While cleaning out and sorting my vintage magazines the other day, I came across this decorating book from the late '40s. The cover is similar (but not the same) as the one pictured above. It seems that these little books were put out quite often, since I have found a few different covers online. I spent some time flipping through the book and found some really great ideas, ones that would work in even a non-vintage home. In the quick little search I did, I didn't come across my book -- which is #4. So, I thought I would do a series of posts sharing some of the ideas and information in the book.
This posts will contain questions and answers which are found on pages 9 and 10. Just as a note, as there were just sketches in the book, I found these images off a google search to complement the post.
Do You Know the Answers to the Most Commonly Asked Decoration Questions?
How can I arrange a room containing a baby grand piano?
Place it so that the player faces into the room. If you have a long wall, place the straight side of the piano parallel to the wall. Stand a chair and lamp table in the curve of the piano.
High windows at either side of the fireplace have me stumped. Have you a solution?
Build bookshelves under the windows, or busy sectional bookcases to fit the space. Paint them to match the woodwork or walls. The back of such cases can be painted a gay color, so anything you place on them will become more decorative. Eliminate drapery treatments here for it will make the windows look fussy. Another solution is to block them out entirely, build shelves from floor to ceiling, and display colorful glassware. Or if you don't need the light, window casing can be used as a frame for a picture backed with plywood.
Can I create a center of interest in the living room without a fireplace?
Yes, there are several ways. One successful system is to use a long, shallow table -- or chest or bookcase -- with a large mirror over it. Flank this with matching wing chairs or love seats, facing each other.
Shall I buy a rug that allows a floor margin, or is wall-to-wall carpeting better?
If you own your home, all-over carpeting will give a more spacious look to the room. However, if your budget is limited, or you live in a rented house, a rug is a sensible choice. The margin should be the same all around -- anywhere from 6 to 18 inches.
Is it all right to use light and dark wood furniture in the same room?
Yes. It makes for interest, and breaks up monotony. But the woods should be of the same formality. For instance, "pickled" pine is nice with mahogany, or light and dark mahogany are good together.
I am never quite sure how to hang pictures. Can you guide me?
A good general rule is to hang them at eye level of a person standing, but be sure that person is of average height. In grouping pictures place them one over the other, side by side, or in other organized and symmetrical groups. But don't arrange them in a stair-step fashion. The latter treatment is nice only for stair walls. Hang pictures low if you want to add height.
Can I have floor-length draperies with a radiator under the window?
It's easy! Use a cornice board at the top and extend it six or eight inches beyond either side of the window so that the draperies will hang free of the radiator. This treatment gives a nice broad look to the window and at the same time will overcome any interference from the radiator.
Would you advise painting my woodwork which is dark, but has a nice grain.
We believe that dark woodwork give a heavy, dated look to a room. Do paint it to match the walls or background color of the wallpaper you are using, or simply paint it white. Light woodwork will brighten up the room and give it a new look, and requires very little extra care to keep it fresh. As a matter of fact, dust shows up more on dark woodwork than painted. For the really dirty marks there are washing powders which loosen dirt without much effort.
My problem is one of high ceilings. Can you suggest a way to lower the apparent height of the room?
Painting the ceiling a warm color is one way to bring down the height of the room. Another way is to use a deep valance or cornice at the windows, or to lower the molding 12 to 18 inches from the ceiling. Don't use a vertically striped wallpaper.
Shall I use lace antimacassars on my overstuffed furniture?
No, for they seldom serve their purpose and only tend to give a tacky, dated look to a room. With the wonderful cleaning products on the market it is an easy matter to freshen up the upholstery. Slipcovers are a much better way to keep upholstery clean, and slipcovers can be wonderfully handsome.
My fireplace has ugly red bricks that spoil any chance of an interesting color scheme. What would you do with them?
The remedy is very simple. Just paint the bricks with a good flat paint -- white or ivory -- to match the woodwork in the room. Black is good, too.
How can I treat a group of windows placed together?
Use a pair of glass curtains for each window, but only one pair of draperies for the group -- that is, a drapery at each extreme end, with a continuous valance across the top to tie the group together and give it a framed look. Such draperies should have extra fullness and should look full enough to pull across and cover the whole area.
Can I mix furniture periods in a room?
A room has far more charms and style when it combines a little of the old with a little of the new. These days, more than formerly, a strict carrying out of one period seems to make for a very stuffy room.
Is it necessary to use a small table beside every chair?
No. Too many little tables can give a room a "leggy" look. Try placing one big, important table between two chairs. Your room will have more character if you combine three of four small tables with one or two large tables.
I hope you all enjoyed this! Next up, I plan on featuring the "Don't Throw it Out" article.