New Idea for a Writing-table
Exigencies of house and room space demand specially designed furniture. A new type of dwelling-house has created a new kind of equipment, and the flat-dweller or inhabitant of a small house need no longer be overburdened with large wardrobes which must be taken to pieces ere they can go upstairs, sofas whose legs must be unscrewed that they may turn a corner in the hall, or chests of drawers which have to enter bedrooms by their windows.
In olden days the family mansion was designed on spacious lines; its stucco portico was the size of a small bedroom, its storeys numbered three or four. The upper middle-class family provided itself with a ten-foot sideboard, topped by a mirror, huge console tables that were used for nothing in particular, a bookcase that reached from floor to ceiling, and that measured at least twelve feet in width.
The low-ceiled room of the small country house type had not yet been planned, and its charm was unknown to the householder who gloried in sash windows (but seldom opened them), and who expected to have pairs of curtains three and a half yards long to every window.
The perfection to which fitment furniture has now been brought is extraordinary. One would almost think that ship architects had been employed to design some of the latest examples of furniture made to fit into the least possible space.
If there is a chimney jamb in a room, on either side will appear a cabinet with latticed glass flush with the outstanding chimney. These cabinets give us opportunities for stowing books, china, and other bibelots besides such "untidinesses" as paste, string, magazines, etc., which are so unattractive in a room, and yet which must be put somewhere if the machinery of daily life is to be carried on. It is easy to tack a thin silk curtain over a latticed glass door, so that all our "necessary evils" are ready to hand, yet discreetly concealed.
The maximum of accommodation in the minimum of space is the watchword of fitment furniture builders, and yet a standard of workmanship and decoration is achieved which we are wont to associate only with the finished productions of the best cabinetmakers of the eighteenth century.
The rough and ready shelf of wood, strongly supported and duly concealed with chintz, nailed on by the nimble fingers of a housewife, which used to do duty for a cosy corner arrangement, is no longer sufficient. Firms of European reputation now design special couches for the angle or corner which the householder wishes to utilise. Softly padded seats replace the well-intentioned but uncomfortable flock-covered plank, with its unfortunate habit of becoming so thin in much-frequented spots that the user felt somewhat as if sentenced to a plank bed without the option of a fine.
It is better surely to pay for a good thing, which will last for years and afford comfort all the time, than to glory for a few months in a gimcrack contrivance of one's own manufacture, and then to find oneself stranded with some worn-out material and a few useless pieces of rough wood.
By the use of fitment furniture space in a bedroom can be economised to a wonderful extent. Here is shown a fitment washstand, wardrobe, shelves, and a boot-cupboard by means of which the room is rendered easier to clean and more convenient to occupy
Photo, Heal & Sons
"Quality remains long after price is forgotten." Such is the business axiom of a noted firm, and it were well if the householder, contemplating fitment furniture, were to lay the words well to heart.
Fitment furniture is not necessarily the home-made rough and ready arrangement that it used to be. It consists of cleverly contrived pieces, each of which has been specially built for the nook it is to furnish.
It has been designed also for the use for which that wall or corner peculiarly lends itself, either through a good light falling upon it, as in the case of a toilet-table or looking-glass, or, as in the case of a lounge, through its proximity to the fireplace or close neighbourhood to a bookcase.
It is extraordinary how much space can be found in the odd nooks and corners of a room. We may be astonished also to find that in a room thus arranged all the necessary furniture has found a place without encroaching in a single instance upon the floor space.
Nor is economy of space the only advantage. Some necessary pieces of furniture are rather unsightly, however we may glorify them, as, for instance, a boot-cupboard or a towel-horse. If such things are put in the nooks and corners of a room they are ready to hand at any moment, yet do not offend the artistic sense, nor are they apt to wander into the centre of the room, as a towel-horse has been known to do when left untethered in a corner.
