The sideboard is the largest and most imposing piece of furniture in a dining-room, and it is wonderful how much ugliness it sometimes seems possible for it to attain. It often, too, represents to the youthful couple starting housekeeping a disproportionate outlay with regard to the rest of the house, yet one that gives little satisfaction.
All this is altered, however, if the couple determine that they will have nothing to do with a too ornate modern sideboard, and that they will, if possible, secure an old piece of furniture or a good reproduction thereof. As a rule, modern sideboards are not good in design, though there are some notable exceptions to this fact.
When it comes to the older models, however, a wide vista of artistic possibilities is opened before us. Our choice of design will be regulated by the kind of wood on which our fancy falls. Artists almost invari-ably choose oak, while to other people highly polished mahogany makes the strongest appeal. The old oak certainly does give a surface in which the most pleasing tones are to be discovered by the discerning eye. In fact, an artist will often take a piece of this wood for his subject for the joy of painting it.
From the housewife's point of view it has the advantage that it does not need nearly so much care as mahogany. This latter wood requires a surprising amount of attention. For some years, nevertheless, the familial Chippendale model with its curved front has been one of the favourite forms of side-board. One of its special merits is that, though it may be a trouble to keep nice, it is so easily moved as to facilitate the operation of the weekly turn out of the room on cleaning-day, and there is no chance of dust hiding behind it. We grow more and more chary of "dust traps" of any kind, which fact may have something to do with the popularity of this type of sideboard. Many sideboards of modern design are so heavy to move that they are only occasionally pushed away from the wall where they stand, and are such a small distance from the ground that it is impossible to clean satisfactorily underneath them without moving them.
A typical example of an old Yorkshire dresser, with cupboards for cruets at the sides of the shelves. Such a dresser forms a good background for old pewter or silver
Bartholomew & Fletcher
The Sheraton or Chippendale sideboard is-mounted on tapered legs and has no weighty top part. Sometimes there is a brass rail at the back, which frequently has a silk-curtain gathered on it. It is not an imposing structure, but looks delightful in a room for that very reason, and has a most picturesque effect with a bowl of roses and a pair of antique Sheffield plate candelabra on it. It is sufficiently commodious for all practical purposes. There is a drawer in the middle for table-cloths, and a good deep cupboard or drawer on each side, one of which is fitted as a cellarette. Sometimes the side cupboards have sliding doors on tambour frames. To combine with walnut furniture in the Queen Anne style there is a design on somewhat similar lines, though slightly heavier in effect. Those who are attracted by walnut - and the present writer must confess to a great predilection in that direction - will find that they can get a very charming Queen Anne sideboard, with a short curtain at the back on a rod held by supports of the wood in the twisted " barley-sugar " pattern. Sideboards reproduced from old Adams models are apt to be far more impressive in bulk as well as more ornate in decoration. They look very fine in large rooms decorated after this period. Some of them have carved fluted urns on pedestal ends, which were origin-ally used as knife-boxes. For those whose rooms are furnished in oak, none of these designs are suitable. They have, however, a large variety of choice among the differ-ent types of dresser. Dresser sideboards, so far from going out of favour, as was prophesied, are very much used. Some of the best modern designs are after this style. Those who have a few good old plates find that one of the best ways of showing them off is on the shelves of a dresser. Others who have no possessions of this kind, yet delight in the touch of blue that is best given by china, will find that a dresser filled with an old willow pattern dinner-service is delightful.
A typical old Yorkshire dresser, with the high, narrow cupboards for cruets at the sides of the china shelves, is the most familiar pattern. Some of these have only three deep drawers others have cupboards as well underneath these. Then there are the Jacobean dressers, with the characteristic panelling that is so highly decorative. A handsome Yorkshire dresser can be bought for about £17, and a good reproduction for about £10, while a very fine reproduction of a Jacobean dresser will cost about £14 or £15. A charming little modern dresser may be found for
£7 or £8.
In very large rooms what is known as a court cupboard, or livery cupboard, will be used with one of these dressers instead of a side table. These are a reminiscence of the late sixteenth century, when they were used for keeping the liveries of the men servants.
The typical modern sideboard must be chosen with great care. A safe rule is to pass over all that is elaborate and select the simplest design that is shown to you; it will, in all probability, be far the best.
In simply furnished rooms, where it is desired to save space, the side-board is done away with altogether, and a corner cupboard and dinnerwaggon or side table used in its place. A corner cupboard always looks pictur-esque, and gives plenty of room for all the various table accessories.
An inlaid mahogany sideboard in the Sheraton style, with cupboards and drawers and a brass railing at the back, on which a curtain Harrods can be hung with good effect Photo, Booker & Sullivan