the Jacobean period. As will be seen, this "stretcher," as they were
also called, has Charles II influence in its carving and Spanish feet.]

When we come to English furniture, I think we all take heart of grace a
little, for there is something about its sturdiness that seems to appeal
to our American sense of appropriateness. By inheritance we have more of
the English point of view about the standards of life and living and we
seem to settle down with more comfort in a house furnished in any one of
the English periods than we do with any of the other great styles.

The English Renaissance is often called the age of oak, and all through
the long years of its slow development this oaken bond, so to speak,
gave it a certain unity which makes it possible to use much of the
furniture of its different divisions together. There are many fine
reproductions made of the Tudor and Elizabethan times, but from the
early Stuart days, the time of James I onward, good reproductions become
more plentiful. This does not mean, however, that one is safe in buying
anything called Jacobean or Queen Anne or Georgian. One must still be
careful and go armed with as much knowledge as possible. For instance,
do not buy any Tudor, Elizabethan, Jacobean, or Charles II furniture
made of mahogany or with a high polish. Do not buy any with finicky or
delicate brass handles. This may seem an unnecessary warning, but I have
seen dainty oval Hepplewhite handles used on a heavy Jacobean chest.
This does not happen often, but a word to the wise--. The handles which
were used were some times of iron and sometimes of brass, often with a
little design etched on them, and the drop handles were either oblong or
round rings, or pear- or tear-shaped drops with either a round or oblong
plate. H-hinges of iron were used. Chairs of the time of James I, which
are much like those of Louis XIII in France, were square and strong with
plain or spiral turned legs, and stretchers, and had seats and half
backs covered with needlework, leather, velvet, or damask. They would
make very comfortable dining chairs and would harmonize with sturdy
gate-legged tables, or the long narrow tables which show the influence
of Elizabeth's time in the carved drum or acorn-like bulbs of the legs.
A court-cupboard would make a beautiful sideboard, and one of the long
tables spoken of above would make an appropriate serving-table. Carved
chests, and screens covered with leather or needlework, may be used in
rooms of this kind, and for modern comfort one may add stuffed chairs
and sofas if the proper materials for coverings are chosen. There are
some very fine copies made of old needlework of different kinds and also
of damasks and other stuffs. One must have the right background for all
this, oak paneled walls and tapestry and plain or figured velvet or
damask hangings. There are also some finely designed heavy linens which
are correct to use.

The furniture of Cromwell's time was much like that of the time of James
I and Charles I, but was simplified wherever possible. There were no
pomps and vanities in those stern days.

When Charles II came to the throne, there was a reaction against Puritan
gloom which showed in the furniture being of a more elaborate design.
Chair backs were high and narrow with carved and pierced panels of wood,
or carved backs with cane panels, and the carved front rail carried out
the feeling and balanced the carved top rail. The crown and rose and
shell were used, supported by cherubs and opposed S curves. The
illustration opposite page 65 will give a very good idea of the general
style. Upholstery was also used, and day-beds and high-boys made their
appearance. The chests of earlier days became chests of drawers. Rooms
were paneled in oak, and much beautiful tapestry was used. Walnut began
to take the place of oak in the later days of Charles II and those of
James II, and introduced the age of walnut which lasted through the
reigns of William and Mary and Queen Anne.

The furniture of the early days of William and Mary was much like that
of the time of Charles II. The chair backs remained high and narrow, but
the carving slowly grew simpler and the caning at last went entirely
across the back. Many of the early chairs had three carved splats or
balusters in the back, and a feature which added greatly to comfort was
the slight curve the backs were given instead of the perfectly straight
backs of Jacobean days. Dutch influence at least conquered the old
style, and the more characteristic furniture of William and Mary was
made. A rather elaborate form of the cabriole leg was used, ending in a
species of hoof with a scroll-like stretcher between the front legs and
curved stretchers connecting all four legs. The cabriole leg became
simpler as time passed until in the days of Queen Mary it became the one
we all know so well in the Dutch chairs and the early work of

[Illustration: These copies of rare old pieces of furniture are of the
best. The choice of wood, the carving, the inlay, all show the highest
ideals. The Chinese Chippendale table shows the pagoda effect, and the
Hepplewhite desk has the charm of a secret drawer.]

There was much beautiful marquetry used; in fact it is a marked
characteristic of much of the furniture of William and Mary. After she
died in 1694, the white jasmine flower and green leaves were not used
so much, and the sea-weed pattern and acanthus became more popular.

[Illustration: An exceptionally fine reproduction of a Sheraton chest of

[Illustration: The walnut used in this adaptation of the William and
Mary period is very fine. Shaving-glasses were used throughout the
eighteenth century.]

