Monday, June 15, 2015

The Sitting Room

Continuing the details from 19th century sources of various rooms, today we are highlighting the Sitting Room.

The sitting-room of the lower floor is more clearly defined by the term " living-room." It is a room with much more wall space than the reception-hall. It usually contains a grate and mantel; has a large window to the front, and one on the side. It is very nice if one of these windows can be arranged in the form of a bay, with or without a window-seat. In the latter case, it may serve the purpose of a conservatory in the winter and a window-seat in summer. The use of large quantities of stained glass in a sitting-room is objectionable. It is very well to have a certain amount of it in the upper sash of some of the windows. If the colors are mild, the effect upon the atmosphere of the room is pleasant indeed — the light coming through the soft amber or straw tints adds a mellowness and richness to the light of the room, which is opposed to the colder effects of light which comes through white glass. The mantel of the sitting-room may contain a large number of compartments in the form of small shelves, brackets, or cabinets, in which may be placed bric-a-brac of various forms. A little cabinet on each side of a mantel, with a high door, is a very pretty feature. A mirror between these cabinets gives a pleasing effect. This mantel, like the one in the reception-room, should be of wood with tile hearth and facings.

If this room is plastered in a gray finish, the walls may be tinted in fresco colors, and, if desired, certaki parts of it ornamented by stencilling or otherwise. Unless this ornamental work is done by an artist of recognized ability, it should be of the simplest character. One or two simple lines, or a series of short dashes, is much better than scrawling figures drawn by an untrained hand. The ordinary fresco done by the foreign artist is the ugliest, most ungraceful work possible. In the larger cities, there are usually a few artists who do very beautiful work, but the ordinary, cheap, conventional fresco stuff is barbarous. Plain tinted walls are preferable to such glaring monstrosities. There is not much risk, if one is careful in the selection of colors; the part above the picture moulding may be tinted differently from that below. There are very few people but feel themselves competent to select colors for the interior or exterior of a house. The fact is, there are very few who can do it with any assurance of success. It is well for those who have no special training in this line to pursue a safe plan in the selection of tints for the walls and ceilings. This may be done by choosing different shades of the same color for use in the room. Say one begins with a terra-cotta body for the part below the picture mould. That above the moulding may be a lighter terra-cotta with a tendency to a buff. Then the ceiling may be lighter still, or, to be entirely safe under almost any circumstances, a gray with a leaning towards the color of the wall. Other colors may be selected in the same way. Very light, vivid blues have frequently been selected for ceilings, presumably because of the supposed resemblance to the sky. It is certainly an illogical but by no means uncommon thought. Soft, undecided grays are much pleasanter to those of quiet tastes.' There may be variations in it according to the character of the wall decorations and surroundings. If one without special knowledge wishes something more ambitious, he should consult some one of acknowledged ability in this particular line. One cannot afford to try experiments. Extremely beautiful wall decorations are to be had in wall-paperings, and, while rather expensive, are entirely satisfactory if carefully selected.

Very little more may be said about the sitting-room, excepting to call to mind that a great deal depends upon the fittings and furnishings of the room, which, however, should not be glaring or rich. The quality of everything may be of the finest and best, yet this room should essentially be quieter in tone than the reception-hall or parlor, or even dining-room, which are not in constant use. Anything which is rich and in any way approaches the gorgeous is wearisome, and directly opposed to the idea of a sitting-room.

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