By Helen Mathers
The Useless Wardrobe - A Dutch Bedroom - Some Charming Colour Schemes
If a bedroom is primarily a place to rest, to sleep in, it is also a place where clothes may be disposed to the best advantage. But in the modern wardrobe, which is built on the lines of a linen-chest, clothes cannot be so disposed. Frocks were made to stand up, not to lie down, but the modern wardrobe provides us with a few shelves, a few drawers, and a small confined corner where we are expected to hang out frocks. Here the frocks have to be hung one on the top of another, and when in a hurry one often has to throw the whole lot on the floor before discovering the one required.
A fortune awaits the man who invents a long, narrow wooden frame, a shelf above, and rows and rows of pegs below, with, at the right-hand corner, a nest of narrow drawers, invaluable for gloves, veils, linen, and all sorts of indispensable odds-and-ends. He may build it of any wood, costly or the reverse, decorate it or not, as he pleases, call it imitation Sheraton, Empire, or anything he likes; but women will call him blessed. It is a wonder that an intelligent trade has not supplied it before.
For a looking-glass, I am very fond of the Sheraton (or modern Sheraton) ones, the same width as the table. Such a glass will show you all your native ugliness, or beauty, at a glance. It is a great mistake to have a small glass and peep at yourself in sections, especially with your back to the light. You go abroad then with a totally wrong impression of yourself, and have only to consult the eyes of the first man you meet to be speedily disabused of your pretensions.
The moral is: get as much glass as you can, and put it in the strongest light you can, and don't flinch from what you see.
It is a good idea to have an unframed strip of glass fitted from floor to ceiling, and a small table placed against it containing your silver (which ivory is now superseding). This takes up less room than the usual toilet-table - an advantage when the room is not large. There must be a vallance at the top, and a strip of material at each side to match curtains.
The very newest things in bedrooms is the Dutch room - white walls, Dutch marqueterie furniture, ewers and basins of plain glass. The market is full now of Dutch stuff; and, what is still more important, you can get everything you want easily, instead of hunting for a piece here and a piece there, as with some styles. A sideboard makes a capital toilette-table - the glass for standing in it can be either oval or square, a long table with a slab of glass on it makes the wash-stand, and a chest of drawers is easily enough found. But an adequate wardrobe is a more difficult matter. A high, wide cabinet, with all the inside and most of the drawers, taken out, fitted with pegs, is the nearest approach to that modern Sheraton one I hope to see produced in the near future. Marqueterie chairs, pedestals for plants, and a mirror for overmantel, are plentiful. A couch, writing-table, and bookcase also will be wanted. The cushions for couch, easy-chair, and curtains should be of green and white chintz, with a sparing note of orange, the floor parquet if possible, with plenty of rugs - Persian for preference, if no tiger skins are available; the vases should be stacked with green. Such a room is a joy to behold and to live in.
For a simple room, within the reach of almost everyone, and which certainly will not breed depression, I will describe a pink one - the colour par excellence; it is pleasing, becoming, and on pink firelight is cosier than anything. The walls are of striped dull pink satin paper, the curtains exactly match the walls in a plain material (not chintz), the carpet is a black Persian with dull pinks and drabs on it, the bedstead and all the woodwork of the room and the wardrobe are white, so is the ceiling paper and the overmantel. The latter is of Chippendale pattern, a long, narrow glass below, shelf above, bordered with lace, with copper jars and engravings on top, and the china is yellow. Few people realise how charming the combination of yellow and pale pink is. There are recesses on either side of the fireplace made into hanging cupboards, and with more of the yellow china on top. A long glass reaching from ceiling to floor, draped with pink. The washing apparatus is placed on a round table, with a bookshelf on wall above to hold water-bottle, glass, and toilet necessaries.
As to the lighting of a bedroom, directly over the toilet glass, or on a bracket on cither side, there should be a very strong light, an electric lamp on the writing-table, and a light fixed immediately behind and above the head for reading in bed. No harm can ensue when the light is thrown on the page.
A blue bedroom is by no means to be despised; there is a freshness about it unobtainable in any other colour. I have seen delightful results with walls panelled to a certain height in very clear blue and white cretonne, with walls above the mouldings and all woodwork in the room brown, and furniture, including the bookcase, a good imitation of Chippendale. The tiles on the hearth were blue and white; the curtains, couch, and chair-covers, of course, matched the walls; the bed placed in the corner, and draped with the same material, looked charmingly pretty. Still, I am not very fond of anything that cannot easily be removed for cleaning purposes. Of course, a built-in room, with a bookcase and table beneath close to the bed, washing arrangements shut in by a door, and a cosy-corner fireplace as a continuation of the recessed wall, is very dainty, and gives the sitting-room feeling that every real bedroom should possess. It is a great gain to the "table" happiness of a large family when every member of it has had his or her fill of him or her self - writing, reading, or dozing as he or she Listeth. If isolation is an absolute necessity for the enjoyment of good furniture, it is still more so (at least occasionally) for a human being.
A charming bedroom, the keynote of whose arrangement is artistic simplicity, combined with comfort and daintiness
I confess that I find a bedroom in which every bit is old, and picked up away from its fellows, very fascinating. I know one such, low and wide, with dull blue walls, where no two pieces of furniture match. The chest of drawers is walnut (Queen Anne), with the old brass drops, or earrings; the toilet-table is of mahogany, and the sides fold over each other. There is a small old Chippendale writing-table, the curtains are of Liberty blue against leaded window-panes, and there are old prints; but it is the individual note that gives the room its charm.
A Sheraton bedroom is lovely - toilette table, wardrobe, washstand, writing-bureau with bookcase above, oval mirror above Adams fireplace, all of that lovely wood with its smart gold beading. I he couvrc-pied, vallance, curtains, covers of couch and easy-chair are of a delicious white cretonne with Empire medallions of pink, white Walls, polished floor, Persian rugs with pink in them, and a pink screen. The mantelpiece has quaint old English china, a high pedestal in the corner upholds a palm, there are three or four choice colour-print
A good result for a bedroom may be got with a vivid rose-coloured carpet all one colour, white walls, white furniture, chintz with a lot of green, and a vivid note of rose in it for curtains, couch and chair covers, and green plants everywhere. One can never have too many green things about any room, If I had to choose between green and flowers, I should unhesitatingly choose the former.
A delicious Chippendale room has one of the old carved four-post bedstead, upholstered with quaint, shiny black-and-white chintz sparingly touched with blue; the couvre-pied matched, the carpet was blue, the long swing-glass Chippendale. It has the tiny toilette nest of drawers on table beside it, and on the white walls were priceless colour-prints.
I must confess to a great liking for white-walled rooms, especially bedrooms - walls, for preference, upon which nothing is hung, especially in guest chambers. It is an outrage to inflict your cousins and aunts on your guest; they bring the pictures of those they love with them, as a rule, and give their own individual note to the room. A guest-chamber should be bare of everything but the necessaries for comfort; these include, of course, a vase or two of flowers. It should be, in truth: "A bower for us in which to sleep.