There are many ways of furnishing a small flat - the simplest course being to pay a visit to one of the large furnishing establishments, with the requisite sum of money, and to leave the matter entirely in the hands of the furnishers. The result cannot fail to be quite satisfactory, and all trouble and worry is saved, but, although the furniture may be good, and the general effect dainty and artistic, there will be little to indicate the individuality of the occupier. And individuality counts as much in furnishing as in dressing and all forms of decoration.
The model flats and houses are charmingly planned and arranged, but it must be remembered that the scheme of furnishing which is perfect in its right setting is not always adaptable to the flat or house where it is to be transferred. Take, for instance, window schemes. Dainty lattice windows, with graceful muslin hangings, are ideal for country cottages, but not altogether suitable for the small suburban house or flat. The windows of these are generally much of a pattern - the uninteresting "bow," or the flat window with wide centre-pane and two smaller side windows. For the latter casement curtains are always suitable, but for bow windows long lace curtains are more in keeping.
Blinds can generally be dispensed with when casement curtains are used, but, in view of the fact that flat windows often face other windows rather intimately, these should be chosen of some opaque material, such as casement cloth, preferably light in colour. A dark blind can always be added in the sleeping-rooms. Small brise-bise net curtains close to the lower sash of the windows are a further necessity in the bedrooms.
There is plenty of scope for individuality in furnishing a flat, for, although the landlord provides for the necessary papering and painting in the agreement, the choice of colour and design is left to the discretion of the tenant. This is a matter which requires very careful consideration and thought, for a successful background is half the battle, and paper and paint should be chosen to harmonise with the furniture. Pattern papers are best with plain floor coverings and curtains, and vice versa. The choosing of colours is largely a matter of individual taste. It would be well, however, to observe the following excellent rule: always select warm tints for rooms with a northern aspect, and light, unfadeable colours in the sunnier south rooms.
Avoid overcrowding small rooms - it is better to have too little furniture - the more produce an effect of daintiness and comfort, Such a room can be furnished for £25.
A grey and pink drawing-room presents a charming colour combination. The grey wallpaper with its rose frieze, the grey rose-bordered carpet and grey and rose chintz-covered furniture space there is in a room, the better the effect.
In these days of clever reproductions, it is not difficult even for a comparatively small sum to follow some scheme of period decoration, and, indeed, it is often possible to procure bargains in genuine antique pieces of furniture. Papers and textiles are cheap also, and in these are reproduced old patterns to harmonise with the complete scheme of period furnishing. The revival in Queen Anne bedrooms just now has introduced a very moderately priced Queen Anne chintz and wallpaper, which is an exact copy of an old floral chintz of bygone days, and entirely in harmony with the graceful designs in walnut furniture which came into fashion in the reign of William and Mary.
A Jacobean dining-room might be arranged very successfully and inexpensively, for reproductions in old oak are quite reasonably priced, and a Jacobean wallpaper may be purchased for about half-a-crown a piece. In a flat where there is only one reception-room, it would be quite a good idea to adopt a Jacobean scheme of furnishing, which can be carried out for about £30.
In considering the furnishing of a five-roomed flat, for which the sum of £I00 is available, it will be better to select a simple scheme of modern furnishing, as period decoration would entail a little more trouble and expense, and the necessity of economising on some of the rooms.
Roughly, this gives an average of £20 a room, from which must be deducted a sum for furnishing hall and bathroom.
Furnishing a Flat
Small flats are for the most part designed upon one of two plans - either with a hall upon which the outer door and all other doors open, or with a corridor leading along the entire depth, with rooms off upon one side.
In either case, there is generally more entrance space than in a house of the same accommodation, and as the entire traffic must pass all doors, it is better, in the case of a long passage, to have a quietening floorcloth, or linoleum, with a mat for a square hall. A good, coloured "cocoa" matting, or one of the many hempen floorcloths which are made to sustain wear and to look warm and comfortable, makes an excellent beginning, and the colour scheme can be further enhanced by a plain paper of harmonising shade, and good white or light paint upon the woodwork. Soft green is a very good hall colour for paper and floor-covering. This might be plain, or in some small, conventional pattern for the paper, and a plain cord carpet for the passage.'
Very little furniture is needed for this part of the flat - a simple oak piece which combines hat-rack, hall table; and umbrella-stand, is useful, or, if there is a recess out of sight, a hanging place can be made there, and a chest with seat top looks well, and comes in handy for storage of odd things.