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Title: Suburban Residences - and how to Circumvent Them
Author: Panton, J. (Jane) E. (Ellen)
Language: English
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                          SUBURBAN RESIDENCES



                          SUBURBAN RESIDENCE
                      And How to Circumvent Them

                                  BY
                             J. E. PANTON

                               AUTHOR OF
            ‘FROM KITCHEN TO GARRET,’ ‘NOOKS AND CORNERS,’
                        ‘HOMES OF TASTE,’ ETC.

                                LONDON
                             WARD & DOWNEY
                               _LIMITED_
                       12 YORK BUILDINGS ADELPHI
                                 1896



CONTENTS


CHAPTER I

                                                                    PAGE

FIRST STEPS,                                                           1

CHAPTER   II

HALLS AND PASSAGES,                                                   31

CHAPTER III

KITCHEN AND BASEMENTS,                                                64

CHAPTER   IV

DINING ROOMS,                                                         95

CHAPTER V

PARLOURS,                                                            128

CHAPTER   VI

THIRD ROOMS,                                                         160

CHAPTER   VII

THE NURSERIES,                                                       191

CHAPTER VIII

BEDROOMS,                                                            222

CHAPTER IX

DRESSING-ROOMS AND BATHROOMS,                                        252

CHAPTER X

THE GREAT SERVANT QUESTION,                                          278



                          SUBURBAN RESIDENCES
                        _AND HOW TO CIRCUMVENT
                                 THEM_



CHAPTER I

FIRST STEPS


The first step to take is undoubtedly to find your suburb; the second,
to discover an adaptable house; and then the third and greatest is to
circumvent the many death-traps, cold-givers and misery-makers which are
included in the lease; although most certainly they are not apparent in
it when it is carefully brought for you to sign.

The suburbs, take them how you will, are not Paradise and can never now
be made so; yet for people with middle-sized incomes and aspirations
after fresh air, they are undoubtedly most necessary evils. If one is
in the least susceptible to noise or not strong, London, or any other of
our great cities, is an impossible place of residence. Perhaps I should
have put the ‘not strong’ first, for suburban noises are worse, really,
than any others; and one can be amused on far less money in London than
one can elsewhere. For there a garden and a carriage are not in the
least essential, while some kind of ‘pleasaunce’ and some sort of
vehicle are almost indispensable out of town, unless one wants to spend
one’s money on flies, and one’s time in catching trains, and is content
to risk the ruin of one’s clothes and run up doctors’ bills, should one
be caught in the many storms which distinguish our delightful climate,
and which always descend on unprotected folk on their way to and from
the station. Moreover, if one has the smallest desire for peace, one
must be a certain distance from the rail, or most undoubtedly madness
will ensue. I have often noticed delusive advertisements of suburban
paradises where nearness to the rail is held out as an inducement to the
would-be tenant, and I have often longed to ‘go for’ the advertiser and
tell him to what a fearful end he might lead some confiding young
couple, for I am perfectly sure that no one who has not tried it can
have the smallest idea of what nearness to the train means--at anyrate,
if one selects a suburb on one of the main lines. I know, alas! for had
I not four long and maddening years in a house which was about as close
to the rail as it well could be without forming part and parcel of the
same? I must own, when I went into the house and, looking out of the
first window I came to, beheld the demon, I at once fled from the place,
and flatly refused even to look at another room, and oh! how wise I
should have been had I held to my own determination. But, in those days,
houses were scarce. We were obliged to be in that special locality.
Everyone said one got accustomed to the trains in a week, and never
heard them at all after the first night or two. The garden was charming.
The last tenant had lived there for years and years, and had not left it
for a lunatic asylum, and so I allowed my own judgment to give way
before a storm of talk and unsought advice, and entered upon a period of
misery which has shortened my days and made it impossible for me to look
upon that house save as a misery-maker of the first water. For indeed,
far from becoming accustomed to trains, the more one lives near them the
more one hears them. I used to find I regularly expected each separate
train. I waited for the fall of the signal as one expects a clap of
thunder in the middle of a storm, and as there was no escape, either in
the house or grounds, I felt that unless I got out of the place itself
entirely, I should be found in my morning-room, seated on the floor,
with straws in my hair, _à l’Ophelia_, a willing and ready candidate for
a place in any lunatic asylum which was far enough away from the haunts
of men to ensure a certain amount of peace, at least, from the raving,
roaring, rattling rail. There are other suburban terrors which are to be
dreaded, and which should certainly be looked out for before one settles
down, if one is in the least susceptible to noise, as no one knows what
torture can be given one by apparently innocent means. In delightful
Shortlands, where I think the suburbs are as near perfection as a clay
soil will allow, everyone in my day used to keep dogs as necessary
protections from the ubiquitous tramp, and should one dog feel called
upon to assert himself, all followed suit with the most exemplary
precision. Then our next-door neighbour not only kept crowing and
blatant cocks, but a flock of ever-increasing pigeons, and these dear
creatures used to spend their happiest hours among my chimney-pots,
moaning, cooing and groaning in the melancholy way they affect until
they nearly drove me wild, and I had to appeal to the owner, who, with
unprecedented goodness, got rid of them and so saved me from an untimely
fate. But that was Shortlands. What shall I say for another suburb,
where toy houses stand on quarter acres of ground, enclosed by
breast-high fences, and where the fact of being a neighbour seems to
ensure you as much annoyance as can be given in a short space of time?
Where the ridiculous gates to the far more ridiculous ‘carriage
approaches’ (see house agents’ advertisements) are slammed one after
another by the tradespeople, tramps, postmen and other fashionable folk
who use these approaches. There, ensconced in a tub, close to each side
of each fence, reposes an enormous dog, with a bark to match, who could
protect all the silver and diamonds in the world--which are _not_ to be
found in what I call ‘Pooter Parade’ (for the origin of which name
please read ‘Nobody’s Diary’ in _Punch_)--where the servants hang out
the clothes and themselves at the same time, if they can make
investigations into their next-door neighbours’ affairs; and which said
suburb is finally and liberally furnished with children whose shrieks of
pleasure or pain rend the air from dewy morn until late eve and
sometimes later still. There when one tries to sleep it is between the
barks of the vigilant hounds, the slamming of the gate by an irate tramp
sent empty away, or else disappointed by a useless visit to the
unprotected garden; for, raked fore and aft as it is by the populace, a
lock seems a farce, especially when it would mean sending a maid down
to the gates every time someone wanted to come in. Indeed the gates are
so easily climbed, that any amount of locks would be no protection, and
where one exists, protected yet unprotected in a childish degree which
would be laughable were it not so disagreeable. For anyone could
‘burgle’ any of those villa residences had he an ounce of pluck, or did
he not know quite well that the entire contents of the whole row would
not pay him for his trouble, and would certainly not be worth the risk
he ran from an irate householder and his dog roused from their uneasy
slumbers to the protection of _Lares et Penates_.

I have tried life, more or less, for about twelve years in the suburbs
of London, both north and south, and I have come to the conclusion that
if we have a carriage and can therefore live a certain distance from the
rail, and if we can put at least three acres of ground round our house,
and pass moreover a series of regulations, _viâ_ the new Parish Councils
perhaps, for suburban etiquette, or better still, if rules for the
behaviour of one neighbour towards another could be drawn up, the
southern and south-western suburbs of London are the best places in the
world to be in, for ordinary middle-class folk whose best days are over
and who yet must be within touch of town for business purposes. These,
therefore, should be ransacked by the house-hunter before he allows his
eye to wander further afield. Though it must be remembered that the
trains to such parts of the globe are maddening,--the only difference
between an express and an ordinary train being that one waits outside a
station and the other inside,--and the smallest amount of snow or fog
will disorganise the traffic altogether, yet they do go to civilized
parts of London, while those from the northern portions do not. The
southern trains too, kindly drop one, say at Holborn, London Bridge,
Charing Cross, or Victoria, and do not insist on one’s returning by
precisely the same station one arrived at: an immense advantage that one
has only to be deprived of to comprehend instantly all it means.

If one goes to the northern suburbs of London, one is dropped at Euston,
King’s Cross, or, worse still, Liverpool Street, valuable stations for
some men, but utterly useless for women; at least I never found them any
good to me. True, one has the delightful trains and perfect manners of
the Euston officials and I daresay the other northerners are as good,
but I don’t know much about them. Still, the punctuality and good
service are all one has to set against the other drawbacks, which are,
to my mind, more than a set off for the fact that the trains are good
and punctual. These other drawbacks are that some of the northern
suburbs are at least twenty years behind the south in conveniences and
comforts; that the people who live there are not to be compared with the
southrons, and that there is an almost unbroken surface of clay from
London to beyond Harrow and Bushey; and that above all, unless one has a
really large place, one must be so close to one’s neighbours owing to
the way the ground is arranged for building, that one nearly dies of
them, and that it is almost, if not quite, impossible to keep out of the
reach of the railway, which is far more ubiquitous there than it is in
other parts of the regions round London. Then too there are no
advantages in the way of amusement, while the distance of the stations
available in London from the theatres makes the matinee question much
more serious than it is from a more reachable spot.

If young married people think of settling in the suburbs, they should
weigh the _pros_ and _cons_ thereof most seriously before determining
their course. There is very little actual society in the suburbs, but
what there is, is perhaps more real than the rush and hurry of London;
and if a woman wants to do positive, helpful work, and to live a really
healthy, morally and mentally healthy life, and a man cares for his
home, his garden and his games, the couple will be much better off there
than elsewhere. But if they love London, as Londoners do love their
native city, if they are strong, ‘in the swim,’ ‘smart,’ or whatever is
the proper designation for those who are really given over to society,
let them stay where they are. For them a back attic in Belgravia is
sweeter than a palace in the suburbs; for one never acclimatises, one
only withers, and the husband, tired with that dreadful ‘catching of
trains,’ has no mind for going out, while the wife may be done up by
shopping in town, or be wearied out by mere dulness, and life will
resolve itself into a procession of grey days and grimmer nights, and
quickly, far too quickly, the _ménage_ will become unbearable, and
rupture, sooner or later, will ensue.

For, remember, if really intellectual or interesting people are found in
the suburbs, they are, as I have just remarked, too tired from the day’s
work to be available for society purposes. But the majority of suburban
residents is made up from young married folk, and dreary, common-place,
middle-aged ones, made dreary by their surroundings, and by their
enforced severance from their more fortunate fellow-creatures. For
unless they have real fondness for literature, or for helping among the
charities and churches, and have tastes of their own which render them
superior to their actual surroundings, there is literally nothing to
keep them alert and alive.

Whatever suburb is selected, it should include amongst its residents
some family in a good position, to whom the new-comer is known or is
known of. If the fresh resident has no introductions, his fate is
sealed; the best people don’t call, and should some years elapse before
the acquaintance is made that might have been so pleasant if made at
first, the relationship can never be a cordial one. Rightly or wrongly,
the feeling exists that such an out-of-date visit is not worth thinking
of, and it rarely becomes what it might have been, had not the untoward
delay slipped in between.

The suburbs could be so different, nay, in isolated cases are so
different, that I long for the residents to realise all they are
throwing away, all one learns too late to really profit by the lessons.
In Shortlands people used to be exceptionally fortunate, for there
existed in our day an intellectual headquarter, where the ‘hall-mark’
was or was not affixed, as might be. Don’t please think I mean myself;
no one who knew Shortlands would think I could be such an idiot, and all
will realise to whom I refer. Some years after we left, that pleasant
house was broken up by the death of the founder; yet as long as it
existed it was invaluable, because it acted like a fountain of living
water and kept everything, as it were, fresh and young. In all suburbs
there should be something of the same kind, someone of real and
acknowledged tact and talent, who should know who is who and what is
what, who could recognise pleasant, educated folk and give them a
helping hand, and whose house should issue the ‘hall-mark’ which should
make all these said pleasant, educated people able to feel they can be,
an’ they choose, members of the circle that ought to exist everywhere as
a means of keeping souls alive and happy. A harder task, by the way,
than the equally necessary one of keeping bodies in a similar state, and
quite as important. Indeed, the one depends very much upon the other, as
doctors are among the very first to recognise nowadays. In the olden
times, and given a good man and a clever woman, the hall-mark used to be
affixed by the rectory or vicarage, and whether the new-comers went to
church or stayed away settled the question at once and for all time. But
now matters are entirely changed, and the Church has little or nothing
to do with the social standing of Brown and Jones and Smith. So if the
suburb is to be successful, it must possess someone who, by right of
brains and an assured position, can bring together the real folk and
leave alone the dull, stupid ones who love gossip, and hate books and
art and pictures, and so ensure an intellectual centre, which, once
formed, would make any suburb as delightful as Shortlands was, in the
days when I knew it well, and no doubt still is.

Given the suburbs then, the be-all and end-all of this little book is to
teach the dwellers there, by choice or force, how best to avail
themselves of the advantages which do exist, and which could be
multiplied a thousandfold, did people know how to set to work. That I
did not, makes me the best person in the world to teach others, because
I have learned by experience and am therefore capable of imparting the
knowledge I acquired too late to be able to use it myself. Therefore
let me insist that the would-be suburban resident recognise first his
duty to himself in the selection of his suburb, and then, secondly, his
duty towards his neighbour. If he is close enough to him to be a
nuisance he should consider him as much as he considers himself, while
he bears in mind that there must be a social head to whom he will
loyally give help, should he himself be anxious to wear the ‘hall-mark’
that will give all, rich and poor alike, the right to be a members of
society, where pleasantness and culture suffice to ensure a hearty
welcome.

The suburban’s duty towards himself consists in selecting a suburb where
the train shall land him nearest to his work in town; in selecting a
good and reasonable house, and in finding out what amusements and
occupations are available for his wife and daughters; and, if he has
small children, what schools or teachers are likely to be useful in the
matter of education. His duty to his neighbour may not be so briefly
summed up, but consists in many little and worrying observances which
are ridiculous indeed to the dwellers in London, and in more favoured
and larger spots; but I, alas! can feelingly enumerate some of the items
which go to make up a whole.

The first duty is undoubtedly to abstain from keeping a dog which must
be tied up either day or night. The second is to bar crowing cocks and
crooning pigeons; one can be quite happy without pigeons, and cocks
can’t crow if they can’t get their heads up high enough to do so,
neither are they necessary inhabitants of a small back-garden. Hanging
out the clothes should be a penal offence, as should be the slamming of
gates, an offensive dust-bin, ill-bred servants, and screaming children,
while the utterer of long unchecked yells should be at once fined or
punished as an offender against the community; for children can’t too
soon be taught to know their duties towards their neighbours, the while
they learn self-control and the undoubted fact that screams and cries
are not necessary items in anyone’s bringing up. Then carpets and rugs
should not be shaken and dusted after ten o’clock, and without some idea
of the way of the wind. The letters sent to ‘Ivy Dene,’ and delivered at
‘Deneside,’ should be at once given up at their real destination, and
should not be detained until the postman is caught by chance on one of
his hurried plunges down the ‘carriage approach,’ which, by the way,
won’t exist in our model suburb. Moreover, when Jones gives a party and
doesn’t ask Smith and Brown, it should be a matter of honour to both
neighbours that they don’t disport themselves unduly, in their gardens
at the same time making pointed remarks about Jones’s guests and
entertainment which cannot fail to be heard all over the somewhat
limited space at Jones’s disposal. Indeed the whole duty of a suburban
resident is to treat his neighbour as himself in the matter of conduct,
but not to know him personally if he can in any way and decently avoid
doing so, for ‘beware to whom you give the key of your back door,’ says
a wise old proverb, and one gives it away very freely when one is on the
intimate terms one must be if one knows one’s real neighbour in the
suburbs in the very smallest degree. Endless friction can be caused by
the mere _va et vient_ of tennis balls; or by ignoring the fact that no
one wants the same people at all the small parties given in a locality,
the size of which must govern in a measure at all times the amount of
folks bidden to them. Servants who can chatter over the fences are also
a fertile source of misunderstanding. So unless specially clever and
sensible folks dwell beside one, it is best to know nothing of them in
any shape or form if one wants the peace, without which Paradise itself
would fail to charm, and deprived of which, the suburban resident
realises all too quickly what being in the antipodes of Paradise might
very probably mean.

Then when these duties are fulfilled the next one is to discover of what
manner of men is composed, and what is the record of, the new parish
council or local board which may govern the special district; and
another is to find if the ‘Infectious Diseases Notification Act’ has
been adopted or not. These two things are most important, for given a
good local authority one knows that while the rates don’t rise unduly,
yet proper care is taken that all matters are up to date, which they can
never be in a place where the ‘Infectious Diseases Act’ is not
enforced; neither can health be found where jerry building reigns
unchecked, bad meat is passed over casually as not too bad to eat (just
as if all edibles should not resemble Caesar’s wife and be above the
smallest suspicion), where the water is bitterly hard, and not either
soft or softened, and where, in fact, everything is what ought not to
be, and nothing is that should be to ensure a maximum of health with a
careful regard to the spending of the ratepayers’ money. Then one very
necessary hint to suburban residents is to see that in taking a new
house the road by which it may stand, or by which it is reached, is
properly ‘made up,’ and duly taken over by the authorities. Especially
should this be the case if the house stands at a corner, albeit, for
many reasons, a corner house should not be selected. Some feeble folk
imagine such a situation means bad luck. Well! so it does in a measure;
for being at a corner, one gets all the winds that blow on all sides,
one’s front garden is filled with paper, straw and debris of all kinds,
brought into it by these said eddying winds; the dust fills our rooms
and makes our curtains black before their time, and one gets a double
assortment of noises both of vehicles and people; while, if we all too
late discover the road has not been ‘made up,’ and ‘taken over,’ we have
not only the front but a side piece to pay for, and in consequence have
three times the money to disburse that is expected of our neighbours.
Besides which, should snow fall there are the side walks to clear as
well as the front one; we have more wall or fence to keep in order, and,
being less protected from the weather are less warm than we should have
been had we had houses on both sides of us instead of only one house and
a wide expanse of road, where often enough, school children play in a
maddening manner, and where we get all the side noises as well as those
which are to be found along the front. The soil of the suburb is again a
thing to be thoroughly acquainted with before the tent is pitched
finally and for all time thereon. I do not believe clay is or ever can
be fit for anyone to reside upon, and nothing anyone can say will cause
me to alter my opinion. True I know that London, the healthiest city in
the world, is nearly all on clay, but then it has the advantage not only
of perfect drainage, but of every other thing which can mitigate this
fundamental drawback to perfect health; yet the fogs and the chill and
the gloom which distinguish it might all be different, or, indeed,
non-existent, were the soil of another character. Dearly as I loved
Shortlands the clay there was always to be reckoned with, and made a
long reckoning too, when all was told, for though roses flourished
magnificently, children didn’t, and coughs and colds were ‘the only
wear’ once autumn began to spread the leaves and winter came up to
finish the little business, clad in the usual garments of fog and mist,
changed at times to other more ‘seasonable’ ones of frost and snow.
Chalk is to be avoided by all rheumatic souls, or by those to whom
rheumatism may arrive by right of inheritance, water in which chalk
exists largely being a great help to bringing such an inheritance
within easy grasp of the heir; but gravel and, I think, a certain
measure of sand, are all right, while many trees should be fled from.
Trees bring rain and insects, and mean damp; albeit, if we can only find
a suburb where the gracious pine tree flourishes, we can dwell there
without alarm. The pine-tree spells health always, and should be sought
for as carefully as a family of _nouveaux riches_ searches for its coat
of arms, or some one thing that will link it on to someone else’s noble
ancestors in some way or another. Therefore should the seeker after a
suburban residence arm himself with a geological map of the regions
round London, and make many pilgrimages and inquiries before he finally
chooses. He would be wise too if he could afford the time and money, to
take rooms or a furnished house first in the locality which appeals to
him most; but, if he can’t do that, he should take in the local
newspaper, for at least a month, and see what manner of conduct is
reported there; what are the doings of the local authorities, the
species of ‘happenings’ in the way of amusements and entertainments, and
if he is bent on church, he should attend one or two services; while, if
golf attracts him, and tennis is his only joy, he should see that both
are attainable, and that the clubs are get-into-able and are not either
beyond his pocket or whatever may be his special social status.

Once these items are all satisfactorily settled, and the suburb really
selected, the tug of war may be fairly considered to have begun. The
suburb is found, but how about the special house? Of course ‘eligible
residences’ will abound, albeit in any good and favoured places they are
not as plentiful by half as one could wish, so that nothing should be
done in a hurry.

The local tradespeople, as well as the house-agents (generally very
broken reeds these last too) should be taken into one’s confidence, and
if a specially good house is to be let in a month or two it should be
stalked as carefully as one stalks a stag of price, and with as much
cunning. Too great eagerness means a large premium, and all the last
tenant’s awful fixtures; too little means someone else slipping in
before one, and bearing off the coveted prize under one’s very eyes.

Much as one likes the idea of a real new, clean house, where no one has
ever died, or had scarlet fever, small-pox, or diphtheria, and where
virgin walls and untouched rooms leave one a free hand as regards
decoration and furniture, it is better, if possible, to take some place
out of which a ‘good family’ has been obliged to move for some true and
reasonable cause, such as a loss or increase of income, or an increase
in the requirements of the family. If a new house is chosen, it is
absolutely necessary that some honest and tried sanitary authority
should be called in from a distance: a local man cannot possibly give an
unbiassed opinion; and he should thoroughly examine the system of
drains; all pipes should be disconnected from the soil-pipes, and all
sanitary arrangements should be placed on the outside of the house. I do
not mean apart from the house itself, but built on at one side, so that
drainage is simplified immensely and reduced to one area. One where the
soil-pipe can be thoroughly ventilated and easily got at should it be
necessary to examine the drains, to repair them, or to discover that
they are all in good and working order. They should also be capable of
being constantly and copiously flushed with a good stream of water,
while all pipes connected with the water supply should be protected from
the weather, and also easily reached, else will they burst at the least
provocation, and cause frost and cold to be doubly cursed, because of
their untoward action upon one’s domestic arrangements. If the house has
been lived in, confidential relations should be established with the
outgoing tenant unless he has any interest in getting the house off his
hands; in that case human nature being weak, one can but recollect he
wants to part with it. But if he have ended his lease and be genuinely
anxious to remain yet cannot for a reasonable cause, it were well to ask
him frankly about the wants, requirements, and moods of the special
abode, for houses want humouring just as do human beings, and very
often one only finds out the virtues when the vices have caused one to
throw up the sponge, and once more set out on our nomadic passing
through this life.

If we select and take a new house before we attempt our decorations let
us instal a caretaker. Ay! even with her grimy self and her still more
grimy goods and bronchial family, heavy with the continual colds
inseparable from living in empty houses and never anywhere else; and let
us see by ocular demonstration that she keeps going the large and
splendid fires which should be in all the rooms even before we
contemplate how we are going to treat them. For until the house has been
exposed to the ordeal by warmth we cannot possibly tell whether we shall
have to begin by relaying shrunken floors; putting the ever useful
‘Slater’s Patent’ round every door and window, and whether it were not
well to transfer certain doors from left to right or _vice versa_,
because of the position of fire and window, which can only be really
determined when we see how the fire burns, and from which side comes
most of the almost certain draught. Thus too are tested the young and
untried chimneys, which, should they smoke, are to be examined by a
practical man before anything else can be done. They may smoke through
faulty construction. In this case new grates must be had from Haines &
Co., 83 Queen Victoria Street, who have a grate that can easily deal
with this desperate strait. Or they may require tall chimney-pots, or a
mere ‘blower,’ which is best when made of a clear thick sheet of glass.
In any case, they must be treated at once. A smoky chimney is death to
one’s decorations, spoils one’s temper, and one’s white curtains and new
cretonnes, and gives the maids cause for dissatisfaction, the while we
take a hatred at once to the house and always remember its unkind
reception of us, however well it may behave to us when we find ourselves
better acquainted with its little ways. It would not be an auspicious
manner of beginning an acquaintance should some would-be friend receive
us with sulks and a turned-away countenance, which might be shyness,
and is certainly bad mannered: I question much if we should ever reach
friendship should our advances be met in a similar way! In such a manner
does a smoky chimney make one feel towards the house it is a part of,
and once we are received with smoke in our own domain, we can never
really forget or forgive a reception we should not have had, had we kept
up good fires before we entered into possession thereof. When the house
is warmed, we can proceed to deal with each portion thereof as our
tastes and our purses permit; but we must never allow anything which
really offends our own special taste to remain; neither must we be
talked into taking anything we don’t like. If we don’t know our own
minds in these days, there are advisers to be had on whom reliance can
be placed. But if we have the least idea of what we want, let us get it.
It is our own house after all, and it is right it should represent us,
and not other folk. At the same time many people who can recognise
beauty and comfort when they see it, get bewildered by quantities; and
unable to select between them cannot secure loveliness, and are equally
unable somehow to recognise how comfort can be obtained.

‘How do you keep this room up to 60 degrees?’ once said a doctor to me,
when I was inhabiting, _pro tem._, a so-called furnished house in the
depth of the winter. ‘I had a child dying here of bronchitis last
winter, and, try how they would, his people couldn’t raise the
temperature to above 50 degrees, although his life depended on it.’

‘Ah,’ said I, ‘they doubtless left it as they found it. I didn’t. I have
covered the gaping stained "surround" with felt. I have hung curtains
inside and outside the rickety door and instead of feeble wisps of
muslin to the windows I have four good thick curtains besides long thin
ones. That’s all the secret; and I never burn gas as you see, while my
fires last twice as long as they did before the alterations.’

‘Oh, I wish I had known all that before,’ said the doctor, ‘for neither
I nor the parents could find out the cause of the cold.’

A little thing which will illustrate better than any amount of further
description what I mean by saying that people don’t always know how to
obtain comfort though they can appreciate it when found.



CHAPTER II

HALLS AND PASSAGES


If we wish to make a complete conquest of the special suburban residence
we are about to circumvent, there is no doubt whatever that the first
battle of all has to be fought and won on the very doorstep. Nay
sometimes one has to commence the conflict before we reach as far as
that, for have we not the ‘carriage sweep’ to tackle and the slamming
gate to minister to before reaching the front door? If we are cursed
with the ‘approach,’ all we can do is to make the gate as inoffensive as
we can, for alas! we must keep it or we shall have our front garden a
gathering ground for all the curs in the neighbourhood. But we must e’en
remove the latch altogether, and line the place where it was with
indiarubber, and put a couple of stout indiarubber springs on the house
side of the gate, which should have an inner lining of wire-netting,
and a head-trimming of barbed wire, or else of rough nails, to prevent
the demon boy seating himself thereon. Then, if by firm refusals to
allow tramps to come up, and by never giving them one farthing--or
indeed anything save a bread ticket redeemable at the nearest baker’s
shop, and which, ten to one, we shall find torn up in our ‘avenue,’--we
can induce them to mark our gate with some secret sign, which means we
are unspeakable brutes and not good even for a ‘little hot water,’ we
shall have ensured ourselves a certain amount of quiet, and shall, at
all events, have begun our campaign in the right way. Our gate we should
paint some good solid colour, and Indian red is a good shade with green
hedges and trees about us, as is also a special shade of dark olive
green. Then the name of the house should be painted on in white, _not_
gilded letters, and if we put as well ‘Please shut this gate quietly’ on
both sides of the top bar, we shall find that we at least are no longer
noise-makers in general, and, as far as our special gate is concerned,
the great slamming question is replied to satisfactorily.

I may seem to dwell unduly on the matter of noise, but I can assure my
readers that every preventable noise is both a sin against themselves
and also against their neighbours. They may be in rude health and
inclined to jeer at all I say, but the day will come when their heads
will ache and their nerves bother them and when noise will torture them,
and then they will wish devoutly that they had legislated at first for
peace, for they certainly won’t get it when they have not the strength
to insist on it. I say preventable noise, and most noises are that, for
even the wretched piano in the schoolroom can be placed in such a
position that it only worries those to whom it belongs; while the person
who encourages barrel-organs or screaming children, should be at once
sent to the wilds of America, no other place being large enough to hold
such a barbarian.

We know, of course, all English folk think their homes are their
castles; well, if so, the castle should have appropriate surroundings.
There is nothing much of the castle about a suburban residence, and the
sooner this fact is realised the better for those who dwell therein and
on both sides. Now, the carriage gate being painted and settled with,
and arranged to be fastened back should we have many callers from three
to six in summer, from three to five in winter, we can turn our
attention to the front door. I have had to circumvent for myself and for
many many other folk the ordinary suburban residence, and I have only in
one case found the front door treated in a manner that showed me that
the man who planned the house had the very smallest idea of what he was
about. As a rule, the front door opens straight on the narrow passage
called hall by courtesy, with the ladder-like flight of stairs going
straight up at one side. Then just opposite the front door, and about
eighteen or twenty feet from it, is the door of the third room, which
becomes library, smoking-room, or even day-nursery or schoolroom,
according to the tastes and the age and number of the owner’s family,
and nothing can be worse than this arrangement. But in the exception of
which I speak, the hall ends at the front door portion in a wall, and
the front door is placed opposite, as in the diagram on the next page,
and thus the wind which enters when the front

[Illustration]

door is opened only circulates in the tiny vestibule, and is shut off
from the hall and house by the inner door, beyond which is a small
fireplace, so small as to be scarcely visible at all, yet large enough
to ensure the equal temperature which means so much in this very
evil-minded climate of ours. Now, it would not be an enormous expense,
either to add the vestibule, or to make it by closing the ordinary
entrance at A and opening one at B, while the vestibule could be shut
off from the hall by curtains, should there be light enough to do
without the extra window, or by a glazed screen, should light be
otherwise an impossibility. In any case the gain to health would be
enormous, while the comfort is of course at once ensured which is so
absolutely necessary, and yet as a rule is so little understood. If one
can have curtains, and expense is a great object, it is well to obtain
from Oetzmann a fretwork arch, which is made for this purpose, and which
is nailed on the wall and to the ceiling, and is at once simple and
effective. The rod the simplest brass one which can be procured, should
go behind the arch, which should face towards the end wall, and curtains
of Wallace’s diamond serge should fall from the rod; there should be two
full curtains, double, if possible, and edged with ‘grip cord,’ not
ball-fringe. They will be constantly moved, and ball-fringe would soon
spoil, while the cord is a hardy thing and capable of standing a certain
amount of pulling about. As a rule the floor of the ordinary suburban
hall is made from the roughest of boards which shrink apart coyly from
each other as if they were youthful maidens at their first ball, but
sometimes we are fortunate enough to come across tiles. And yet I don’t
know whether I should quite say fortunate! For sometimes the tiles are
more frightful than I can describe, and are often cracked and irregular,
while one can manage the boarded floor if one resolutely tackles it and
determines that it shall not conquer one instead of being conquered
itself. If one has tiles one should place two or three rugs over them,
the Abingdon Carpet Company’s charming ‘Arts and Crafts’ rugs for
choice, made in the proper length and width for these places; but if one
has not, the boards must first be stopped, planed and smoothed and
ventilated, and then a plain cork carpet from Wallace, of Curtain Road,
E.C. should be put down. This should be ventilated too, by piercing
holes here and there with a gimlet, else dry-rot will ensue, a thing
which once in possession is very difficult to get rid of, I can assure
my readers. The cork carpet must be supplemented by rugs, and in any
case the vestibule should be tiled with plain self-coloured tiles to
harmonise with the decorations, for here would be shed the wet
waterproofs and umbrellas of the way-worn traveller, who could then
proceed towards the drawing-room undeterred by the despair that seizes
one when one feels at a disadvantage owing to one’s raiment. This
feeling often prevents people paying that kindest call of all, the call
on a wet, dreary day, when we are dying with loneliness and boredom, and
would give anything to see the friend who will not come because she
would be ‘too wet for the pretty room,’ and ‘so dirty, she would really
be ashamed to enter anyone’s house.’

[Illustration]

Now, with the sensible short tweed skirt and tweed undergarments, which
fortunate present-day damsels don unknown and unchecked, and a good
plain, yet pretty waterproof, anyone is weather-tight; and if the
parlour-maid pops the umbrella into the beaten iron ring for that
purpose placed behind the front door, and hangs the waterproof up in
Wallace’s handy P. T. C. wardrobe in another corner; and if the boots
are carefully wiped on the mat placed in the sunken place in front of
the door, the visitor enters the room spotless and as dry as if she had
just emerged from her own house or from Lady Gorgeous Midas’s brand new
brougham. The tiled floor should have upon it a pretty thick rug lined
with American leather: one can be bought for about 8s. 9d. at Treloar’s:
an outlay that no one need mind, but that ensures once more a certain
amount of comfort.

