There is nothing more unsatisfactory than a room which is held in solemn reverence by every member of the family, from the head of the house downwards. There is an air of despondency and reserve which always seems to be associated with these drawing-rooms that are seldom used. Their days of occupation must be regarded as terrible ones by the younger members of the family. How much it would add to the happiness of everybody concerned if the drawing-room were a living-room - a room with comfortable chairs and a few readable books; a room breathing of refinement and repose, where guests would always be welcome, and where one felt truly "at home." A sort of glorified collection of prim chairs and innumerable tables does not make a comfortable place to take tea and rest the brain after a hard day's work. But a room breathing of sweetness and repose is one that should be jealously guarded in the home.
First of all, it is a great mistake to suppose that it is always the best that costs the most. Many charming decorative results may be obtained in these days at comparatively small cost. So often delightful cosy chairs and sofas may be picked up at sales. The great point in furnishing a drawing-room is not to be in too great a hurry if resources are limited. Choose opportunities for laying out your money to the best advantage.
Now, it is a very great feature in the successful furnishing of a room to know and see in your mind's eye exactly what scheme of colouring and furniture you want. It is never wise to buy a table here or a table there at random. This sort of reckless buying brings a collection together which fails to express uniformity in any degree whatever. Of course, suites of furniture are fatal from an artistic point of view, and so are various articles of furniture which are not harmonious as a whole. Therefore, decide what kind of drawing-room you want - form a picture of it, as it were, to yourself, and then hunt about for each individual article to build up this room which you desire.
There is no room more delightful than a chintz drawing-room- it is always fresh and fragrant. It makes one think of sweet lavender and old bowls and the secret of pot-pourri. Chintz-covered furniture is likewise new each time it has paid a visit to the cleaners, for, of course, you will have the chairs covered by artistic loose chintz covers.
Before going into further details, let us try to picture the chintz drawing-room as a whole. We will commence with the chintz itself. It will have a white ground, and over its glazed surface soft pink roses will trail carelessly: - such chintz cleans perfectly, and looks delightful.
We must now think of the walls of the room. A wide frieze will run along the top, and this will be finished off with a dull black wooden beading - a frieze of the rose chintz would be perfect. Should this prove too expensive, try to get a good paper frieze, as near to the design of the chintz as possible. This should not be difficult, as the frieze designs are so innumerable and beautiful.
The walls should be papered in a self-coloured paper - for instance, a soft shade of mauve. There is no more exquisite combination of colouring than that of soft rose and mauve. White walls are very popular, and deservedly so, but the mauve wallpaper will, if chosen with care, give a distinct touch of originality to your room. From this room ordinary pictures should be banished, except over the mantelpiece. A black note is a distinct asset to the chintz drawing-room, and so the woodwork could be the means of introducing this quaint finish. Very often the drawing-room mantelpiece is far from being artistic. The top and sides of the mantelpiece - those portions over and each side of the grate - could be covered with wood or thick imitation leather paper, and painted black. Miniatures look delightful hung upon the sombre wood. A long seascape, framed in black wood to form a panel over the mantelpiece, is a delightful addition, and over this there is nothing more effective than an oval mirror framed in black, with a pair of miniatures each side.
A Note of Black
Round the walls of the room it is most effective to have a narrow shelf and two laths of wood divided into squares for the reception of photographs or small, old prints. Under this frame and beading, near to the fireplace, several shelves could be fixed for books. All this woodwork should be stained black; it will be a pleasing foil to the gay chintz. The door of the room could be taken down, and an archway formed. If this is done, chintz curtains take the place of the door with great effect. If the door is used, it must also be black, and chintz panels would look delightful fixed carefully behind the beading, or an artistic member of the family could copy the rose design of the chintz in oil-paints direct upon the wooden panels of the door.
We now come to the actual furnishing of the room. A Chesterfield sofa, several lounge chairs according to the size of the room, one or two Chippendale chairs - if they could be found where their beauty and value was not appreciated. These are additions which require time, but it is as well to consider them. A round table, an unostentatious writing-table, and a light folding table or a table with a Benares tray is ideal for tea. But try and get black wood for the table and writing-table. Ingle-seats look very well each side of the fireplace; they can be made so as to be removable.
These ingle-seats can be made very cheaply by getting a carpenter to fix a flat deal seat - if possible, supported from the wall, and resting upon about three legs. A loose, flat cushion-seat and frill of the chintz completes these seats. They would cost about twenty-five shillings each, and they would be very nice and useful.
A Cosy Corner