Color can be introduced in paper, paint, or hangings. In rooms occupied by servants who come and go, paint, of course, is a necessity. It is preferable in nurseries, unless the paper can be changed at frequent intervals, or, having been treated with varnish, can be washed.
Flowers on a white ground, up and down stripes, soft tones of a solid color with a border of flowers on a white ground, will, when the colors and designs are good, suggest that charming freshness without which no bedroom is successful. When a room is long and narrow, large-flowered paper should be avoided; indistinct up and down stripes are preferable. In such a room, too, a wainscoting, or a dado, or a line of book-shelves, is strongly urged; not that the room may be given a "decorated" look, but that the wall surfaces may be broken, and the upper parts supported. And books, by the way, belong to bedrooms, unless there is a morning-room reserved for the special use of the individual. For persons wanting to read at night there should be books on the night-table. A curtain over a bookshelf is only a cheap device, never to be recommended, although the fashion is bound to appeal to those who have shabby books to conceal, or shelves without any. When curtains are insisted upon, they should be of a wash material. When one has valuable books to protect, which are not daily companions, glass doors are used, and sometimes the glass is leaded.
When the wood-work is white the ceiling should be tinted to match the lighter tones of the walls, although a pretty fashion now permits the use of flowered paper overhead, which must, however, run down from the ceiling to the picture-moulding a foot or two below. In a low-ceiled room with curved or broken ceiling, the solid color will often run only to a height of five feet, the flowered ceiling being brought down to it. Here is a pretty plan: A ceiling and frieze of roses on a white ground, the darkest tone of the leaves repeating itself on the walls in burlaps or cartridge paper. This green color should also be repeated in a plain carpet. The rose tones are introduced again in soft hangings against the panes, while the roses reappear in the chintz of the curtains and cushions. In some English inns and country-house bedrooms the flowered paper covering the walls is copied in the chintz which frames the windows (the ceilings are left white), and the bed is trimmed with white.
Cream white wood-work, cream white bookcases with leaded glass doors, and hangings of velveteen toned like that of the mullein stalk, make the foundation of a charming room. Some of the plans suggested in the chapter devoted to apartment bedrooms may be followed in those of houses.
It seems almost impossible to lay down stringent rules about the floors of sleeping-rooms in houses, as one may for those in flats and apartments where the rooms are small, and there is no way of moving out furniture for sweeping. Prejudices for and against carpets seem bred in the bone, and are not to be overcome by reason. Every law of hygiene, however, makes for the bare floor and the rug, for something in which there can be no lurking of a microbe, now the bugbear of all quickened consciences. In the chapter devoted to the subject of floors, suggestions will be given for their treatment.
It is only when a house has been carefully designed that a bedroom mantel is made as it should be, bearing a relationship to the rest of the room. A good mantel must receive a more or less formal treatment, and in its decoration carry out the design or the plan of the architect or of the period which he follows. The clocks and the candlesticks should belong to the fashion of the mantel, and not represent haphazard purchases.
The fireplaces and mantels of the ordinary bedroom, on the other hand, put up by contractors, are seldom more than apologies, hideous to behold. They lend themselves to the most informal treatment, and may be filled with the photographs of friends, with books, and with those pieces of bric-a-brac with which there may be a particular association, yet which have no value in themselves. Mantels should not be draped unless necessity requires it - by necessity I mean the existence of lines so ugly that their softening or concealment becomes imperative. When a covering is used, it should match the other hangings. It is only with the painting, however (and the mantle must be painted to match the rest of the wood-work) that the householder should concern herself before establishing her belongings.
The articles necessary to an ordinary bedroom are: the bed, the bureau or dressing-table, the night-table, some chairs, and if there be no boudoir or morning-room attached, the lounge, the reading-table, the writing-table or desk, some shelves for books (never the cheap hanging shelf, however, that is suspended from a picture moulding). If there be no bathroom or dressing-room for the exclusive use of the occupant, there must of course be the washstand, ugly as it is. If two persons must occupy the same room, the screen is essential.
Of course in the arrangement of these various pieces of furniture, the size and proportions of the room must be taken into consideration, the positions of the doors, windows, and fireplace, as well as the needs of the occupants. When the arrangement has been completed you have the tact, the taste, the ingenuity of the occupant displayed. Here she proves herself, unfolds her character, her grace, her knowledge of requirements, her personal habits, and her consideration for others. The problem of one bedroom without a morning-room attached, has been successfully solved in this way:
In a "brown stone front" a double and a single room have been thrown into one, giving three north windows opening on the street; two doors opposite these, - one leading into the hall, the other into a closet with hot and cold water. At right angles to the windows and at one end of the room is the fireplace, at the other end a blank wall. The woodwork and ceilings are white, the walls covered with a flowered paper. The curtains next the panes are white; the thick curtains are of fine old blue satin trimmed with a band two inches wide, its colors repeating those in the paper. In the middle window, under the sash, four shelves painted white have been placed. On the topmost, taking the place of the old-fashioned sill, are potted plants in bloom, - Chinese primroses in winter, hyacinths in spring, and tulips when they first appear, crocuses, and geraniums. On the under shelves some extra books are placed. The lower shelf is not fastened, thus making it possible to remove it when the room is swept.
AT THE FOOT OF THE BED IS THE COUCH FACING THE FIRE.