The front door should, of course, never be grained, and it ought in
these days to be quite unnecessary for me even to hint at such a thing.
But mighty is the ‘local decorator,’ beloved of the suburbs, and his
counsels will undoubtedly prevail, unless we put down our foot very
firmly indeed, and keep it resolutely in that special attitude. He will
‘grain’ the door if he can until doomsday, I am convinced, but my
readers must be firm and dignified, and above all must they give their
instructions in writing, and keep a duplicate signed by the ‘decorator’
(save the mark!), else will they find he has gone his own sweet way
after all, and they have no redress whatever. It is an axiom that
whatever colour is chosen for the hall that colour alone shall be on the
front door, but it may be in a darker shade, while the vestibule can
often be treated differently to the hall itself, though of course it
should lead up to and harmonise with it. Let me describe what I mean.
The special vestibule I am thinking of has a couple of small,
diamond-paned windows, one at the end, one opposite the front door, and
below this latter is a wide panel painted with a tiger-lily, and then a
wide wooden seat which lifts up and holds carriage rugs, and on which
anyone could sit did he or she come with a message or a note and require
to wait an answer. Both windows have wide ledges on which stand pots
holding palms or aspidistras, and all the paint on the inside of the
front door and on the vestibule side of the glass screen-doors included,
is a special, beautiful soft grey-blue shade. The panelled walls are the
same colour; the curtains are soft yellow silk, and the ceiling proper
is yellow and cream. On the floor are dull blue tiles and a Scinde rug,
and in one corner is the umbrella-ring, which one can get at Shoolbred’s
for about 18s. 9d., and that is all. There is no room for the P. T. C.
here, and the waterproofs are taken at once into the servants’ room to
be hung up and dried, but it would be much better were there a corner
wardrobe, only, alas! one can’t make space where one doesn’t possess it.

The screen is made somewhat like this. The top and side panels are all
of leaded glass, as far as the brackets which hold pots for palms. The
tops of the doors are more leaded glass, and all the base is wood
painted on the vestibule side, the soft grey-blue spoken of before, and
on the other a specially soft and deep ‘real ivory.’ The dado is of
ivory, gold, and black Japanese leather paper, and the paper above is
one of Smee & Cobay’s, and is a cunning blend of green and red, managed
in such a way that the whole effect is a pinky red, which harmonises
with the grey-blue, and is as original as it is undoubtedly most
pleasant to contemplate. The stairs and all doors are curtained off
with yellow diamond serge, and the passage--_i.e._ hall--is covered with
plain green cork carpet, on which are laid rugs in which the grey-blue
colour aforesaid predominates. Of course the ceiling is papered in
yellow and white, and equally, of course, all the paint is one even
surface of colour. Nothing can excuse picked out or striped and
embellished paint: nothing! Genius is better employed on better work,
and even genius is out of place in making ornamental that which after
all is only going to be part of a harmonious whole, and merely a
background to ourselves and our possessions. Therefore must there be
plain paint everywhere, and no cornice should be more than a moulded
band, merely coloured a plain cream or ivory colour. If the front door
and the doors in the vestibule screen are not above suspicion of
draughts, they should be at once surrounded with Slater’s patent
draught-excluders, which can be procured anywhere almost, but surely at
Shoolbred’s or Whiteley’s; for nothing is more trying than a draught.
Have as much air and proper ventilation as possible. Have a vestibule
window open for some time of the day in winter and all day long in
summer, and have the staircase window open as well: a house that can’t
have a thorough current of air cannot be a healthy one. But do not allow
the insidious draught, and the cold and unwarmed halls and passages,
which are ubiquitous save in a large house possessing a big, square
hall, where one usually finds a good fireplace. However, one should
manage somehow to make a fireplace there, ay, even if one can have
nothing better than the small, round, moveable stove called the ‘Ideal,’
which burns patent fuel, and can be taken away at any moment. It should
be placed on an iron corner bracket rather raised above the floor, and a
guard should be round it, so that dresses could not come in contact with
it. But one should never be tempted from the paths of virtue by the
charms of oil stoves, for they always smell and are detestable, no
matter what anyone says; for though they should not, of course, if
properly cleaned and attended to, proper cleanliness and care mean
personal attention in a small household, and I cannot think how anyone
can touch oil, or whatever has held it without a shudder. There is a
smell about paraffin that, let us ‘shatter the stove as we will,’
continues to cling about it and us in a way that is enough to make us
and our friends very ill indeed. It’s an unnecessary smell, too. If we
can’t depend on the maids, we must see to our own lamps, but we need not
have stoves. They give a poor heat at best, and at worst--but there is
no need to harrow our feelings by dwelling on that side of the picture.
Be sure that whenever we can have real fires, we should have them, and
that no house can be warm, and therefore healthy, if we have no fire in
the passage. It need be only a wee one. It can be kept in for hours by
using briquettes and small coal judiciously, and as it prevents colds
and consequent suffering, and very probably doctors’ bills, it need not
be omitted on the score of expense. Once see to the draught-excluder and
the hall fire, we shall save in the sitting-room fires too, which are
often twice as wasteful as they need be, because we pile them up to warm
the bitter air that rushes in when the door is opened, and because the
ceaseless draughts from doors and windows drive the rushing heat up the
chimney and make the coal burn out doubly as fast as it otherwise would.
Then too there is no labour about the modern small tiled fireplace. It
is cleaned and laid in less than five moments, and indeed were we
sensible about our houses, we should not have half the bother with our
maids that some of us have, because we would minimise the amount of work
by labour-saving appliances, instead of making it double what it need
be, as we all of us do, more especially in those suburban houses, where,
after all, the labour question is one of the most burning problems that
the female part of the population has to discuss at its weekly
gatherings on its special afternoons at home.

The hall grate should be on the smallest scale possible, should have a
plain wooden mantel and small over-mantel consisting of a wooden frame
and a slip of bevelled looking-glass, and should have tiles for a hearth
and a surround, and should be provided with a high guard similar to
those found in all nurseries, but in brass, not in common painted wire.
On the mantel we could put one or two framed photographs and about four
glasses for flowers, and also a small clock, should the hall not be
sufficiently large to allow us to have the proper tall one there; but
great care should be taken not to overdo the ornaments here especially,
for a hall gathers dust in a dreadful manner, and too many ornaments
mean dirt, and therefore should in no way be encouraged. The walls of
the hall should have pictures on them; there is no doubt about that, and
good autotypes and Burne-Jones’s photographs from Mr Hollyer of 9
Pembroke Square, W., are the best to have. They should be framed in the
simple reeded frames sold by the Autotype Company, New Oxford Street,
and should be hung judiciously. The lowest should just, and only just,
escape the dado-rail, the highest should be only a couple of inches
above it at the outside. There should, of course, be no pictures
whatever in the vestibule portion of the hall, neither in the hall
itself should there be any brackets for china, nor over-doors on which
pots and vases can be placed, for the maid must always get the steps to
dust these places and, in consequence, dusting, is, at the best very
seldom, at the worst never done. But over every door in the halls and
passages must be placed _portières_ of some kind or other. I have come
to the conclusion that a couple of curtains is the best arrangement for
this, if the doors open into the rooms, as they generally do in a small
hall; if not, of course the rod, which opens and shuts with the door,
and which Burnett sells for 4s. 6d. complete, must be used. The pair of
curtains allows the servant to hold one back for the visitor’s entrance
as she opens the door, but they must be crossed at the top by putting
the last hook on each curtain in the ring that comes last on the one
belonging to its fellow; this prevents them from gaping open, and always
keeps them in place. Suppose each curtain has six hooks, one puts five
belonging to the left-hand curtain on the left-hand set of rings; in the
sixth, one puts hook No. 1 of the right-hand curtain; hook No. 6 of the
left-hand curtain goes into hook No. 1 of the right-hand one; the other
five rings are filled by the remaining five hooks then on the right-hand
curtain, and this ensures the curtains remaining always in their place
in the most satisfactory way possible. The best material for hall
curtains is undoubtedly Wallace’s diamond serge, and it should be lined
with sateen the same colour as that chosen for the curtains, and should
be edged with grip-cord. The glazed surface of the sateen resists the
dust, and the curtains should always be unhooked once a week and shaken
out of doors, and the poles and rings rubbed over with the new Selvyt
cloths, which are admirable, and far surpass the ordinary duster, as
they polish as well as remove extraneous matter and dirt. This is the
work of the housemaid, who is responsible for all dusting in the hall,
and also for all brushing and shaking; the washing of the steps, cork
carpet, etc., being the duty of the kitchen-maid, should one be kept; or
else of the ‘tweeny-maid,’ who takes, in a measure, the kitchen-maid’s
place in the ordinary small-sized establishment. One word now about
this said cork carpet, and the best way to treat it, for it really is a
very important matter indeed. People should never allow themselves to be
talked into buying the orthodox and hideous-patterned linoleum, which
gives a hopelessly ‘_bourgeois_’ appearance to any house, and at once
puts a stop to anything like artistic decoration. ‘The pattern going
through to the back, as it does, ensures that it can never wear off,’
says one person; ‘have the beautiful linoleum which imitates
parqueterie,’ remarks another, regardless of the fact that such
imitation is as vulgar as it is ugly. Why! it would be an advantage to
me that the pattern should wear off, a pattern being generally a mistake
on any hall floor; and, therefore, should the hall be untiled, or not
made of the silent wood blocks which are the ideal component parts of
any floor, and which are not likely therefore to be found in any
suburban residence, one should be resolute, and refuse flatly to have
anything at all but the soft-coloured cork carpet, which we can
supplement with rugs. I am aware that at first one feels as if one were
going mad over my pet material, for then every footmark shows, and
every atom of dirt is visible, but I prefer to be able to see dirt, in
order to ensure its speedy removal. Still if at first we give the cork
carpet one thorough good rub with linseed oil and turpentine, and one
only, all we need to do afterwards is to have it washed over with warm
water, or milk and water. Soap should never be used on any account
whatever, and then if once a week it has a real polish with beeswax and
turpentine, it will wear for ever, and, after the first, will not unduly
agitate us by bringing into prominence the erring footmarks of ourselves
and our friends. But, of course, it must always be supplemented by rugs.
Then we have an ideal hall covering, for the rugs can be taken up and
shaken daily, and so is cleanliness ensured, and without that the house
cannot possibly be habitable at all. On no account, not even in houses
where ‘expense is no object,’ should a fitted carpet be allowed in the
halls and passages, for it is utterly impossible to keep such an
arrangement even decently clean. Think of the traffic in a hall! the
muddy boots, the paws of the dear dogs (and everyone should have an
_un_chained dog, it’s the chained-up victims that are the terrors of the
suburbs), and the drippings from wet umbrellas and garments, and
renounce carpets there for evermore. Besides which, we have to remember
the fact that it is almost impossible to sweep out any corners in rooms
or halls, and that should the housemaid attempt to do so, she only
knocks great pieces off the paint in her endeavours, and finally has to
resort to a damp duster to pick up the ‘fluff’ which congregates there.
Damping woollen carpets is one of the easiest methods of procuring a
visit from the fatal moth, so should not be resorted to unless we are
quite at our wits’ end.

The ordinary suburban staircase is another of the things we have to
approach with fear and trembling. As a rule, Jacob’s ladder has
suggested its design, and it is so proud of its appearance that it
thrusts itself on our notice the instant we enter the house. In this
case we can only grin and bear it, the while we make its long expanse of
open balustrade and wooden understructure as bearable as we can by
covering in the first with Eastern dhurries or Khelim curtains, and
filling in any panels in the latter with Japanese leather paper, which
is invaluable for this purpose. But should it be modestly stationed at
one side, as has been the position of the three staircases which have
been my portion in the suburban residences I have dwelt in most
complainingly; then one can curtain them off better with the same
arrangement of a fretwork arch I described when writing about the
vestibule; or by a couple of stronger arches which one can get at
Wallace’s, one of which encloses the stair, and the other leads to the
back premises and lavatories and cloak places. These arches are of
course, curtained, and so the ordinary visitor sees nothing save the
sitting-room doors or door and the hall itself, and is spared those
awe-striking glimpses into unsuitable spots, which are all too often
exposed guilelessly to the unhappy and much-embarrassed guest, who
neither wishes to see into the parlour-maid’s pantry, nor to view a vast
line of old hats, waterproofs and tennis rackets, and who much prefers
to remain ignorant of these and many other secret arrangements of the
innermost recesses of our home.

Now not only are the position and design of the staircase more annoying
than I can say, but the stairs themselves are, as a rule, simply too
painful for words. They generally consist of a series of short, sharp
ascents, and are never by any chance low and broad, as a self-respecting
stair should most undoubtedly be, and are moreover so extremely narrow
and sharp at the edges that they are warranted to wear through any stair
carpet in less than a twelvemonth, save perhaps a pile carpet, and that
they will ruin in a couple of years at the outside. No one can alter
either the steepness or narrowness of the stairway. Alas! they are both
past praying for, but if the sharp edges are circumvented by carpet pads
sold by any good upholsterer for a few pence or manufactured at home out
of curled paper enclosed in linen covers, and made to resemble a very
small, thick cushion, and if we put carpet felt under the carpet we
shall find the carpet itself wear decently at anyrate, especially if we
see it is carefully moved once a month in such a way that the portion
that was at the top one month lives at the bottom the next, reversing
this same position once more when the time comes to move it again. I
have often remarked that there is no such thing as a cheap stair carpet,
and that the cheapest article at first is the dearest in the end, and I
have seen no reason to alter my opinion. Pile with only a small design
as pattern and no fidgety border, is the best thing in the world, and
can be bought at from 4s. 11d. to 7s. 9d. a yard. Next to pile comes
Brussels at about 4s. 6d. Then comes Wallace’s ‘Dunelm’ at about 4s.,
and, finally, a new, self-coloured, all-wool material called ‘Roysse,’
sold by the Abingdon Carpet Company at 2s. 3d. three-quarter width--the
ordinary stair width--and at 2s. 11d. a yard wide. Lower than this I
cannot for one moment advise even the most impecunious among us to go;
neither can I advise the ‘bargains’ and ‘odd lengths’ of pile and
Brussels that are often obtainable at really good shops. If they are
bargains as far as material and make are concerned, they are absolutely
hideous, and are only got rid of because even the British taste has
refused them; and if they are odd lengths we cannot ever match them, and
that means replacing the whole carpet should an accident happen to one
small part of it, which we could have replaced in one moment had we
bought a proper carpet. Such an one as is always kept in stock by most
of the best shops in London, the owners of which have learned that a
good and pretty thing is a joy for ever, and that once it is pronounced
such it can be always recommended and brought forward, not because it is
the ‘last new thing,’ but because it is old, and has been well and truly
tried and not found wanting.

The upstairs passages should be treated to more cork carpet and rugs,
and under no circumstances must a ‘walk’ of carpet be allowed, neither
may the rugs be put down in a wearisome, unbroken line unless the
passage is very narrow and allows of no deviating from the straight
path. If there be a landing, as a rule two rugs are required, and in the
passage the rugs can be put one after the other in a somewhat similar
way, less, as I remarked before, the passage is very narrow. In that
case a ‘vestibule rug’ must be procured either from Shoolbred, Hewetson
or the Abingdon Carpet Company. These can be had in lengths of about 6
feet by 4 wide, and 9 feet by the same width, while there are both
longer and wider rugs to be procured, but then the passage should be
long enough to allow of there being two in use, if not more, when they
can be placed in any position save in a long, straight line.

The doors of the upstairs rooms must always be securely curtained, and
here one wide, full curtain should suffice. There is not the continual
exit and entrance to these chambers there is to the downstairs rooms, so
then one curtain upstairs will be enough. These should be kept in place
by putting the end rings past the bracket on which the brass rod rests,
then the last hooks on the curtain are put into them, thus ensuring that
the curtains are always kept drawn. Anyone who has passed by a vista of
open bedroom doors, left open when the owners have, at the sound of the
gong, rushed downstairs to meals in too great a hurry to put their
rooms tidy, will not need to have impressed upon them the fact that it
is absolutely necessary to decency to have _portières_ which fall into
place behind the person who leaves his or her bedroom door open, and so
discloses to all comers the ravages which getting up too often leaves in
view. It is a good thing also to conceal the entrance to the bathroom
and lavatories by a curtain, which should depend from a beaten iron arm
which stretches straight out into the passage. This arm can be procured
from Bartholomew & Fletcher for about 18s. 6d., while the curtain should
be heavy; printed velveteen made double and fan-edged making an
absolutely perfect if somewhat expensive curtain. Godfrey Giles has a
charming velveteen, which is a mixture of blue and green. Wallace has a
beautiful yellow and cream one, and Smee & Cobay have these velveteens
in most colours, notably in a rich and exquisite red, which it is a
pleasure to look at, and which also wears extremely well, even in
windows where the sun has a certain amount of actual power, and is never
really kept out at all.

Any cornice upstairs as well as down must be coloured ‘cream’ or ‘real
ivory,’ and the ceilings here as elsewhere must be papered with some
simple, inexpensive paper, in a colour which harmonises with the
decorations. And now let me impress upon my readers that even if they
have only taken their suburban villa on the usual tentative three years’
lease: which is so rarely renewed: it is always worth while to make
their surroundings charming, even should they not remain in the house
after the first term of the three, seven or twenty-one years’ lease is
over. First because if the lessee and the owner combined would take
trouble to ensure beauty and comfort, I am quite certain that moving
would not be as continual as it is at present. The trouble taken over
the house would endear it to the dwellers therein, while the comfort
would cause them to think twice before they deprived themselves of it;
for once let one’s roots really strike home, and no one who has not
tried it can tell how difficult it is to drag them out of even an
uncongenial soil. While from a congenial one! well, there is nothing on
earth so hard to do and so fearfully difficult to bear, and no
after-delights can cause these wounds really and truly to heal!
Secondly, dear readers, it is always worth while to have beautiful and
harmonious surroundings, ay, even for a few months and even if we have
to leave them. For in this latter case, we shall have left them as an
art legacy to our successor, who will not be very difficult to find if
we leave behind us charming papers and appropriate decorations to mark
where we have once made our home!

Of course each individual hall requires individual treatment, and it
would be well-nigh impossible to lay down any hard and fast rules to be
followed implicitly; but a dado, a real not a sham one, is an absolute
necessity in any narrow hall, and no one should be afraid of one of
coloured paper, bold in hue as in design, for a large, bold pattern
makes a small place appear larger, and real colour must always be a
pleasure, which a muddled, pale and timid tint can never be. A dado
could be of wood, if the lease is long enough, and the purse too, to
allow of it. In this case Godfrey Giles’s ‘gœhring’ material and
‘Glastonbury’ panelling will suit those who cannot afford oak. Arras
cloth, with a pattern printed on it is beautiful, especially if hung
like the old-fashioned arras used to be, to resemble a gathered curtain.
Then I am devoted to the plain, string-coloured matting, sold on purpose
for dados at 10½d. a yard; and there are of course, anaglypta and
Japanese leather paper always with us, while the printed arras cloth
paper is a strong and good material which is not to be despised by any
manner of means at all. In all cases there must be a real dado-rail, and
the paper above, as indeed every single thing in the hall, should
harmonise. I am devoted to a blue hall myself: the one described in the
first part of the chapter can well be absolutely copied, while it should
be remembered that a dark hall calls for yellow and cream, or red and
cream a real, bold, sealing-wax red: let there be no mistake about the
colour: and nothing should authorise the employment of either a green or
a terra-cotta hall. Green can never be a success there, while
terra-cotta spells fear and shows artistic hankerings which the owner is
unable, or not bold enough to carry out. I am not devoted to any
terra-cotta save some shades sold only by Liberty. I would never have
even these, save in some bedrooms and an occasional, a very occasional,
dining-room or library.

As a rule the lighting of the hall should be managed by placing first,
in the vestibule, a gasalier in the very centre of the ceiling, where
the gas should be enclosed in a bucket-shaped glass in a beaten-iron
lantern frame; secondly, in the hall itself a similar treatment should
be followed out, if the ceilings be high enough to allow of it: if not,
side-brackets near the dining and drawing-room doors should be used. And
finally more side-brackets should be upstairs, these again of
beaten-iron, and with the same shaped glass. These can be bought very
inexpensively of Shoolbred, while Messrs Strode & Company, of 48
Osnaburgh Street, Regent’s Park, make beautiful and more expensive
brackets and lanterns and lamps on the same lines.

There should be as little furniture as possible in the ordinary suburban
hall or passage. The really necessary furniture has been described as
placed in the vestibule; but, if we have room we should undoubtedly
have a tall palm on a stand, a grandfather clock in one corner, a couple
of chairs: tall, high-backed ones for choice: and, if possible, between
the dining and drawing-room doors, which are often close together, or at
anyrate close to the latter door, have a nice plain walnut table. This
would hold the necessary bowl for cards left during the afternoon, and
taken away every day, because keeping them seems like parading the
amount and quality of one’s friends; and, if we visit much a book is of
course kept in which visits and addresses are entered. Beside this, have
only a small vase of flowers and maybe a couple of books placed across
each other at one corner. These give an air of life even to the smallest
hall somehow; and on little touches like these, absurd as it may seem to
mention them, depend the artistic completeness of the whole house.

One word more, hats, cloaks and umbrellas must be put out of sight
somewhere; while all should recollect that it is extremely easy to
over-furnish any place, but especially so to over-furnish a hall, and
that in a narrow passage and in small quarters, one had far better have
too few impedimenta than too many. The former state of affairs can
always be remedied as we come to understand the capabilities of our new
abode; the latter can only draw down upon us the objurgations of our
friends, the while we collect dirt and dust, and can’t comprehend why we
are as uncomfortable as we most undoubtedly are.



CHAPTER III

KITCHEN AND BASEMENTS


If the conquest of the hall be difficult, the siege of the kitchen and
servants’ quarters generally is one that will carry dread even to the
stoutest heart. For as a rule the suburban builder sinks to his lowest
depths of villainy here, and either gives a damp and wandering basement
wherein no servant will remain more than her month, or a regular
cupboard where the stove leaves scarcely room for anything else, and
where the heat from that, and the draughts from the doors and windows,
are enough to ruin the constitution of any ordinary woman. The basement
kitchen is the worst of all, because it marks a class of house that has
seen better days, and is rapidly deteriorating. Therefore if one has to
choose between two houses, one of which has no basement, and another
which has, one should at once select the basementless one. There are
sure to be cellars below the house, which will keep it dry. One doesn’t
even in the suburbs _often_ come across a house, the boards of which are
pushed out of place by enterprising mushrooms growing in the soil
beneath, and ambitious of appearing in fresh air and among the haunts of
men.

If, however, the basement cannot be avoided, we must rise to the
occasion and do the very best we can in the matter. And first of all we
must see that it is really dry, and that its comfort is assured by the
presence of a dry area and the proper amount of ventilation, and absence
of damp. If this cannot be assured, the house must be given up. Far
better put up with a small dining-room and a dull drawing-room, for both
of these drawbacks can be easily remedied, but for a damp bad kitchen
there can be no cure, and should we weakly give in to it, we can never
be happy or comfortable in the least in our domestic arrangements, be
very sure of that.

If, however, we find that the basement is capable of amendment, our
first endeavours must be to make it as cheerful as possible, and to get
as much light and air into it as possible too. I have only once had to
‘wrastle’ with one on my own account, and that I made as bearable as
circumstances would permit, by enlarging a window and having one of
Chappius’ reflectors so arranged that as much sunshine came in as was
obtainable, while I had one of the three doors closed entirely, and made
an enormous scullery and washhouse species of abode, into a nice little
scullery and a rather decent room in which the maids could sit and have
their meals and do their needlework. Oh, I do hope some day to hear of a
real and _bona-fide_ revolt against the regulation suburban
accommodation for the unfortunate maids, for, until this takes place, I
am quite sure the servant question will remain a very burning one.

I am writing now more especially for those householders who have from
£500 to £1000 a year to spend, and who have two or four maids, according
to their means and the size of their families, and who ought to be able
to find the kitchen arrangements comprised in a square block, consisting
of kitchen, scullery, parlour-maid’s pantry, with good, deep cupboards
for glass and china, and a pretty little sitting-room where the
domestics could have a few at least of the amenities of life. The
bedrooms could be above, as could the sanitary arrangements, which are
all too often placed either in the cellar part of the house or close to
the larder, or, in fact, anywhere where they ought not to be. Now
suppose we find the ordinary box of a pantry, slip of a kitchen and
scullery and larder, how should we best circumvent this arrangement, I
wonder? Well, first we can tackle the landlord, who, if he have money at
all: and an impecunious landlord is a deadly and desperate thing to
possess, and should be most carefully avoided: will be glad to do as we
want for an extra rent at the rate of 5 per cent on whatever outlay he
can make. We should get him to build out a servant’s sitting-room, and
enlarge the pantry and scullery, and to put above the erection a
servant’s bath and lavatory arrangement. This could be done for about
£100 and the extra £5 on the rent would hardly be felt, while the
comfort obtained thereby would far and away compensate for the outlay.
If the landlord be obdurate, the only thing to do is to buy for
ourselves one of Humphreys’ moveable iron buildings, and have it adapted
for our purposes. In this case we can only, I fear, manage the servants’
sitting-room and extra accommodation for glass, china and washing-up,
and we shall have to put the room door just apart from the house,
though, of course, a very short passage could be erected. But before
anything is done, care should be taken to ascertain the rules and
regulations respecting the erecting of buildings in the special
locality, as all seem to me to differ; and, indeed, in some there are
none at all. Yet, in any case this is a thing to be ascertained
definitely, for I have known a Local Board step in and formally order
the removal of a beautiful and pet conservatory, because the builder had
innocently infringed some bye-law in its construction, and had not
obtained the sanction of the authorities to the plans of the structure
before erection was commenced. If neither the landlord nor Humphreys can
come to the rescue, I am going to advocate a step which will be nothing
short of anarchy and revolution in the eyes of any old-fashioned
person, for I am about to suggest that, in these desperate straits, the
usual third room should be handed over to the maids to sit in, while we
can keep it in a measure in our own hands too, by erecting our
store-cupboards there, and extra shelves for glass and china. But if we
do, we must not be always pouncing in and out on the maids, but must
give out everything for the day’s use before ten o’clock, after which we
should never go there unless actually obliged, for nothing is so
detestable as a room into which anyone can go at any moment, and where
the maids can never feel they are safe from eternal supervision. If the
door of this third room opens straight on the hall, and if another can
be made to open into the kitchen premises--and this is often the
case--it would be well to permanently close the first and have the
second made. The original door need be only bolted or locked inside, and
covered with a curtain, while it is not either difficult or expensive to
contrive another exit, for a hole is easily knocked in an ordinary
suburban wall, and a door frame and door added. And I venture to
prophesy if this is done, that there will be a reign of peace in the
kitchen department unprecedented in the annals of most houses, because
servants will usually stay where they are comfortable, and where they
feel they are considered, and their health and happiness are both
thought about. I know quite well that in their own homes and in the
houses they come from, they have no real privacy at all; but I also know
that most maids leave such homes at too early an age to recollect half,
or, indeed, to realise half, of the miseries they are called upon to
bear there, and they very easily forget the past, and only really
comprehend the present and its possibilities; besides which, a maid goes
away from her home to ‘better herself.’ Were she content with
semi-starvation and over-crowding, she would remain there, or enter on
the desperate existence of a factory hand or a home worker. The fact
that she wishes for more comfort, for more human surroundings, sends her
into domestic service; and if that comfort and those surroundings were
forthcoming, servants would be far more plentiful than they are at
present, and would likewise come of a far better and much more
honourable and pleasant class. The first step then is, undoubtedly, to
secure something in the shape of ‘the room,’ as the servants’ hall is
called in more ambitious households, and the second is to see that it is
decently arranged and is sacred to the maids for a certain portion of
the day, and most certainly for all the evening. I say a certain portion
of the day, because, in small establishments, it is possible that the
mistress may have little jobs of finer cooking, of plate-cleaning, or
even dressmaking to do that she cannot well manage in the one
sitting-room which would be her portion when the third room is given up
to the maids. If this be the case, the establishment will naturally be
so small that the maids will be too much occupied all the mornings to be
able to use it, so that until 12.30 it could remain in the mistress’s
possession; but after that hour she must never enter it. Just as in a
larger house and with more maids, the hour of ten must see her out of
the kitchen, that part of her work being completed then for the rest of
the day.

Almost the first things a housemistress should ascertain about her house
are the position and number of the pipes which are part and parcel of
the water supply, as, unless this is ascertained, and she is able to
possess herself of a species of sketch-map of them, she will not be able
to know how to manage should the usual winter arrive in all its
strength, and the water become frozen in the pipes in a manner that
should never, for one moment even, be allowed. As a rule, our winters
are not very long or very severe; if they were we should, no doubt, be
readier for them than we are now. But we can always depend on a cold
‘snap’ or period during which our very unpreparedness lays us open to a
thousand and one discomforts and dangers, none of which need have been
ours if we had had the common sense to recollect that we should have
looked out for and prepared against a state of things that is as
inevitable as it is undoubtedly most detestable and disagreeable. The
suburban builder, as a rule, has his ideas, and his only, on the subject
of pipe laying. One idea is, so to imbed them in the walls of the house
that we cannot get at them at all, and another is to place them outside
the house in the most exposed position possible, where they are
warranted to freeze on the first provocation, unless we can take the
matter into our own hands at once, and either box them in, filling in
the space between the pipes and the boxes with sawdust, which generally
protects them for all time from the severest frost; or, at the approach
of winter, so swathe them in flannel rags and hay bands, that frost
cannot touch them, not forgetting to treat in a similar manner the pipes
in the tank room. These should be our especial care, for they are often
the first to freeze, and are the cause of many and many a detestable and
untoward catastrophe.

The boiler in the suburban kitchen is generally one of two kinds, and is
either of the low-pressure order, which has no system of circulating
pipes, or the high-pressure species, which has and which requires more
elaborate care than the former. If the low-pressure boiler is the one in
use, and the frost is severe, it is better to completely empty all the
pipes in the house, and to cut off the water supply to the house
entirely, drawing the water from a supply-cock fixed just before the
water enters the house, whence it can be obtained by hand as required.
Of course this adds a great deal to the work, but it means safety, for
when the boiler is kept well filled it cannot burst, neither can pipes
freeze if there be no water in them to bring about this very
disagreeable state of things. A low-pressure boiler having a lid that
comes off, can always be hand-filled easily, while cans of water must be
placed wherever one is accustomed to use water freely; and though baths
may be curtailed and work increased, no damage or danger can ensue.
Therefore the moment a frost sets in, cut off the water from the house,
and rely entirely on the hand-filling of the boiler for all domestic
purposes.

If the boiler is a high-pressure one, we must be very vigilant from the
first moment a frost appears, while we must be ready for it long before
it really arrives. The first thing to see is that this boiler is
supplied with a safety-valve and a supply-cock; and the second thing to
do is to have the principles on which the safety-valve is constructed
so explained to us by the man who supplies it, that we shall always be
able to ascertain in a moment if it is in working order, or if it is
not. For safety-valves are possessed of a demon habit of being out of
order when they are least expected to be, and we may be priding
ourselves on the fact that we have one, and are therefore quite safe,
when the wretched thing may be refusing to work, and we may be on the
very brink of the catastrophe we have intended it to avoid for us.
Safety-valves differ so very much that it would be impossible to
describe here how a house-mistress can ascertain if her own special
valve is all right or all wrong. The only thing she can do is to have
written instructions from the man who supplies it. These instructions,
the plan of the pipes and special rules about what to do in a severe
frost, should be in a small book kept among the housekeeping books, and
easily get-at-able in case the frost should occur when the mistress was
away from home, or if she were ill or in any way unable to attend to it
herself. If the supply pipes cannot be got at and protected from the
frost as a whole, it is best, once the tanks in the roof are full, to
cut off the supply entirely from the main. In this case the local
authorities must be communicated with, and the tanks filled by the Local
Board by means of a stand-pipe, and great care must be taken both to see
the tanks are kept full, and that the pipe between the hot and cold
water tanks is kept free from frost. If by any chance the worst comes to
the worst, and danger is ahead, the safety-valve will show it by blowing
off steam; then out with your fire at once, dear reader; you are done
for, and must remain kitchen-fireless until a beneficent thaw sets in.

In the meantime a second stove in the scullery will prevent you from
being foodless, and though hot water may be scarce and comfort little,
you will at anyrate be safe, and as the maids have their little
sitting-room they won’t be frozen in the kitchen or thawed in the
scullery, as they most undoubtedly would otherwise have been. Of course,
if we have our pipes properly protected, and there is no warning from
the safety-valve, and water flows freely from the boiler-taps, we are
all right. In this case it is best never to allow the kitchen fire to go
out, but last thing at night to bank it up with ashes and briquettes,
and so ensure its burning without stopping. Of course it should be
protected by a guard, and no kindling wood must on any account be placed
to dry either in the ovens or on the hot plates by the side. In the
morning the fire should be thoroughly raked out, and set going again in
the usual way. Unless this is done, the fire will not be good enough for
cooking: it will be a caked mass, which will not ensure the cook’s
manufactures being the success they should be; therefore, in giving our
instructions, great stress should be laid on the real necessity that
undoubtedly exists for a rebuilding and relighting of the fire for the
new day.

Sometimes there are odd lengths of pipes that we cannot protect, and
which only supply certain single taps. In this case stop-cocks should be
fixed in them in such a way as to prevent the water entering them, and
these should be used in the frost. Then these special pipes can be kept
waterless without disturbing the whole internal economy of the house as
regards the water supply. Of course I am not writing in any measure
about the proper arrangements of the water pipes. I am only advising the
ordinary suburban residents how to save misfortune, and a ruinous
plumbers’, and very likely a decorators’, bill too, should the winter be
as one usually finds it in England, where the spells of
frost--undoubtedly short as they are--undoubtedly make people
indifferent and happy-go-lucky about their preparations for hard
weather.