The cup-and-ball design of turned legs with curved stretchers was used
for chairs, settees, tables, cabinets. China cupboards with their
double-hooded tops and soft colored brocade linings were used to display
the wonderful china collections so much in vogue. There was much
upholstered furniture covered with beautiful petit-point, which is
perfectly reproduced nowadays, but is naturally expensive. Silks,
velvets, and damasks were also used, and Queen Mary had a "beautiful
chintz bed."

The handles used were of various kinds, the favorite being the drop from
a round or star-shaped boss. The furniture was beautifully polished but
did not have a bright gloss.

When Anne came to the throne in 1702, the English cabinet maker had
became an expert craftsman, and we have the beginning of the finest
period of English cabinet-making, which later, in the Georgian period,
blossomed into its full glory. The furniture of this time was of walnut.
The chairs had a narrow, fairly high back, with a central splat
spoon-shaped and later fiddle-shaped. The corners of the back were
always rounded. The cabriole legs were often carved with a shell on the
knees, the acanthus being used in the more elaborate pieces of
furniture, and ended chiefly in a club foot. Stretchers became less
common, but if they were used were pushed back and did not form such an
important part of the chair design. Seats were broader at the front
than at the back, and all furniture showed a real desire for comfort and
convenience. Marquetry and lacquer were both in great favor, and there
are wonderful examples of both reproduced, but especially lacquer.
Petit-point, damask, velvet, and chintz were all used for upholstery and
hangings. Chintz was becoming more plentiful, but it was not until the
Georgian period that it reached its perfection.

The Georgian period covers the work of Chippendale, the Adam Brothers,
Hepplewhite, and Sheraton, who gave to the eighteenth century its
undying decorative fame.

[Illustration: A glassed-in sun-porch furnished with comfortable wicker
furniture adds much to the joy of life.]

When Chippendale began his fine work, the Dutch influence of Queen
Anne's reign was still strong, and this shows in his furniture; but his
genius lightened and improved it. The characteristics of his style which
remained fairly stable through his different phases were the use of
mahogany, a certain squareness and solidity of design which has no
appearance of heaviness because of the fine proportions, chair backs
with a center splat reaching to the seat. The curving top rail always
had curving up corners (see drawings page 84). The center splat was
solid at first, but soon was pierced and carved, and went through the
many developments of his style such as ribbon-back, Chinese, and Gothic.
In some chairs he also used horizontal rails, and what are called
"all-over backs." The legs of his earlier furniture were cabriole, and
later they were straight. He used much and beautiful carving, gave
great attention to the beauty of the wood and the perfection of
workmanship and finish. Chippendale's settees were at first designed
like two chair backs side by side, and if a larger settee was made
either a third chair back of the same design or a different but
harmonizing one was used. His dining-tables were made up of two center
pieces with wide flaps on each side, and two semicircular tables, and
all four pieces could be fastened together into one long table by brass
fasteners. The end pieces were used as side tables or sideboards, for
the sideboard as we know it did not come until later. He also made
oblong sidetables, some with marble tops, which were used as sideboards
with wine-coolers placed underneath, and usually a large tea-caddy or
tea box on top. The beds which Chippendale made were large and elaborate
four-posters, with beautiful carved cornices and posts. The curtains
hung from the inside of the cornice, and silks or chintz were used for
the curtains. His mirror frames were very elaborately carved, and in his
rococo period were fairly fantastic with dripping water, Chinese
pagodas, rocks, birds with long beaks, and figures. They were gilded,
and some were left in the natural mahogany. He made folding card-tables
with saucer-like places at the corners for candles, and later when the
candle-stand came into fashion, the tables were made without them.

[Illustration: An admirable example of the Sheraton style mahogany
settee with original silk covering.]

[Illustration: While this nest of mahogany tables is attractive in the
room its appearance in the picture is of an inappropriate and heavy
mission table.]

[Illustration: A lamp would be an addition to this corner. The footstool
is Victorian and a bit clumsy.]

There are many fine reproductions of Chippendale's furniture made which
carry out the spirit of his work. In the medium and inexpensive grades,
however, there is danger of bad carving, a clumsy thickening of
proportions, a jumble of his different periods, and too red a stain and
too high a varnish glitter. Good examples can be found in these grades,
but one must spend time looking for them, and perhaps it may be
necessary to have them rubbed down with powdered pumice and linseed oil.
If one uses Chippendale furniture, or that of any of the other Georgian
makers, the walls should not be covered with a modern design of wall
paper. Plain walls or molding may be used, or one of the fine old
designs of figured paper, and this must be used with great discretion
and is better if there is a wainscot. Chippendale was very fond of using
morocco, but damask and velvet and chintz may also be used. The chintzes
were charming in design, and many good copies are made.

