"Forest green" and "walnut stain" can be purchased at any paint-shop in small cans. Twenty cents' worth will be sufficient for two or three large pieces of furniture. The main thing to observe is, to apply the paint in thin, even coats, allowing no drops to run down at the corners. Thin with turpentine to make the shade lighter. This mixture is capital for unpainted wood, window-boxes, and so forth. On wood which has not been previously varnished it has no annoying gloss. If paint is used in place of stain the last coat must be "flatted" with turpentine to take off the lustre. Army women, obliged to move from place to place and to sacrifice their best possessions, would find the painting of ordinary furniture of inestimable value to them. Common kitchen chairs painted white, and common pine tables painted in the same way, would be infinitely better in many instances than cheap oak sets, which only lower the character of any room in which they find themselves. By buying inexpensive pine furniture, and painting it, one's capital could be invested in rugs and hangings of good quality, and fine table linen and covers. Freshness and charm would at once be added to interiors: qualities which could never be obtained by imitation cherry tables with twisted legs, or oak chairs that have been carried about the country until they are as shabby as stage properties after a season's successful run.
When simple painting is done, no attempt at stencilling need be made, the white painted chairs and tables easily passing muster. An ingenious woman might treat her freshly painted white furniture with a border of Dresden sprays, tiny pink roses, and green leaves. The common pine furniture could be treated with oil and rubbed down, with less labor and more durable results. For studios and summer camps, where the ingenuity of the householder must be exercised and where there is little money to expend, the oil is to be preferred. In time wood thus treated becomes of an agreeable dark color.
With white paint, a pretty chintz or cretonne, a few mirrors, plants, and good photographs, the simplest house may be made charming.
The white paint, when chintz or any flowered material is used in decoration, plays the part of framework, and tends to throw into stronger relief the textile thus employed. A colored paint would not so easily accomplish the same results, and if used, would have to be carefully considered, its tone selected with great care, and its relation to the chintz and to the lines of the room never for a moment overlooked. The entire room would then assume an altogether different character, to be studied in relation to its general color, as, for instance, were a green paint used, one that took up the color of the leaves on the chintz. The ceiling would then become even more of a problem, unless one were content to give the room the look of a box, and one would have to study to avoid the effects of spots and patches where the chintz was carelessly introduced.
There is another reason why white paint helps solve the problem of a successful room in which chintz or cretonne is used in decoration. The skill of the individual painter must be relied upon for a tone, and unless the painter happens to be a genius, his attempts are usually failures. Manufactured articles, on the other hand, - papers, chintzes, and good textiles, - are made from carefully considered designs, and from carefully formulated color-schemes submitted by experts. The householder, making a selection, knows what she is buying, but she never knows what she may be called upon to pay for when the average workman is employed on color.
With white paint, then, the chintz or textile employed has a distinct decorative value. It is accentuated and defined. It becomes a trimming, a very dainty and beautiful trimming, and when well employed is made to seem part of the original structure or design of the room. All decoration of whatever kind should produce this impression. When it does not it is out of key.
A careful study of the illustrations which accompany this paper will well repay the lover of pretty interiors, not only those interested in seeing what can be done with white paint, mirrors, and chintz, but those wanting to understand the secret of a pretty room. Take, for instance, the corner in which the divan is placed, and notice, first, how successfully the flowered chintz has been used. Thus not only the divan itself, with some of its cushions, has been covered with the chintz, but the curtains at the head of the divan are of the same material. The mirror back of the divan, and the second mirror next the window, have also been framed with the same material. To prove that this use of the chintz is meant to be part of the general plan of the room, notice how a band of it, as wide as that covering the mirrors, also outlines the window-frames, and again, how it appears on the wall, just below the frieze.
By examining the ceiling in a second illustration, that one which gives the bed, it will be seen that this border of chintz is again introduced in the ceiling itself, at a given distance from the angle, making the two chintz borders - namely, that one on the wall and that on the ceiling - equidistant from the angle. A large panel of the chintz is also used on the ceiling, carrying out, therefore, the general plan, and repeating the panel back of the bed.
The general arrangement of the corner in which the divan is placed illustrates some of the most important principles in house-furnishing. The whole corner, it will be seen, is a composition in itself, even while it belongs to the rest of the room. The cover of the divan has been considered in relation to its background, - the curtains at one end, and the cushions and mirror at the side. The introduction of the mirror not only repeats the lines of the window-frame, but breaks up what might otherwise be an awkward wall-space. A bookcase, or a piece of drapery on the wall, successful as this treatment is in many cases, would not have been happy here, since the object of this summer room was to give an impression of lightness and airiness, of cool and restful spaces. All this has been accomplished without sacrificing anywhere a question of comfort. The excellence of this corner lies in the fact that comfort has been the first consideration of the householder, as it should be everywhere. In this case, however, comfort includes not only repose for the body, but refreshment for the eye. Thus the light falls in just the right way, tables and books are arranged with reference to their use, plants are introduced to break up lines and add the beauty of their forms. These points would not, perhaps, need to be so strongly emphasized in a paper of this kind, except that they are the very points which are oftenest neglected by those who wish to give a corner in a room a special character, and who introduce divans, not only all out of key with the rest of the room, and where they become in consequence not only mere excrescences, but where they are quite useless for reading and lounging.
The arrangement of the bed deserves particular attention. The panel of chintz on the wall makes a good background for the bed curtains. These curtains are of the same material, and lined with a plain color. They are then gathered together in the centre, and held in place over the centre of the bed by a carved ornament, the curtains falling not only back of the bed, but over both the head and foot boards. The alcove in which the bed is placed is again shut away without suggesting being shut in, the horizontal beam from which the curtains are suspended coming just below an open space. This gives the possibility of plenty of fresh air, an essential point in a bedroom. To relieve what might otherwise be an awkward gap, various pieces of pottery and porcelain are introduced in symmetrical arrangement. The chintz, it will be noticed, again appears in a band matching that of the mirrors and window-frame, and running along the horizontal beam. This small band appears also on the toilet-table, just above the curtain.
One should also notice that a look of being upholstered is everywhere avoided in the room. One sees this in the small sofa in the bedroom, and again in the seat under the mirror, which, though cushioned in chintz, is not curtained, in this way preserving the sense of airiness and freshness before referred to, without sacrificing comfort.