But given the unexpected in the shape of real cold, and what occurs?
Boilers burst and kill and maim people freely, and the moment a thaw
comes, the plumbers are besieged by those whose pipes are pouring
torrents of water down the walls and the front staircase, while carpets
and furniture are spoiled, and everyone’s health suffers because the
smallest precautions have not been taken to ensure the house against an
entirely preventible state of things. Then there is one great thing to
recollect, and that is, that after a frost one must flush most lavishly
all the drains and sinks, and, moreover, during the frost we must keep
ample disinfectants ready and in use in every place where they can
possibly be needed. I always put Sanitas down the bath and the
housemaid’s sink too, because soapy water decays and causes very
unpleasant smells, while, of course, Sanitas should be liberally poured
down every other place in use. Then when the thaw comes, let the water
run freely for at least an hour a day for the first three days down each
drain, flushing first with hot water and a liberal supply of
disinfectants; for if these precautions are taken, we shall not want the
doctor, a gentleman whose visits too often follow a thaw with a
regularity far more pleasing to him, maybe, than they can be to us, even
if we are as fond of him as people usually manage to become of the
family doctor.

I may seem to have dwelt unduly on the great pipe question, but the long
frost of the early part of 1895 showed me most emphatically that there
was great need to instruct the ordinary householder in the suburbs and
in small town houses about this unpoetical but most necessary subject.
No less than three boilers burst in one week in the place where I was
then staying; one resulted in the death of the servant and total
blindness for the only child of the house; one in the death of three
children, while the third maimed the cook for life. Of the destruction
to property I need say nothing; but when we reflect that all these
accidents were absolutely preventable, and were entirely due to crass
ignorance on the part of both mistresses and maids, we will, I think,
come to the conclusion that the first duty of woman is to know her
pipes, the position thereof, and the manner of her water supply; while
the second is to be ready to act for the best the moment frost appears,
and so render bursting boilers and pipes the impossibilities they both
can be made in the most faultily-constructed suburban residences, if
only the dwellers therein have their heads screwed on the right way, and
are prepared for any real emergency. In any case, it is well always to
have some means of cooking, which shall be available should we be, for
one cause or the other, unable to use the range, which, by the way,
should, if we can in any way afford it, be the ‘Eagle,’ for at present,
at all events, no better one has been invented. If possible, there
should be a small open grate and the little side low-pressure boiler
which can always be hand-filled; in the scullery or even in the maid’s
sitting-room; but if either is impossible, we must be possessed of means
of cooking by gas, so that we shall not be left entirely helpless should
the frost seize on our pipes before we are ready, or should it be
necessary to sweep the kitchen chimney or repair the kitchen range.

If, however, we have a gas stove, the supply of gas should not be left
to the discretion of the maids, but should only be get-at-able when it
is legitimate to use it. Unless the mistress herself can turn on and off
the gas, and keep it off when it should not be used, the waste and
expense will be enormous. There are certain things ‘the very best’ maids
are always reckless with, _e.g._, gas, potatoes, bread; and kindling
wood and matches; small items to fuss about, no doubt, but small things
are what add up and become terrors. One expects the big ones somehow,
but the tiny odds and ends, that seem nothing separately, are what swell
the weekly bills when they are added up, and therefore should be more
thought about than they are in the usual suburban household.

The pipes and the kitchen itself once settled about, the next steps to
take are towards proper ventilation and draught exclusion. One cannot
ventilate with a draught, yet how few people realise this; if they did,
colds would go quite out of fashion and everyone would be much happier
than at the present moment. As a rule one door in the orthodox kitchen
opens straight on the open air, and here the tradespeople come and
linger while waiting about for the orders which should never be called
for except under special stress of circumstances. If this be the case,
what would it cost to add a simple porch and side-door? not much above
£20, yet what a difference would it make in the comfort of the kitchen.
If, however, this outlay is impossible, a large, oil-cloth-covered
screen should be placed round the door in such a way that one side of it
is put by the side of the door which opens, and the door is reached from
the other side of the screen, which is only pushed on one side to answer
the bell, and replaced as soon as possible. This breaks the draught even
if it can’t exclude it, while the maids’ health and the consumption of
coals both considerably benefit by such an arrangement. More Slater’s
patent draught-excluder should be put round doors and all windows, and
ventilation should be secured by a round ventilator put in the top part
of the window, and another in the top part of an outer wall; these
ventilators can always be closed, but when cooking is in progress or gas
is burning, and for at least an hour after the meals are cooked, they
should remain open and so ensure that the air in the kitchen should be
always pure and fresh.

The larder should be ventilated in the same way, and any windows should
be covered with very fine wire-netting on the side they do not
open--outside, if they are the ordinary small sash windows, inside,
should they push outwards on an iron support--to prevent cats, dogs and
small animals of any kind from entering, while great care should be
taken to see that the larder is damp-proof. Nothing keeps in a damp
larder, and, therefore if it should be damp it is utterly useless to try
and put meat, bread and butter there. In any case if one has not tiles,
and I never yet met with the suburban larder that had, the walls should
be painted from top to bottom, first with Chambers’s damp-resisting
fluid, and then with a couple of coats of Aspinall’s enamel paint in a
shade of ivory white. No one should permit the decorator to talk him or
her out of using this most invaluable preparation, for nothing I can
assure my readers, can take its place. I have had eight years’ constant
experience of it. I have had many years’ experience of the ordinary
paint, and I confidently say that it and Aspinall are not to be
mentioned together in any shape or form, therefore everyone should
insist on its use. The decorator I fancy does not get quite as much
profit on it as on the ordinary paint, and it is more trouble to apply I
know, and these perhaps are his reasons for his undoubted dislike to it;
but if my readers are wise, they will insist on Aspinall, especially
where damp has to be considered, and where a good surface and uniform
colouring are in request.

The larder should have one wide shelf, and in one corner should be a
safe for meat, and poultry, with very fine wire-netting all round. This
should be able to be moved and hung out in a shady corner in the garden
in the summer if the larder should be warm at all, or else hung in the
cellar if there be no garden. Here too should be placed the
refrigerator, without which no house is complete, and which soon saves
its own cost, in the manner it allows one to keep one’s provisions
sweet, and one’s milk right, and one’s butter from running away, as it
otherwise does at the smallest amount of heat. The larder floor should
be tiled, if not it must be ‘gone over’ every day with a mop dipped in
Sanitas and water to take up the dust and make it fresh and clean; then
the food should be nicely arranged for the mistress’s visit of
inspection, while once a week the larder must be thoroughly scrubbed
out, shelf and all, the shelf being washed over with a damp duster
daily, when the floor is done over with the ever-useful mop. The same
treatment should be given to the scullery, where the sinks should be
flushed daily, and which should never be without their big lump of soda
in one corner to prevent the grease accumulating.

The kitchen floor should be simply boarded; if only used to cook in, it
should have merely one or two large squares of oilcloth or cocoa-nut
matting by the stove, kitchen table, or where the cook and kitchen-maid
stand to work, and the furniture should resolve itself into a couple of
good tables, one the ordinary kitchen table, the other much on the same
lines but smaller, and placed close to the window, to be used for pastry
making and the finer parts of cooking, and which should both be scrubbed
daily, and on which grease should never be allowed to remain for one
minute. A couple of ordinary kitchen chairs and the dresser should
complete the plenishing. The dresser drawers should be inspected once a
week, to see there are no accumulations of rubbish there, and that all
is in order. The dresser must never be used as private property by the
maids, else will it become a species of glory hole, filled to the brim
with unmended stockings, old dusters, paper and string, and odds and
ends, which ought not to be tolerated there, or, indeed anywhere else
for five minutes by anyone. If the furniture is as severely simple as I
have described above, the kitchen resolves itself into what it should
undoubtedly be, merely a place to cook in, and in which to prepare the
meals. In this case the walls should be painted from ceiling to floor
with a shade of electric turquoise enamel, or else in one shade of the
blue to about 4 feet from the floor, the rest of the wall being painted
a soft shade of brown. This should include the doors and window-sashes,
and the one paint should be divided from the other by a wide band of
brown stenciling on the blue surface of the wall. The ceiling should be
whitewashed, as should be the ceilings in all kitchen premises, and the
kitchen should be lighted with a good centre gaslight with a couple of
burners. A bracket arm for gas should be on one side of the fire, to use
while cooking was going on on very dark days, or when special cooking
was going forward; and there should be one gas light in the larder.
These lights should be protected with the proper wire-globes sold by
most ironmongers. Gas globes are soon smashed in the kitchen, and they
are not really safe when they are on moveable brackets or pendants, as
they all too often are in these parts of a house.

The pantry should be treated in the same way as the kitchen as regards
decoration, and should only have mats on the floor, and no fixed
covering there at all. Only the china, glass and silver in use should be
kept in this room, the latter, if valuable, only in the day time, and
even then in a small locked safe. If the pantry should be large, the
extra glass and china can be kept there in locked cupboards, accessible
to none but the mistress. Here in the ordinary ship’s cabin provided by
the suburban builder, the ‘fitment’ style of cupboard is most useful. As
a rule the maid only wants room enough to stand or sit by her sink to
wash up and clean the daily silver, and so the tiny space can be almost
filled with cupboards; and here is an excellent place for the stores and
jam-closet: the ordinary suburban resident if wise, getting in her
stores once a week from Shoolbred, and not dealing with the local
grocer, who, all too often extracts orders from the maids when none
should be forthcoming. If there really is no room here for them,
cupboards must be erected in the maid’s room, whether it be that vexed
third room or another. Somewhere there must be a store-cupboard,
properly regulated and properly looked after by the mistress herself,
and no one else at all; otherwise, that way most undoubtedly lie
bankruptcy and disorganisation, often enough one and the same thing.

The maids’ sitting-room should be papered with some pretty, light paper,
and should have either a dado of cupboards and shelves in the fitment
style, or else a real dado of plain, self-coloured oilcloth, which can
be wiped over with a damp duster daily. This and the paint could once
more be brown, as could the dado-rail. The ceiling must be whitewashed.
There should be a nice table for meals and work, six ordinary Windsor
chairs, and a couple of comfortable basket chairs, with hard-wearing,
tapestry-covered cushions. These should be considered the property of
the elder servants, if four are kept; but, of course, if the housemaid
is of ‘staid’ age, and careful she could have a nice chair too. I think
the ordinary kitchen chair a cruel thing, except for use at meals, and
see no reason why the maids should be condemned to its use and nothing
else, when, surely their backs must ache sometimes as well as the backs
of other far less employed women undoubtedly do.

The grate must be a slow-combustion one, and, unless the mistress uses
the room need not be lighted, save in very severe weather, before one
o’clock, when it should be lighted from the top and allowed to burn
slowly down, and kept going with briquettes and small coal judiciously
mingled with a little larger coal. The curtains should be of the dark
blue and white butterfly cretonne Liberty sells, and which should be in
universal use wherever much washing is to be expected, for it washes
splendidly, and never seems to wear out. I have still a couple of
cretonne covers I had quite thirteen years ago. The floors should either
be stained or else covered with plain cork carpet, supplemented with
small rugs here and there, or else with a square of cocoa-nut matting.
But I like rugs best; they are so easily taken up and shaken, and dust
is kept at bay as long as this is done. I am very much inclined to say,
do not have gas here, yet I fear unless we have plenty of help we must,
or the lamps, inevitable in the sitting-room, will become too numerous
for our staff. At the same time, I do very strongly recommend a good
duplex lamp from the centre of the ceiling if it can be managed.
Servants are reckless of gas. They are not so fond of lighting the lamps
as they are of setting a light to the gas. In the first place, it is
more trouble; in the second, they know that if they light them too soon
they will have to re-trim and re-fill them before the evening is out.
But if a lamp is procured, it must be a good one. It must have a metal
receiver, and it must have a clear glass shade. Silk or stuff shades are
out of place, and very dark always I think; in such a room as this they
would be ridiculous, and most likely dangerous. This room is in the care
of the kitchen-maid too, though, if there are books, pictures and
ornaments, as there should be, the housemaid should take a pride in
dusting them and keeping them in order, and should see that the rougher
parts of the cleaning are properly performed. As the mistress will use
this room for a short while in any case, she can always see that ruin
has not begun among the furniture and decorations; for whether it is
provided by the builder, or whether she supplement the accommodation of
the house herself as advised before, she should always have one
store-cupboard here, whence she could give out the things for the day’s
use. She can then supervise without spying; for once tacitly allow that
a room in one’s own house cannot be entered save on sufferance (mind, I
don’t say frequented!) it is easier to storm an enemy’s citadel
successfully than gain an entry into that special chamber without more
friction than anyone who has not tried a similar situation could well
believe.

One word more. In frosty weather gas and fires should not be stinted.
The gas should be burned steadily in the scullery, pantry and
lavatories, to prevent any chance of the water therein freezing. This
may save a great deal; but, of course, if the pipes have frozen, one can
only accept the situation and wait for a thaw. But that they need never
do this, I trust I have demonstrated in a manner that should be patent
to the least imaginative housewife in the world.



CHAPTER IV

DINING-ROOMS


The suburban rooms I myself have personally encountered and conquered
have been so truly terrible that, when I look back upon my struggles
with them, I can only wonder that I have survived them in the least
degree. For not only were they either unduly hideous or over-ornamented
in a manner that would strike awe into the boldest soul, but every
window and door gaped wide apart, and were with the fireplaces, put just
where they ought not to be, while in one or two cases the floors had to
be relaid and the doors bodily moved round before the rooms were even
habitable. I could only wonder whether the folks who had lived in some
of them before (two or three were quite new, and these were, save in one
instance, the worst of the lot) had escaped with their lives, or
whether they had all gone away crippled in health and in temper, on a
voyage of discovery to some better and more suitably-designed, eligible
villa residence.

The first room I ever approached with an eye to decoration appeared to
be everything it ought to be, and seemed simply perfect. It was large
and lofty, had two wide and beautiful windows, and a good, deep
fireplace and an excellent floor; but alas! I was not as wise then as I
am now, for my only acquaintance with houses was confined to two family
houses, in which I had lived all my life, and which were properly built,
whatever their other faults might have been: and, in consequence, my
sufferings during the first month in that special dining-room were so
acute that I have never forgotten one of the numerous pangs and torments
I endured: silently, it is true, because then I thought them inevitable,
and it is never any use grumbling against things which must be borne!
But presently sense awoke in my brain, and I saw that nothing which had
caused me such woe need be put up with any longer, and I verily believe
the knowledge I have since developed on the score of house-furnishing
and decoration first became mine in that special house, for I was roused
to the fight with cold and discomfort inseparable from a quiescent
residence in a suburban house, and soon discovered cold could be
expelled did one rise to the occasion and determine that, somehow or
other, one would conquer, and no longer play the ignoramus or the very
painful _rôle_ of the conquered.

In the first place, the door opened straight on the fireplace, and as
the front door--a frail thing of boards and sham stained glass--was
about 6 feet away from it, the cold air rushed in the instant it was
opened, and the heat of the fire flew mainly up the chimney, insuring
that the rest of the room should be more like Siberia than any other
spot. And in the second, the windows need not have been glazed at all so
little did they keep out the outside atmosphere, notwithstanding the
curtains which liberally adorned them, and which used to wave right out
into the room at the very smallest approach of a breeze. When there was
any amount of real wind, the room wasn’t a room any longer, it was one
and the same thing as being in the garden, and anyone can easily
understand how pleasant it was to come down to breakfast there with a
roaring fire going up the chimney and a north or east wind playfully
careering around the table, which, place it how we might, could never be
in anything save a thorough draught.

The first thing to do was to transpose the door, and make it open with
its back to the grate. Then it had to be surrounded with the ever-useful
‘Slater’s patent’; and, as it opened into the room, a species of shelter
was arranged behind it, while a curtain was hung on it--on one of the
rods which open and shut with the door--and a pair of curtains put
outside it. These hung straight down in good heavy folds when we were
alone and there was not very much going in and out; and, as we had a
‘hatch’ into the kitchen, there never was much; but on ‘dinner-party
nights’ the curtains were tied back, and so did not interfere with the
coming and going, as a single undraped curtain always must interfere
either more or less. Then attention was turned to the windows, and
these were surrounded by more ‘Slater’s patent,’ which was liberally
supplemented by putty, because the frames began to shrink away from the
glass in a truly hideous manner, and, in consequence, there were two
gaps, one there, and one where the frames were supposed to fit into the
woodwork round the walls. The woodwork, in its turn, shrank from the
brickwork, and the space had to be filled in with mortar and then
painted over.

Now this special house was not a regulation £60-a-year villa, but was
rented £160, and had a fair garden and good stabling, and was altogether
what may be termed a ‘residence for a gentleman’s family;’ nay, even by
some house-agents, ‘a mansion,’ because it had a second staircase; yet
such is the material used in the suburbs! I repeat, this special house
was a good specimen of the kind, and was not, as might be imagined, a
‘fearful example’ or an isolated case, so I leave my readers to imagine
what the less-expensive buildings can be like, even when they can truly
be advertised as possessing tiled hearths, electric bells and all the
latest improvements, including a fixed bath, hot and cold water laid
on; and other items familiar to those who have gone on heart-breaking
journeys in search of a house, liberally supplied with a sheaf of pink
and fallacious orders from a house agent. In fact, before the
dining-room was livable in, we had to almost reconstruct the windows and
doors; and I only regret that my improvements did not then rise to
putting in a proper grate, for I am sure, if I had done so, the conquest
of the room would have been complete. But unfortunately I did not
realise the horrors of it until all the decorations were done and we had
settled in, and then expense barred the way; not only the expense of the
new grate: that would have been saved in the difference in our winter’s
consumption of coal: but the cost of replacing the Japanese leather
dado, which could not be matched, and, in consequence, would have had to
be renewed entirely, because the grate and mantelpiece could not have
been moved without spoiling at least a yard of it on each side of the
fireplace. A new grate without a new mantel was also impossible, because
the moulded mantelpiece, being round above the grate, was not available
for the slow-combustion stoves, which are always made square. Everyone
should refuse to own a round mantelpiece, because of the impossibility
of adapting such a possession to the proper and only really useful
grate. If, by the way, Japanese leather paper is used for the
dining-room dado, or indeed anywhere for any dado or frieze, an extra
piece should always be purchased at the same time, and kept carefully in
some dry place, and indeed an extra piece of all wall papers should be
secured. Japanese paper particularly can never be matched. I do not
think, in all my large experience, I have ever come across a second
consignment of a pattern I have seen before; therefore it is easy to see
how necessary it is to secure more than one requires at first, else,
should an accident occur, or as in my own case, an improvement be
contemplated, one either has to leave the accident unrepaired or the
improvement undone, because one cannot afford to replace perhaps 24
yards, when a couple at most is all that one really requires.

I have remarked before that in a new house it is absolutely imperative
to have large fires going before we begin our decorations, but it is
such a necessary thing to do that I must repeat the hint once more, for
only after a succession of fires can we see whether the boards and
window frames mean to shrink, and if they do we must apply our means of
alleviation before we begin to paper and paint. At the same time, we may
take it for granted that, try how we may to ascertain them, we shall not
find out the real faults and real virtues of a house until we have lived
in it, just as we never know our friends really until we have stayed
with them or they have stayed with us. But for all that, Slater’s patent
putty, and curtains will help us immensely, and more especially if we
adapt ourselves to the house a little, and realise, for example, that
the head of the table can be just where we like to make it, and need not
be exactly between the door and window with the fire at the back,
because the orthodox dinner-table seems able to stand in no other
position.

Now I maintain that no one should ever buy the regulation long
dinner-table, and that happiness and comfort, to say nothing of beauty,
are much more likely to be found at one that is round or oval than at
one that has the usual British head and foot. If it be round, the master
of the house sits naturally where his place is put for him, but if not
he as naturally gravitates towards the head, regardless of the fact that
his back is scorched and he feels ill and uncomfortable, the while his
feet and hands are in Siberia, and an icy blast plays about his head
because the door opens straight on him, and in consequence he cannot get
out of the range of the bitter wind from the passage or hall, try how he
may to exclude it from the room. Talk about heredity how one will, and
disguise if we dare its dreadful tyranny if we are sufficiently ignorant
on the subject to do so with proper complacency, still I venture to
remark that the dogma is proved to the hilt every day. An ordinary
English family takes possession of the miserable hulks most of our
houses are, and settles down without a struggle against them, to
patiently endure the preventable miseries inseparable therefrom. There
is no real need for any man to sit at the head of a dining-table,
generally twice too long, too, for everyday needs. The side would be
far more comfortable, far more common-sense in every way, but because
the male of the house has always taken his seat in that special
position, perhaps at the commencement of the family in a castle the
walls of which were 3 feet thick, the present day man does the same and
remains there, although he grumbles all the time and ‘wishes to
goodness’ some way might be found by which he could be insured from
being starved with cold or fried to death, or indeed often enough both
at the same time. Therefore is it well to have a round table, for
anywhere there can be the head or the foot, and the man at once accepts
the new position, without demur; but given the ordinary table, nothing
will move him, argue as we will and demonstrate as we may how infinitely
better, in every possible manner, another seat would be for him.

Of course, if the house be accepted as it is, nothing can ever make it
nice, be sure of that. If it be wind and water-tight, and that is a rare
experience, the so-called decorations will either be terrible, or else
will ‘swear’ continually at the belongings we bring to put amidst them.
Lucky is the woman who finds dirty paint and torn and smudged papers
and who does not come across an obstinate landlord and a
‘newly-decorated house.’ If she does and she possesses an ordinary
husband who thinks anything does so long as it is clean and tidy, she
should flatly refuse to enter it, for if she has artistic taste her life
henceforward will be nothing but misery; for, absurd as it may seem,
real pain and discomfort are given by ugly or incongruous belongings;
and I venture to state boldly that people would be much happier did they
own and realise this fact, and give over priding themselves on ‘rising
above their surroundings,’ a thing no one possessed of the smallest eye
for colour or form was ever really able to do. Superior folk always tell
us we can, just as they say we ought not to be influenced by the
weather, yet ‘ought’ doesn’t come into the matter at all. Maybe we ought
not, but then we ought not to be ill or grow old, or be irritable, or
anything but severely virtuous and good in every _rôle_ we have to play
during life, but all these things _are_ or _are_ not. What they and we
_ought_ to be or to do is quite another matter, as anyone with a grain
of sense will, I think, admit.

[Illustration: DINING-ROOM AT WAYSIDE.]

When, therefore, we have duly circumvented the draughts and dangers
which await us in the ordinary suburban house, the next thing we have to
consider is either how to paint and paper and furnish, or how to
decorate to suit the goods we may already possess. If we have already
got our furniture, the paint and paper must be bought with an eye to
those. Yet as a rule it is so easy to re-cover dining-room furniture
that no one should be debarred from having a pretty room because they
have ugly seats to their chairs, or own perchance a set of frightful
curtains. I am no advocate for cheap materials, which appeal to a
‘threepenny public,’ and scarcely last until they are made up, such
fleeting joys are they: but I unhesitatingly say that, given the choice
between ruby velvet and Wallace’s old gold diamond serge, or pale blue
‘Tanjore cloth’ from Shoolbred, the ruby velvet may depart as far as I
am concerned, and I should put up the other colour in the cheap
material, knowing full well that the beautiful colour would always
delight me, while the velvet would disgust me every time that I entered
the room. The same remark applies to the carpet. If it be ‘handsome,’
generally another word for something too hideous for words, put it into
the next sale that is handy. Somehow ‘handsome carpets,’ always fetch
splendid prices at sales, where even good furniture is almost given
away. Then buy one of the many charming carpets Smee & Cobay, or
Wallace, or Hewetson sell, according to taste and means; remembering
that all carpets are merely backgrounds to the furniture, and should
never attract attention to themselves in any way. One very soon tires of
a pattern, an obtrusive pattern that is to say, while one never can tire
of soft shades of the same colour, or else of the excellent
‘drawing-room’ Turkey carpets or Bokhara carpets, sold by Bartholomew &
Fletcher and Shoolbred, which suit almost any room, and fit in with any
style of decoration. If, in removing to a new house, the mistress has to
consider her furniture and curtains and carpet, she must look at them
carefully before she begins her instructions to the decorator. Suppose
for example she has a big sideboard, ten or twelve walnut or oak chairs,
with shabby leather seats, an orthodox table, and perhaps a
writing-table, she will, as a rule, come to the end of her impedimenta.
Her first endeavour should be to get whoever may be coming into her
house to take curtains and carpets at a valuation; her second to put
them in a sale; then she can proceed joyfully, spending the proceeds on
new ones, which may be much simpler, but will be much more artistic, and
so much more satisfactory to live with in every way. If however she has
a pretty carpet and curtains, and they will not quite adapt themselves
to the room, what is she to do? In the first place if the carpet is too
large it is best to return it, if possible, to the shop where it was
bought to be re-made into a square, and edged with a nice woollen
fringe, if, indeed it was not born square as all carpets should be, and
furnished with a good border. The worn parts are thus eliminated but
should be carefully kept for mending purposes. In the second place, if
it is too small and cannot be matched, it should be surrounded by
matting, staining, or plain brown cork carpet according to the state of
the boards, and should be supplemented by a large Eastern rug in the
windows or by the fire unless the carpet is too small or too frankly
British for such treatment. In that case it must be sold or relegated to
another room. Unless this is done the result of any manœuvres which
may be made with it can only result in abject and total failure. If the
carpet be available and be of the new kind of Turkey carpet, it is well
to have a good yellow and brown scheme for one’s decoration; and, in any
case we must have some kind of a dado and that must be sought after very
carefully, for sometimes one can come across a real bargain in oak
panelling, to be sought for with most chances of success at Hewetson’s
and at Bartholomew & Fletcher’s; while Godfrey Giles’ ‘goehring’ and
‘Glastonbury’ dados are inexpensive and really good and what they are
meant to be. Personally I am devoted still to Japanese leather paper,
and these are all the materials I really care about for a dining-room
dado, though anaglypta is not to be despised. At the same time it is
generally 1s. a yard unpainted and one can get for the same price a good
Japanese leather which does not require painting, so there is no reason
for choosing the one in preference to the other. A gold and brown
leather paper dado should be the first thing to procure, either at
Liberty’s or Knowles’. Sometimes one has it, sometimes the other; it’s
all a matter of ‘consignments’ after all, and knowing where to search
for what one requires. Then all the paint everywhere must be ‘tea-pot’
or ‘earth-brown,’ while above the dado should be either a vivid yellow
paper, an orange, or a soft brown, according to the aspect of the room
itself. Orange and yellow look best in a sunless chamber, and a really
soft brown, something like the palest shade of chocolate, or the deepest
of _café-au-lait_, harmonises best with sunshine that pours into the
room from the first thing in the morning until late in the afternoon.

Then attention should be turned to the chairs, and if expense bars them
from being re-covered in soft brown leather, and take my word for it,
there’s ‘nothing like leather’ where dining-room chairs are concerned,
we can either fall back on ‘Pantasote,’ a species of crocodile-looking
material sold by any upholsterer, or we can use stamped and ribbed
velveteen from Shoolbred, or Wallace’s frisé velvet in golden brown,
which will transform the chairs at once, and bring them into harmony
with their surroundings, the while new yellow diamond serge curtains are
hung, and a diamond serge tablecloth, with a darker velveteen or frisé
velvet border laid on is placed on the table. If the awful sideboard
must be kept, we must make it as bearable as we can by placing a coarse
linen and Greek lace cloth on it which exactly fits the top, and just,
and only just, hangs over the edge. We can keep three plants there when
the sideboard is not in use at meal-times, but should, as a matter of
course, allow nothing whatever in the way of plate and dinner-table
accessories to spoil the appearance of the room. Such a room would be
quite simple, quite inexpensive, yet always a joy to live in, especially
if the rules of plain paint, ivory-coloured cornice and papered ceilings
are adhered to here as elsewhere. Trifles these things may be, but on
trifles depend success in furnishing, which never can be perfect if the
smallest matter is passed over which is not quite what it ought to be
merely because it is too ‘trivial to matter.’

There are about three different styles of windows in suburban
residences, and these are the bow, the ordinary sash, and what I call
the ‘_Randolph Caldecott_’ window; and all these can be most
successfully treated without using the abominable and expensive roller
blind to which Britons are so deeply, so almost irrevocably attached. We
have less sunshine than almost any other nation under heaven, yet we of
all people cling to the useless and truly ugly window blind with a
devotion worthy of a nobler cause. Still I have hopes that constant
preaching may do something, and that in time we may realise the fact
that nothing but outside blinds are of the smallest use in really hot
weather, and that curtains are meant to draw, and that should they fail
to be anything save melancholy wisps at the end of an expanse of glass,
they are not only useless but absolutely ridiculous in the eyes of any
artistic person. The ordinary bow window, if small has been so often
written about that I really cannot think it necessary to dwell upon it
again; and is it not illustrated not only in _From Kitchen to Garret_,
now a respectable classic nine years old, but in Wallace’s catalogue,
and Smee & Cobay’s, and doubtless in others too? But a larger one has
not been illustrated that I know of, and while the fundamental lines to
go on should be those of the small window, the material curtains should
be long, there should be no window-seat in the dining-room--unless there
are a couple of windows and no third sitting-room--and the muslin
curtains, which are fixed on the window frames and take the place of
blinds, should be supplemented by four long muslin curtains, frilled
each side, to go under the material curtains in the centre of the bow,
and two, frilled one side only, to go one each side at the end of the
bow. These curtains should be crossed at the top, and held back high up
with wide frilled bands of muslin similar to that used for the curtains.
As a rule H. Gorringe’s spotted muslin sold ready frilled is the best
material for this purpose, but I am very fond of Wallace’s ‘Guipure
vitrage’ for the curtains on the window. If this be used, the long
curtains should be of Guipure too, taking care to have a double edge to
the centre curtains, and a single one to those which go at the end of
the bow.

The ordinary sash window, if short, should be treated like the centre
window of the small bow window, but if it reaches from floor to ceiling
it should have the double set of muslin curtains which I have just been
writing about. Then we have only the Caldecott windows to

[Illustration]

deal with, and these, unless we are much overlooked, should have one set
of stout material curtains only. As a rule these windows are divided
into two parts, the top filled in with stained glass and immovable, the
second plain glass and opening either straight out or straight into the
room. The rods for the material curtains should come below the stained
glass, and each curtain should be placed to go down the wooden part of
the window frame only, and each small curtain should be drawn to keep
out the sun as required. If muslin must be had in addition to the
material, it must, should the window open out or into the room, be
fluted on a couple of rods, which are placed top and bottom of the
window itself. But if the window open outwards frilled muslin curtains
can be arranged on rods on the window frames, to remain in place whether
the window is open or shut, an arrangement which is imperative should
neighbours be close, or at anyrate, if we are provided with ‘Caldecott’
windows in our bedrooms. I do not advise a window-seat unless we have
two windows, because no one should ever sit in the dining-room unless it
is positively necessary to do so, and, moreover, it is well to use the
space for a writing-table and chair in any but a really large house,
and that is a place about which I am not writing at this moment. Here
can the husband devote some of his time to household matters and letters
of friendship when he is at home, while if there is no third room the
mistress can use the desk in the day-time, albeit I trust she may have
her own in the drawing-room, that is, if she cannot utilise some
upstairs room, although under no circumstances can I advise the stuffy
and stupid muddle of so-called ‘boudoir bedroom.’

[Illustration]

Now one word about the curtains which may possibly have to be used,
which may be artistic and pretty, and yet may not quite fit the bow
windows. If they are too long and wide anyone can tackle them; if they
are too short it is easy to make them longer by adding as much holland
at the top as is required, and then covering that with an adaptation of
Mr Ernest Newton’s turned-over draperies. If the original curtain is a
plain material, as, indeed, all curtains should be, the holland should
be covered by a deep flounce edged with trellis fringe, of some figured
material, either a good tapestry or my pet printed velveteen. If the
curtain be figured the turn-over drapery should be in plain Bokhara
plush or velveteen, while cheap serge curtains can be lengthened by
merely joining on more serge at the top, and hiding the join with a
narrow piece of ball-fringe merely tacked on. If the curtains are too
narrow, they can be widened with a deep flounce or frill of soft Surah
silk, or even sateen, in some plain colour, but these devices should
only be resorted to if the curtains are really worth saving; if not, it
is far better in every way to sell them, or give them away--the
ever-ravenous Kilburn establishment is always open to such gifts--and
purchase others, which can not only fit the windows, but at once allow
us to have, perhaps, far more harmonious surroundings.