[Illustration: This is in reality a moderate-sized room, yet the open
arrangement and the clear center give the impression of great space. The
curve of the fireplace and the oak panelling are simple Tudor. The
furniture is a mixture of many kinds.]

[Illustration: The wallpaper border, the bedspread, the table cover, and
the curtains are all wrong in this room. The Empire bed is good but
should not have castors.]

The Adam Brothers, of whom Robert was the more important, showed strong
classical influence in their work, and much of it resembles that of
Louis XVI, which was influenced from the same source. Chairs had square
or round or oval backs, and they also used a lyre-shaped splat which was
copied later by Sheraton. Often the top rail was decorated by small and
charming painted panels. These little panels were also used in the
center of cobweb caning in chair backs and settees. Legs of chairs and
tables were tapering and round or square and often reeded or fluted.
Adam used much mahogany and kept its beautiful golden brown tone (not
the dead brown called "Adam" too often in the shops), and also
satin-wood and painted wood. The best artists of the day did the
painting. Wedgwood medallions were introduced into the more important
pieces of furniture. Painted placques, lovely festoons, and charming
groups of figures, vases of flowers, and Wedgwood designs, and designs
radiating from a center, as on semicircular console table tops, are all
characteristic of his work. He also used much inlay. As Adam usually
planned all the furniture and the interior of the house, even to the
door-knobs, he kept the feeling of unity in both background and

[Illustration: The Hancock desk was a design greatly favored in America
in the eighteenth century. This fine example dates from about 1750.]

[Illustration: The general proportions, the broken pediment and torch or
flame ornaments and drops, large brasses, and cabriole legs all show
that this splendid example of a highboy belongs to the same time as the
desk, about 1750.]

Hepplewhite's furniture has much of the delicacy of Adam's work, by
whom, without doubt, he was influenced, as he was also by the French
styles of the time. Luckily his own personality and sense of beauty and
ingenuity were strong enough to develop a marked and beautiful style of
his own. His favorite chair back was shield-shaped (see page 83), and he
also used heart-shaped and wheel backs, either round or oval, and
charmingly painted little panels. The three feathers of the Prince of
Wales was a favorite design. He also made ladder-back chairs, usually
with four rails. On much of his furniture the legs tapered on the inside
edge only and were put in at a slight angle which gave security both in
fact and appearance. He also used reeded legs. His console and other
tables are beautiful in design and workmanship, being painted usually in
different forms of the radiating fan design, or inlaid with beautiful
colored woods. The inlay used was often oval in shape, sometimes only a
line and sometimes panels of different woods or matched veneer. The
handles used were round or oval. He made sofas and settees with either
chair-back backs or all upholstered with the frame showing and the
covering tacked on with brass tacks close together. His cabinets are
fascinating, with their beautiful inlay and delicate strap work over the
glass. He made four-post beds with fluted posts, and chests of drawers
and little work tables and candle-stands and screens; and one thing we
must be deeply grateful to him for is that he developed the sideboard
into a really useful and beautiful piece of furniture. He made nearly
everything in the way of necessities, and all show the marks of his
taste. His dining-tables were on the plan of those of Chippendale but
lighter in effect with tapering legs instead of the long cabriole leg
ending in claw feet. His mirrors were usually oval with charming
festoons. His favorite woods were mahogany and satin-wood, and he used
many fine woods for inlay. Chintz and taffeta and fine velvet are all
appropriate to use.

In his best designs Sheraton was much influenced by Adam and Hepplewhite
and the style of Louis XVI, but like them he also developed his own
special and beautiful style. He used mahogany and a great deal of
satin-wood of beautiful grain and of a delightful straw color, which was
often veneered on oak frames. He was exceedingly fond of inlay, and his
designs called for inlaid panels, borders, and festoons. He used the
shell, bell-flower, fan, etc., all carried out in fine colored woods. He
also used much painted furniture, and often designed white and gold
furniture for drawing-rooms. His characteristic chair back was
rectangular in shape with a central splat resting on a rail a few inches
above the seat (see page 83). This splat was in many different forms,
both inlaid and painted. The legs of his furniture were tapering and
either square or reeded, the square usually being inlaid. He made
beautiful sideboards which were inlaid and finished with a brass rail
around the sides and back of the top, and round or oval or lion's-head
handles with rings. He also designed most graceful inlaid knife boxes.
Like Hepplewhite, he designed all kinds of furniture both large and
small, and, until his deterioration came when he designed his
astonishing Empire furniture, his style is full of beauty and charm and
delicacy, and is copied very successfully by our modern makers.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Furnishing the Home of Good Taste - A Brief Sketch of the Period Styles in Interior Decoration with Suggestions as to Their Employment in the Homes of Today" ***

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