The corner fitment wardrobe illustrated is indeed a joy to its fortunate possessor. It is more roomy than the ordinary wardrobe, for it can be fitted with a rail from which a dozen wooden shoulders can hang, and hold as many coats and wraps as are required. It has a plentiful supply of pegs for skirts, long and short, and altogether it is a very desirable possession.
The cupboard next to it, with drawers beneath, has the advantage of being long enough to hold a trouser-stretcher. Every man knows that this bulky possession has to be stowed somewhere, and if a sufficiently long shelf is not available in an enclosed cupboard dust and smuts will play havoc with good cloth, however carefully brushed.
Every inch of space in this fitment is utilised. The small medicine cupboard above the washstand is ready for bottles of toilet wash, tooth powders, or medicine; the carefully placed mirror above is also a great convenience. There are drawers, a boot-cupboard near the ground, and another cupboard large enough to hold a suit-case and hat-boxes.
Though ordinary white enamel has been used for the subjects in our sketch, fitments such as these are made in mahogany, fumed oak, Sheraton inlaid wood, and many other styles and colours. Chairs, bed, and bed furniture can also be had to harmonise with any scheme of decoration chosen.
The very beautiful corner fitment illustrated, with its large lounge seat and bookcase, cupboard, and china shelf, is a fine piece of furniture, which gains distinction through having been designed to fit a particular corner.
Its seats are softly padded and the cabinet work of its panels and carved arms are equal in finish to any specimen of ordinary furniture. The householder who wishes for individuality in her furnishing would be well advised to have such conveniences specially planned according to her individual taste. Such a special fitment measured about 6 feet 6 inches in height; it cost about £30, and for so ornamental a piece of furniture, which is at the same time couch, bookcase, cupboard, and seat, the price is truly moderate.
A Writing-table Idea
There is a charm about a specially designed fitment writing-table which is not generally associated with this piece of furniture so indispensable to the modern woman.
Where space permits, a tiny spindle-legged desk suffices to hold the many papers, or typewriter, the fitment writing-table is indeed a boon.
How a corner in a bedroom may be utilised to the utmost advantage by means of a fitment wardrobe, cupboards, and washstand.
Such furniture may be had in white enamel or in a variety of natural woods invitation cards, time-tables, and books of reference, as well as tradesmen's books, bill-files, etc., which accumulate so rapidly.
It is better to have made for one a little shelf that will let down when not in use, on the principle of the serving shelf in hall or pantry. Then, with a serviceable set of deep drawers or shelves specially built to fit a corner, one can defy the post office to bury one under an avalanche of correspondence.
Such a cleverly contrived writing-shelf and drawers is worth a dozen unsteady tables, and, to the woman who takes her writing hour seriously and needs telephone
A corner fitment for a sitting-room, consisting of a comfortable lounge seat, a bookcase, and a china shelf. The scheme should be carried out to harmonise with the room in which it is to be used
There is no room where fitment furniture is more useful than the nursery. Every woman knows how dangerous to romping boys and girls are the sharp corners of drawers and wardrobes; barked shins, and bruised and cut faces and hands, are often the result of a hard knock against the outstanding edges and sides of movable furniture. I know of a case of permanent disfigurement where the sharp corner of a wardrobe outstanding from the wall was the instrument which inflicted the scar on the face of a pretty girl.
Furniture fitting into the chimney jamb, thus making the door of cupboard or drawer chest flush with the walls, gives no hard and dangerous corners. The nursery toy cupboard is better in a recess than sticking out into the room. Air and floor space is more valuable in the nursery than in any other room. Children need all the room that can be spared.
Who does not know that the preliminary to every game is the moving of furniture? If the room is supplied with fitment furniture it is always cleared for action, with the exception of a light table in the centre, which can easily be pushed aside.
Corner cupboards are good for nursery use. They fill up the space which there is no possibility of using in other ways, for the corner as a punishment place has long since passed out of fashion, and Puss in the Corner games can be played even if each corner is filled with cupboard, chest, or sofa; it will be found that the room is furnished without a single outstanding sharp edge, and without appreciably diminishing the floor space.