Of course, if we are in the heavenly position of having no old
furniture, and can set to work with a free hand, and sufficient money to
enjoy ourselves, we can at once do just as we like. But no! even then we
have to consider the special room and how best to circumvent its
idiosyncrasies. As a rule the door is on the same side as the
fire-place, or else exactly opposite it, and we may have recesses on
each side of the fire-place, or we may have only an expanse of straight
wall beyond the door, and not a recess in the whole place. This latter
is the worse fate of the two. The recesses can always be filled either
with the charming buffets made both by Smee & Cobay, and Wallace, or by
colourable copies of the same without backs, made to fit the recesses,
which I do not advise, save in cases where money is a great object: then
and then only such an arrangement could be allowed. The shelves could be
on brackets and the wall behind hidden by little sateen curtains, sateen
curtains replacing the doors in the cupboard part. These shelves could

[Illustration]

be made by any amateur carpenter and are in any case much better
possessions than the dreary, little, badly-made sideboard one finds all
too often in far too many suburban residences. These sideboards are
machine-made and are cheap and nasty, generally coming to pieces after
the first fires have been lighted and always smelling of varnish, and
looking more depressing than I can say. If the wall be recessless, and
long and hopelessly flat, we should have a good buffet-sideboard in the
centre of the wall, in either some good brown wood, or else in my pet
stained

[Illustration]

green material with copper hinges and fixtures, but with no
looking-glass about it anywhere, and with nooks and odd places generally
for china and odds-and-ends. Then on one side of the fireplace should be
the dinner wagon, as illustrated, made from my ideas by Wallace. The
wood can be stained green, and the tray is copper. This is removable,
and allows the maid to carry out plates, china, etc. without an effort,
thus very greatly simplifying the mysteries known as ‘clearing away.’
There should be about ten chairs in the ordinary dining-room and these
could have stained green frames, and either orange or bright red leather
seats. In this case the wall-paper should be real sealing-wax red and
cream over a stained green dado, or else real bright orange over the
same kind of base to the wall. If money is a great object the seats can
be rush, but leather should be managed if possible, and the real orange
or bright red are as novel as they are artistic and beautiful with the
green furniture. A soft green carpet with very little pattern on, should
be chosen, and soft green curtains. The other colour selected should be
introduced at the top of the curtain in the turned-over top, which
should be of printed velveteen; and if the rush-seated chairs are used,
a couple of arm-chairs for the master and mistress should be procured.
If there be no third room, leather arm-chairs must be bought and placed
one each side of the fire; for here, alas! the husband must smoke if he
indulges in that detestable habit, for unless there is a tiny
conservatory, and there often is fortunately, even in quite small
suburban houses, he will have no other place. But given the conservatory
he can smoke there. It can always be made warm and pretty, and his
smoking will be good for the plants, and that at anyrate will be some
small consolation to him.

Let no one ever persuade suburban residents either to purchase their
furniture in a desperate hurry, or to buy what is called modern or
Flemish oak, or that most hideous material of all real pale, light oak,
which can never be anything save an absolute abomination. As a rule, the
modern oak is flimsy to a degree, and is also detestable in design and
in manner and style. I would rather have the simplest possible deal
furniture, stained brown or green according to my fancy, than either of
these materials, which nothing can make bearable in the smallest degree,
and I am sure anyone who has had the experience of modern oak I have
had--not in my own person, I know better than that; but in the person of
others--would never contemplate it for one single moment. If by the way,
the hall of the house is blue, it were well to keep the dining-room to
the brown and yellow scheme, taking care the draperies in the hall are
Wallace’s diamond serge, and that the inside _portière_ is in yellow
printed velveteen, which can be repeated in the turned-over draperies in
the curtains. Or we can have orange and cream, having brown wood and
orange leather, and a real Eastern carpet with an orange ground which
can be found, and therefore must be hunted for, for I have seen them now
at Cardinal & Hertford’s, now at Bontor’s in New Bond Street, now at
Hewetson’s, and again once more at Liberty’s. Know what you want dear
readers! and have that and that only, and not the ‘next article,’ so
shall you achieve artistic salvation and in no other way at all; for be
sure if one shop does not possess the real thing, another will, and that
patience is required in shopping, as well as faith and many other of the
cardinal virtues.

But let not the very smallest householder that exists allow herself to
have gas in her sitting-rooms on any account at all, neither let her
condescend to keep above her head the hideous centre-piece in plaster
work which is always provided for house-owners save in the more artistic
(and more draughty) houses which have panelled ceilings, the plaster
part of which should be coloured cream, and the panels themselves
filled in with anaglypta, or else with ordinary ceiling paper
judiciously arranged. The plaster rose can be removed in a moment, and
replaced by a hook from which a good duplex lamp from Benson & Company
in New Bond Street, should be hung, with either a pierced copper or opal
glass shade, and this gives light enough for any ordinary occasion;
extraordinary ones can have extra light from candles placed on the
buffets or sideboard, and in sconces on the mantel and over-mantel, as
shown in sketch, the duplex lamp being lighted or not as the mistress
likes much or little light, or possesses, as she may possibly possess,
branched silver candlesticks, or the equally beautiful Sheffield plated
ones which she can place on her table on very grand occasions.

Of course, endless schemes of decoration can be evolved every year,
whenever the new papers come out and new materials are produced, but
there are certain things which never alter and which should always be
recollected. First among them is the fact that we cannot possibly have
too much real colour, and that far from demanding the timid compromises
so dear to English folk, our climate and atmosphere clamour for real
sealing-wax reds, deep oranges, clear yellows, and beautiful blues, and
that nothing should make us temporise and have instead the smudgy
terra-cottas, crude greens, ghastly lemons, and dull greys and browns
which are so liberally provided for us by the usual paper-hanger. Then
we must recollect that anything we buy must harmonise with what we have,
while, if we have nothing--and happy is she who can begin anew and
unhampered by old horrors in the fresh abode--we must buy nothing in a
hurry, nothing that does not suit the special place it is meant for. We
had better have one good chair than a dozen ugly ones. Also we must
recollect that pictures, plants and ornaments are the hallmarks of a
home, which cannot exist without them, for these things judiciously
chosen and arranged, and not overdone, are after all what turn the worst
suburban villa that ever was designed into an artistic abode. But then
not one detail must be forgotten, neither the bell handles, the fenders,
fire-irons nor finger-plates nor door handles which should be all
artistic and all in one material, either beaten iron or copper, or the
humbler yet satisfactory plain and untortured brass.



CHAPTER V

PARLOURS


Anything less like a parlour than the drawing-room of an ordinary
suburban residence I can hardly imagine; but there is no earthly reason
why it should not be turned into a semblance of one especially in those
more favoured spots where the architect has artistic leanings, and where
the speculative jerry-builder has not had everything his own sweet way.
Here we may often come across quite delightful little picture houses,
bearing the stamp of Mr Ernest Newton’s genius, and if the structure
does not equal the design in merit, we can always circumvent any errors
if we are clever, while the deep, charming windows and really lovely
mantels over-mantels and grates provided for us, make our task of
decoration a comparatively easy one from the first. Generally these
houses are built with gables, and are half-timbered in a most
picturesque manner, and maybe appear at first sight to be over-windowed
and unduly ornate, and open vistas before us of swift ruination in the
matter of blinds and curtains. But, on reflection, we discover that not
only is there not one window too many, but that the very simplicity of
the treatment of them as regards the curtaining as described in the last
chapter, makes them far less expensive to deal with than the ordinary
sash or French window, which one finds awaiting one in the dreadful
houses of the older suburbs, or in those which have not yet advanced
beyond the tastes of the day before yesterday. Let us therefore
contemplate having a pretty room to deal with before we think of the
ordinary chamber with its heavy and fearsomely-decorated cornice, its
gaping grate, its ‘statuary marble’ mantelpiece, and its many other
drawbacks to decorative happiness. For if we have, as I said before, the
task before us is a comparatively easy one, unless of course, we are
handicapped by the possession of a ghastly cheffonnier brother in
fearfulness to the massive sideboard, a grand piano for a room 15 feet
square, or a ‘suite’ of furniture and a round table, which said
possessions really do still exist and have often to be dealt with when a
move from one house to another is contemplated. If they have, there is
only one word for it, and that is sell. The greater encumbrances must go
for whatever they will fetch, and the owners must be contented with a
much simpler style of furnishing. The cheffonnier is impossible, the
round table may be relegated to the dining-room, and the old-style table
there sold: and fortunately these tables are always worth a certain sum
in the market: while the grand piano should be exchanged for either a
cottage grand or an ordinary upright piano, and the suite of furniture
effectively disguised in new cretonne frocks which cover the chairs and
sofas entirely, and so hide faulty lines and construction, turning
heavy, ugly encumbrances into quite charming possessions at once. These
covers, however, must be made very carefully indeed, and must fit
easily. The small chairs are finished off with a 3-inch frill from the
seat of the chair

[Illustration: DRAWING-ROOM AT WAYSIDE.]

not in any case put into a band. A band spoils the look of the frills at
once, and gives them a most comic and inconsequent appearance, and the
frills on the sofa and big arm-chairs must be arranged on the same
lines, though these should of course be very much deeper and should
just, and only just, clear the floor. In any case there must be no
attempt to adapt old curtains from long windows to these small and
artistic ones, for that can never be a success, and materials nowadays
are so cheap there can be no necessity for such economy, especially if
the house-mistress has the smallest idea of sewing, or knows of a good
upholstress, or has daughters who are equal to an emergency. By the way,
the very best upholstress I know is Mrs George Bacon, of West Street,
Wareham, Dorset. It seems a long way off but it really is not, and she
is such an admirable worker and so quick and industrious, that one saves
her fare over and over again, and her keep too, as of course save in
London, where she has married daughters she can stay with, she has to be
put up. But then she has all my patterns, and think of the inestimable
value those must be to my numerous friendly readers! Once more then, if
we proceed on these lines, all we shall have to consider is the carpet,
and we must take the most prominent colour in that, and do our best to
live up to it. But on no account must we attempt either to ignore or
shirk the fact that there is a prominent colour to be considered. We
must make that the key-note, and wall-papers, cretonnes, and curtains
must all be chosen with a remembrance of the one thing that we are bound
to recollect if we wish for any decorative harmony at all.

When, I wonder, will the dreadful muddled browny-blue-yellow carpets
cease to trouble us? When, oh when will the ‘magnificent designs’ and
handsome patterns fade away into the _ewigkeit_? and leave only the
charming unobtrusive designs in the same colour, but a shade or two
lighter than the ground of the carpet, which are all that should be
found in any house in the land? One only wants a warm bit of harmonious
colouring on the floor, after all; one does not want the carpet to arise
and call aloud to the entering visitor, ‘Look at me! See what I cost!
Recognise these exquisite touches and tints, these fearsome leaves and
flowers, this magnificent and gorgeous pattern which covers me, and
renders me so unduly conspicuous.’ But rather should it never be noticed
at all, thus taking its right place in the harmony of the decorative
design, and becoming merely the floor covering that it is undoubtedly
only meant to be.

If we are rich, we can have pile; if not, let us have either the
three-ply Kidderminster, or the satisfactory ‘Dunelm’ carpets, recently
brought out by Wallace, or one of the carpets kept by Hewetson, Smee &
Cobay and Wallace, at my earnest request, where the pattern only shows
sufficiently to break up the plain surface. No doubt entire absence of
pattern would be the more correct, did that not mean that every atom of
fluff, dirt and dust showed at once, and fidgeted the owner all day
long. For these atoms seem to accumulate mysteriously the moment any
plain-surfaced material is selected, and though I much prefer to see
whatever dirt is present, with an eye to getting it removed at the
earliest possible moment, one cannot have a room swept and dusted more
than once a day, and some rooms cannot be swept as often as that,
although undoubtedly they ought to be. Of course my ideal floor covering
will always be matting and rugs, and from that I shall never depart. I
am devoted to the new ‘Isis’ matting, sold by the Abingdon Carpet
Company, and also to the plain string coloured matting sold by
Shoolbred, Treloar, and Liberty at about 2s. 8d. to 2s. 10d. a yard;
this, of course, has to be supplemented with rugs, and, therefore, is
not as inexpensive as even a good pile carpet: that is to say, if we buy
good rugs, and inexpensive ones cannot please, because of the crudity of
their colouring and the manner in which they wear. Hewetson’s and
Liberty’s rugs are simply perfect, and can be bought by the tyro in
artistic matters without the smallest qualm, for at neither
establishment will he or she be given anything which is not just what it
ought to be. But given the rugs, it must be once more remembered that
there is a certain art in placing them about the floor, which all
house-mistresses do not, it seems to me, recognise. The rugs must not be
put down in straight lines and close together, but given the ordinary
room, should be placed as a rule at right angles to one another. Of
course this is merely a hint, and can be improved upon in any way my
readers prefer. That such a hint is necessary I know, because I have
often gone into a room where there are plenty of beautiful rugs, spoiled
entirely by being placed in long lines close together, in a manner that
would be painful indeed, were it not utterly absurd. As a rule such a
room has one rug straight along in front of the fireplace, another
straight in front of the window or windows, while the rest are placed in
the same painful positions by the door and by the wall opposite the
fire, in a manner which makes me long, no matter where I may be, to oust
the furniture on the instant, and to put those rugs myself in the manner
in which they should most certainly go. If we must have new curtains,
quite the most dainty and charming arrangement can be made from using
the new coloured linens, sold by Walpole Brothers, and by Murphy & Orr
and Harris & Company. These linen curtains should be full and short,
should be double, if there be very much sun, and should have an
insertion of Torchon lace laid on about 2 inches from the edge of the
curtain where should come a softly-falling frill of similar lace, about
3 or 4 inches wide. These frills should go round the bottom and up each
side, and the tops of the curtains should be finished by being slightly
gathered on a narrow tape, on which the hooks should be sewn which
fasten into eyes on the slight brass rods, which are all that are
required in these special windows. The hook-and-eye arrangement is much
to be preferred to the old manner of sewing rings on the curtain itself;
one can unhook a curtain in a minute and shake it out of doors in
another. If one has rings only, it means taking down the rods too and
that means trouble, which a lazy housemaid will most surely shirk, if
she can in any way manage to do so. By the way, the structural faults
dwelt upon in former chapters will most certainly be found in this
room, as in all the others, and must be rigorously treated in a similar
style, while the _portières_ must be placed inside and outside the door,
and a screen must not be forgotten. Unless one has a screen the whole of
the room is exposed to view the moment the door is opened; we can have
no sense of privacy at all while in such a chamber. If the door opens
inside to the left, it should be turned round and opened to the right.
If this is not done no one can sit by the fire without being almost
blown up the chimney, by reason of the draught which will come in at the
opening, and make as a matter of course for the unsheltered and gaping
grate.

If, once more, the would-be suburban resident enters on her possession
of the house entirely free and unshackled by any encumbrances in the way
of furniture, and can really set about making such a room as we describe
charming; a beautiful parlour can be made by panelling the room for
about 7 feet, and having a soft and very pretty paper above. This sounds
reckless work in a house that is merely rented, but one can buy
panelling sometimes extremely cheaply. Bartholomew & Fletcher have some
oak an inch thick, ready to fix, at 1s. 10d. a square foot, while
Godfrey Giles’s ‘goehring’ material is cheaper much than that, and can,
moreover, be painted any colour preferred. If the oak is chosen, the
fireplace should be finished off with a very light and simple mantel in
the same material. It must not be carved or unduly ornate, but be quite
plain, and distinguished only by its graceful lines. I do not here
advise the regulation overmantel, but I should hang above the fireplace
the small Chippendale mirror sold by Hewetson for about 27s.,
supplementing it each side with ring-sconces to hold three candles. The
real old ones are very expensive, but very good copies can be had from
Oetzmann in the Hampstead Road. Above the oak the paper should be
undoubtedly a really good blue. The right blue which is always pleasant
to live with, and does not go black at night or a dull grey or any other
unpleasant hue, can always be had from Smee & Cobay; and I am also very
fond of their gold and blue Japanese leather paper. Still this is
expensive, and therefore not to be lightly recommended for it cannot be
removed. The panelling can, which is one reason why I speak of what may
seem out of the reach of the ordinary suburban resident, who will make
his house three times as warm and comfortable if he panels his walls,
and will moreover have always something delightful at which to look. The
floor should be covered with matting and rugs, and the curtains should
be the same blue as the paper, in linen and lace, printed damask and
lace, all in plain colours, or else in plain blue linen plush edged fan
edging; and the furniture should be simple, graceful and charming. In
the bow window we could have a low broad seat or else a writing-table,
placed rather across one side of the window. In the centre could be the
flower-table, and on the other side we could put a low, corner
window-seat, which might be a fixture and part of the panellings. The
rest of the room can be furnished as shown in the sketch on page 131,
but great care must be taken to have nothing but comfortable chairs and
one good deep sofa; and the chairs must not be chosen without due
reflection and without being sat in in several attitudes. A really good
chair is a possession which lasts one’s lifetime, and one that is in the
least degree uncomfortable should never be tolerated for one moment. A
good reason that for refusing utterly to buy or countenance the
detestable and out-of-date suite where none of the chairs are even
decent, and where the sofa may be ornate but cannot be a place to rest
upon try how we will. If we have this panelled room, we should try and
find a Sherraton writing-table at Hewetson’s, which has no high back, a
thing, by the way, to remember about all writing-tables, which have to
stand in a window. The flower-table can be bought at Wallace’s, as can
the smaller tables and chairs. A sofa and corner cabinet, can be had of
Smee, while a ‘grandfather’ chair is to be had at Hewetson’s, and
Bartholomew & Fletcher’s ‘Seabright’ armchair must never be forgotten.
These are by far the most comfortable chairs in the whole furniture
world. If we cannot rise to the oak panelling, a charming parlour may be
made from plain ‘goehring,’ painted some soft colour, either sea-green,
electric turquoise or real ivory, and above the panelling should be a
paper in the same shade as the paint; if either green or blue is used;
and with very little pattern, only enough to break the expanse of plain
colour, while if the paint be ivory a dainty floral paper on an ivory
ground should be chosen. In this case we should have cretonne covers to
our chairs to match the paper, and the curtains could be of the same, or
else of my pet invention the plain linen edged with softly falling lace.
If we are able to indulge in the panelling, we should have one of the
really beautiful anaglypta ceilings kept by Smee & Cobay; or if the
ceiling is mapped out into patterns, the moulded parts should be simply
coloured cream, and the panels should be filled in with the
ivory-coloured anaglypta one buys at about 1s. a yard. I myself never
believe in furnishing entirely from one establishment, and think if one
does one can never get a real or individual home. It is also much more
interesting to develop our own tastes and search about until we find
what we want, and not take recklessly whatever Messrs Jones and Smith
choose to sell us. If we do, our house will be the house of Jones and
Smith, not ours. And is there not one special firm, which shall be
nameless, whose taste or want of it rides rough shod over the suburbs,
and makes one house the exact counterpart of the one next door; ay, and
the one next door to that! Of course, there are many good firms which
can rise above the conventional and become individual, and I am thankful
to say that their numbers increase and multiply daily. At the same time,
a house cannot be really enjoyed or be really our own unless we have
ourselves searched and found what we want for it, recollecting all the
time that on no account should we spend all our money until we have
lived through a winter and summer in it. Otherwise we shall repent as in
sackcloth and ashes, because we are sure to discover some terrible need,
which we are powerless to supply because we have not the wherewithal to
purchase what would make us comparatively if not completely happy.

Hitherto I have been dealing with the house which is out of the common
run, and which is pretty to look at, and repays us over and over again
for any outlay we may make, the house wherein we are certain to find
good grates and simple mantelpieces, and where, though we may not find
our special tastes consulted, we may be quite sure that taste and art
exist, though neither need be what we actually consider such ourselves.

Alas! and alas again! that I should have to show a darker side of the
picture, and one that would most certainly paralyse any unfortunate
tenant who has neither money nor an accommodating landlord. But then I
say, let no considerations allow anyone to take such a house, for if it
be hideous, and the owner is really poor as well as the tenant, nothing
can be done for it because there is nothing to spend, and without money
all are powerless. An impecunious landlord should never for one moment
be allowed to exist. He is a danger to the community. He cannot and will
not repair his roof, see to his drains, or keep the outside of his house
in order; and though in some places, notably Brighton, the local
authorities can give him notice to put his house in order, and should
he fail to do so, can proceed to do the work themselves, sending him in
the bill and seeing that it is paid; this power is, I fancy, rather the
rule than the exception, else should we not see the fearfully insanitary
houses we constantly come across, and are as constantly and continually
condemning. I go as far as to say that if a landlord cannot cultivate
his land, or keep his houses in good order, the State should have full
power to buy at once at a regulation price; but I expect that is too
Socialistic a move for most people to endorse. Still, I do most
unhesitatingly implore my readers, first never to take a house on a
repairing lease, and secondly to make sure that the landlord can spend,
if he ought, whatever may be necessary to keep the place in really
proper repair.

I have suffered from an impecunious landlord, who, while willing to do
his utmost, yet really had nothing to spend; therefore I know how
disagreeable this state of things can be; more especially if he is, as
he generally is, a nice man. Then one can’t bear to trouble him, yet
why should we replace his tiles and chimney-pots, and sink our money in
his drains, or why should we replace his hideous grates with our
charming ones, or his worn-out kitchener with our new and superior
‘Eagle’ range? Yet, if we do not have these things done we are wretched
and unhealthy too, and a good landlord is always willing to improve his
property, if we are willing to pay him a proportionate interest on
whatever capital he may lay out. If we not only find an impecunious but
a crusty landlord, all negotiations must be broken off at once and
without delay. It is bad enough to have to pay for improving another
man’s property, it is unbearable to have our improvements called
‘dilapidations,’ and treated with scorn and contumely. Strange as it may
appear, there are men whose ideas of the beautiful include grained
panels, heavy and ornate cornices, and the preservation of the plaster
excrescence in the very middle of the ceiling. If one finds such a man
we can be quite sure he will allow no tamperings with his doors or his
beautiful marble mantelpieces, and that we shall have to keep the house
as we find it, or incur endless expense and litigation when we leave, as
leave we undoubtedly shall,--thus bringing on ourselves the expense and
trouble of a move,--because we are prevented from settling comfortably
into a house, into which we should never for one moment have been weak
enough to have gone. In the suburb where we do not find the pretty
houses I have written of just now, we generally discover the houses to
be high and light, and glaringly vulgar and hideous in every way. They
have the orthodox three rooms on the ground floor, and have above that,
in a couple of stories, from six to eight bedrooms and dressing-rooms
and a bathroom, while all the terrible ingenuity of a vulgar mind has
been taxed to produce striped paint, heavily moulded and odiously-tinted
cornices and vast glaring windows, which drive the artistic woman wild,
because she feels almost powerless to cope with them. But she must do
it, and at once. She must seek out the landlord himself, flatly refusing
to leave matters to the agent; and dealing in these matters direct, must
obtain the landlord’s written permission to deal with the horrors to
the best of her powers. Let us hope that the decorations may not be new
and freshly done. In this case the house must not be taken and I am sure
that houses would let twice as fast as they do, if when one family
leaves, the walls could be stripped and left bare, the woodwork being
either left as it is or merely primed for painting. As a rule, no one
likes another’s taste, and even if the taste be good, it may not suit
the next tenant’s belongings, neither, should she be about to furnish,
may she care to adapt her new possessions to the colours and styles she
finds ready for her in the fresh house. Fancy the anguish of being
forced to make and inhabit a green drawing-room, after one has longed
for years for a yellow one; or pining for a blue hall to find a
terra-cotta one one’s portion! That it is not ugly is its worst fault,
it is only ‘inoffensive,’ ‘unnoticeable,’ too clean to touch. A thousand
times better had it been hideous, or so black, that questions of hygiene
could be raised at once, and the way opened to secure, what everyone
should have, an artistic and beautiful home. If the drawing-room cannot
be made into a charming parlour, if we must keep the heavy cornice and
the frightful mantelpiece, we must e’en do the best we can for the
wretched thing. Anyhow we must secure a simple, tiled hearth and
surround, and a slow-combustion stove, and we must disguise the
mantelpiece by painting it, if we can, to match the rest of the paint in
the room, and putting on it the simplest drapery in the world, which is
known as the ‘Gentlewoman,’ after the paper of that name, and which is
made by taking a plain strip of material 24 inches wide, and 24 inches
longer than the mantelpiece itself. This is trimmed round the sides and
front with ball fringe or cord. If cord is used, a bunch of pom-poms
should hang from each of the front corners, and the corners are lined on
the cross with thin silk or sateen the same colour as the material, and
this is simply put on the shelf and drapes itself. It is so simple that
people cannot understand its virtues until they have seen it, then they
understand at once what a valuable help it is to circumventing the
ordinary marble mantelpiece of badly-designed houses. Mind, I am not
saying one word against the beautiful old mantelpieces one finds in
really splendid and venerable houses; these are often lovely and rightly
placed enough. But the usual monstrosity is not like these or to be
spoken of in the same book, and can only be treated as I have just
described. The tiles of the grate should never be anything save severely
plain and of one colour, for anything else is out of place and generally
most expensive, and also more frightful than I can say. If the room is
glaringly light it must be toned down, and much as I dislike green, it
is the only colour one can have. The ‘green ash’ paper always kept by
Smee & Cobay is a delightful colour to live with, and should have paint
the same shade of green as the palest in the paper; and one should
moreover have some kind of floral frieze with pink in it. I like the
‘Magnolia’ bought of the same firm, but both Knowles & Haines always
keep beautiful floral friezes, and should both be asked to supply or
show designs if the ‘Magnolia’ were not liked, or were out of stock, as
might be the case. The frieze-rail from which the pictures should hang
from hooks on copper wires, should be coloured the same as the rest of
the paint, and should come in an ordinary room about a couple of inches
below the top of the door. Now, just one word of explanation in _re_ the
matter of a frieze, for strange as it may appear, everyone is not yet
acquainted with what is meant when the word frieze is used. First of all
it is not a border and should never be treated as such; it should never
be less than 16 inches wide, and can be as much wider as circumstances
will permit, and it should never, under any circumstances whatever, be
put on in strips like ordinary wall-paper is, but should be run round
the room the length of the roll, not the width. Most floral friezes are
so designed that one would imagine such treatment to be impossible, but
I have actually known of cases where a ‘festoon’ frieze, which one would
have thought no one ever could possibly make a mistake about, was cut in
lengths and hung sideways in snippets, and even then the owner only
thought the design ‘queer:’ She could not see how absolutely idiotic had
been the treatment of the unfortunate thing. Then there is another thing
to mention: all too often the wry prettiest friezes designed as such,
are disfigured with two or three straight lines which suggest to some
vague, chaotic and inartistic minds that they replace the most necessary
frieze-rail. They do nothing of the kind; a frieze-rail must be had if a
frieze is used at all, and I trust that paper-stainers and makers may
some day eliminate those lines altogether, and so no longer give a hint
that it is possible to do without the real wooden rail. Even on the
score of economy those lines are a mistake. One must hang one’s pictures
from something, and the frieze-rail is cheaper and far more effective
than the usual brass picture-rod provided for this purpose. If we have
pink in our frieze, we can have a pink or green carpet, or else a dull
green one, just flecked with pink, which I think Morris has, or yet
again can we have the entirely satisfactory green ‘Isis’ matting and
rugs. I advise the ‘Isis’ most strongly, for not only is it beautiful
and cleanly in itself but it is a home manufacture, and being made from
the rushes in the higher Thames, should certainly claim our patronage.
If we want a pink carpet, nothing surpasses Wallace’s pink ‘Iris,’ while
Smee’s soft green carpet, made on purpose to match the ‘green ash’
paper, is a great success. If the room is very light it is well to keep
to the same shade of green as the carpet for curtains and coverings.
This does not go black at night, but keeps its colour well. All drawing
and dining-room papers and materials should be chosen at night as well
as by day, for great may be the disappointment that awaits the woman who
only makes her selections in the upholsterer’s shop, and by daylight
alone. I have seen two materials which are absolutely the same by day
become quite contrasts at night; notably in some shades of green, which
turn brown in some materials, while in others they retain their colour,
and the result can be imagined if this mischance occurs when two
materials, such as plush and serge are used together: or when a fringe
is used which turns brown at night, on a material which does nothing of
the kind! Of course, the windows all through the house should be treated
alike, and in all should be the double or single sets of frilled muslin
curtains, according to the amount of sunshine which the special window
in question admits. Every care must be taken too in all the rooms to
keep out draughts, and to let in a certain amount of fresh air, and the
rooms must be ventilated in some manner at the top of the wall. In some
cases a brick can be removed and the opening covered within
wire-netting, the space between being filled with cotton-wool, which is
supposed to filter the incoming air; while if possible there should be a
moveable ventilator in the windows. Then Tobin’s tubes should not be
forgotten, albeit the expense of this patent is an item one should not
lightly incur. The drawing-room must be lighted by one good duplex lamp
in beaten iron or copper, from Benson in New Bond Street, or from
Strode, and the wise will have a transparent globe or shade, and will
refuse to grope about in the semi-darkness of silken-shaded light. But
the amount of further light must be determined by the owners of the room
and their pursuits, and may consist of properly weighted Standard lamps:
procurable at Benson’s, or at Bartholomew & Fletcher’s: or by one or two
movable lamps placed on steady tables. In any case great care must be
taken to ensure perfect safety; a very small table, or one that has no
double tray, should never be selected as a lamp-carrier, for if it is,
an accident is almost certain to occur. Great care should be taken in
selecting the small table-cloths which should be on all tables, and
these can be procured at Colbourne’s, Godfrey Giles, and the Cavendish
House Company Cheltenham, ready to use; and equal care should also be
taken to secure proper pictures and ornaments, which must not be
overdone in any way; while it is well to recollect that the dreadful
‘chair back’ is no longer with us, and has been completely ousted by the
Liberty frilled pillow, which is as useful as it is undoubtedly
beautiful and comfortable.

If we cannot have a new mantelpiece, let nothing induce us to have a
regulation overmantel, for never can we procure one which shall in any
way harmonise with a marble mantel; so there is no good trying to get
one, for we can’t. It is best to repeat instead the Chippendale mirrors
spoken of before, and equally good to possess oneself of the round
glasses with the eagle and ball at the top, which one often is able to
pick up in the shops in Great Portland Street along with charming bits
of real blue china, if one understands the craft of bargain-hunting, not
unless. Under any circumstances nothing but severe simplicity is
permissible. A real overmantel, which may be beautiful in itself, will
only emphasise the misery below it, in the shape of the mantelpiece, by
displaying its evident contrast to what should be a component part
thereof; while either the ‘Eagle’ or the ‘Chippendale’ has frankly ‘no
connection with the party next door,’ and is existent on its own merits
alone, and is therefore all it should be. Now one last word only, and
that is about the position of the piano. If it be a cottage grand, it
can be placed like the one in the room illustrated. A piece of brocade
should be put carelessly on the end of the piano, and kept in place by a
few books, and a tall palm should be placed on the table in the bend. No
other decoration must be allowed at all. If we have a cottage piano, it
is well to put it in one of the recesses by the fire, straight out into
the room, and to conceal its hideous back by a simple curtain on a rod,
sold by Shoolbred. We should have in a small room a piano stool to hold
music, as well as to sit upon, and in the other recess we could place
either the grandfather chair or one of the charming courting settees
sold by Hewetson. But let me implore my suburban readers, when placing
their pianos to do so with a kindly remembrance of their possible
neighbours, to select an inside wall in preference to an outside one,
and to practise whenever they can with the windows closed and carefully
fastened. I have once been near enough to other folks to suffer the
tortures of the lost from my neighbour’s piano. I cannot, therefore,
impress too much upon my readers that a good deal of real pain may be
inflicted on one’s neighbour simply because the question of the piano
has never been duly and properly weighed and considered. I suppose it
_is_ too much to suggest that no one should play and sing who has
neither taste, nor voice, nor knowledge, so I will only content myself
with remarking that the farther the piano is placed from one’s neighbour
the better, and that some consideration on this subject is due from
everyone who may possess and will manipulate that which in some hands
may be as much an instrument of torture as the wretched barrel-organ
itself!



CHAPTER VI

THIRD ROOMS


I have already discussed one manner of disposing of the usual third
room, but I hope most devoutly that the unparalleled sacrifice of
devoting it to the use of the maids may never be required of anyone. For
unless people can sit in their dining-room in the morning; and I cannot
imagine anything more distasteful; the drawing-room or parlour must be
turned into a regular hack room, and we are deprived at one fell swoop
of a nice place in which to receive our guests or of a fresh chamber for
use in the evening. It is a great thing to have entirely different
surroundings then, and a pretty, well-aired and ventilated room in which
to spend the fag end of a day. Circumstances must always govern cases,
and there can be no set rules for the universal regulation of all
lives, and if English people would only realise this fact, their sojourn
here would be made far more interesting than it is at present. No one
has ever taken the third room for the maids, therefore no one can ever
do so. The door has always been in that position, therefore it must
remain so. That room has always been draughty, therefore draughty it
shall continue until the end of the chapter. These are the arguments
used, if argument of any kind is allowed. As a rule the position is
accepted unconditionally, and because an error has been made from the
first, it is allowed to continue unchecked when a little forethought
would circumvent that special mistake, and would make a room charming,
habitable and warm, which hitherto has been nothing of the kind.

