When a drapery is a necessity, or when a householder thinks so, which amounts to the same thing, no law of arrangement can be laid down, although one positive statement can always be made. Nothing is so objectionable as a mantel-shelf to which an upholstered look has been given by pieces of cretonne or woollen stuff, fringed and draped, caught up at the corners with bows and rosettes, and made a general receptacle for dust. In some rooms a piece of heavy lace over a color is not so objectionable when nailed perfectly flat. A piece of stuff, a corduroy, or a velveteen with gimp, is admissible without gathers, nailed flat. A piece of stuff laid over the mantel-board and allowed to fall in natural folds is unpretentious, serves a certain purpose, and is therefore admissible. A piece of brocade in certain environments, or of embroidery when laid over a shelf with the obvious intention of introducing a note of color or of relieving an impression of bareness, is also at times most effective. But to employ any stuff or material over a mantel implies, in the very nature of things, that the mantel itself is ugly, and that the householder has been obliged to do something to relieve its unpleasantness. No exquisitely carved mantel could be so dishonored, certainly none of fine marble.

In choosing a color for the drapery, that of the wall and of the hangings must be taken into consideration. If with dark walls and a black marble fireplace a light cover is introduced, the effect is that of a light streak breaking the line of the wall. Then the decoration becomes too obvious, and loses such little quality as it might have been made to possess. It is better to build up from the lower or the floor-color, making the cover as inconspicuous as possible.

The Fireplace 147

The material of which a curtain is made is often the best and only lambrequin possible for the mantels of certain rooms. The French use it in this way, repeating on the mantel-shelf the form of the lambrequin over the window. When this is done, the best taste inclines to a formal arrangement of the material, bound with gimp and nailed on a board.

The hideous white marble mantel found at one time in every town house, the country over, is one of the most objectionable objects in a room. If it cannot be removed, it should certainly be painted to match the wall, especially when the walls are dark.

The most fascinating of all the fireplaces of the day are those built in holiday retreats. Though made of rough stones, they invariably express some individual sentiment or the taste of the householder. They are of course not for an instant to be compared in architectural beauty or excellence of detail to the finer fireplaces of our more sumptuous new houses, but they are more fascinating and more individual, for all that, and express a sincerity of purpose that many of the finer pieces lack - that sincerity which means having been built with a defined and a lovable purpose, and not because it seemed the proper thing to do.

These rough stone fireplaces generally project into the room, which makes the possibility of nooks all about them. When a projection of eight or ten feet is made into a large living-room, as is done in some country places, one side of the room is practically divided in two, making it possible to have two distinct centres of interest, one on either side, one side being devoted to writing, the other, quite hidden from it, arranged with divans and low cushioned seats for reading and lounging undisturbed.

MANTELPIECES DIRECTLY OVER EACH OTHER IN THE SAME APARTMENT. HOUSE (SEE ILLUSTRATIONS OPPOSITE PAGES 332 AND 334)

MANTELPIECES DIRECTLY OVER EACH OTHER IN THE SAME APARTMENT. HOUSE (SEE ILLUSTRATIONS OPPOSITE PAGES 332 AND 334).

The Fireplace 149

In some instances the hearth is made to fall a foot or two below the level of the floor, in this way forming a step which can be cushioned or covered with a rug, and on which, on story tellers' nights, groups of old and young can gather together.

Another fashion is to have seats drawn up at right angles on either side, wooden settles that have been cushioned and made comfortable. Sometimes small square stone seats are built on either side of the fire-opening, large enough to hold one person, or logs for the fire. The whole purpose is to make a hearth round which all the indoor interests may centre.

The decorations of these fireplaces always obey the laws of a rigid simplicity. One will show brass candelabra, another a plaster cast of beauty, something worth looking at when the eye is raised. Green branches from neighboring woods are shown in pots, or wild-flowers in vases. Sometimes a deer's head is seen, but nothing is introduced on the shelf or recess out of key with the surroundings, nothing like a Dresden china image or a piece of crystal; no photographs in silver frames; no pictures, in fact. Bronzes, pottery, clay, or plaster alone appear. These fireplaces are simplicity itself, but, oh, the cheer and the charm of some of them!

No one who has been accustomed to a Franklin stove will ever swerve in loyalty from it. In many places where the building of an open fireplace is an impossibility, these Franklins not only serve every purpose in giving out heat and cheerfulness, but they add a delightful quality to a room which otherwise might have been bare and inhospitable. They give out even greater heat than an ordinary fireplace, since they should stand out in the room, the heat radiating from every side. When there is a fireplace like that in the illustration, and the room is too small to lend itself to a more generous treatment, the Franklin may be pushed in under the shelf. The three fireplaces, of which this is one, are introduced to prove the point so often insisted upon, that, given the same wall-space and configuration in the rooms of houses or apartments, the effects produced need never be monotonous.

MANTELPIECES DIRECTLY OVER EACH OTHER IN THE SAME APARTMENT HOUSE

MANTELPIECES DIRECTLY OVER EACH OTHER IN THE SAME APARTMENT HOUSE.

(see illustrations opposite pages 330 and 334).

The Fireplace 151

The three mantelpieces shown are directly over each other, in the same apartment house.

The andirons, shovels, tongs, fender, and coalscuttles may be of ormolu, brass, bronze, or iron. They are of all kinds and descriptions, and when interesting, add enormously to the distinction of special firesides. The shovel and tongs are generally placed upright against the mantelpiece, supported often by a brass hook fastened to the side.

Many persons prefer iron for firearms, since no trouble is involved in keeping them clean, but a lover of color must always prefer brass - brass that is polished every week. Half the fascination of a fire on a winter night comes from the play of a flame, with a thousand reflections, which fill the round knobs of brass andirons till one who looks on seems almost to be gazing into seas and deeps of vibrant flame and color.

Every open fireplace should be amply supplied with fuel. The coal should be in a scuttle of brass or of bronze; the wood in some receptacle. Straw wood baskets are always in order. Dutch carved wooden cradles are sometimes used, - a hideous desecration, I think. An old carved chest, copper and brass cauldrons, sometimes bits of pottery, are all introduced. Sometimes bits of pottery are used to hold the pieces of kindling-wood.

It is not unusual to see a text of some kind introduced in old lettering round the fire-opening; in some families these texts are guarded like traditions, handed from father to son. Great offence is given when such a text is copied by some one having no claim upon it. But there are some on which every one may have a claim. Thus, there are these: -

MANTELPIECES DIRECTLY OVER EACH OTHER IN THE SAME APARTMENT HOUSE

MANTELPIECES DIRECTLY OVER EACH OTHER IN THE SAME APARTMENT HOUSE (see illustrations opposite pages 330 and 332).

"Aha! I am warmed, I have seen the fire." "The sacred trust of the household fire." "In winter's tedious nights sit by the fire."