While some small furnishings have a distinct use and may introduce the one decorative note needed to complete the scheme, safety lies in restraint. These small things should be selected with as much care as the larger furnishings. The lesson of sacrificing heirlooms, mistaken purchases, and even misfit gifts for the sake of the unity of the whole scheme should be early learned. Constructive forms with lines that are slightly curved for the sake of grace while the general direction of support or economic outline is kept, are pleasing. Whatever is added by way of ornament must follow or fit, not conceal, this structural shape. Masses of decoration applied without regard to the form, cheapen the appearance and confuse the intent of the object.
In the choosing of a clock, a clearly marked dial and a supporting case of pleasing contour and form are the essential considerations. The general design will vary according as the clock is intended to stand on the mantel or the floor or to be affixed to the wall.
The real function of a vase is to serve as a container for flowers. The design of the vase should, therefore, anticipate the flower, though it may be so distinguished in color and form as to be by itself a decorative note in a room. The color or decoration on the vase should not attempt to compete with the flower.
Lamps are indispensable to comfort, whether oil, gas, or electricity is used for illumination, and are one of the most decorative and intimate features in a furnishing scheme. Three elements enter into the design of lamps; the light, its shade, and its support. The support should both be and appear adequate for its use and should harmonize both in size and shape with the shade. Broad bases or heavy bowls give stability to the design of a lamp. Metal and pottery are eminently suitable materials for lamp standards. The height of the lamp and the flare of the shade should be related to the space that is to be lighted. Tall lamps with broad flaring shades illuminate a large circle, while low lamps and snug shades confine the light to small areas (Fig. 30).
In general, warm or yellowish tones for shades are more genial and more in keeping with the idea of light than are cool colors; they are also more becoming. Paper or parchment and fabrics are less stiff in material and more flexible in color scheme than are glass and metal for shades. Complex shapes and millinery treatment for shades should be avoided.
Fig. 30. - Good types of lamps with substantial bases and attractive shades that are serviceable in use.
The waste-basket serves a humble but important Use. It should be so made as to stand firmly, conceal its contents, and be unobtrusive in color and design.
Sofa pillows are valuable if they are useful. Plain or figured materials of agreeable texture, harmonizing with the general coloring of the room, are more decorative than those elaborately made.
The much-abused tidy has in a few cases a real use in protecting the backs of upholstered chairs from the hair; it should be trim in outline, of washable material, of inconspicuous color, and fastened securely in place.
Mere curiosities should be kept in a closed cabinet or a museum.