Let me illustrate what I mean by an example. At a small house we possess
in Watford there is the third room in question, which has been made into
a very pretty library by the clever hand of Mr Arthur Smee, but which
the first year we were in possession had never been used save as a home
for books and a reception place for anyone who might come on business.
No one had ever sat there, nor could I discover anyone who would; but I
myself was then ‘on the shelf,’ and had never entered the room at all,
being often absent from home, and always, whether there or elsewhere,
confined to the circumscribed area of my own bed and sitting-rooms. I
had asked questions about the room but could never get a satisfactory
reply only the ever-repeated answer, ‘Oh, it looks all right, but just
you try to sit there, that’s all, you’ll soon see why we can’t do
anything of the kind.’ Now here is the room produced just as it was
before I went into it, and I wonder if anyone can see the real mistake
in the design? I own I could not perceive it from the picture. At first
I asked if my people were ridiculous enough to fancy the room had a
ghost. No not a ghost exactly; but in a tentative tone of voice
something quite as uncanny and quite as intangible. Was it draughty?
They didn’t think so; and yet it was impossible to warm it. In fact, it
was quite out of the question that it could be sat in, and there it
remained until one day

[Illustration: LIBRARY AT WAYSIDE.]

when I felt rather better than usual, and went downstairs determined to
conquer or die in the attempt. Dear readers! if you could only have seen
that room you would, some of you, never have believed in me again for
one single moment. The centre table was heaped with books, old papers
and magazines. The matting on the floor had one long, thin and solitary
rug. There were aimless cretonne curtains at the window, which couldn’t
possibly be reached, because the desk was stuck right against it; and,
worst fault of all, the door opened on the wrong side, and so whenever
it was open the fire was as it were in the passage. And as had been
rightly said, there was not a single place to put a chair; and, indeed,
the untidy thing in the photograph was the only specimen of the genus
that the chamber possessed, if we except an ordinary bedroom seat, and
another of a similar kind by the desk, neither of which could be sat
upon, save by an individual who had serious writing to do. Then someone
had placed in one corner a deck-lounge, in, I suppose, a feeble attempt
at being happy, and never did a lounge less deserve its name. It was
located between the window and the fire, and therefore succeeded in
nothing, save in being entirely out of place and in the way. There too
the shelves for books were left as shown in the photograph, and had none
of the small curtains over the smaller recesses, so necessary to break
up the lines and to serve as hiding-places for old and way-worn
literature. The fireplace was hideous, and a Moloch as regards coal,
while, of course the room could never be brought above freezing pitch,
because of the relative positions of the fireplace, door, and window,
each of which was put just exactly where it ought not to be. The design
and colour of the room were right enough, but the touches which turn a
room into a habitation were never more conspicuous by their absence.

I don’t know how it is, but I can put a room straight in five minutes
when another person merely grumbles and declares that nothing can be
done; and in a pious rage I set to work and very soon had made a
considerable alteration in the place. Although, of course, much could
not be accomplished until I sent for my factotum Joe, and had the door
moved to the other side, that elegant plaster in the ceiling dislodged,
and the hideous tiles in the grate renovated. Then I had a good thick
_portière_ placed inside the door, hung the pictures properly, arranged
the books and china, put the curtains where they were required in the
bookcase, altered the window-curtains, put the desk on one side, not in
the very centre of the window, and imported a couple of deep, good
basket-chairs from Heelas, of Reading, and some smaller Liberty chairs
and tables. The centre table was put on one side, and not in the middle
of the room, with magazines and newspapers; and after that I put down
proper and suitable rugs, instead of the big one,--beautiful in itself
and in its proper place which was a passage--but ridiculous in the
middle of a matted floor, where it resembled nothing so much as a garden
walk. Since then the room has been more used than any other sitting-room
in the house, and is now pronounced one of the most comfortable in the
dreary little place, or, I should say, in what was a dreary little place
until it was taken vigorously in hand. Albeit, nothing can make the
house a real success, because it is built east and west, and with all
the windows to the west and to the north and south: these, by the way,
raking the back yards of the neighbours fore and aft: while, except for
the bath-room window, there is not one which looks towards the east,
where, of course, one gets the pleasantest view and the morning sun: a
great consideration in a house which is literally a summer house, and
where therefore, the western sun is useless and tormenting. Even in the
winter an afternoon sun is no earthly use, for by the time it comes
round to the western windows it has to retire ignominiously into a bank
of fog or cloud; therefore such a house as this especial one should
never be taken unless the owner will close the north and north-west
windows, and open out big square bows on the south and south-eastern
aspect in the manner the windows should have been placed when the house
was built. It is always a pleasing reflection to me that the man who
designed this house is dead, and cannot now make any other person as
miserable by his awkward vagaries as he has made me. If he had simply
consented to one or two alterations, and had given us decent grates, and
proper servants’ accommodation, the house wouldn’t have been ‘half bad,’
and I do not suppose would have cost a farthing more to build than it
cost at first. The cornices were so terrible that they had in some cases
to be cut away and reduced to one-fourth, while the elaborate and
expensive style in which they had been liberally picked out in all the
colours of the rainbow, was obliterated by colour-wash at once; yet the
money spent on this ‘decoration’ would have gone some way towards new
grates; and my pet plain wooden mantels would not have cost half what
the monstrous marble ones did, with which one can’t wrestle, because of
the round openings in the mantelpieces, which would not allow of the
cheap introduction of the pretty, square, slow-combustion stoves, with
plain tiles, to which I must confess I am absolutely devoted. I think,
if their third room in any way resembles the one illustrated here, this
picture will help my readers very much, if they are anxious to have a
library, a room where the master can sit and smoke, and where business
people can be interviewed. But, if books are not plentiful, and the
husband doesn’t smoke and is not much at home, the room would not be of
very much service to the mistress and her girls, should she be fortunate
enough to be the proud possessor of grown-up daughters. And there are,
of course, yet other means of treating and disposing of the room. If
children are numerous, and bedrooms few, this third room may have to be
taken for schoolroom purposes, or, at best, may have to be used by boys
and girls in the holidays, or when lessons have to be prepared, and in
this case it would require quite different treatment to what it would
receive were it merely a pretty sitting-room, as it should most
undoubtedly be.

If the sitting-room aspect has to be considered it should be made as
bright and charming as possible, and should be furnished with an eye to
the particular occupation of the house mistress, who is sure to have
some idiosyncrasy, and will either work, write or ‘housekeep’
indefatigably. If she does this latter, she will want room for her
household books, her receipt books, and her house books, containing all
kinds of hints as to what to do and when to do it, which any woman
collects if she is in the least house-proud and anxious to make the most
of her surroundings. In this case, one of the recesses could be fitted
with shelves on the same principle as those shown in the photograph, but
they should not be higher than the mantelpiece, and where there is a
gaping space, curtains should be hung, or else doors placed to make a
species of cupboard with copper hinges and a good lock. In the other
recess a writing-table could be placed, with some shelves above it to
hold books of reference, and this table must be furnished with really
good locks, for here should be kept account and cheque books, and
receipts and any private unanswered letters. Though let me once more
impress on all my readers never to keep any save business letters, and
never to keep those when the business to which they refer is completely
done with and ended. No one knows how long he or she may live, nor if
sudden death or illness may not leave all one’s secrets, should one
have any, or the secrets of others, open to anyone who may have access
to one’s belongings; besides, we have no right to keep other folk’s
letters, once they are replied to. We may ourselves be secrecy itself,
but we cannot answer for the secret-keeping capacity of our nearest and
dearest.

If the window should be, as I hope it may be, one of the delightful
Caldecott ones, it should have a straight window-seat arranged exactly
as in this sketch, and thus we should be provided with a most
comfortable place to rest in, more especially if we supplement it with
several big Liberty pillows. These can be covered in plain linen covers,
edged with frills of the same or of Torchon lace. If this latter be
used, a wide insertion should be laid on all round the pillows, about an
inch from where the lace is sewn on. The lace must not be too full. If
the pillow should be a yard square, or the more ordinary size of
three-quarters of a yard, the quantity of lace used should be one-half
longer than the length of the sides of the pillow, _i.e._, 6 yards of
lace would be wanted for a pillow the sides of which measured 4 yards,
while 3 yards would be sufficient for the smaller size, as the lace is
only just fulled on. It should not be heavily gathered, or it will not
look well.

[Illustration]

Beautiful pillows can be made by Miss Goodban, of 9 Westbourne Terrace
Road, Hyde Park of these same linens. She embroiders them all over in
flax and edges them with Torchon, and if these cases are simply
buttoned on like an ordinary pillowcase they can be washed in an hour
and replaced. Liberty silk covers also wash splendidly if one has a
careful maid. I have never sent mine to the ordinary wash; but washed at
home they came out of the trial as good as new; a fact I do not think
many people can know, or we should not see as many dirty covers as we do
in the houses of folks who ought to know a great deal better. The
window-seat cover should be of some hard-wearing material, such as
ribbed and stamped Victoria cord, or a really good all-wool tapestry. It
is never the least use to use one of the cheap tapestries provided so
lavishly nowadays for this purpose, for if we do, we shall at once be
terribly disappointed by the effect. For these seats in most rooms have
a great deal of wear and in consequence if a cheap stuff is used it will
not last any time. To ensure real and satisfactory length of days for
any material, we must have one made of all wool, and not wool and cotton
mixed. The actual expense of these seats, and indeed of any fitted
seat, is the upholstress’s time and work, which costs as much if the
material is only 1s. a yard, as it does if one pays a guinea for the
same amount, besides which there is the continual worry of the British
workman amongst us. Though why women should not be their own
upholstresses I for one can’t think, and I should strongly advise any
girl about to marry on limited means to learn to make up her own covers
and cushions as well as how to cook the dinner. Then if the husband has
a knowledge of carpentering and is handy about the house, the place can
always look nice at one-third the expense it would cost were a workman
or workwoman sent for when the smallest alterations were required.

Given the window-seat there should be no need for a sofa, and that is a
decided consideration, but whatever chairs are had they should be
comfortable ones, and none are better than the excellent wicker ones of
which I have so often spoken. If expense be a great object one can
frequently buy these chairs from travelling hawkers who go about the
country with vans of chairs tables and baskets, and sell these special
chairs for about 5s. or 6s. in wicker, simply stained a faint brown,
which said staining I much prefer to paint or enamel, as it never
becomes in the least shabby. A cushion must be made to fit the seat
finished off with a 4 or 5 inch frill, not any deeper, and another
cushion must be made to fit the back, while another must be placed round
the sides of the chair, properly stuffed and ‘buttoned down.’ This said
buttoning down can be done by an amateur if she purchases the proper
needles for the purpose and secures the buttons with very strong
packthread. And I consider such cushions should all be made in this
style, as a plain surface wears out twice as soon as one that is
arranged with buttons; while, if one is clean and careful, the buttons
need not mean an accumulation of dust and dirt, both being got rid of
perfectly well if the cushions are properly brushed and beaten and
attended to by a housemaid who knows her work. By the way, it takes 2¼
yards of double-width material to make a cover for an ordinary wicker
chair, or 4½ of single width material or of cretonne, but I cannot
advise cretonne for the purpose, or for any real hard wear on any
chairs, it so very soon becomes dirty, and is always in the wash-tub and
in the hands of the upholstress. If the room is very tiny the
window-seat can be furnished with three deep drawers in which we can
keep any amount of odds and ends. Of course, the number of the drawers
will depend on the length of the window-seat, but three should be the
outside number. In any case they would come just under the seat and be
hidden from observation either by the deep frill or a woollen fringe,
and should open and shut very easily indeed. In a small house these
drawers would be invaluable for one of the principal drawbacks to a
suburban residence is the fact that there are no cupboards in them,
neither are there many recesses which we can utilise as wardrobes should
we require to do so. Let us suppose that this special room is given over
to the mistress of the house and that she is content to have the
ever-delightful shade of ‘Panton’ blue, than which nothing is better in
every way to live with, she would then have the short curtains shown in
the picture of some yellow material, Wallace’s diamond serge for
choice, lined with sateen or plain serge, if there be many draughts or
very much sun: then the material for the window-seat should be in golden
brown or turquoise blue stamped Victoria cord, and the cushions should
be in yellow, blue and pink linen, worked in very coarse and thick real
flax by Miss Goodban. If the room has very much traffic, the floor
should have a surround of plain brown cork carpet, with a good blue
square of Wallace’s Dunelm carpet in the centre, just lightly fastened
down in such a manner that it can be easily removed for shaking.
Personally, I never like nails put in any carpet; they cannot help
spoiling and tearing it, and it is far better to sew on the carpet
itself a succession of tiny bits of tape, of course on the wrong side,
and close to the edge. In these pieces of tape should the nails be
placed. The tapes can always be renewed, and in this case the edge of
the carpet is never touched, and cannot present the ‘worried’ appearance
which characterises so many really good floor coverings. In this special
room the carpet should be in a special shade of blue, which would
harmonise with the paper. There are two or three different ways of
treating the walls of such a room, and the one I prefer is to have
electric turquoise Aspinall for all the paint, the Panton blue paper,
and a floral frieze with a great deal of yellow in it; or, again, one
can have the blue paper, but with real ivory paint, and an anaglypta
dado painted in the same shade instead of the frieze; while a really
useful and hard-wearing room may have a soft brown dado, and all soft
brown paint, and a darker blue paper. In this case both paper and paint
must be selected by someone who understands the science of colour. The
brown should have a good deal of cream in it, and the blue should have a
great deal of indigo and not any shade of green or turquoise at all.
Here the window-seat cushion should be covered in brown stamped Victoria
cord, and the curtains should be in blue serge or Tanjore cloth. I have
never yet found a blue serge which would stand sun, and not fade in a
couple of weeks in the most distressing manner, while almost any yellow
serge stands the sunshine, and I can myself guarantee Wallace’s diamond
serge in yellow, for that has proved itself absolutely fast. Shoolbred
guarantees the Tanjore cloth, but personally I have had no experience of
this material, having had neither opportunity nor occasion to try it. It
is 4s. 9d. a yard, and is very pretty to look at; and is besides a most
excellent width. Need I say that any cornice in this room must be simply
coloured cream, and the ceiling papered in some inexpensive and pretty
yellow and white paper? If blue should be objected to, or one is tired
of it, a very pretty sitting-room can be made from any floral paper
which is really good, and, _I_ say, hand-made. I am devoted to a
beautiful heliotrope and green clematis paper sold by Smee & Cobay, and
also to the ‘ragged robin’ paper sold by Haines, and either of these
papers should be used above a dado of some kind or other. A full green
sateen curtain dado is the best, and in this case all the paint should
be the same shade of green as that chosen for the dado, and that should
be one of the tints in the leaves on the paper itself. Then the carpet
and curtains should be green, and so should be the window-seat and the
ceiling paper. The other shades in the paper should appear in the
cushions and table-covers: although as regards the clematis paper I have
never come across any good heliotrope materials, and have only found
this colour in silk and in a capital cretonne sold by the Cavendish
House Company, Cheltenham. I fancy that Warings, of Liverpool, have also
a good ‘lilac’ cretonne. They certainly possess an admirable wall-paper
with lilacs on a striped background, which should not be forgotten by
anyone who thinks of using that always satisfactory decorative harmony
of heliotrope and green. If there is not much wear in these rooms, I
should advise the green ‘Isis’ matting as a background for rugs, but if
there be a great deal of traffic, the soft green ‘Roman carpet’ sold by
Shoolbred does excellently with some sort of a ‘surround’ which is
easily cleaned, such as Jackson’s varnish stains, or plain cream
matting, or plain cork carpet, according to the state of the floor and
the particular tastes of the owner of the room, who should of course
have one of Giles’s removable parqueterie surrounds if she can afford
it. In any case she must never allow either a fitted carpet or a
patterned surround to fidget the eye, avoiding as a real sin against the
first principles of art, those terrible materials which imitate
parqueterie or tiles, or pretend to be anything save what they are, and
giving a wide berth to felt, an admirable material to look at, but a
fearful and abominable dust-trap. So indeed are fluffy materials of any
sort or kind if they cannot be cleaned without sweeping or by the
friendly aid of a damp duster, which just passed over them once a day,
keeps the stain or matting or cork carpet in order, and prevents the
accumulation in corners that must ensue if we have not a washable
material as a surround to whatever carpet we may select. If we have
matting all over the floor, it is well to recollect that salt and water
form an excellent mixture to use to cleanse it with, the salt in some
way preserving and toughening the fibres of the matting as well as
cleaning it in a most effectual style.

The principal things to recollect in this, and, indeed in any room are,
first, that it must be made draught-proof and be properly ventilated,
that we must so arrange that the door does not open right on the fire,
that while the furniture may be as simple as we like, everything must be
made to harmonise, being either bought for or adapted to the room itself
and the special occupations of the room’s mistress. Fortunately if our
purses are light, there is abundance of inexpensive furniture in these
days which I cannot, I feel, praise too highly. I remember the dreadful
struggles I had, to make my own first house pretty some six-and-twenty
years ago, when there was nothing to be had but heavy wood and solid
repps, and no one had whispered ‘Liberty,’ or mentioned serge, or bamboo
and wicker furniture, or, if they had, had murmured it so gently that
the murmur had not reached the ears of anyone at all. Now, scoff as one
may at wicker work and bamboo, I venture to say that by them lies the
way of salvation for the third room in an impecunious household. I have
bought the most charming and beautiful little cupboard tables at
Shoolbred’s, the most comfortable and excellent chairs at Smee &
Cobay’s, at Heelas, of Reading, and at Wallace’s, which have all the
delights of a real upholstered expensive arm-chair, if one has the
cushions made at home, at as many shillings as the other costs pounds.
While the most useful bookcase I ever came across is also matting and
bamboo, and this can have a species of cupboard shelf made by hanging a
curtain over the third receptacle for books, which said curtain is like
charity: it covers a multitude of sins in the shape of rolls of wall
paper, odds and ends of patterns, and old books which have seen better
days, and yet are not good enough to re-bind, and yet are too good to
throw away. Indeed, no book should ever be treated in such an
ignominious fashion. At the worst it can be sent to a hospital, or be
kept in our own special hospital box, which should be in every house,
for how can we tell when infectious disease may not find us out? In that
case we shall be thankful to be possessed of something to read which we
can afterwards burn without any _arrière pensée_ in the matter at all.

One thing should be in every morning-room, or third room, or library,
call this little chamber by what name we will; and that is an invaluable
small closing-table I have discovered in Kensington High Street. It
costs about 4s. 11d., simply stained dark brown, can be folded up and
put against a wall, or laid under a sofa when not in use, and is
altogether most unobtrusive and excellent, for it can be set up in one
second, and is admirable for a thousand purposes. I think it is large
enough to ‘cut out’ upon, although I am not an authority on the subject
of work. I know it is extremely handy for tea, and that one can make
scrapbooks upon it, and write upon it too, while as it can be folded and
put on one side at any moment, it does not get over-crowded with books
and ornaments, and is therefore always available. The ordinary small
occasional table never can be that, for it is usually clad in a nice
square table-cover and has flowers or a plant in the centre, and has
moreover, every available corner filled with books and ‘twos and
threes,’ while the modest and retiring folding-table only comes out for
use, and is never ornamental, and will not be used otherwise than for
the purpose for which it is made. Of course the walnut Sutherland table
is much nicer in every way, but is not to be had under 30s., is often of
most inferior wood liable to scratches and spots, and is also all too
often opened out clad in its tablecloth and ornamented to death. But we
have no qualms about the little cheap folding-table. If it is scratched
and spotted it can be scrubbed clean and given a new coat of Jackson’s
varnish stain and be in a moment as good as new if not better. Just one
word _en parenthése_, as it were, about stains. Do not let anything
anyone can say induce you to attempt the beautiful green staining we all
so much admire at home, for if you do, it can be nothing but a most
ghastly failure. True, the particular piece of furniture will be green,
but such a green! for the proper effect can only be obtained in the same
way really good French polish is procured, and that, as everyone knows,
can never be got save by a professional hand who knows the work, and has
never yet been known to divulge the secret of success. No; the green
stain is not for the amateur, be sure of that, while the ‘oak,’ and
‘dark oak,’ and ‘walnut’ varnish stains are exactly all that they ought
to be.

In this room a screen by the door is often a most blessed possession,
and as screens can be bought so cheaply nowadays everyone can avail
herself of the comfort procured by a judicious use of them. Liberty
first, and Shoolbred next, should be searched for an inexpensive screen,
for sometimes Liberty has none, and then Shoolbred may come to the
rescue, or our experience of both shops may be reversed; it all depends
on which place has had the last consignment from Japan. I bought a
beautiful screen at Liberty’s one year, about a month before Christmas,
for 18s. 9d., but on applying for another in the following March, found
all were sold out, and I had to go farther afield, discovering the one I
wanted in a shop in High Street, Kensington, the name of which I have
forgotten. True both Liberty and Shoolbred had plenty of screens but
neither had an inexpensive one, with a back warranted to resist the
frequent and uncalled-for assaults of the British housemaid. By the
way, a screen should always be placed behind the door, which should in
most cases open from left to right into a room if the room is in the
least degree like the one illustrated. I am not fond of a door opening
into a hall, and of course the perfect door should not open, but slide
into the wall, but perfection is a word never heard, and certainly not
understood at all in the usual suburb.

If the room be blue, the _portière_ should be of printed velveteen in
shades of yellow. With a floral paper it may be pink or green, but in
any case a plain material should not be employed as a _portière_. One
should always have a figured stuff there, and if one can afford it one
cannot improve on the aforesaid velveteen. _Portières_ should be made up
by a really competent hand and should be lined, and edged with either
‘grip-cord’ or fan-edging, as ball fringe is apt to come to grief in
this situation, the _portière_ being often caught in the door, or as
often grasped either by the parlour-maid as she announces a visitor or
by any small child who may have to open or close the door. I may seem to
speak unduly on the subject both of _portières_ and screens but unless
they are employed freely, I can assure my readers they will never
circumvent the ordinary suburban residence, but that if both are used,
any house, even the most jerry-built one which ever disgraced a ‘Park,’
or blotted the erst-while fair appearance of a ‘Grove,’ can be made
habitable. Without these aids to health, to say nothing of decoration,
such a house would be an impossible home for anyone not born and bred in
the Arctic regions; while outside blinds, if they can only be just
nailed up _pro tem._, and be mere grass mats bought for a few shillings
at Treloar’s, can circumvent extreme heat, which often is as bad to bear
in these terrible houses as the excessive cold and draughts which
characterise them. I know that as a rule three years sets the suburban
tenant on the prowl, and, as I said before, the mere idea that such can
be the case prevents many a woman from making her house either pretty to
look at or even weather-tight. But three years’ experience of untoward
weather in a jerry-built structure can undermine the health of any
woman, whereas she probably would not move and would certainly keep much
better in health if not entirely well, did she do her utmost to get
over the drawbacks at once. At the same time the hall must be warmed by
using the small, portable stove sold by Wolff & Sons, 119 New Bond
Street, if it is out of the question to obtain warmth from a real
fire-place, and very great care must be given to ventilation by
wide-open windows whenever it is possible, and it is always possible
during some part of the day: and by ventilators, as suggested before,
which should always be open at night, especially when lamps are lighted
and fires kept up. For an unventilated room means a sleepy head, and
dulness and stupidity instead of the liveliness which should
characterise a gathering of the family when the work of the day is
safely over and done.



CHAPTER VII

THE NURSERIES


Well may the heart of the ordinary mother of a family sink within her
shoes when she sees the regulation rooms provided for the use of the
children! Nay, one can hardly believe that they are meant for them at
all, for nowhere are two rooms placed in such a manner as to make real
day and night nurseries, and she is lucky indeed who has not to place
one room on the first, and the other on the second floor, thus making it
impossible for the nurse to look after the children or their garments in
the manner she would be able to do were both rooms on the same storey.
But it is always possible to have them on the same storey if convention
is defied, and the ‘spare room’ is relegated to the attics, or the
nurseries themselves are placed there; and moreover no considerations of
any ‘spare room’ should prevent there being a couple of nurseries in
any house. It is odious never to be able to entertain one’s friends even
for the usual Saturday to Monday visit so dear to the heart of the
ordinary suburban resident; but it is far worse to keep the children in
one room only, alike for day and night use, and I sincerely hope that
this unhealthy and disagreeable practice may soon cease entirely to
exist. If in a tiny house and with one baby only, a second room cannot
possibly be had, the only way to arrange matters is to proceed on the
lines of a Harrow boy’s room, and to have either a system of ‘fitments,’
or to shut all the washing and dressing apparatus into a cupboard sort
of arrangement, and to have one of the small folding iron beds, with a
wire mattress complete, which cost about 16s. 6d., and which can be put
under another bed in another room during the daytime, the mattress and
other bedding being folded up and disposed of in a similar way. Yet in
such a wee house as this, the baby would usually be in the mother’s
room, and the nurse could share a room with another maid, having her
meals in the servants’ sitting-room or the kitchen, while the mother
herself looked after the infant. But I fancy where this would be the
case, decoration would not be a study, all the energies of the mistress
being spent, and very properly too, on making both ends of the income
meet if that be possible. At the same time, I can never see why a
cottage need not be pretty and comfortable, and I hope that no one will
be debarred from attempting to possess a pretty house because she is
poor. Pretty things are nowadays as cheap, nay often cheaper, than ugly
ones, and it only requires common-sense and the possession of a certain
amount of taste to ensure that a house shall be both artistic and
comfortable. Let us take first the unfortunate who really can only have
one nursery, and who has to allow the child to sleep there at night with
the nurse, for I always think it is unwise for the parents to have an
infant in their bedroom even when it is very small. A man’s rest broken,
means bad work during the day, while a woman is unfit for anything and
certainly cannot do her work if she has had no sleep during the orthodox
hours of repose. In this case the best room in the upper part of the
house should be taken for the nursery; it should be as near the mother’s
room as possible, and if there be a dressing-room attached, so much the
better in every way, for out of that can be constructed the very
necessary nursery pantry. Therein can be kept everything which is in any
way unsightly, and it is possible that all signs of the nursery itself
being used for a double purpose can be concealed, if one has at one’s
service just an ordinary bedroom and dressing-room. We will therefore
suppose that, in the first place, the suburban villa contains a bed and
a dressing-room, and another bedroom and a bathroom on the same floor.
In this case, I should propose that the so-called ‘best room,’ with the
dressing-room, should be given over to the nurse and child, the master
of the house having the bathroom entirely for his own use as
dressing-room. If this arrangement is made, the bedroom which I trust
may face south or south-east, can be treated entirely as a day-room, and
be properly and prettily painted and papered. Under no circumstances
should one of those fearsome ‘nursery’ papers be allowed, neither must a
cheap and vulgar flower paper be

[Illustration: COMBINED DAY AND NIGHT NURSERY.]

used. If expense is a great object, and it would be probably in such a
wee establishment, an inexpensive, geometrical-patterned paper must be
chosen, with as little real pattern on it as is possible, great
attention being given to the colour; which after all is the principal
thing to think about in all decoration. For such papers, one cannot
improve on the ‘Olive Leaf’ papers, sold always by Godfrey Giles; and
though these special colourings have been obtainable for quite ten
years, I have never found anything which would quite take their place.
They are 9d. and 1s. 6d. a piece. I advise the latter, the extra 9d.
quite doubling the time that the paper will really wear. Some of
Liberty’s damasque papers are also most suitable for these and, indeed,
for any rooms; but these are 2s., and, in consequence, would cost more
to put up. Lower than 1s. 6d. I cannot think it is wise to go, for after
all, the great expense of papering is the labour, and the vagaries of
the British workman render it undesirable that we shall have to employ
him more than we can possibly help. For, once he is in the house, heaven
only knows when he will leave; and while he is there, everything is
disorganised, the maids being engrossed by him and his doings and his
followers, and nothing going on in its accustomed and regular routine. I
am very fond of the soft apricot shade in the damasque papers, and
should often advise one of these used with either real ivory or
_café-au-lait_ paint. At first, one need not put a dado, especially if
the room be prepared for ‘number one,’ as that can always be added later
on, when the room begins to look a little shabby round the base of the
wall. Then if the master knows how to use his hands at all, he can
simply screw on a dado rail, made of the ever-useful ‘goehring,’ while
the mistress can make a full curtain dado of some inexpensive blue and
cream cretonne. Oetzmann often has one at about 5¾d. a yard. This is
easily made up, a very deep flounce is manufactured, and a yard and a
half of cretonne suffice for a yard of dado. It should be slightly
gathered on a tape, and the width of the cretonne makes the depth of the
dado. On the tape are sewn very small rings, and these are passed over
brass-headed nails put close under the dado-rail, which should be
painted after it is fixed, the heads of the screws being covered with
putty also painted over; this effectually conceals all traces of them.
It is easy for anyone to calculate the cost of such a dado exactly; but,
as I said before it can always be added to a room, should it not be
advisable on the score of expense to put it up at first. If the soft
apricot paper is selected and the room is a very sunny one, I should
advise blue Bolton sheeting curtains from Burnett, made double and edged
with grip cord, as most undoubtedly anything in such a room should be
capable of being washed, while a square blue ‘Dunelm’ carpet should be
laid in the centre of the floor, the outer space being covered with
plain brown cork carpet. On no account should a nursery be covered with
linoleum, oilcloth or cork carpet; a real woollen carpet should be _de
rigueur_. Nothing is worse for a child to creep on than the cold surface
of any material which resembles oilcloth, while it is the fault of the
nurse entirely should a carpet be spoiled in any way. So, should the
mother find the carpet becoming the worse for unfair treatment during
the first eighteen months of a child’s life, she must realise that her
nurse is to blame, and that a woman who permits such ‘accidents’ is
unfit for her position, and should take some situation where the
spotless carefulness and cleanliness which should mark anyone who has
the care of a child are not required. For be well assured, if a nurse be
careless and untidy in one way she will have these same failings in all
she has to do. A nurse may herself look the picture of all she ought to
be, but if her rooms bear the least signs of neglect, if the child is
not ‘turned out’ like a new pin, and has not perfect ‘manners’ by the
time it is a year old, she must go. Unless she does, there will never be
peace in the nursery, neither will the children ever be well. People may
feel inclined to scoff at the notion that a child’s health can depend on
its appearance; but this is a fact, and no amount of scoffing will alter
it. If, for example, you see a child sent out with untidy boots, coarse
stockings in which there may be a hole or two, and which said stockings
are not pulled up trimly and correctly under the short skirts or the
neat little knickerbockers; if the under-garments are showing either at
waist or knee, if the clothes are unbrushed and awry and the hair
unkempt, send the nurse away at once. If she be careless about the looks
of the children she will be careless about their health. Her rooms will
be either stuffy or draughty; she will not discriminate about the
children’s food or their times of sleep or play; she will not see the
boots are repaired and the clothes aired; she is utterly untrustworthy.

I have had a large experience of people of all kinds, and I can honestly
say I have never found a sloven a good servant, or an untidy woman one
who could be trusted in any position in one’s household. Bad as this
fault is in anyone, it is desperate indeed where children are concerned,
and should therefore never be endured for a moment. The nurse who is
really fit for her post takes as much pride in the children’s appearance
as the mother does herself. Should she not do so, colds are incessant,
and small illnesses frequent, while should there be an infant matters
are still worse, for the baby’s bottles are sure to be badly kept;
indeed a child may die, or at the least may suffer severely because of
the untidy habits and slovenly ways of the nurse. One of the easiest
ways to discover what manner of woman she is, is this very question of
the carpet. And should she object to one and suggest oilcloth, be quite
sure she does not know her business, or only wants to save herself
trouble. A carpet is a necessity in a properly-managed nursery, and that
should be an axiom which should never for one instant be forgotten.

I should never paper the ceiling of a nursery, neither should gas be
allowed there; neither should we overcrowd this room with furniture, nor
should we permit a vast accumulation of toys. The ceiling should be
washed cream-colour once a year, and the room, if small, should be
lighted with a good duplex lamp from the centre of the ceiling; also
from one swung out on an arm near the fireplace, if the room be large
and the nurse wish to sit near the fire to do her work, or wash and
undress the children there in winter. No lamps should be allowed to
stand about anywhere and all must be out of the reach of the children,
else will accidents certainly occur. The lamp must be re-trimmed and
refilled daily downstairs by whoever attends to the sitting-room lamps,
and must have a metal receiver. It must also be the reverse of cheap.
Cheap lamps are dangerous and abominable in every way. Yet a lamp must
we have in our nurseries if we wish the children to be well, and to
escape the blighting influence of a gas-vitiated atmosphere. If no maid
can be trusted to do the lamps the mistress must see to them herself.
She need not take more than half an hour about the three or four which
would be all that were used in a small house and she will reap the
benefit in the children’s health, and in feeling confident that the
lamps will not smell, and that they will burn brightly, and not expire
suddenly because they have not been properly filled in the morning.

