Whatever the life of the individual, whether it represents a growing prosperity, an enlarging, or a cramping, of means, a woman must prove her knowledge of requirements in still another way, - in the provision made for her servants, and in the number of those she provides for the running of her house. When a home is planned and furnished, she must not only know what to do for the well-being of those under her, for their physical comfort, their recreation, and their discipline, but she must know what their conduct should be, not only in the care of her personal belongings, but in the care of her guests, so that they represent her worthily, as servants should, expressing the spirit of her house, whatever its spirit may be, whether one of hospitality, dignity, reserve, or magnificence. If she entertains on a large scale, she must know what entertaining should be, how to train her maid for her cloak-room, and her butler for her dining-room. She must know even better than they what silver should go on her sideboard, what linen on her table, what flowers in her vases, and how tea should be served in the afternoon; or how a glass of sherry and a biscuit should be carried to the exhausted old lady who has come to make an afternoon visit.

She should know these things whether she were rich or poor; whether she had twenty domestics to carry out her wishes, or the necessity were hers of preserving the refinements with the help of but one - or none; whether she had an apartment or a house; whether a formal or an informal manner of living were hers. And in whatever condition of . splendor or of simplicity she lived, she would still have her own views, tastes, and sympathies to consider. The question of individuality is paramount. There is no real decoration of the home without it, however splendid the environment. A house decorated to order, and lacking this individual touch, is often little better than a railway station.

You, as a householder and a woman, must know just what your house is to stand for, what of yourself you want to express in it and through it. Suppose that your whole idea was to have a hospitable home, one with wide welcoming doors open to every friend; a home in which those who came were made at ease and from which they went away refreshed. Suppose, I say, that you began your house with this idea. Could you, if this were so, imagine your keeping in your parlor an uncomfortable chair, with its legs too short or too long, and its back bent so that no one could sit in it without breaking his own? Were you sincere in your claim to the hospitable spirit, could you rest content until you had substituted an-other chair for that one entailing such universal discomfort? Could you ever hope to understand anything about the decoration of the home if you went on ignoring details like these?

Individual Requirements 8

Suppose, again, that you were proud of a certain lamp in your room, but that your visitors were always wriggling to get away from its glare - holding up a fan or a pamphlet to protect the eyes. What sort of hospitality would be yours if you permitted the lamp to remain? In the arrangement of your lamps, as in that of your chairs, to be truly complementary to the spirit and the purport of your home, you should study the needs of every inmate.

Cosey Chair

Cosey Chair.

Lamps should not be in out-of-the-way corners when one wants to read, nor in places where the light would be wearisome if people cared only to talk. Chairs should be placed where they provide the most comfort. The decoration of a home means nothing but a consideration of the requirements of a family or its guests, providing for them in the best and most felicitous manner possible. . I know a large, beautifully proportioned, country-house hall, panelled in oak, with heavy timbers in the ceiling. It is as empty as lower Broadway after midnight. "I have never known what to do with it," its prosperous owner sighed in my ear. Never known what to do with it, I thought; and yet she has lived in that house for years. She has a husband, too, and a house full of young children, besides an unlimited bank account and a few friends. I can, in imagination, see the members of her household all go skipping through that gloomy hall when twilight has fallen or when dinner is over, and so on into the one room really comfortable in her house, - the library; which is not a library, since every one sits in it and there is not a corner quiet enough for a book. She has never known what to do with her hall, because she has never known what she wanted that hall to do for her. She has never had any ideas to express in it. Yet she might, out of mere politeness, as a compliment to her guests or to her family, but especially to her guests, who pass through, have long ago filled it with fine old carved chests (she can afford to buy them). She could have had a fire burning on its ample hearth, its blaze adding a note of welcoming color. She could have introduced pictures, bronzes, plants. Plants are beautiful anywhere.

Individual Requirements 10

I have said just above, "especially the guests," for I believe that no decoration of a house can be beautiful which ignores the comfort and the well-being of those who are invited within its portals. Man is a social being. As he ascends in the scale of civilization, his social needs become more and more defined. He must not live for himself alone, neither should he build his house without consideration of his fellow-beings. Of course, by making his own life full, he equips himself for enriching that of others; but the two processes should go side by side, in obedience to interdependent obligations and necessities. The best architects understand this. They consider the human relations, the graces and the charms of life, whether they are designing the simplest of parlors or the most splendid of reception-rooms. They understand that something besides the formal salutations of a hostess should welcome her guests to a ball; that a way of approach to her side should be made easy, and the way from it; the way also of loitering with one friend or of joining another; that at every step there should be beguilement and pleasure for the eye and comfort for the body. The true spirit of decoration leaves none of these questions neglected, and the eternal quest of the home-lover should be for the best means by which these various requirements could be met. To arrange and rearrange until the desideratum is reached, is the business of all those who are interested in the decoration of homes, whether simple or elaborate. Wall-papers, curtains, rugs, and stuffs for upholstery are so many tools whereby the decorator obtains the atmosphere he desires. And the question of atmosphere will not always come from a successful handling of these instruments. You may purchase the interior decorations of a palace and set them up in your house, and find the result sadly lacking in harmony, in dignity. The setting should never be out of keeping with the life that is to be lived before it: only by the harmony of the two can you arrive at the best results.