Within the last few years the fashion of multiplying the number of pretty little pillows has increased. There is one to be slipped beneath the head of the sleeper at night, and which the owner generally carries with her when she travels, so as to insure herself her accustomed comfort. There are others on the couch where she takes her nap in the afternoon. Sometimes these pillows are seen in finely appointed drawing-rooms; but only when the presence of damask, or satin, or fine hangings make them possible. These pillows should be made of softest down - like that used for babies' cribs - covered first with a white or colored wash silk or fine batiste, so fashioned that it can be taken off" to be laundered. The cases proper, however fine, are always of wash materials. Sometimes sheer white linen is used, edged about with a full ruffle of embroidery. But this represents the simplest form, although it is always sure to be a popular one, since a ruffle is always becoming to the face. The very finest linen cambric and French muslin are also employed in their manufacture, with the daintiest laces and embroideries for trimmings. Very often the case itself is embroidered with a special design, which follows the shape of the pillow; or the owner's monogram is used, finely worked, as on the best handkerchiefs. One favorite design shows a row of buttonholes worked round the edge of the pillow, through which a ribbon is run. At the four corners this ribbon is tied in bows. Very lovely pillows can be made, however, without any great cost, by using embroidered muslin which comes by the yard, and finishing the edges with a find valenciennes lace gathered full.
Pillow-shams, as a rule, have disappeared. They are still used in certain old houses where domestic traditions are preserved, and where the possessions of the mistress are of so solid a character as to warrant her in a certain license of expression. Cheap cotton shams, trimmed with embroidery, are, however, out of the question on well-appointed beds. During the day the sleeping pillows are put away in a closet, only the bolster remaining, with perhaps one of the small pillows just referred to on the spread before it. Sometimes, when the cover is not drawn over the bolster, or the bolster itself is not covered separately and laid outside, a set of large day pillows, in fancy white linen cases, are used in finishing the bed. They are not to be slept upon, other pillows being substituted for the night.
It must be remembered that, even in the dressing of a bed, fashions change, and that each individual has his or her own theory as to comfort. Therefore the changing of pillows at night, the substitution of what looks well by day, has for its purpose one object only, - to eliminate the possibility of disorder, to give the bed a uniformed air, as it were, suggesting the fact that once arranged in the morning it is not to be touched again until the maid turns it down at night. This, of course, destroys the possibility of sitting on it, as young girls, and some older women brought up in country districts, delight in doing. Some of these never seem to feel quite on friendly terms with a family unless they can sit on the edge of a bed, at times, and gossip. But wherever the more formal laws of life prevail, as they do in cities, the untidiness involved in the tumbling of the bed is not permissible. School-girls, congregated in one room to discuss festivities or clothes, will obey no rule of their elders, which is one reason why a young girl's bed should be dressed in white, with spreads that can be changed whenever necessary.
Because of this formal treatment of the bed, a couch, as I have already said, is almost a necessity in the bedroom. The marvel is that so many good housekeepers neglect to provide one, especially in a guest-chamber, where it is as important as the bed itself. A visitor would have to be bold, indeed, to disarrange one of the modern beds for a half-hour's nap before dinner.
Besides the metal beds already referred to, wooden ones of various styles, and often reviving some quaint fashion of the past, are once more increasingly popular. In many houses we can find the low Dutch bedstead, with its four posts and carved canopy; high mahogany four-posters, carved or plain; or charming four-posters like that shown in the illustration No. 10, where the tester is curved, not straight. Then there are the marquetry beds - beds made to imitate a swan, or with elaborately decorated columns, once belonging to some potentate across the water. These beds may be either single or double, though in most guestrooms the best usage demands the placing of two single beds side by side, as many people prefer to sleep alone even when occupying the same chamber. Almost any style of bed is accepted to-day, except those top-heavy walnut or rosewood structures with low footboards and headboards rising almost to the ceiling. It is a curious fact, too, that a beautiful bed, like a beautiful picture, may be found amid the simplest surroundings, without appearing out of place. It is only where the appointments are shabby, or where the bed is trimmed with tawdry stuffs and carelessly kept, that the sense of fitness is violated. A satin couch in a certain kind of room becomes positively offensive, where a carved bedstead finished with spotless hangings would impress you with the fact that the inhabitants were better educated than you had supposed.
For many years plain linen pillow-cases, and a spread of white Marseilles, were all that the most ambitious housekeeper desired. And there are few prettier beds to-day than those dressed in white, although occasionally the other appointments of a room may make a white bed too obtrusive, too defined, especially where the white coverlet is of a smooth and unbroken surface. When a thin white material is used it is better to soften it by an under color. Thus, in a room where the environment makes such a dressing possible and the wealth of the owner enables her to change her hangings when they become mussed or soiled, the metal bed shows a valance of sheer white French muslin, or cambric, over blue or pink. The white muslin is embroidered, or inlaid and trimmed with lace. It is used, too, for the bedspread, and covers the bolster, also over blue or pink. The little pillow, laid outside during the day, should match the spread and valance. Dotted or embroidered muslin may be used for the carrying out of a similar treatment. For apartments or the bed-chambers of country houses, wash materials, Anatolian cottons, chintzes, cretonnes, or white dimity, may be used with charming effect.