If the nursery is a small room I should advise the table to be made on
the principle of one of the old oak gate tables in deal, stained a good
dark brown. This is quite large enough to ‘dine’ four people, and can
be used to cut out on, if required; and then when not in use it can be
folded back and put against the wall, thus giving the child or children
more room to play about. This table, a low chair or two, the children’s
chairs, and about two or three rush-seated chairs are quite sufficient
furniture for a nursery, if we add a big cupboard which, if we are lucky
enough to have recesses each side of the fireplace, can easily be
constructed by any working carpenter. If there are no recesses I should
put this cupboard in one of the corners of the room; it would take up
less space there, and would not cause as many accidents as if it stood
out into the room, always ready to deal blows to the unsteady toddler
for whose sake such danger must be steadily avoided. The lower part of
the cupboard can be sacred to toys, the higher part to work and garments
in course of construction. All clothes in wear should be placed in a
cupboard in the dressing-room, which room should also contain the
nursery cups and saucers and property generally, and all washing and
dressing matters.

An excellent thing for the nursery is a wide box-ottoman placed in the
window, and if we can have one with sides and ends so much the better,
as this can be turned with the back to the room, and here in a species
of crib or cage, can a young person be placed safely to look out of the
window, any attempts at falling over the back being frustrated by the
nearness of the nurse. Of course baby cannot fall out of the window if
open, or through it if shut, because of the most necessary nursery bars,
which must be erected _inside_ the window, not outside in the ordinary
way; in this position they do double duty, and not only prevent
accidents, from the child falling out of the window, but render it
almost impossible for the glass to be broken. Of course a nursery window
should be of plate glass if no other window in the house is, and should
have a cheerful outlook, an amusing outlook being better for a child
than any amount of toys. The window should be absolutely draught-proof.
It must have a ventilator capable of being almost hermetically sealed in
its top pane, and at the same time very easily opened. It must never be
stuffed up with blinds and an undue amount of curtain. Sunshine means
health, and the more sunshine a house or room receives the better. This
should be impressed on a nurse at once, and she should never have the
means of making the room dark and dismal in her hands, or else she will
certainly do so at the very earliest possible opportunity.

Another most excellent thing to have in a nursery where there are
growing children would be a regular hammock on good supports, to be
erected or taken away at will, and to be sufficiently low to ensure that
a fall therefrom would do no harm. This hammock would be as useful as a
sofa, and as amusing as a swing, without the disagreeable after-effects
and danger; and, of course, it should be heaped with the humble pillows,
made of curled paper, in linen cases, which are so invaluable, because
they cost nothing, and can be thrown about genially without doing any
amount of damage at all.

The walls of the nursery must either be pictureless or embellished by
really good autotypes, sufficient of which can be procured for about £5
for quite a large room. For let nothing allow any mother to put up the
glaring vulgar nursery pictures which one sees so often in children’s
rooms, and which undoubtedly vitiate the children’s tastes, and give
them bad and false ideas of art from their earliest days. Then, too, I
most thoroughly recommend that the amount of toys allowed be of the
smallest: a Noah’s ark, a really good box of bricks, a horse and cart,
dolls, and a nice doll’s house are quite sufficient for any small
person. The child who is dependent on a constant supply of mechanical
and expensive toys is a poor thing, and is never likely to grow up to be
much good to itself or to anyone else.

If we arrange our nursery on these lines, and have the dressing-room
also, we should require the simple bed for the nurse only to be brought
into the room for use at night, and the dressing-room should be entirely
kept for dressing purposes.

Our nursery needs a good cupboard. Wallace sells a good deal ‘linen
cupboard,’ which, painted ‘real ivory,’ or electric turquoise enamel,
makes a capital nursery wardrobe, and here the child’s clothes should be
kept, while the nurse should have one of Wallace’s indispensable corner
wardrobes for her dresses, which costs by the way the ridiculous sum of
28s. All that is required besides is a combination piece of furniture
with drawers--toilet-table and washing-stand combined--and which would
give her ample space for all the linen she possesses. One of Shoolbred’s
small bamboo cupboard-tables would hold boots and shoes and bonnets
quite well, and no accumulations of any kind should be allowed. The
nurse’s box must never be kept in either room, but be relegated at once
to the box-room; and directly a child’s garment is outgrown, or the
worse for wear, let it be given away. The only good I have ever been
able to see in a small house is, that no one can possibly hoard there.
If hoarding is begun it cannot be carried on, because if it were, there
would speedily be no room to turn round.

Now, if one room only can be given up for a nursery, it must have
fitments which can be removable at will in case we stay there not longer
than the ordinary three years; or they can be on the lines of a
‘workers’ room,’ I designed for Messrs Wallace & Co., and which said
fitments are part and parcel of the chamber. In the first place the bed
must fold up by day into a species of ‘combined bedstead and bookcase
arrangement,’ which is a bed by night, and looks like a
bookcase-sideboard by day; and in the second, another cupboard must be
furnished with a shelf to draw out from above, resting on brackets: on
which shelf are to stand the basin ewer, etc., when in use. The brushes
and combs must be shut away, while the looking-glass should be an
ornamental one over the mantelpiece.

With a room such as this the nurse must take the child to its mother
when she herself is dressed, and she must throw up the window and open
the door while she breakfasts with the other maid or maids. She must
then ‘do’ her nursery thoroughly, and after that wash and dress the
infant. While the child is quite small this should not be done later
than 9 a.m; after it is a year old it must be dressed before breakfast,
and go to its mother while the nurse has her meal. Indeed, no meals must
be allowed in the nursery under these circumstances; and the fact of
there being only one nurse means that the mother must act as upper
nurse herself.

Such a situation I cannot recommend to any girl who has had but little
acquaintance with the ways and manners of an infant. If she undertakes
it, she will always be sending for a doctor; and, much as I love the
profession, I would rather recommend the payment of a good nurse, for,
if she is good, she knows far more about a baby than any doctor can do.
He has most excellent theories, she a great amount of experience to aid
her in wrestling with infantile complaints, which are generally treated
far more satisfactorily by strict attention to diet, exercise and air,
than by any amount of the newest and most wonderful drugs in the world.

If there are a couple of deep recesses, one each side of the fireplace,
it would be quite possible to treat the room on the principles of the
worker’s room and at no great expense. In one recess should be a folding
bed, closed up in a cupboard during the day time, exactly on the same
lines as the Harrow boys’ beds, and into this cupboard all the bedding
can be shut. The second recess should have four or five shelves fitted
in, and these should be covered by doors in three divisions. The upper
and lower doors should be shorter than the centre one, and they should
all shut and open quite independently of each other. The top cupboard
should be used for garments; the second one should enclose two shelves,
the lower one of which should be double width and hinged half way, so
that when in use, it could open out and be brought forward and be
supported on folding brackets. This shelf must be painted with
Aspinall’s bath enamel or else covered with white American leather to
resist the action of water; and on this the washing apparatus must be
arranged. Above, on the first shelf, all brushes and combs may be
placed, while the glass over the mantelpiece can be used as a
dressing-glass, or we can have one fixed inside the cupboard door that
faces the light. On the other door should be fixed a brass rod for
towels, then all would be complete. The cupboard under this shelf could
be used on one side for the slop-pail, etc., and on the other for boots
and shoes. These fitments could be made out of deal by any decent
amateur carpenter. The wood could either be ‘goehring,’ which cannot
warp or crack, or else well-seasoned deal, ‘primed for painting.’ It
should receive a coat of Aspinall’s enamel, and after two days have
elapsed and allowed that coat to harden thoroughly, a second should be
applied. Paint is saved and a good decorative effect is obtained by
filling in the panels with Japanese leather paper or else with
anaglypta, while carved panels can be bought very cheaply in the
material ‘goehring,’ which of course would require the same amount of
paint as would the rest of the cupboard fitments. Then the window-seat
can either be the box-ottoman one already suggested, sold by Story &
Triggs for about £6, 6s., and called the ‘Desideratum,’ or it can be
made at home from more deal or more ‘goehring.’ In this case the
simplest way to proceed is to put a straight piece of wood right across
the bow or Caldecott window, hiding it by a flounce of cretonne. The
back of the window would form the back of the ottoman, while the bottom
could be made of brown holland, tacked in on the inside all round. The
hinges of the top should be fixed to the back of the window, and the
sides should rest on wooden bars nailed on the sides of the window, and
the top should be composed of a stout deal frame, supplemented by straps
of webbing, and on these straps a cushion should be laid stuffed with
flock. This box should be made very strongly indeed and need cost very
little; but although it holds a great deal, and can be most useful to
supplement the cupboards, it can never be half as serviceable as the
real box-ottoman with the ends and sides of which I have already spoken.

[Illustration]

The decoration of such a room as this must depend on the aspect. If this
be very sunny, as indeed it should be, green or blue should be used, the
latter for choice. I do not think anyone who has not tried it can have
the smallest idea how delightful this colour is to live with, or the use
of it would be far more universal than it is even now. Of course people
get the wrong blue, and then rave against it, and rightly too, for a
drab or dull shade is simply awful. There are some shades which go black
or grey at night, but no difficulty is found where Aspinall’s ‘electric
turquoise’ or ‘hedge sparrow egg’ blue is taken as one’s guiding star.
An _old_ turquoise, or a rather dark-coloured duck’s egg are also very
useful as guides to colour, should Aspinall be unprocurable, and the
rather prohibitive price (4s. 6d. a piece) puts Smee’s Panton blue paper
entirely out of the market, as far as a small suburban nursery is
concerned. The cupboards and all the paint can also be of a soft brown
shade, and then the dado should either be in anaglypta painted the same
colour, or else in a blue and brown cretonne, which can be found
sometimes at Colbourne’s, or at Liberty’s or at Oetzmann’s. Above that
should be hung one of Knowles’s less expensive blue papers, if one can
get it the right shade and he generally keeps it now, or the
ever-faithful blue ‘Olive-leaf’ on which we cannot improve for a small
room. The furniture should be as advised before, though, if the room be
tiny, and there is only one child, Derry & Toms’ folding-table at 4s.
11d. is quite large enough for all purposes, and leaves us far more
space in the centre of the room than we should otherwise possess.

If the room is sunless: well, I should like to say that this is
impossible: but, alas! I know that it is not: the room should be done in
yellows and browns, and have blue curtains and carpet. But a sunless
room is a crime, and should never be allowed. Neither should a
tree-shaded house be chosen. Trees mean damp and flies and all sorts of
misery; and if the trees which luxuriate in some suburbs cannot be cut
down these suburbs must be avoided, for trees are all very well in their
way, and lovely and pleasant enough in a big park, but they always come
much too close to a small house, and I personally have been almost
crippled with rheumatism and obliged to make two or three expensive
moves, because I did not understand how very much the nearness of trees
to a house had to do with the damp which caused me so much unnecessary
suffering. Besides they keep out sunshine and light, and moreover
harbour insects and dirt; and I think flies are among those miseries of
suburban or country life which are never properly taken into account
when folks think and speak of the delights of either existence.

By the way talking of flies let me give one or two simple ways of
dealing with these torments and with their friends, the wasps, which
however should never be destroyed heedlessly, because they in their turn
prey on the flies and reduce their numbers pretty considerably. For
flies the eucalyptus spray is a capital treatment, the only drawback
being the extreme stickiness of the eucalyptus water which falls about,
and often marks our cherished possessions. Then, Sanitas is very
valuable, and if people are not sensitive to smells, no flies have ever
been found which would face carbolic acid, a fact that I proved during
one damp summer, when we were almost eaten alive by the little wretches.
For one of my children caught scarlet fever, and the moment the orthodox
sheets were erected, and the mop used freely on the floors to spread
about the same disgusting stuff, with one accord the flies departed,
and as far as I can make out have not yet returned at anyrate in any
great numbers. I discovered, too, that wasps dislike eucalyptus, but not
as much as flies do (these by the way retreat also before paraffin),
while they vanished absolutely before Liberty’s ‘joss sticks.’ These
when burned liberally, kept them entirely at bay, and that in a year
when the newspapers were filled with complaints as to their numbers and
ferocity. Gnats are sometimes circumvented by hanging ‘southernwood’ on
the bed, or about the windows, while, if the house be old or much
covered with creepers--I advise nothing but tiny virginian creepers and
clematis, roses bring blight and increase one’s insect troubles at
once--it is absolutely necessary to stretch very fine black gauze or net
on a frame to cover entirely the window outside. This keeps out every
insect, does not show, and does not keep out the very smallest amount of
air or light. Only are earwigs circumvented by these means, or by a
liberal use of disinfectants and of paraffin, but such remedies are to
me worse than the disease and can only be employed if folks are not
highly sensitive to smells. Carbolic makes me physically sick for hours
at a time, and I think even the worst plague of flies which was ever
experienced is better than the misery and discomfort of almost perpetual
nausea. But when carbolic has not this effect it should undoubtedly be
largely used to keep all insects at bay.

Now let us just for one moment describe a suburban house where decent
nurseries are possible, where a good spare room is left, and a bedroom
and dressing-room do exist, and which yet costs no more than £95 a year,
for I see no reason why all small suburban houses should not be built on
these lines. The staircase comes up from the hall to a narrow landing;
on the left hand is the spare-room door, opposite that are good bed and
dressing-rooms; and then on the right is an arch, beyond which are
bathroom, day and night nurseries and a nursery pantry, designed first
as a dressing-room to the room used for the night nursery.

This arrangement is small but perfect, for if infectious disease entered
the nurseries, they could be isolated in one moment by a match boarding
doorway erected in the arch and protected each side by the usual
carbolic sheets. The strength of the carbolic, by the way, is 1 in 20,
and the sheets are kept damp with an ordinary garden syringe. At the
first hint of infection the rooms should be cleared of all superfluous
furniture and draperies, and the carpets taken away and cleaned at once,
while all floors should be mopped at least twice a day with the same
carbolic as used for the sheets, etc., and in this every article used in
the sick-room must be steeped before it leaves the place. Every mother
and every nurse should know what to do on an emergency, and the moment
anything infectious appears, the utmost precautions must be taken to
prevent a spread of the complaint. Of course the doctor and the master
of the house notify the complaint at once to the authorities, but the
neighbours on each side and in front and back should be told too, and
the tradesmen be warned; indeed, no precautions are too great to ensure
that no one shall suffer by our fault or our carelessness and
selfishness. Remember that we may be unconscious murderers if we are not
super-careful at such times, for some child may die because we have not
sufficiently realised the situation, or known how really wrong it is to
run the very tiniest risk of giving someone else anything that may be
fatal. As children more especially are liable to take infectious
diseases the nurseries cannot be too lightly furnished, though of
course, comfort must not in any way be neglected, nor must draughts be
allowed. All curtains and _portières_ must be washed, and the carpet and
all furniture be removed at once, even if it have to be stored in the
passages and other rooms, and be greatly in the way of the other
inhabitants of the house. If the children have pets the dogs and cats
must be washed with carbolic soap and water, and sent away at once, and
the canaries must be removed downstairs. I do not think anyone realises
how easily cats and dogs can spread complaints, else I should not have
heard my nurse exclaim, ‘Oh! I should never have thought of sending away
the dogs.’ Neither, by the same token, would the doctor, although both
our dogs were in the habit of reposing on the beds, and one at least had
extremely long hair.

To sum up briefly the necessities of a healthy nursery, I should say
that they include two easily-isolated rooms, plenty of sun and air as
opposed to heat and draughts, and above all, spotless cleanliness and
well-made, simply-designed furniture, which can be easily moved, which
allows of no accumulations, and which finally can be kept by the nurse
herself in a state of perfect dustlessness without an undue amount of
labour. Under these circumstances even a suburban house can be made to
do its duty and to provide the proper accommodation for our future
citizens the children of the home.



CHAPTER VIII

BEDROOMS


In the rooms set aside for the purposes of rest and sleep, I venture to
remark that the ordinary builder, to say nothing of the ordinary
decorator, rises to his very worst heights of villainy, and makes the
task before us one of almost superhuman effort. I have had three of
these houses to live in, and in all of them, when the doors did not face
the only possible place to put the bed, they came exactly at the side of
the fire, and left no space whatever to put a sofa, let alone a
comfortable armchair should one be ill and have to remain in one’s room
longer than the hours which are set apart for repose. And as illness is
always possible, and moreover more than possible is it vain to ask when
further ‘eligible sites’ are cut up for building, that the landlords of
the future will kindly keep an eye on the

[Illustration: BEDROOM.]

plans and ensure the houses being built in such a way that it is
possible to live in them without an undue expenditure of money or
resources? How I should love to design just for once the small ideal
house with its square hall, capable of being used as an extra
sitting-room or a billiard-room, we need not then have the ‘three
reception-rooms’ which sound so grand and mean so little. Upstairs
should be three good bedrooms and a dressing-room, bath and day nursery;
the servants’ rooms and box-room in their turn above these, and whenever
possible, reached by a separate staircase. I see no reason why such a
house with reasonable and rational servants’ downstairs accommodation,
as already described, should be out of the reach of the usual suburban
resident with his £800 to £1000 a year.

If arranged in this compact and comfortable style, and if every
labour-saving appliance that is obtainable is introduced, the number of
servants required would be minimised. A great consideration in these
days, when though we are always being badgered to help the unemployed no
one seems able to get any servants, and, even if they are forthcoming,
they have to be paid double the old prices, while they do half the
amount of work. At least that is what I am always hearing. Personally, I
have never found any difficulty in obtaining all the maids I myself
require.

At the same time, if I were building ever so small a house, I should
undoubtedly have hot and cold water taps and a waste pipe in every
bedroom and dressing-room, and would even go as far as to have fixed
washing-stands there too. I would put at least one cupboard in each
room, also a window-seat, and, of course, the regulation tiled hearth
and slow-combustion stove with its tiled surround and its simple black
fender. The short curtains to the windows, the carefully-selected
pictures and ornaments, and the matted floor should all help to make the
work light, and to render it unnecessary to keep any superfluous number
of maids.

But we have at present to do with the suburban residence as it is and
not as it might be, and therefore it is not much use in dreaming about
perfection, for if we do we shall most certainly be disappointed, and do
no real good at all. We shall have to combat shrunken doors and
ill-fitting windows, poor grates and bad floors, and therefore the
sooner we set about remedying these faults the better it will be for us.
I do most certainly advise that whatever else is put up with, the usual
black wide-mouthed all-devouring grate may be altered and replaced with
some kind of a very simple slow-combustion one. These grates can be
bought for £3 or £4 at Shuffery’s in Welbeck Street, and will probably
save their cost in coal in one month’s use. Besides which they will
ensure the warmth and comfort which cannot possibly exist without them;
for pile on coal as we may on the grate of the past, the heat goes
mostly up the chimney, while the fuel is exactly as useful as regards
keeping the fire in, as would be leaves or pieces of paper. Our sole
occupation with such a grate is to jump up every five minutes and
prevent the fire from going out altogether, by putting on more coal,
and yet again more; until our patience, to say nothing of our coal
supply, gives out most completely. I have recently spent some months in
the company of such a grate, and I can assure my readers I have not had
a pleasant time of it. I happened to be obliged to have a fire in all
night, and I had no sooner gone comfortably to sleep than the cold
roused me again to find that the wretched thing had gone out or almost
out, notwithstanding that half an hour before I had not only fed it
copiously with coal, but put briquettes in considerable numbers into its
vast and hungry jaws. Briquettes which will as a rule keep in the fire
for nearly twelve hours were useless here, and I have been therefore
confirmed in my deadly hatred against these grates by my sufferings at
their hands during a long and most exceptionally severe winter.

Once more, I can assure my readers as regards the grates, that it is
absolutely no use to temporise; and that both the one in the day nursery
and that in the best bedroom must go, even if it cannot be managed that
the grates in the other upstairs rooms can be changed; while let
nothing persuade anyone to have gas stoves erected. They are both
cheerless and unhealthy, albeit I know they are a great saving in
trouble, that they are now properly ventilated, and that they can be
turned on and off at a moment’s notice, and can be so regulated that the
proper temperature for all rooms--60 degrees--can be maintained either
at night or day. But I cannot breathe in any house where gas is allowed
to warm the air. I know plants never last in such an atmosphere, as my
plants do, and that, moreover, wherever gas stoves are employed largely,
anyone in that special place is pale, wan and susceptible to cold.
Indeed, the more I see of any attempt to heat our rooms otherwise than
by open fires, the more I am convinced that such attempts are harmful
and unsuccessful, and that, therefore, coal and wood fires should be
‘our only wear,’ at least until some genius invents something better and
less costly. At the same time I don’t see why anyone need make such
attempts--given the proper grates--for nothing can take the place of a
cheery blaze, which apart from its health-giving properties, always
seems to greet us when we enter the room, is a delightful companion, and
oftentimes provides us with a pleasant occupation should we be bored or
tired. For nothing is more pleasing than to feed a good-tempered blaze
until it laughs and chuckles at us as it goes rollicking up the chimney
on its way to the outer air.

Then the last thing at night it can be banked up and left, rather
dull-looking perhaps and surly and sad; but when the early morning comes
one poke of the judiciously-applied poker and out leaps the eager blaze;
a few good knobs of coal are put on, and in less than five minutes back
comes our cheery friend, making even a foggy morning bright and
cheerful, and a wet or snowy one vivacious if nothing else, under its
bright and charming influence. What stove, what emotionless gas glitter
can be anything save prosaic in comparison? while I am certain health
suffers where anything save a proper fire is ordinarily employed.

A careful tenant can keep the landlord’s grates and replace them when he
leaves, but I never think this is worth the expense, the principal
expense about changing the grates being the fixing them; at the same
time, I cannot say too often that we shall not want to move in the
insensate manner in which suburban residents do move nowadays, if we
make ourselves comfortable at first, and do not sit down to discomfort,
with that depressing sentence on our lips--‘After all, it’s only for
three years, and therefore it is not worth while!’

Having begun our reform by putting in new and decent grates, we can turn
our attention to the doors and windows and the floor. The draughts must
be excluded by ‘Slater’s patent,’ and the floor properly stopped, and
moreover planed if rough; while should the door show gaps, as I once
knew one to do, in a manner which allowed the unfortunate owner to
perceive, without opening it, whether the gas was burning in the hall
outside or not, these gaps must be stopped, either by inserting slips of
wood, or with putty, or some sort of stopping: the door, as usual,
being covered inside and out by the ever-useful, ever-faithful and most
decorative _portière_. I cannot understand the firm and pugnacious way
in which the ordinary householder clings to his bare and undraped doors,
and will not avail himself of the shelter and warmth which can be
obtained in no other way. It cannot be the expense. Wallace supplies the
rods at 4½d. a foot, the brackets cost about 4½d. each, and as a yard
and a quarter of double-width material suffices for the ordinary
suburban door, though I advise an extra half width; and this costs, at
the outside, 5s.; I see no reason why this should not be put over even
the humblest suburban door in the world. As it cannot be the cost, I can
but come to the conclusion that as usual paterfamilias has interfered, a
thing no man should do in a house on the matter of decoration and
management. He may give an opinion if he is asked for one: though he is
most judicious who takes care that that opinion coincides with that of
his wife, so if he has been hardy enough to veto the _portière_, he must
be gently, but firmly, shown that it is not stuffy--the thermometer
will do that--and that neither is it a dust-trap. This can be
demonstrated in a few minutes by taking it down before his eyes, and
having it removed, shaken, and replaced all in less time than it takes
to tell of it. If after this he objects to moving it on one side as he
enters the door, he must be carefully trained to see how ridiculous such
a notion is, the while it is casually mentioned that an entrance to a
room is not to be effected in the same way one takes a five-barred gate.
This is a lesson all men can be taught just as many of them have been
taught, thanks to me, that the hall need not be strewed with hats,
gloves and brushes, and hung with coats and waterproofs in the last
stages of dissolution, and that they can be quite as happy with their
raiment out of sight as ever they were when they were allowed to strew
it about in their entrances, at their own sweet wills. It is, however,
usually impossible to live in an ordinary suburban house unless the
furniture be made, in a measure for that special abode. For the rooms
are so awkward and tiny that ‘combination’ furniture must be employed,
or else one cannot have space to move.

No bed should ever be draped in any way. If the bedroom is properly
arranged and ventilated, while all draughts are excluded, curtains
cannot be required, and no bed need present a starved or undecorated
appearance if pictures are properly arranged behind it, or a bookcase
hung on the wall above it, and the pillows properly put into frilled
cases, and placed during the day high up on under pillows. At night the
look of the bed behind the sleepers cannot trouble them, but it will be
all right if, as I said before, pictures are hung properly, just, and
only just above the top rail of the plain and simple brass bed, the only
kind which should ever be allowed in any house. If brass is too dear,
then plain iron must replace it; the iron can be Aspinalled ‘real
ivory,’ and so be made to look quite superior in every way, should the
plain black iron be objected to.

I am quite shocked to see that a strenuous effort is being made to
revive the beautiful, but unhealthy, wooden bedsteads of our ancestors,
but I do hope someone will form an ‘anti-wooden bed league,’ and scotch
the thing in its very earliest days, for there are people who will buy
anything if assured by an enterprising tradesman that it is the newest
thing out, and that a similar article was sold to a member of the
aristocracy during the last week or so. Now, the very idea of the
newness should warn off any wary buyer, for a new thing cannot have been
really tried and found successful, while anyone can be fairly sure that
a thing which has been sold, and sold largely for ten or more years,
must be a success in one way or the other.

Really it does seem a little late in the century to combat the vast
disadvantages of wooden bedsteads! still, it must certainly be done,
else once more shall we have to put up with them, to the great detriment
of our health. Just think how impossible it would be to make a wooden
bed absolutely safe should infectious disease seize the owner! Then too
it encourages insects, and is open to all sorts of other objections
which those who think can discover for themselves. Therefore stick to
brass and iron and the excellent wire-woven mattresses, which only need
supplementing with a really good hair mattress to make an ideal couch,
particularly if we see the latter is turned every day, and moved from
the head to the foot of the bed, to ensure an equal amount of wear.

The simpler the furniture in a bedroom, the better it will be for the
owner thereof, and if she can visit Hewetson and have real old
Chippendale toilet-tables and washing-stands and wardrobes she should
certainly do so; if not she should buy new things made on similar lines,
and these she can always find at Smee & Cobay’s, while for good plain
furniture in a less expensive make, Wallace is always available, and
should certainly be consulted on this ever-fascinating subject.

But I am indeed thankful to have to note that the brief reign of
brightly-enamelled and coloured bedroom furniture is now at an end, as
dead as the peacock’s feather and the Japanese fan, and the dreadful
stuffed storks and chenille monkeys so dear to the heart of the
would-be artistic woman. Enamel is most excellent and useful if we must
have the plain deal furniture, which we used to have to buy grained and
varnished, and of an awful sickly yellow brown that would have ruined
any room. But in this case we must buy the furniture in the plain wood
‘primed for painting,’ and either ask the upholsterer to follow our
directions implicitly, or else have it home in this state, and paint it
ourselves or turn on the handy man, without whom no suburban residence
can be made in the least degree habitable, unless we can afford reckless
expenditure, in which case we should hardly take up our residence in a
similar abode. If this style of furniture be gone in for, it should be
recollected that there are only two shades of enamel which can be used
in a would-be artistic house for this purpose, and those are ‘electric
turquoise’ and ‘real ivory.’ Green pink and yellow are truly terrible,
and cannot be excused. Plain brown stain is bearable but I do not advise
it, while let no one attempt to use an amateur green stain on any
account. It is a failure at once and makes any room abominable because
of its pretentiousness, for as I have said before, the beautiful green
stain made familiar to us by Liberty first, can only be obtained from a
professional hand, an amateur cannot get it, try how he may to do so.
Now there are about three ways of decorating a suburban bedroom, though
of course the details as regards special papers and special furniture
can be varied infinitely. At the same time no one should make the fatal
mistake of treating such a house or such rooms either in the Moorish,
Japanese or Old Empire style, or in any eccentric fashion at all.
Neither way can be suitable for it. Indeed, I do not care for the jumble
of styles made by having an eastern-looking hall, an Old English
dining-room, a Queen Anne drawing-room and a Moorish landing, which is
so inexpressively dear to the would-be artistic decorator, and I can but
suggest that my readers will resist the temptation of similar
eccentricities to the very utmost, contenting themselves with the simple
furniture kept by my pet firms, and using this in connection with the
papers and paint which are specially made and designed to go with the
different styles. If a really good hand-made floral paper can be
afforded, nothing can approach it for bedroom decoration; but the
printed cheap imitations must not be looked at for one moment, for they
cannot possibly be the success the others are. Where a floral bedroom
fails to charm, it is always because the paper is just not quite right,
because every detail has not been thought out and carried out to the
very smallest item, or because a timid person has advised on the
subject, or the advice has been given by someone who does not understand
the subject. Now to obtain success, Jeffrey’s papers or Knowles’s or
Haines’s must be used, and here let me name some which are always in
stock, and which can always be procured. First of all is Haines’s
‘ragged robin,’ a French paper on a soft ground, which is perfect; then
comes Jeffrey’s clematis in different shades and combinations of colour,
my pet one being the mauve and green I have already mentioned, while
Knowles’s ‘rose’ and dahlia papers are beautiful, as are Godfrey
Giles’s, and although the cost is awful we must not forget Mr Smee’s
magnificent ‘Hamilton,’ albeit that could only be used as a frieze, as
it is something like 10s. or 12s. a piece. Having chosen the floral
paper the dado should be either in cretonne which matches the paper
exactly; or else a dado should be made like a deep flounce in some plain
material. If we select the cretonne, it must be run round the room so
that the pattern goes in a different way to that on the wall, and the
window curtains must match precisely. But should we select what Godfrey
Giles calls the ‘Muriel’ curtain dado, the curtains should be in plain
linen and lace, as should the table-covers, mantel drapery, and any
cushion covers we may have in the room. Unless we use Miss Goodban’s new
linen and flax curtains, draperies, etc.; these, of course, are much
more expensive, but then they are ideal, and the bedspreads at any rate
should not be forgotten, for they wash and wear better than any others I
have ever come across.

Then too the ware should match the flowers employed in the decoration;
and in all floral rooms, save where blue and yellow are employed
together, the floor should have either one of Wallace’s square green
carpets--the only green carpets on which one can absolutely rely to be
always correct and always the same--or else plain cream matting or the
green ‘Isis’ matting should fit the room as the old-fashioned carpets
used to, supplemented of course with a certain amount of rugs
judiciously arranged, and not put down in straight lines each side of
the bed or in front of the toilet-table and washing-stand and fireplace,
as they are all too often arranged by those who do not understand the
matter. The paint should always be the exact shade of the ground of
these floral papers, and this generally shades from pale ivory to still
paler _café-au-lait_. Not that I mean for one moment that the paint in
one room should be anything save one even surface of colour, but that as
a rule the shade of the ground of these papers differs one from the
other, and that whatever shade is chosen for the ground, that and that
only must be taken as a guide for the paint for the room itself.
Further, all cornices must be coloured cream and all ceilings, save
those just written of, should be papered in some pretty and inexpensive
ceiling paper, which, as a rule, in ‘floral rooms,’ should be Jeffrey’s
‘tie’ paper in pale green and white.

The best furniture for these rooms is Wallace’s set of green-stained
furniture with tiles to match the shade selected in the wall paper; that
is to say if we select pink and green, the tiles should be absolutely
plain pale pink in the palest shade of coral pink, and if we have yellow
and green, the tiles should be yellow; while if plain dados and curtains
are used, the colour for these should be green as should the carpets.
These rules should apply to any combination of colour we may select, the
only exception being if we should have blue and yellow. Then blue must
be our foundation, so to speak, while the tiles must be yellow and
patternless, and the furniture in some good dark wood, such as walnut or
Chippendale mahogany, my pet wood of all the woods one can buy.

If we select real Chippendale furniture, we should not have a floral
room, although it would be correct to have one of the strange and to me
hideous Chinese papers Knowles sells, and which were, I believe, the
only correct wall papers at that special date, and which should be used
with chintz, not cretonne, curtains. But then it would be still more
correct to paint and panel the walls, and that would be singularly out
of place in a suburban bedroom; unless we fell upon one of Mr Ernest
Newton’s little houses, when we should probably find the panelling ready
for us and have nothing to do but paint it. Still I never can bear a
plain painted wall, or one that is colour-washed or plainly papered.
Such a room can never look really furnished, and has a most depressing
effect; and in consequence I always advise paper; for, after all one had
better be comfortable than correct. If we were absolutely correct, by
the way, and remorselessly turned our backs on all anachronisms, we
should have bow windows with tiny panes, rush-strewn floors and all
sorts of detestable things which have long since vanished along with the
‘bad old times’ which gave them birth. Therefore as we will not be
severely correct, we should have either an ivory anaglypta dado, and
above that a ‘sea-green’ paper from Knowles or Smee & Cobay: or we
should have an anaglypta ceiling coloured real ivory, and all sea-green
finishings-off, as suggested before. Also we can use a really beautiful
old-world material called linen damask, which can be bought of Smee, and
which is a washable imitation of the damasks used by our ancestors, only
in really beautiful colours, and not in the crude and awful greens,
blues and reds which were so dear to their hearts. If the bedroom is
sunless this green idea must be most studiously avoided; and yellow must
take its place, arranged either with a dado or frieze of the anaglypta,
or else with nut-brown paint and a brown linen curtain dado and yellow
printed damask curtains.

A dado is far more useful in a bedroom than a frieze, for it saves the
base of the wall from the tender mercies of the housemaid, and allows
the bed to be placed against the wall, which is by far the best position
for any bed; for, placed with the head and one side against the wall, it
cannot take up half the space it does when stuck out into the middle of
the room, as so many beds all too often do. I would by the way, most
strongly recommend the beds which are known as ‘twin bedsteads,’ and
which allow two people occupying one room to sleep quite independently
of each other’s movements, and which are therefore most invaluable in
every way. There is no greater misery than for a restless person to have
to control his or her every movement for fear of disturbing a bedfellow,
no greater misery than for a quiet sleeper to be aroused every moment by
some impatient gesture from a restless one: and all drawbacks are
removed by having these twin bedsteads, which make each individual
sleeper comfortable, and which also are very simple and well devised
without any undue amount of embellishments.

Beds, by the way, should always be thoroughly dusted once a week, the
entire bedding being removed for that purpose; while twice or three
times a year the ironwork should be taken apart and well washed with
Sanitas or carbolic soap, not because there is any chance of strange
visitors having taken up their abode there, but because in no other way
can one ensure the spotless dustlessness, to coin a word, that makes a
house as healthy as it should most undoubtedly be. The third manner of
decorating a bedroom, and the least expensive, is to take some definite
colour--such as blue, yellow or pink--and ‘live up’ to that, and that
only in that special room, taking care to choose an inexpensive paper in
the right shade, and not deviating from it in the smallest degree. For
example, the blue should be ‘electric turquoise,’ and none other.
Knowles has always inexpensive papers the right shade, and if we avoid
the detestable ‘feather’ which is dreadful, we shall be all right. Then
the paint should be ‘electric turquoise.’ We should have a yellow and
white ceiling paper, and should have Wallace’s blue ‘lily’ or ‘iris’
square carpet, taking care to have a woollen fringe round it and a
stained surround; using as always, Jackson’s invaluable varnish stains.
If the room be light, we can use Burnett’s Bolton sheeting in the same
blue, with a ‘turned-over’ top of the new-patterned sheeting to
harmonise; but if it is dark and sunless the curtains should be yellow,
in a similar material, although nothing should induce anyone to have
coloured muslin curtains should the windows require a second set. All
muslin curtains should be white, or at most only a faint shade of
cream, and muslin curtains should be in all windows; upstairs and down;
edged with very-softly-falling frills; unless the windows are
‘Caldecott’ ones, and therefore only require the one short set of
material ones, which can be easily drawn and undrawn as required. In the
blue room I am very fond of ash furniture and this can be bought at
Wallace’s quite well, but avoid here as elsewhere the ordinary chests of
drawers, or my pet abomination, a chest of drawers to be used as
toilet-table too; neither, under any circumstances, must a toilet-table
be placed in the window; neither must ‘half blinds’ be indulged in.
These two things look more vulgar than I can say, and are to be
studiously avoided by anyone who cares about the outside appearance of
her house.

If yellow be fixed on, we can have a real orange damasque paper, and
ivory or brown paint, green carpet, curtains and furniture, or we can
have ‘buttercup’ yellow, with ‘earth brown’ paint, matting and rugs, or
else a brown square ‘Dunelm’ carpet from Wallace, Liberty’s brown and
yellow Java cretonne, and walnut or mahogany furniture. Or yet again
the paint can be real ivory, the carpet and curtains blue, and the
furniture ‘real ivory’ too, in fact a little taste and common-sense will
provide an artistic room for any furniture that my readers may already
possess.

If pink is chosen, there is only one paper I can really recommend as to
colour, and that is a very old one: Pither’s bay tree: which could be
used with ivory paint, a deep frieze of Knowles’s ‘rose-garland,’ and
cretonne curtains to match, and here without any doubt at all we should
have a green carpet and Chippendale mahogany furniture. I am very often
asked by young girls about to get married what they can be working for
their future homes, and I always say, ‘very little,’ unless they have
already made up their minds what furniture they are to have, and how
their rooms are to be decorated; because if they have a large stock of
pretty things, pretty in themselves, they may find themselves either
unable to use them at all or obliged to do so in rooms in which they
become frightful at once, because they are utterly out of place. A room
cannot be a success unless every detail dovetails and harmonises, and
where the bedspreads, cushions and toilet-covers live in harmony with
their neighbours; the curtains, paper and paint. However it is always
safe to choose certain papers, such as those I have mentioned, and to
work bedspreads to match, while, if we select pink as our leading
colour, or yellow or blue, the flax and linen cushions and covers I have
spoken of as prepared for work or worked by Miss Goodban can always
provide occupation. Neither must it be forgotten that initials must be
embroidered on the house linen, and that sets of sheets and towels must
be kept for each room, and duly embellished with monograms in
appropriate shades of Duncan’s excellent washing silks.

Where a house fails to be a real success, be sure it is because some
detail has been forgotten, and under these circumstances let no one rest
until it is remembered and carried out. And here I am sure, is a great
opening for an artistic woman with a keen eye for effect--if only she
could persuade some of our larger upholsterers to employ her--for such
a woman is badly wanted to go round every newly-furnished house, and
note down as she goes the small things which will invariably escape the
best male eye in the world, and even the eye of the best decorator. She
will, pocket-book in hand, note the differences in the paint, which
always occur where Aspinall is not used, the bolt or knob forgotten
there, the curtain placed in the wrong room, the _portière_ that has
been left out, and she will finally put the last touches which none but
a woman can, and which in some mysterious manner turn a house into the
home it can always be made by anyone who really and truly understands
the science. But nothing must be passed over; no doubt it takes time and
thought to obtain perfection, still both are to be had, ay, even in the
shoddy villa of the suburbs. But there must be no temporising, no ‘it
doesn’t matter, it’s only for a short time.’ Neither must draughty doors
and windows be allowed to remain; if so, pneumonia will come to stay,
chronic colds will be our portion, and we shall be miserable from the
moment we enter the house until we pass out of it in search of another,
where we shall only once more meet with a similar fate; for the ‘move
on, please!’ of the policeman is not worse or more constant than the
silent hint given by the suburban villa that it is not in any way a
suitable place of residence for us and ours, if we have not really
circumvented its idiosyncrasies and made the very best of an absolutely
bad job. Remember too, the great help a screen is in every bedroom which
is big enough to have one without over-crowding, that one can easily
have too many pictures and ornaments which encourage dust and enrage the
housemaid, and that even the soiled linen basket should be chosen
carefully. In these happy days, cheap things are quite as prettily
designed as expensive ones, and if we take our time, know our shops and
our own minds, and set to work carefully, there is nothing to prevent us
nowadays from having a quite perfect house, and that without any undue
expenditure of money or time.



CHAPTER IX

DRESSING-ROOMS AND BATHROOMS


Lucky indeed is that suburban householder who finds himself the proud
possessor of one or more dressing-rooms beside the orthodox bathroom,
which, thanks to the march of the ages, is now to be found in the quite
small houses which are only meant for such a humble individual as the
ordinary city clerk. As a rule, there will be a dressing-room leading
out of the ‘best’ bedroom, and if this need not be used as described in
the chapter on nurseries, it were well to contemplate it and consider
carefully if it cannot serve the purpose of a small private retreat for
the house-mistress, should the ‘third room’ have to be devoted to the
maids, or to the master, or even to schoolroom purposes. For it is
absolutely necessary that she should have such a retreat; and if the
bathroom be available for the husband as indeed it should always be in
a little house, where visitors are the exception and not the rule, there
can be no reason why the dressing-room should not be so arranged that
the wife could use it in the daytime, ay, and even see her more intimate
friends there, if she cares to do so. I have twice had houses which have
had fireless dressing-rooms, and these were, of course, very difficult
to deal with, even when the rooms were used as dressing-rooms only, and
I do not quite know what I should have done had I not had other rooms
available for myself. Yet as both dressing-rooms were on the outside of
the house, fire-places or stoves could have been placed there, and, of
course, ought to have been erected at once. But the bathroom in each
case was used for a dressing-room, and the hot water always kept at a
proper state of warmth even in the coldest weather; though in both cases
fire-places were available had it been necessary to have greater heat.
But when frost appeared we were always ready for it; we kept gas and
fires burning whenever pipes were likely to freeze, and as all the
outside pipes were properly protected, I have never had a pipe burst
myself and have never experienced in my own person the miseries I have
had so graphically described to me by sufferers from this most
disagreeable consequence of carelessness and the improper manner in
which pipes are fixed and the supply pipes managed by the ordinary water
company.

But first let us consider how the dressing-room can be arranged should
it be necessary to use it during the day as a species of sitting-room or
boudoir for the mistress of the house. Of course all dressing-rooms
should be painted and decorated to match, or else to harmonise with the
bedrooms to which they are attached, but I think a harmony rather than
an exact copy should be the aim of whoever wishes to use this room as a
boudoir for some hours at least during the day. Suppose, for example, we
have a very sunny bedroom, and we have selected a soft green paper, such
as Smee’s ‘green ash,’ and a rose-frieze for it, in that case we could
have a pale pink paper in the dressing-room above a matting, or
Japanese leather dado in green and gold, with all real ivory paint, and
the furniture here could be in the stained green wood which I always
admire so much, and of which it seems impossible to tire. We could have
the green ‘Isis’ matting and rugs on the floor, and the curtains could
be of sage-green serge; this would make a charming room, and while it
would not slavishly copy, neither would it flatly contradict the scheme
of colour in the bedroom.

In the same way a blue bedroom could have a yellow dressing-room
attached, and this could be managed by selecting some real yellow paper,
and placing it above either a gold-and-brown Japanese leather dado, or,
yet again, above a matting dado, remembering that the matting used for
this purpose must never under any circumstances have the smallest
pattern on it; if it have, the look of the wall will be spoiled and the
decorations will be anything but a real success. I am compelled to
impress this fact upon my readers, because I have often seen a house
spoiled simply because a matting dado to the room meant to the owner
merely a dado made of matting; and she had not realised that chessboard
patterns or large diamonds are entirely out of place in this situation.
The only matting that should be used is the thin plain string-coloured
kind made on purpose, and which is sold at Shoolbred’s, Oetzmann’s, and
sometimes at Wallace’s for 10½d. a yard; sometimes Treloar sells it for
something less in a roll of 42 yards, but this matting is essentially
what the French call ‘_a vende d’occasion_,’ and has often to be really
looked for until the right thing is found. If by the way a red and cream
paper is put above a matting dado, and red paint is required to be used,
a matting should be found which has a red thread running through it in
an irregular way; it must not on any account have a set or formal
pattern on it, or it will not be the success that it deserves to be.

Yet another hint, on no account should the dado or frieze rail be in the
least degree heavy, the lighter it is the better, and I do not care for
it to be more than an inch, or at most an inch and a half in depth. A
wider rail always brings itself far too prominently before us, and
attracts undue attention, while the lighter the rail is the cheaper will
it be; and once more I say use ‘goehring,’ and then matters will not
fail to be all that they ought to be. If the paper is yellow and the
dado is brown and yellow, the paint can be brown also, while the
curtains can be blue, as can the carpet, or else plain, patternless
matting can be used, and the usual rugs.

If a blue square carpet is preferred, and lucky is she whose house
contains a dressing-room large enough for this, the ‘Dunelm’ carpet is
the best to have. It is made in most excellent colourings, is all wool,
and very thick, and, moreover, is very inexpensive considering its
admirable qualities. But as a rule a dressing-room resembles a tube or
part of a hall more than a room, and as such we must think about it. It
is generally long and narrow, and has a window in the most awkward
situation, with, maybe, the door opposite; while the fireplace, if
fire-place there be, is about a foot to the left or right of the door,
and admirably situated for anyone who may be on the look out for a
cold. This absurd situation can often be successfully treated by making
the door open into the room on the fire side, thus making the door
itself act as a species of screen to whoever may be sitting in the room.
This alteration gives at once a place for a box-ottoman or an arm-chair,
or one of Hewetson’s admirable ‘courting settees,’ which can be placed
with one end against the wall, standing straight out into the room. The
high back of this settee shields anyone using it from draughts, and
these are further to be combated by hanging _portières_ over the door,
inside and out, which will complete the task, already satisfactorily
commenced, by a judicious use of ‘Slater’s patent.’

Then we have to consider very seriously how to arrange for the raiment
that all men collect in such astounding quantities, and from which it is
so desperately hard to part them, try how one will to get possession of
venerable garments, which are of no possible use to the owners, but
which would be of immense service to many unfortunates who all too
often have not only no decent clothes, but do not possess any at all.
This is however a vice all men develop sooner or later, and as they are
made absolutely miserable by casting from them the oldest rag they may
have, it is best in extreme cases to let them have their foolish way,
taking care the moth does not enter into possession, and at the same
time ensuring that they have not over-much space in which to keep their
miserly delights. In a ‘combination’ room all shirts and underclothes
can be kept in a charming piece of furniture Liberty sells, and which
looks like a cabinet mounted on a couple of good deep drawers. It is
made in plain white wood, clamped and ornamented with beaten iron and is
very inexpensive indeed. In the deep drawers can be kept shirts and
trousers, while there are plenty of smaller drawers in the cabinet part
for socks, ties, handkerchiefs and other garments; coats being kept in a
second cabinet, or else in a box-ottoman, or hung up behind the curtains
of Wallace’s ‘P. T. C.’ wardrobe, which can be erected in any corner of
the room and has nothing at all of the bedroom about its appearance.

I have seen a most admirable piece of furniture at Oetzmann’s, which he
calls a desk washing-stand, and which would really be invaluable for
such a room as this. When closed it is exactly like a desk with a flat
top, and could be used as such in the day time most conveniently, but
the top must not be laden with odds-and-ends, books, paperboxes or
similar encumbrances. These should all be in one of Shoolbred’s capital
little cupboard tables; another of these, by the way, being procured for
the boots and shoes in wear. These cupboards would hold three or four
pairs of each, as they have a division-shelf inside, and though I know
starvation is suggested to the ordinary male, to whom such small
provision of foot-gear is indeed nothing short of pauperism, I venture
to suggest that it is sufficient for every day, and that the rest of the
stock can live in a proper boot cupboard in some other locality, which
can easily be found if the house-mistress is clever and able to see at
once the utmost capacity of the special rooms which are available for
such a purpose. Indeed, a properly-made boot-cupboard can stand on one
side of quite a narrow passage, and would never be noticed; for it could
be either the proper one Wallace makes on purpose for boots, or else be
formed merely

[Illustration]

by placing three narrow shelves, one above the other, the top shelf
enamelled the colour of the paint in that special passage, and the whole
concealed from view by a double serge curtain, nailed along the top
shelf with ornamental nails. This curtain must not be run on a rod, for
it is no trouble to lift it; while if it be on a rod, it will be always
out of place, and leave the boots and shoes on view in the most
embarrassing manner. The contents of the shelves can be kept from dust
by nailing Holland on the shelves of a sufficient width to fold over the
boots, and so keep them quite safely from any undue accumulation of
dust, while the top of the outside shelf can be used for ornaments. But
the fewer of these there are in any passage the better, especially in a
small house; one does not require more dust traps than one is absolutely
obliged to have lest the place should appear barren and devoid of
prettiness and attractive plenishings.

The over-mantel must serve as a toilet-glass, and this arrangement I
personally prefer to any other, especially in the winter; but if the
husband shaves--as it seems to me so many more men do nowadays than
formerly--despite the hateful influenza, fogs and other trifles born of
the end of the century, a regular shaving-glass can be set for him when
the room is put ready for him at night; this can be removed to the
bathroom during the day and the room need not give it a home then on any
pretext whatever!

It is an excellent thing to have instead of either the ottoman or the
courting settee a sofa-bed which resembles a couch by day, and can be
turned into a regular bed at night, for often such a bed can be most
useful. I like the ‘grasshopper’ couch, which I have only seen at
Hamilton’s, at Ship Street in Brighton, but this has no provision for
the bed-clothes. These could be placed quite well in a drawer made under
the couch; or Shoolbred has a species of convertible box-ottoman which
would perhaps be best, as the bed-clothes could be quite well placed
there during the day. Yet another cheaper method would be to purchase
one of the folding beds with wire mattresses complete, sold by Story &
Triggs for about 18s. 6d. These could have the extra mattress and
pillows put into frilled cretonne covers all day, the bed-clothes being
folded and put under the mattress comfortably during the same period.

Of course, a deep cretonne flounce should be placed round the frame of
the bed, which under these circumstances would look like an ordinary low
broad sofa. The bed should be pushed against the wall, against which
pillows and cushions should be placed, and this would make a species of
back, against which it would be possible to lean most comfortably. Given
this, the desk washing-stand, and two or three low and comfortable
chairs, and I think little else is necessary.

If much sewing has to be done, a little work-table can always be brought
here from any other larger room, for there are plenty to be had now
which hold a great deal of work, and yet can be carried by one hand. I
have seen one specially good table the top of which is deep and is
fitted for all kinds of sewing, while the under tray has a bag-like top
of sateen or tapestry drawn together by strings, and this, I am assured,
is invaluable for holding socks and other garments which require mending
and overhauling by materfamilias herself. I am no ‘stitchist,’ and I do
not think I ever possessed a thimble since my very earliest schoolroom
days, and even then it was more often lost than available for its
purpose, and I can most certainly say that I never had the smallest
desire to know how to sew, but there are heaps of women who love to
work, and of course there are more still who are obliged to do it and
take it as a matter of course. And if the special mistress who may want
to use the dressing room during the day is in any way devoted to her
needle, she must have a good work-basket which she can remove when not
in use, and which can stand in the bedroom or sitting-room when she does
not require it. If the dressing-room is thus arranged I am sure it will
add immensely to her comfort, for here she will have a refuge from
everyone, and be able to be alone for some hours during the day, in a
room where she will not be easily accessible and which will have nothing
of the bedroom about it. That, by the way, is a great consideration; for
let no one, not even in the smallest house, fall into the desperate
error of sitting in the room in which she sleeps. I have twice had
similar rooms where, of course, the bedroom portion has been carefully
screened or curtained off, but unless one is a chronic invalid, such an
arrangement is no good at all, and even if one is ill, and yet is able
to get up, it is far better to go into a second room on the same floor,
for no screen or curtain can give one any sense of real seclusion, and
no one can have a room properly aired or cleaned unless it is left when
one rises and not entered, save perhaps for dressing purposes, for the
rest of the day. Therefore resist the temptation of the idea of a
combined bed and sitting-room, unless you are reduced to one room only
for all purposes, or are not a householder, or are a ‘paying guest’
(polite language for ‘lodger’) in someone else’s abode. Under these
circumstances, Wallace’s ‘worker’s room’ must be sought after and found,
and its arrangements of course, make any room habitable at once. If the
dressing-room is used, as suggested, for a retreat, the bathroom must be
arranged in such a way that the master of the house can dress there with
comfort; but no garments of any sort must be kept there, neither must
the linen closet be on any account near the hot-water apparatus which
dominates the bathroom. If it is, the linen will become yellow and
rotten, and in a small house it is much better to apportion the linen
into so many special amounts for each room, and keep these portions in
the rooms for which they are intended. An extra cupboard being put up
somewhere: perhaps in the maids’ sitting-room, in which all table-linen
can be kept. Great attention must be paid to the linen closet, and
something should be bought for it every year without fail. As a rule I
am no friend to ‘sales,’ and believe not one jot in the ‘ruinous
sacrifices’ and ‘vast reductions’ which characterise them, but linen can
often be purchased most wonderfully reduced in price at such times, more
especially at Walpole Brothers in New Bond Street, and the
house-mistress should always avail herself of these opportunities to
keep up her stock, not laying in vast quantities, but keeping it up to
its full strength. Unless this is done it is wonderful how soon a small
stock of linen wears out and disappears, and one has the vexatious and
expensive task of renewing the whole at once, which no one should ever
be called upon for one moment to do.

So many people possess what is called a ‘hot closet’ in or near the
bathroom, that these words of advice are not so out of place as they
appear to be at first sight when writing about this special chamber; but
the charms of this said ‘hot closet’ must be resisted if the linen is
meant to wear, while great care must be taken to see that every single
thing sent home from the laundress is properly aired, not only before it
is put away, but also before it is taken into use. Damp clothes may kill
or maim a person for life, and clothes may quite well become damp again
after the first airing, more especially if they are kept in the ordinary
cupboard of the very ordinary suburban residence.

Now if the bathroom should have to be used as a dressing-room, it must
not have more furniture in it on that account than would be placed there
under ordinary circumstances, but it should be papered with a really
good tiled and varnished paper, and the wood-work should be enamelled
‘real ivory.’ I think Godfrey Giles’s ‘Mexican Tile’ paper simply
perfect, but this is a little expensive; still, if it cannot be
afforded, it will serve as a hint to go upon, and Mr Giles must be asked
for something in the same admirable colouring, but in a less expensive
make. At the same time a cheap paper will not do in a bathroom; if we
use one, the steam from the hot water will soon destroy it and make it
flabby and untidy; and we shall either have the expense of re-papering
or have to endure the sight of a torn and spoiled wall, which will make
us unhappy every time we enter the place. The ceiling in the bathroom
should always be colour washed the same pale cream colour which is used
for the cornice, and the floor should be entirely covered with cork
carpet. If the window is overlooked at all, it should be filled in with
cathedral glass in leaded squares, or else should be stippled all over;
we should then have serge curtains to draw easily over the glass, but we
should never put muslin here: it rots at once, and is always flabby and
disagreeable to look at and touch, and no decorative considerations
should allow us to put it where it must be so singularly out of place.

In writing of the bedrooms, I quite forgot to urge upon my readers the
fact that they should never under any circumstances allow themselves to
be talked into buying the detestable regulation towel-horse, which is
always in the way, and can never under any circumstances be necessary,
while no skill can make it anything save an eyesore. Its place can
usually be taken by putting a brass rod on very small brackets at each
end of the ordinary washing-stand, or on the wall itself should the
washing-stand be a round or a corner one, while a good brass rod must be
put on the bathroom wall for the same purpose, sufficiently out from the
wall so that the wet towels do not touch the paper. Moreover in
well-regulated houses, the bath towels should be dried by the housemaid
at the fire, and each person should bring his or her towels into the
bathroom when he or she is about to use it, and take them away again
when the bathing is finished, the brass rod being used merely to hang up
the bath blankets, though they also must be duly dried by the fire, and
not be laid down on the floor except the bath be in the process of being
used.

These bath blankets can be purchased ready embroidered of Mrs
Hanbury-Jephson, Towcester, and, like every other thing, should be
bought to harmonise with the colours already used in the decorations of
the room. If we have some good brass hooks on the door on which to hang
the raiment we either take off or are about to put on, and have also one
good strong kitchen or Windsor chair, and a proper lavatory glass with a
shelf to hold brushes and combs, we shall not require any more furniture
here, for remember steam and heat spoil anything in the way of good wood
or manufacture; but I do plead very hard for a lavatory basin, with hot
and cold water laid on and a self-emptying basin. It does not seem very
much to ask for, but I wonder how often such a contrivance is to be
found in the orthodox small house? Yet it is in just such a residence
that these necessities should be found, for if hot and cold water be
easily get-at-able, what an amount of servants’ work is saved! No one
minds washing his or her hands in the bathroom, while if there is no
such convenience, the maids have continually to be placing hot water in
the bedrooms and emptying basins, to say nothing of the fact that heavy
jugs have to be lifted and replaced every time the bedroom washing-stand
is used. This is a thing which is bad even for a strong servant and
hurts a delicate woman in a serious way, therefore let us hope that
lavatory basins will soon be found in all houses, small and big, and
that the labour-making washing-stand may soon be numbered among the
dead-and-gone mistakes of an ignorant past.

Another thing that no one seems able to rise above is the usual mahogany
margin to any fixed bath, which always become disgracefully untidy, and
makes the bathroom look squalid before it has scarcely been used. If the
house belongs to the tenant, I should advise him ruthlessly to paint the
mahogany with Aspinall’s bath enamel, which does not mark with water; if
he is only a tenant, the margin should be covered at once with the
American leather which has a woolly back, cut out and fixed to the
shape. If this is not done, the expensive process of French polishing
will have to be resorted to when the house is left; besides there is the
fact to consider that the margin will always be an eyesore, because of
the manner in which people will either rest the soap on it or put one
foot up on it, or even sit on it, while they are drying themselves after
their bath.

We should likewise always have plain, unpainted deal shelves put up for
the hot-water cans in the bathroom; and if, as is the unsavoury case in
many bathrooms, there is a housemaid’s sink there, the shelves should be
put just over it, and should have gimlet holes in them for drainage;
this will keep them from rotting, as no housemaid I ever met could be
persuaded to dry a can before she put it down, and months of wet cans
are guaranteed to spoil and rot the stoutest undrained shelf which I
ever came across. Oh! if only every single person would know and learn
each separate detail which goes to make up the perfect house and
housekeeping, life would not be half as expensive, half as ‘sketchy’ and
untidy as it now is in the vast majority of households, where people are
content to jog along comfortably if things are just bearable, and where
no preaching will, I fear, induce them to cultivate the twin talents of
observation and regularity, which alone suffice to keep any house going
in the way it most undoubtedly should go.

When the bathroom has been used it should be properly aired, and the
moment it is quitted the housemaid should go in, throw up the window,
top and bottom, and take away and dry the towels. If the weather is
cold, the fire or gas must be kept going night and day to keep out the
frost, and always the floor must be wiped over and the bath blankets
hung up until they can be properly dried, then will the room remain nice
much longer than it otherwise would. The mistress of the house herself
must see that the bath is properly dried after use, and that the basin
and housemaid’s sink are duly cleaned and disinfected. For even soapy
water decays and smells, and drains that are used for nothing else can
be as offensive, even if they are more innocent than others, about which
lurk absolute and imperative danger. It is well to cover all outlets for
water with very fine hair or wire netting. I personally prefer hair, as
that is much finer than anything else. Then there is no chance of any
drain being stopped up as nothing save water can pass through it. The
sink basket sold by most ironmongers is a very good possession, and acts
in much the same way, but the netting does just as well, and should be
nailed across the housemaid’s sink about an inch above the bottom, and
be erected just above the plug-hole in a lavatory basin, thus saving
endless heartburnings, and endless sending for that fearsome creature,
the regulation British plumber. There should be no _portière_ inside the
bathroom door, but most certainly there should be one outside. It
prevents sudden surprises, and, furthermore, conceals the room from
passers by, should the door be left open, as is all too often the case,
by either a careless maid, or a yet more careless user of the room!

There is one more aspect of the suburban villa to consider, I am sorry
to say, and that is the one where there is neither a bathroom nor a room
which can be adapted for the purpose, and where all baths have to be
taken in the different rooms themselves. In such a house as this there
must be large squares of American leather ready for use, to be covered
in their turn by bath blankets, on which the bath itself can be placed.
These would be for use in the bedrooms, and then the dressing-rooms must
be used as dressing-rooms, and will allow of no compromise or other use
at all. In this case, I very strongly advise a high dado of plain brown
patternless linoleum or oil-cloth, having the paint the exact shade of
the dado, above which can be either a good blue or yellow sanitary or
tiled paper, while the floor must be covered entirely with plain brown
cork carpet, on which one or two rugs can be placed, the inevitable
bath-blanket being put under the bath itself, and the rugs put out of
harm’s way for the time. These precautions will allow of the wondrous
amount of splashing which invariably marks the progress of a man’s bath,
while the furniture for such a room should be regular dressing-room
furniture, removed as far as possible from the spot sacred to the bath.
A good housemaid will carefully look over the furniture when she ‘does’
the room, and will rub off at once any marks of soapy water she may come
across. But such excellent and conscientious maids are few and far
between, except in the ‘highest circles,’ and they don’t inhabit
Suburbia; therefore should every mistress cast an eye over every room
once a day, and see for herself that the depredations of her husband,
and all too often those of her visitors too, are carefully eliminated.

It used to be difficult, nay well nigh impossible, to buy really good
and suitable dressing-room furniture, and I have had many a painful hunt
after wardrobes which were not evidently meant for the raiment of
females alone; but now all is altered; and should we be able to afford
it, we can buy an admirable wardrobe at Wallace’s which has a place for
everything a man can possibly require, and this with a boot-cupboard, an
ingenious combination toilet-table and washing-stand, a couple of
chairs, and a comfortable basket chair, form the most perfect equipment
a man can want, whether he reside in the suburbs or in any other part of
the civilised globe. But he must have no room for unending hoarding,
else will the heart of the house-mistress fail her by reason of the
fearful amount of rubbish he will accumulate, and from which nothing
will induce him to part!



CHAPTER X

THE GREAT SERVANT QUESTION


In the chapter about the kitchen arrangements, the most burning question
of the hour was just touched upon, and a few hints were thrown out as a
species of guide to solve the knotty problem, which certainly is more
acute in the suburbs than in any other place. First, because it is often
found impossible to coax the best maids away from the wiles and
entrancements of the town; and secondly, because the accommodation for
them is often little short of disgraceful. Though for the matter of
that, I have seen worse servants’ rooms in big houses in grand
localities in London than in any other, while the rooms set apart for
them in flats would be ludicrous if they were not so pernicious, and did
not so largely account for the unpopularity of what ought to be an
almost ideal place of residence for a husband and wife, who have either
settled their children in life, or have no children to settle or think
about in any way.

We have described at length how we should circumvent the ordinary
suburban kitchen, now for a while, let us think about the servants’
bedrooms, which are often quite as difficult to manage, and are all too
often much too few to be in any way comfortable or decent. Should the
general number of four maids be kept, or should a fifth be required, it
is almost impossible to make an arrangement that only allows of the work
being done properly and in order. I have had a large, a very large,
experience of servants in more ways than one, and I venture to remark
that where they are a nuisance it is because, first of all, they have
not been chosen with care and common sense; secondly, because no attempt
is made to make them comfortable or cause them to feel part of the
household; and thirdly, because what I may call ‘composite maids’ are
engaged. That is to say that the cook is required to clear the
breakfast and answer the bell in the morning, and do a certain amount of
housework; while the parlour-maid has to help with the beds, and the
nurse to do the washing as well as look after, dress and walk out with
the children. Now I state boldly that such a division of labour can
never be either necessary or successful, and if the dwellers in the
suburbs will amalgamate the several duties of a servant in this way,
they can never know the least peace, for no servant worth her wages or
even her salt will take such a nondescript position unless under very
exceptional circumstances. These may include places where the mistress
has taken her maids from the first, and has carefully instructed and
brought them up herself, or they may be personally greatly attached to
her themselves, and value not only her kindness but the comfort and
comfortable home she gives them. But these circumstances are as rare as
they are satisfactory. Therefore unless these things are the case, let
no one abuse the maids unmercifully because they will not one and all be
maids of all work, but rather consider how best to arrange the day’s
routine, so that each shall stick to her task cheerfully, giving
presently a helping hand to another out of real good-will, and not
because she is imperatively requested to do so as a matter of course.

Unfortunately there are hundreds of women who can neither give good
wages nor keep a sufficient number of maids; and these are the
miserables who join their wails to those others who, more unhappy still,
have not the slightest idea how to manage another woman, whose one idea
is that a maid is a thing whose capacity for work is endless, who can
never tire, never want to go out, and who, above all, can never be ill.
Such a mistress treats her servant as he or she does a horse who has
never been used to possess this quadruped, and seeing only that it is
made to go, drives or rides it to death, because previous experience has
been wanting to teach the driver or rider the amount of work which can
be obtained without undue exertion and pressure. Now it is necessary to
point out that, if a sufficient number of servants cannot be employed to
do the work decently and in order, the work must be lessened in some
way or another, by the mistress herself giving a helping hand, and not
only directing it but doing some of it. She must be content to call a
spade a spade, and not have any hankerings after ‘agricultural
implements.’ A cook she may not possess, a good general servant is what
she requires, while a housemaid who can wait at table replaces the house
parlour-maid who never did and never could have a decent existence or be
anything save a miserable sham! If a good general servant, who can cook
is engaged, at once the way is made plain before all concerned. Such a
woman cheerfully keeps her own kitchen, the hall staircase (if in a
basement), and front steps in order, and has the dining-room under her
charge. She will likewise clear out the breakfast and answer the front
door up to twelve, but she must not be called a cook; if she is, she
will cook, but she will not for one moment step out of her province to
do anything else whatever.

In the same way must the housemaid be managed, for in such an
establishment the parlour work can but be of the most meagre
description, and if the mistress is house-proud, and really has desires
after fine and careful living, she must keep silver, glass and china
clean herself, and see herself to the laying of the cloth and all the
thousand and one items which go to form the finer portions of
housekeeping. An occupation which will no doubt trouble and disgust the
woman who demands to ‘live her own life’ and ‘develop her soul’ at the
expense of the comfort of the household which she has undertaken to
guide when she became the wife of the bread-winner. I am not going to
express an opinion on the merits of a career, bounded by the nursery on
the one side and the kitchen on another, there will always be a
difference of ideas on the subject; but I am going to say very forcibly,
that when a woman marries she undertakes this special business; and
should she regret it or allow the reins to slip out of her hands, she is
‘obtaining money under false pretences,’ and is undoubtedly neglecting
the work she solemnly promised to perform. Therefore, all women who
marry must be prepared to face the situation and to know that before
they can ‘live their own lives’ and ‘develop their souls’ as mentioned
before, they must see that their houses are in order and that their
houses are homes in the widest sense of the word.

People are continually writing to me, and also to everyone else who
gives advice on the special subjects of house management and decoration,
about this servant question, and, moreover, as continually ask how to
divide or apportion their special incomes to their special wants; but
they cannot see how utterly impossible it is for a complete stranger to
do more than vaguely generalise on either subject. The servant question
has always been simplicity itself to me, and I cannot understand the
difficulties which beset so many women in these days, simply because I
have never come across them myself. But then, I do not expect
perfection. I give fair wages, and am as considerate to the maids as
they are to me, and I am not unduly dismayed or cast down when I discern
faults and failings that are human after all, and denote that at
present, at least, we have not reached the golden age. At the same
time, I am convinced that the real trouble, as I said before, is caused
in small houses by the ‘composite maid’ being called a cook, or house
parlour-maid, when she is just either a general servant, or else a
housemaid; and in larger ones by sufficient care not being taken to
obtain the kind of maiden one really does want, and by expecting too
much from her when she is in our service.

The life of the ordinary domestic servant, despite the delirious joy of
the tradesman’s daily calls, is an extremely dull one. The routine is
everlasting, the relaxations few, and the changes still fewer. In many
households a friend to tea is a crime; an unexpected holiday an
impossibility; while the days follow each other in a wearisome routine
which would tell on the nerves of anyone even far more highly educated
than is the orthodox maid-servant. How many brilliant summer days pass,
and no one suggests an afternoon or evening stroll, or even a drive
through the country lanes. How many dreary winter days go by, and no one
says there is a good play at such and such a theatre, go and see it. Or
who takes concert seats, and sends off the maids for a couple of hours
from the everlasting kitchen and the weary round of unending duties?
Well, some people do, and where this occurs there the maids often stay
on and on, giving real and loving service, and doing their utmost for
those who try to do their utmost for them.

Then once more how few maids really have and possess their mistress’s
confidence. They hear a vast amount of grumbling about ‘the books,’ and
the dreadful waste which does go on, often enough more through ignorance
than through their carelessness; but they do not comprehend that there
is an all-important reason why such waste should not be allowed, because
the mistress has never explained matters to the maids, or told them
there is necessity for great care in all the household departments. As a
rule servants have what they consider the ‘honour of the house’ very
near their hearts; and they cannot endure the notion that their mistress
shall even be suspected of ‘meanness.’ And this is often the cause of
the needless orders given in those establishments where the tradesmen
are allowed to call; for, rather than send them away without an order,
the servants will rack their brains to think of something, not because
they really desire to swell the bills, but because they like their house
to be one of which the tradespeople speak well, and because they will
not have it spoken of as a ‘mean sort of place, where every halfpenny is
counted and made to do the duty of a penny piece.’ Then too, at the
bottom of a great deal of domestic mismanagement is the utter and really
ghastly thriftlessness of the lower classes, which no one who has not
seen it could credit.

I have had to be a great deal away from my own house, owing to
long-continued illness, and in consequence I have seen a great deal of
the way in which other people manage, and I boldly say that I have seen
more waste and real extravagance among people who ought to save
absolutely every bone and piece of bread than among those who could
really afford to waste, did they not consider it wicked to do so. While
the lower one goes in the social scale, the more one finds waste the
order of the day; and not only actual waste, but the waste of having the
best joints, the most expensive butter, and the continual variety of
food that no one in the upper middle classes can afford, even should
they think it necessary to have it. I have noticed real want existing
among a specially improvident set of people, while, at the same time, I
have been shocked to see great lumps of meat and bread (unpaid for) in
the pigs’ tub. The young people of these households would have their
boots blacked for them, their hot water and bath water carried up for
them, and be waited on, before they went out to their shops or work, as
one’s own children would never dream of being waited on, in a much much
higher rank of life. In these households the servants have simply an
awful time of it, and hence class prejudice is fostered terribly, while
the unthrifty ways of the household leave their mark on all who pass
through it, and help to build up a class that is in every way
unsatisfactory.

We hear a great deal of the competition of the foreigner, and there are
loud shouts for ‘protection’ and ‘fair trade,’ but the ‘protection’ we
want is against our own wasteful habits and ways of living, and we can
never have ‘fair trade’ until we comprehend what waste really is, and
know what is necessary to keep a household going and what is not. And
this servant question is the very _crux_ of the whole matter, and, alas!
is very little understood by the public at large, which seems quite
incapable of grappling with the problem, although few people exist who
have not a more or less loudly-expressed opinion on the subject.

It is also a problem which can never be solved until all have learned
real thrift and carefulness, and until all classes learn how to trust
each other, and the special conduct which should be maintained in all
relations in life. Though the tendency nowadays to live in flats, and
have as many meals as one can at a restaurant or hotel, may solve the
servant question quicker than in any other way, regardless of the fact
that a class of useful women will thus be improved off the face of the
world in a manner I, for one, shall be extremely sorry to see. But
flats are fleeting joys at best. I have heard of many people going to
live in them, and have never known anyone renew his or her lease; so
perhaps the pendulum may swing back again, and houses become the order
of the day.

As long as servants are required, the best way to obtain them at first
is for the young mistress to train them herself, always keeping on hand
an under-study for the part of the upper-servant in the shape of kitchen
and under-housemaids; in this way lie a sure success and comfortable
domestic arrangements. Of course there are hundreds of small
establishments where a couple of maids is all that can be allowed. These
must be as described before, general and housemaid, then all will go
rightly, providing care is taken to obtain good girls from good
families, who have not been spoiled by a careless or bad mistress, or
ruined by an unhappy and thriftless home training, which is often indeed
worse than none. In a larger house where there are children; six maids
and a boy to help, are the maximum; namely, cook and kitchen-maid,
parlour-maid and housemaid, nurse and nursemaid; here again things will
be all right, and there will be no over-work or under-work in the
matter. Lucky is she who, by tie of birth or friendship, is connected
with some country town or village, which shall act as her preserve, and
from whence she can always draw fresh supplies should matrimony or other
cause thin her domestic ranks and compel her to look out for another
maiden.

But in all and every case should the registry office be most carefully
avoided. If a servant or mistress has a ‘good name,’ exceptional indeed
must be the circumstances that drive her to make use of these places. If
a decent maid is leaving her place, the tradespeople know all about her
and will tell her of the good places which may be open; and in the same
way a really ‘good place’ doesn’t go begging. The tradesmen know of that
too, and often act as a sort of informal registry-office which I have
invariably found most useful in every manner. Then having caught one’s
maids, let us consider how best to keep them, and undoubtedly is this
done by making them as comfortable as we can, and by showing that we
have a real interest in whatever they may have or do.

I have already written about the room they should have to sit in. Now
let us consider those they should have for sleeping purposes, for often
these are as badly arranged as they can be; economy is studied on the
one hand, which on the other results in an amount of expenditure which
is as unnecessary as it is worrying and distasteful to all concerned.
One of these petty economies is that which consists of making a couple
of maids share one bed, and that one anything but a comfortable place of
rest and refuge. Now this should never be done. The economy consists in
the saving of the washing of a pair of sheets, the misery comes in when
the unwilling bedfellows quarrel and determine to move on elsewhere. In
no case should more than two maids sleep in one room, and in every case
such room should hold a couple of beds and a double set of
washing-stands, drawers and toilet-table, and, moreover, there should be
a good hanging wardrobe of some kind. If possible, once more the
ever-useful P. T. C. from Wallace’s should be pressed into the service,
and should decorate a couple of the room corners, one being devoted to
the use of each maid, whose dresses will last twice as long if she have
proper room for them, and if she have not to cram them into her small
chest of drawers, shared all too often by her fellow-servant.

I consider Knowles’s sanitary papers quite ideal for the maids’
bedrooms, and there is a dainty ‘daffodil’ paper that no one can dislike
or despise, and which can be wiped over once a month, if necessary, with
a damp duster and come out as clean as a new pin. With this paper we
could have earth-brown paint, and Liberty’s ever-useful dark blue and
white butterfly cretonne, edged with frills, and blue and white dhurries
on the stained floor. But if the floor is bad, and in the least degree
draughty, it must first be covered with cork carpet, on which rugs or
the ever useful dhurries can be laid down. Some suburban floors are
amenable to no other treatment. We may plane them carefully, and ‘stop’
them as carefully too, but they will begin to gape at the smallest
change in the weather, or at the sight of the first fire, and one can
neither keep out the draughts nor the gently-drifting dust that
penetrates at every corner, and spoils tempers and properties alike.
Cork carpet I consider a most blessed invention, as it makes a capital
background, and is warm and comfortable and quite spotlessly clean. This
should be ‘gone over’ once a week in bedrooms of this class with a damp
duster; and once a month should have a healthful polish with Jackson’s
camphorated beeswax polish, made on purpose. The rugs should be shaken
out of doors once a week, and, whenever possible the beds and bedding
should be alike exposed to the sun and air in the garden; or, if not, in
the rooms themselves, taking care that all windows and doors are open
and a thorough draught ensured.

Indeed if we got more sun and more air into all our houses, every girl’s
health would be far better than it is now; but despite all the preaching
in the world, English women stuff up the windows with blinds and
curtains, and shiver at the idea of fresh air, while they dread the
fading of their curtains and carpets in a manner that would be ludicrous
were it not so essentially harmful. Naturally too the genus domestic
servant dreads open windows more than her mistress does, and will not
air her bed if she can possibly avoid doing so. But if there is a rule
that a fine, hot day shall see the mattresses, blankets and pillows on
chairs in the garden for at least an hour after breakfast, the airing is
ensured without the ‘poking and prying about,’ which is as distasteful
to the mistress as it is disagreeable to the maid. In all cases too, the
beds here as elsewhere, should consist of good hair mattresses laid on
chain mattresses. These chains should be covered first by a square of
holland, tied at the four corners, and this should be sent to the wash
about every three months. The mattresses and pillows should be covered
also, either with crash or holland cases, capable of being washed
whenever necessary, and these covers will save the beds immensely from
wear and tear, and ensure cleanliness at the same time. Wallace has a
very good suite of servant’s furniture to sell for something under £5,
but I think we should spend rather more on the bed, which is a very fair
one, but not quite good enough if we are very particular, as we should
be, about the comfort of the bed, as a hair mattress is impossible for
this sum, and a hair mattress must be had if the bed is to be a real
place of rest. Furthermore, I think the beds should have two pillows, as
well as a bolster, and a second pillow should therefore be added, and
all beds should have five blankets: one for the under blanket, and two
pairs for over use. These should be sent to the wash in the spring; one
pair at a time; and the beds should be supplemented with good heavy
coloured counterpanes; the colour looks cheerful, and also ensures the
quilts not looking dirty before they ought to.

The simpler the sets of ware the better, for, somehow, china never lasts
long in the ordinary servant’s room. I think she rushes up at the last
moment to wash and dress; she certainly gets up in the morning at the
last possible instant she can, and the usual results of haste ensue. The
handles come off the carelessly-seized jug, the soap-dish flies about,
and the basins are literally ‘whacked’ down, because there is not time
to treat them properly, therefore the excellent sets of blue and white
ware Wallace sells at about 4s. 6d. should be the outside price to which
we should go, taking care all the sets are alike; then one can
supplement the other when smashes begin; and quite plain glasses and
water-bottles should also be procured, in as stout a make as possible.
Glass tumblers literally vanish in servants’ bedrooms, and I am often
amazed at the way in which they disappear, one after the other, to a
grave on the ash-heap or in the dust-bin.

Another thing on which we may with advantage spend a little more money
is the looking-glass, and that without unduly encouraging vanity, for
the usual one sold with the cheap suits is much too small to be of any
real use. A girl cannot do her hair and arrange her dress neatly unless
she has a glass large enough to allow of her doing so by its aid, and we
should therefore choose the maid’s looking-glass as carefully as we
should our own; but we should allow one each, if we wish for peace. More
domestic quarrels are caused by the usual one small glass than many
house mistresses are probably aware take place at all.

It is certain that all mistresses should, at least twice a year,
thoroughly inspect all the furniture in the maids’ rooms, and replace
then if possible, all that has been worn out during the past six months,
but under no circumstances should this inspection take place without the
presence of the maids, or when it is not expected. Nothing is more
disagreeable to the ordinary mind than the idea that one’s room is not
one’s castle; and many mistresses have made themselves eternal enemies
by insisting on their undoubted right to enter any room in their own
houses whenever they wish to do so. That the right is so undoubted
should render it unnecessary to exact its performance. By all means see
the rooms are all right, but do it at a proper season, and without the
smallest idea of ‘pounce’ in it.

I do not think it wise to have gas in the maids’ rooms, unless it is
turned off at the meter by the master at a certain hour, and yet it is
undoubtedly safer than any other light, and is as undoubtedly cleaner.
I have for years used nothing save the little ‘Butterfly’ lamps sold by
A. & A. Drew, of Wareham, Dorset, but these are not good in careless
hands, because the chimneys are so constantly being broken, and because
the oil is capable of being spilled. Candles are worse possessions, as
so many maids will read in bed, will smash the shades without which no
candle can possibly be safe, and will drop grease from them on every
available space. Remembering also that the dark winter mornings have to
be considered, I am fain to retract my old belief that gas in a
servant’s room spelt ruin, and to allow it reluctantly, placed near the
looking glasses and not near the beds, and having woven-wire globes to
protect the flame, similar to those used in places of business and in
large schools; as the ordinary glass globe has even a shorter existence
than the tumbler, and is broken in less time than it takes to tell about
it.

If in any way possible, the beds should be placed against the wall, and
foot to foot, with about 2 feet space between the ends of the beds. In
this case a dado should be run round that portion of the wall where the
beds stand, and this should be of plain brown patternless oil-cloth, and
should have a real dado rail; this would keep the wall tidy for years.
In no case must the dressing-tables be placed in the window, and blinds
must never be allowed. If there is much sun, the dark blue and white
cretonne curtains can be lined with still darker blue sateen, and if the
windows are large muslin can be stretched upon them as in all other
windows in the house; but blinds are an expense and an abomination. They
are always out of order, are very rarely drawn up straight, and are as
needless as they are dear and unsatisfactory. The dark curtains draw
easily and cannot be drawn crooked, and are in every way much more
sensible and useful than blinds.

I think that there should be fireplaces in all servants’ rooms. First
because of the ventilation a chimney affords,--and the bi-annual
inspection should include a glance at the chimney to see it is in nowise
stuffed up--and secondly, because it is imperative that we should be
able to have a fire there if necessary. It may sound improbable, but it
is true, that the average suburban villa is colder than the cottages
from which country maids come, where the thatched roofs and the thick
walls often keep out extremes of temperature in a manner a jerry-built
house ever can.

And here is one more hint. Let the roof of the house be white-washed in
summer, if it be slated and the bedrooms come right up under it, for
this makes an enormous difference to the temperature of the rooms, which
is often enough simply awful even in a merely average summer without any
very abnormal heat, while, should we have any real heat, these rooms
become similar to ovens, and are really terrible for anyone to have to
sleep in. Then have outside blinds of some kind; plain strips of dark
green or blue linen placed outside the glass are better than nothing,
though Williams’ green reed blinds are the best things in the world, if
they can be afforded; and above all white-wash your roofs. You will be
rewarded in the difference in the maids’ tempers, and health, which, are
very often one and the same thing.

Now just one word more, and that on the vexed subject of food. You
should feed the servants as much as possible as you feed yourselves, and
then will you have peace and not otherwise. In another place I have
dwelt at large on this matter; here it is sufficient to say that if a
thing is good enough for the dining-room, it is good enough for the
kitchen. Allowancing should never be resorted to, there is something
about it that revolts the kitchen or servants’ hall, and it is as
unnecessary in a well-managed house as it is useless and suspicious.

It will be seen, from the perusal of this little book, that the art of
living in a suburban house is not quite as easy as it appears at first
sight. At the same time it is without doubt one that can be acquired,
and if our lot should be cast in the suburbs, it is positively necessary
that we should learn to live there comfortably, unless we wish to be
always on the move. Should what I have written on the subject help
anyone to circumvent the special house he or she has selected, and to
turn it from an unsatisfactorily-built villa into a comfortable home, I
shall not have written in vain. At all events, the book has one merit,
it is the outcome of real experience, and there is not a single ounce of
imagination in the whole of it!


THE END.


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AND AT

Moderate Prices

[Illustration: Drawing-Room, designed by SMEE & COBAY, in conjunction
with MRS PANTON]


--29 to 39--

Moorfields

     A Few Doors from Moorgate Street Railway Stations.

LONDON, E.C.


     Catalogues, containing Estimates for Furnishing, free on
     application.

       *       *       *       *       *

GODFREY GILES & CO.

Specialities and Novelties in

Furniture and Decoration

AS RECOMMENDED BY MRS PANTON


     MR GODFREY GILES has made a study for many years of Internal House
     Decoration, and either he, or one of his competent staff, may be
     consulted Free as to how to make the best of a house as regards

PAINTING
PAPERING
DECORATING
FITMENTS
CABINETWORK
UPHOLSTERY


RESIDENTIAL FLATS {Special treatment for same, combining
                  {economy of space with comfort and effect

=Estimates and Designs= prepared and submitted

[Illustration]

Regd.

SCREEN DESK

Admired by Everyone
A most acceptable Present

Enamelled White, complete

£5, 5s. 0d.

Also made in Oak, Mahogany, Walnut and many other woods

_Prices on Application_


     Extract from _Lady’s Pictorial_:--‘Messrs GODFREY GILES & CO. are
     the inventors and makers of this piece of furniture. They are also
     the inventors and patentees of

COSY CORNERS

now so deservedly popular.’


‘PEN AND INK SKETCHES’
A Guide to Artistic Furnishing, free on application.

CARRIAGE PAID on all Goods over 20/-to any Station in the United
Kingdom.


19 Old Cavendish Street {Oxford Street,} W.
                        {    LONDON    }

       *       *       *       *       *

COLBOURNE & CO.
Decorative Furnishers

80, 82 REGENT STREET, LONDON, W.
45, 46 NEW STREET, BIRMINGHAM
26, 78, 28 EAST STREET, BRIGHTON


FLOOR COVERING SECTION

‘The Roman Carpet’

Woven exclusively (in every Artistic Colouring) for Messrs COLBOURNE &
CO.’S Customers, very heavy in texture, and recommended for durability

[Illustration]

9 feet by 7 feet 6 in., =28/6=
9 feet by 9 feet, =33/9=
9 feet by 10 feet 6 in., =39/6=
9 feet by 12 feet, =45/-=
10 feet 6 in. by 10 feet 6 in., =47/6=
10 feet 6 in. by 12 feet, =52/6=
12 feet by 12 feet, =60/-=
12 feet by 15 feet, =75/-=

_‘The Roman Carpet’ can also be had in Stair and Corridor Widths_


CURTAIN FABRIC SECTION--Colbourne & Co.’s Exclusive Designs

Forwarded post free on application

       *       *       *       *       *

B. BURNET & CO.

MANUFACTURERS OF

SPECIALITIES FOR FURNISHING PURPOSES

UNIQUE IN COLOUR, TEXTURE AND DESIGN


PILE FABRICS

24 in. Silk Plush
24 in. Utrecht Velvet
24 in. Frieze Velvet
24 in. Genoa Velvet
50 in. Venetian Velvet
50 in. Linen Plush
50 in. Plushette (Plain and Printed)
27 in. Plain Velveteen
27 in. Corduroy Velveteen
27 in. Printed Velveteen


WOVEN FABRICS

50 in. Cotelaine
50 in. Satin Sheeting
50 in. Silk Damask
50 in. Silk Gauze
50 in. Cotton Tapestry
50 in. Wool Tapestry
50 in. Silk Faced Tapestry
50 in. Wool Brocatelle
50 in. Silk Tapestry


SPECIAL FABRICS

Bordered Table Covers
Washable Bed-Spreads
Butter Muslins
INDIAN, PERSIAN and TURKISH RUGS and CARPETS


LININGS

50 in. Italian Silk
54 in. Merino
31 in. Koula Cotton
31 in. Sateen
31 in. Cotton Twill


EMBROIDERY
FABRICS

36 in. Italian Linen
54 in. Tapestry Canvas
45 in. Leather Cloth
54 in. Leatherette
36 in. Embroidery Linen
54 in. Embroidery Linen
72 in. Embroidery Linen


PLAIN FABRICS

72 in. Diagonal Cloth
54 in. Diagonal Cloth
72 in. Curtan Felt
72 in. Yorkshire Serge
54 in. Printed Serge
54 in. Yorkshire Serge
54 in. Wool Serge
50 in. Wool Damask
63 in. Plain Bolton Sheeting
50 in. Dyed Flax
36 in. Kabul Canvas (for Floors)


PRINTED FABRICS

60 in. Printed Bolton
24 in. Glazed Chintz
31 in. Cretonne
31 in. Reversible Cretonne
31 in. Dimity
31 in. Queen Anne Cretonne
50 in. Printed Muslins
60 in. Madras Muslins
31 in. Quilt Sateens


UPHOLSTERY DEPARTMENT

Curtains, Portières, Blinds, &c., made to order in a few days. Fringes,
Cords and Trimmings kept in stock or made to match all fabrics. Curtain
Poles, etc.

The above list includes many novelties both in colour and design, not
procurable elsewhere. We shall, however, be pleased to forward samples
of any other class or quality of material specially required.


42 KING STREET, COVENT GARDEN, LONDON

Branch Establishment--226 REGENT STREET.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: ARTISTIC FITTINGS

Oil + Gas & Electric

STRODE & Co

Electric Light & Gas Engineers

Art Metal Works + Showrooms

48 Osnaburgh S^{T} + 188 Piccadilly · W

London·N·W + 67 S^{T} Pauls Chyp·E·C]

       *       *       *       *       *

IRISH LINENS

DIRECT FROM THE LOOMS


_WALPOLE BROS._

(ESTABLISHED 1766)

Offer THREE great inducements to the public to give them a trial--

SUPERIORITY OF TEXTURE ...
BEAUTY AND NOVELTY OF DESIGN
EXTREMELY MODERATE PRICES ...

=WALPOLE BROTHERS= are the only Irish Linen Manufacturers who offer the
public the great advantage of selecting goods

IN LONDON AND DUBLIN AT BELFAST PRICES

_Samples and Price List are sent free_

They will enable any lady to mark the great saving and greater
satisfaction gained by buying direct from the Manufacturers

Cambric Handkerchiefs      from 2s. 2d. per doz.
Damask Table Cloths        from 3s. 6d. each.
Damask Napkins             from 3s. per doz.
Glass Cloths               from 4d. per yard.
Dusters                    from 1s. 9d. per doz.

A complete set of Linens, consisting of Blankets, Quilts, Table Linen,
Sheets, &c., suitable for a small house, for £7, 19s.


WALPOLE BROTHERS

Irish Linen and Damask Manufacturers

16 Bedford Street, Belfast; 8 and 9 Suffolk Street, Dublin

89 NEW BOND STREET (Two Doors from Oxford Street) {LONDON, W.
and 102 KENSINGTON HIGH STREET,                   {

Established over a Century


W. Bros’. Special Designs in Table Damask are different from, and
superior to, those to be seen elsewhere

       *       *       *       *       *

HEWETSONS

House Furnishers and Decorators

212 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD


[Illustration: HEWETSONS’ ‘Princess May’ Bedroom Suite

     Enamelled White Carton Pierre Mountings, Brass Handles, and
     comprising:--Wardrobe (Glass Door), Dressing Chest with Glass,
     Washstand (Marble Top, Tile Back, and Brass Towel Rail), and Two
     Cane-seated Chairs.

£7, 15s. 0d. THE SET]


     Hewetsons’ New Illustrated Catalogue

     Is the best and most complete Furnishing Guide published, and is
     forwarded free of charge. It contains =Estimates for Furnishing
     Houses= for £150, £300, £500, £1000, &c., each article in detail,
     illustrated and priced.

Decorating {=Hewetsons give Estimates Free of Charge= for
           {Painting and all kinds of Interior Decorations,
Structural Alterations, Sanitary Work, Electric Lighting, &c.


The Largest Stock of ...
ENGLISH CARVED OAK FURNITURE
... IN THE WORLD

       *       *       *       *       *

JAMES SHOOLBRED & CO.

TOTTENHAM HOUSE

Tottenham Court Road

LONDON, W.


Direct Carpet Importers
Bedding Manufacturers
Cabinet Makers and Upholsterers
Blind Manufacturers
Artistic Decorators, and
Complete House Furnishers


Three Passenger Lifts convey Customers to all Departments above Ground
Floor


JAMES SHOOLBRED & CO.
_TOTTENHAM HOUSE_
LONDON

       *       *       *       *       *

BARTHOLOMEW & FLETCHER

[Illustration]

Chippendale Cabinet,                  £6  10  0
Old Mahogany Vase or Lamp Stand,      £2   5  0
‘Richelieu’ Settee, in Tapestry,      £5  18  6

Catalogues Free

Most Moderate
Prices
in London

219 Tottenham Court Road, W.


CARPETS

‘REVIREDIS’ Regd. SPECIALITIES

‘ISIS’ Art Rush Matting
‘ROYSSE’ Hand Loom Carpets
‘ARTS and CRAFTS’ Rugs

THE ABINGDON CARPET MANUFACTURING CO.
_ABINGDON-ON-THAMES_


JOHN HARRIS & SONS, LIMITED

ART LINENS. PURE FLAX. Over 40 Artistic Shades.

Unrivalled for excellence of Quality and Colour. Of Special Manufacture
and Dye. Suitable for every kind of HOUSE DECORATION and ORNAMENTATION.
Embroideries of every description. Patterns and Estimates for Curtains,
Portières, Hangings, &c., on application.

Showrooms--
25 OLD BOND STREET, LONDON

Works
Derwent Mills, Cockermouth, Eng.

       *       *       *       *       *

BOOKS TO BUY

Mrs PANTON’S Books on the Furnishing and Decorating of Houses, and the
Management of a Household.


     =1.= =From Kitchen to Garret=: Hints for Young Householders. By J. E.
     PANTON. A New and Revised Edition. Crown 8vo, cloth, 6s.

     This work of Mrs Panton was first published in December 1887. It
     has since been seven times reprinted. The work has now been closely
     revised by the Author, new information on many subjects has been
     incorporated in the text, and many new Illustrations have been
     added.


     =2.= =Nooks and Corners.= A Companion Book to ‘From Kitchen to Garret.’
     By J. E. PANTON. Crown 8vo, 6s.

     ‘A veritable encyclopædia of useful information in all matters
     pertaining to the home.’


     =Our Viands.= Whence they come and how they are Cooked. By A. W.
     BUCKLAND. Crown 8vo, cloth, price 6s.

     ‘She has succeeded in giving us a very interesting history of our
     own ordinary dishes, and of the most curious and characteristic
     dishes of other countries.’--_Spectator._


     =Ladies in the Field=: Sketches of Sport. Edited by the LADY
     GREVILLE. Crown 8vo, cloth, price 6s.

     Contents: Riding in Ireland and India, by Lady Greville--Hunting in
     the Shires--Horses and their Riders, by the Duchess of
     Newcastle--The Wife of the M.F.H., by Mrs Chaworth Musters--Fox
     Hunting--Team and Tandem Driving, by Miss Rosie Anstruther
     Thomson--Tigers I have shot, by Mrs C. Martelli--Rifle Shooting, by
     Miss Leale--Deer Stalking and Deer Driving, by Diane
     Chasseresse--Covert Shooting, by Lady Boynton--A Kangaroo Hunt, by
     Mrs Jenkins--Cycling, by Mrs E. R. Pennell--Punting, by Miss Sybil
     Salaman.

     ‘The several chapters are entrusted to skilful hands, and deal with
     sport, as practised by ladies, in a very sensible and business-like
     fashion.’--_Times._

     ‘It is not often one comes across such a tempting book.... We
     cannot too strongly recommend "Ladies in the Field" to our readers,
     and think that it is a book to be on every sportswoman’s library
     table.’--_Sporting Life._


     =In Ladies’ Company=: Sketches of the Lives of Six Notable Women. By
     Mrs F. F. MILLER. One vol., fcap. 8vo, cloth, price 5s.

     ‘A volume to be grateful for.’--_Daily Chronicle._

     ‘Ample, suggestive, and neatly finished--turned out with true
     literary skill.’--_Globe._


     =Love in a Cottage=; or, Making the most of a Small Income. By AGATHA
     HODGSON. Post 8vo, paper covers, price 1s.


_FROM ALL BOOKSELLERS_
Or from the Publishers} WARD & DOWNEY LTD.
12 YORK BUILDINGS, Adelphi, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

A GOLD MEDAL

HAS BEEN AWARDED TO

Wm. Wallace & Co.

FOR THE ARTISTIC FURNISHING AND DECORATION OF

‘OUR FLAT’

AS EXHIBITED AT THE INDIAN EXHIBITION.

‘How to Furnish "Our Flat" or House for £100,’

AND ALSO FOR £300

By =Mrs J. E. PANTON=, may now be had, post free, on application to

WM. WALLACE & CO.

151 to 155 CURTAIN ROAD, LONDON, E.C.

     Mrs PANTON says, in the ‘Gentlewoman’:--‘I should strongly advise,
     before buying Furniture anywhere, to send to Wm. Wallace & Co., of
     Curtain Road, for sketches of their New Furniture Catalogue. All
     Goods are Carriage Paid anywhere in the United Kingdom, and if you
     require really good Furniture, go to Wm. Wallace & Co., the wood
     being properly seasoned, and the workmanship seems to me to be as
     good as it possibly can be.’

     BEFORE placing your orders, send for our New Catalogue, entitled
     =‘Beauty, Skill and Economy.’ Post Free.=

     The ‘Daily Telegraph’ says:--‘Wm. Wallace & Co. have an
     artistically designed catalogue, which is a most instructive guide
     to householders.’

‘OUR FLAT’
‘OUR FLAT’
‘OUR FLAT’
‘OUR FLAT’
‘OUR FLAT’
‘OUR FLAT’
‘OUR FLAT’
‘OUR FLAT’
‘OUR FLAT’
‘OUR FLAT’

WM. WALLACE & CO.

_Artistic House Furnishers and Decorators_

151, 152, 153, 154 and 155 Curtain Road

LONDON, E.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

HEALTHY. ECONOMICAL. ARTISTIC.

JACKSON’S
VARNISH STAINS
FOR
FLOORS & FURNITURE
HAVE THE LARGEST SALE

Staining and
Varnishing in
one operation

_No Preparation
required._

[Illustration]

Made to represent the following woods--

Mahogany
Walnut
Rosewood
Light and
Dark Oak
Satinwood
Ebony
Leaf Green
&c.
Packed in Tins

Pints,        2/-
Quarts,       3/6
½-Gallon,   6/-
1 Gallon,     10/-
_Cans Free_

Bottles
6d. and 1/- each

The Stain dries in twenty minutes with a brilliant hard surface equal to
French Polish with no unpleasant smell. Used in Hospitals, Asylums,
Schools, Hotels, &c. Recommended by Professor Wanklyn, the eminent
analytical chemist, and many members of the medical profession, for its
sanitary properties as a floor covering. Besides very numerous private
testimonials, these Stains are being constantly recommended by the
principal writers on domestic matters.

     Dr Andrew Wilson, in _Health_, says:--‘We hope it will be used by
     all who value health, economy and beauty in their homes. It will
     cost but a few shillings to stain the floor, where pounds would be
     spent in carpets, and rooms where it is used can always be kept
     clean, healthy and bright.’

     The _Court Circular_ says:--‘We predict that =Jackson’s Combination
     Varnish-Stain= will become a household word, and that it will be
     used as a floor covering in every home where health, beauty and
     cleanliness are appreciated.’

     The _Lady’s Pictorial_ says:--‘You cannot possibly do better than
     use =Jackson’s Varnish Stains.= They are most excellent.’

     The _Queen_:--‘Have found =Jackson’s Varnish Stain= very good. As its
     name implies, it requires no varnishing, dries quickly, and gives a
     beautiful polish.’

These Stains are sold by all high-class Stores throughout the World, and
must not be confounded with any of the low-class rubbish, which will
only cause disappointment and trouble. Coloured picture labels on all
packages. Manufactured only by

T. S. JACKSON & SONS, 186 OLD KENT ROAD, LONDON, S.E.
[Established 1853

       *       *       *       *       *

By Special Appointment To Her Majesty

WARINGS

_Specialists_

_and_

_Manufacturers_

_of_

_Decorative_

_Furniture_

[Illustration:

ECONOMY
IN
DECORATING
AND
FURNISHING
]

_The largest_

_bona-fide_

_Manufacturers_

_in_

_the Kingdom_

_Messrs WARING invite inspection of their Suites of completely furnished
Rooms, illustrating how to furnish tastefully at the lowest cost_

ESTIMATES AND DESIGNS FREE

181 Oxford Street, London, W.

MANCHESTER





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